Music

Paper pipe organ makes tunes with a balloon

Paper pipe organ makes tunes w...
The "wind" needed for the paper pipe organ is supplied by a deflating balloon attached to the housing
The "wind" needed for the paper pipe organ is supplied by a deflating balloon attached to the housing
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The "wind" needed for the paper pipe organ is supplied by a deflating balloon attached to the housing
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The "wind" needed for the paper pipe organ is supplied by a deflating balloon attached to the housing
The paper components that make up each pipe
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The paper components that make up each pipe
A full set of assembled pipes
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A full set of assembled pipes
Valve arms are fed through slots to the outer edge of the main housing, for linking up to the corresponding keys on the keyboard
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Valve arms are fed through slots to the outer edge of the main housing, for linking up to the corresponding keys on the keyboard
A complete set of valves
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A complete set of valves
The valves, topped with photo paper, installed in the main housing
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The valves, topped with photo paper, installed in the main housing
Keys will sit atop paper ribs to the front of the main valve housing
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Keys will sit atop paper ribs to the front of the main valve housing
Each key rib will connect to a valve, that will open and close the airway when the key is pressed
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Each key rib will connect to a valve, that will open and close the airway when the key is pressed
Top view of the completed paper pipe organ
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Top view of the completed paper pipe organ
The paper pipe organ gets its "wind" from a deflating balloon
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The paper pipe organ gets its "wind" from a deflating balloon

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.

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.

Top view of the completed paper pipe organ
Top view of the completed paper pipe organ

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.

Sources: YouTube, Only Paper [in Russian]

Working paper organ / Действующий оргАн из бумаги

2 comments
HaroldBalsac
Looks like an amusing project. You could eliminate the restrictions that the balloon places on it by using an inexpensive aquarium pump to supply a virtually endless supply of air.
Paul Anthony
What a great build! Can only imagine if he'd have done more octaves. The sound quality was surprising. This is truly art meets functionality. This company should ask this guy to develop patterns for them... https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01GSOMVRG/ref=dp_ob_neva_mobile