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My iPhone can play the Cathedral organ!

For centuries, the pipe organ has been the primary instrument utilized in Christian worship. At the end of the 19th century, pipe organs appeared in World’s Fair and other exhibitions, not only because of their musical abilities, but also as scientific exhibits. The mechanics of conveying the small motion of a key across larger distances and to control more and more pipes represented cutting edge technology of the time. This continued into the 20th century as electricity enabled further advances and created different solutions.

While certain companies continued to push the technological envelope, eventually developing organs that used no pipes at all, many organists stopped looking for technological advances because they were unsatisfied by the sounds that were not produced by pipes. Meanwhile as other electronic instruments arrived on the scene as well as personal computers, a communication standard was developed for computers and musical instruments to speak the same language. Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) was standardized in 1983 and has slowly been integrated into pipe organs that use computers as part of their control system.

Though the organ here at the Cathedral relies almost entirely on physical pipes to produce sounds (only some of the lowest sounds are created with electronic speakers), there is a computer in each console where the keyboards are, and down by the pedal board are MIDI ports. I recently acquired a cable that enables me to connect my iPhone to these MIDI ports. Now with an app on my phone, I can record and playback music at the Cathedral organ!