Episode 3

The Organ at Notre-Dame

By Christophe D’Alessandro & Elliot K. Canfield-Dafilou

The organ at Notre-Dame has been an essential part of the cathedral’s liturgy, music, and sonic identity for nearly 700 years. Two medieval organs were built in the 14th and 15th centuries. We are carrying out research for the sound reconstruction of these no longer existing gothic instruments. The music of the organ results from the symbiosis among the instrument, the building, and the organist. One of the challenges of our research is to study the interdependence between the instrument and the room. The organ is recorded by a network of close microphones in order to separate it acoustically from the room and to model its acoustic radiation. Once isolated, the organ sound can be virtually projeted in the acoustics of Notre-Dame using a room acoustics model. This methodology is first evaluated with the historic organ of Sainte Elisabeth (1853) as the source organ. To make these Gothic organs resonate again, the research project consists in reconstructing and interpreting the musical repertoire of Notre-Dame on facsimile medieval organs, and virtually replacing these instruments in their original location in the cathedral.

C. d’Alessandro, E.K. Canfield-Dafilou, S.S. Mullins, B.F.G. Katz, “Searching for the location of the first medieval organ in Notre-Dame de Paris via acoustic simulation”, Forum Acusticum, 2023

G. V. Curulla, E. K. Canfield-Dafilou, P. Domenighini, B. F. A. C. d’Alessandro, and B. F. G. Katz, “Pipe organ buffet radiation patterns under different excitation strategies,” in Intl Cong Acoustics, pp. 1–8, 2022.

G. Villegas Curulla, P. Domenighini, B. F. G. Katz, and E. K. Canfield-Dafilou, “Directivity of a small pipe organ buffet,” in Symp The Acoustics of Ancient Theatres, (Verona), pp. 1–4, 2022.