Investing in research is foreign to most organbuilders. It is commonly assumed that, for a traditional instrument such as the pipe organ, everything has already been invented. Research is therefore perceived by most as something that simply does not apply to organbuilding. At Fratelli Ruffatti we instead believe that tradition is strong only as long as it continues to develop. In planning our instruments, new approaches are continuously studied and developed, with the purpose of making each Ruffatti organ a unique and fascinating creation.
Our commitment to research goes back for decades. For example, Fratelli Ruffatti was the first in the world to develop in-house and produce, in 1968, a new five manual solid state console for the famous Aeolian Skinner organ at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, at a time when no one imagined that electronic components would ever find their way into pipe organs. Since then, a number of significant advancements have contributed to improve, one by one, all technical and tonal aspects of our instruments.
Over the years we have taken active part in several “European CRAFT” projects (Co-operative Research Action For Technology) with the participation of a number of notable institutions: the Fraunhofer Institut fuer Bauphysik (IBP) in Stuttgart, Germany, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Prague, the University of Budapest, the Steinbeis Transfer Center Applied Acoustics, Stuttgart and others. The Fraunhofer Institut of Stuttgart in particular has been the constant guide and the main force behind fundamental and applied research.
Fratelli Ruffatti has been a partner of these programs, as part of the CRAFT projects within the framework of the Brite-Euram III program:
- “Development and Modernization of the Wind Supply Systems of Pipe Organs“ (BRST-CT98-5247)
- “Advanced Computer Designed Open Wind Systems for Pipe Organs” (G1ST-CT2001-50139)
- “Development of an innovative organ pipe design method” (G1ST-CT-2002-50267)
- “Innovative Design Method for Matching the Pipe Organ to the Acoustics of the Room” (COOP-CT-2005-017712)
- “Innovative Methods and Tools for the Sound Design of Organ Pipes” (FP7-SME-2007-1, Research for SMEs – 222104) (current project
An entire decade of study and experimentation, and the process is still under way! A number of astonishing results have been achieved, all implemented to make the Ruffatti organ a more advanced, better planned, more efficient and better sounding instrument. Yes, better sounding as well, since the aim of the current research is to find better ways to reduce or eliminate problems that exist both in the field of “scaling”, or pipe dimensioning, and in “voicing”, meaning the process by which the pipes are given their proper sound character. Obtaining scientific, indisputable knowledge will enable us to put into effect the practical solutions to better reach our tonal ideals.
The results which have been obtained over the years range from more efficient and silent wind systems, to efficient ways to evaluate room acoustics and to better adapt pipe organs to different acoustical environments. Recently, a revolutionary wind system has been invented, a monumental advancement over the traditional winding methods, which allows the organbuilder to simply avoid the use of reservoirs, schwimmers or related equipment, while at the same time obtaining unprecedented stability and efficiency in the wind supply of pipe organs.
In addition to all the above, Fratelli Ruffatti has conducted private research in the field of metallurgy and sound insulation. Better and more secure pipe construction, and a wider dynamic range of our expression enclosures are the most significant results.