Hydraulis organ: 1st century BC, Archaeological Museum
of Dion, Greece
(From Wikipedia, "Pipe Organs"
The organ is one of the oldest instruments still used in European classical music that has commonly been credited has having derived from Greece. Its earliest predecessors were built in Ancient Greece in the 3rd century BC. The word organ is derived from the Latin organum, an instrument similar to a portative organ used in ancient Roman circus games. Organum is derived in turn from the Greek (organon), a generic term for an instrument or a tool.
The Greek engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria is credited with inventing the organ in the 3rd century BC. He devised an instrument called the hydraulis, which delivered a wind supply maintained through water pressure to a set of pipes. The hydraulis was played in the arenas of the Roman Empire. The pumps and water regulators of the hydraulis were replaced by an inflated leather bag in the 2nd century AD, and true bellows began to appear in the 6th or 7th century AD.
The 9th century Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih (d. 911); in his lexicographical discussion of instruments cited the urghun (organ) as one of the typical instruments of the Byzantine Empire. It was often used in the Hippodrome. The first Western pipe organ with "great leaden pipes" was sent to the West by the Byzantine emperor Constantine V as a gift to Pepin the Short King of the Franks in 757. Pepin's son Charlemagne requested a similar organ for his chapel in Aachen in 812.
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