Music and materials: Art and science of organ pipe metal
Historical pipe organs offer rich insights into the relationships between materials and music in the past, and they represent a laboratory for contemporary materials science. Recent cross-disciplinary research has explored problems of conservation and corrosion in old organ pipes. The ability of some notable European Baroque organs to produce sound is threatened by atmospheric corrosion of their lead-tin alloy pipes. Organic acids emitted from the wood of organ cases are corrosive agents for lead-rich pipes. Laboratory exposure experiments were used to study the roles of humidity and alloy composition in the susceptibility to organic acid attack. The rates of growth, as well as the compositions and morphologies of the corrosion products were studied using gravimetry, x-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy of surfaces and cross sections. This interdisciplinary project provides one model for the interplay of scientific and humanities research in addressing materials problems in cultural heritage.
Oertel, Catherine M., and Annette Richards. 2017. "Music and materials: Art and science of organ pipe metal." MRS Bulletin 42(1): 55-61.
Cambridge University Press
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Acetic-acid vapor, Atmospheric corrosion, Lead, Environments, Tin