Paper is an incredibly versatile medium. Beyond helping to record daily jots and scribbles, or allowing you to get a Blade Runner origami vibe going, we've seen it used to make a flat-packed microscope, help protect a cyclist's head and give a Fender guitar a lightweight corrugated body, neck and head. Continuing the latter's musical theme, Aliaksei Zholner has crafted a functioning pipe organ made from paper, which gets its air supply from a balloon attached to its side.
Unlike a piano, where strings are hammered to produce sounds when a key is pressed, the pipe organ works more like a gang of flutes controlled by a keyboard. Pressing a key allows "wind" to flow up through a tube to produce a note.
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Zholner's paper organ works in essentially the same way. Out front are 11 white keys and seven black. Each keyboard key sits atop a rib that runs to a hooks which slots underneath a valve arm. The arm is connected to a flat valve topped with photo paper. Strategically-placed paper springs ensure that valves are closed when keys are in their resting positions.
Air from a deflating balloon is fed into the housing and when a key is pressed the valve is released and the air shoots up the tuned pipe to sound the musical note.
It's an impressive project. Not only because everything apart from a small viewing window (and the balloon) is made from paper, and it actually sounds pretty good, but because it all looks deceptively simple. Folks inspired to make their own paper pipe organ will need a steady hand, an eye for precision paper cuts and an ear for tuning pipes to pitch. And quite a bit of time to spare.
You can see and hear the paper pipe organ in the video below.