Atom Eye Blog

Sound. Art. Music = Ramblings

Pull Out all the Stops

Pull Out all the stops

Pull Out All the Stops: the Story of the Royal Festival Hall’s Organ

From the 18 March – 13 April

10.30am-11pm daily


The Royal Festival Organ has spent the last 3 years being restored to its full glory. To celebrate the return home of the “wondrous machine” the Southbank team have created an interactive exhibition drawing together historic artefacts, curiosities, and magical mechanical machines.

There’s a long list of free event well worth a visit to the site. Here’s a small selection.

Create your own slap organ (Sat 22nd March)

Early Instrument Collection (Sat 22nd March) Explore the weird and wonderful sounds of the early instruments that inspired the organ.

DIY Organ Kit (Sat 22nd March) A family-friendly workshop that explores how the organ works. During the workshop you work together to solve the mysteries of how the organ works. Once you have successfully put it together you must then work as a team to play the instrument you have created, taking it in turns to compose and become the conductor of the Royal Festival Hall kit organ.

Auditorium Acoustics (Sun 23rd March) Learn all about the Royal Festival Hall’s unique acoustic in this hour-long talk.

Big Pipe Busk (Sun 24th March)

Make your own Radio 3 Multitrack mix (various) This opportunity for one-to-one tuition puts you in charge of the mixing desk. No experience needed. Come and mix your own multi-track with BBC sound engineers.


Full festival listings here

Related Links

Southbank Centre

BBC Radio 3


Pedro Reyes 1

Pedro Reyes is a Mexican artist whose work – “Disarm” – highlights Mexico’s wave of drug-related violence and crime. Pedro transforms firearms into an orchestra of fully-workable musical instruments – from flutes to drum kits.

“Disarm” is a second series of instruments built using the remnants of weapons that the Mexican army had collected and destroyed. The second series is made up of eight instruments that were created in collaboration with a team musicians and Cocolab, a media studio in Mexico City.  The work was shown in London March, 2013, and the exhibition featured 8 Machine Music paintings, 8 Disarm instruments – including a Xylophone, Rain Stick, Guitar, Banjo and Violin, and 9 mechanised Disarm instruments – instruments that would be continuously playing throughout the 6 week exhibition.

These machines are mechanical musical instruments; they can be programmed and operated via computers, making them capable of performing music concerts with compositions prepared beforehand.

Pedro Reyes 2

Pedro Reyes 5

Pedro reyes 4

While the instruments were in the UK music producer John Coxon was commissioned to produce a record using them. He called in 6 other musicians and they spent a day improvising on the instruments in RAK studios in central London. Several weeks later a beautiful Vinyl was produced featuring 12 tracks recorded on that day and album artwork taken from Pedro’s designs.

Here are some extracts from the ‘Disarm’ LP:

Pedro Reyes 3

Related Links

Pedro Reyes

Lisson Gallery

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