The Hammond organ has and continues to play a major role in many types of music from Gospel to Rock to Jazz to Bossanova and of course is synonymous with baseball games. This is a vintage tube powered tone-wheel organ from 1961 in pristine condition.
The original idea Hammond had for the electronic organ was to simulate the sound of a pipe organ with a compact and relatively cheap instrument so that churches that didn’t have the money or space for a large pipe organ could still have an instrument.
In the hands of a young Billy Preston the instrument really found a voice.
The Hammond organ does not sound like a pipe organ, but it was a huge success and went far beyond it’s original market to invade and inspire many musical forms.
At its core the sound is generated by wheels spinning at constant speeds but having different numbers of notches, like cogs. The oscillation is picked up and amplified to form the different harmonics of the organ.
This is all rather dry sounding, but the organ produces warm tones and when you crank the volume it distorts in just the right way.
Between the two manuals and the bass pedalboard covering over two octaves the instrument has quite a range and can either fill or subtly add to a song. The ability to manipulate the tone and volume of the sound on the fly adds another facet to the instrument. It soon becomes apparent that hitting the keyboard is just part of playing this beast.
Another thing that can be done with modifications is to separate out the bass pedals with midi, as Barbara Dennerlein does. She plays a sampled upright bass with her left foot whilst playing the keyboard manuals with her hands. Not too many people use the pedals any more, but this is a masterclass.
Of course you could just attack the keyboard with knives like Keith Emerson in The Nice back in 1968. This was one of the first things I heard as a kid where I was struck by the power of the instrument.
What made me want to first own one was the Hammond heard all over Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.
Whether it's soothing or screaming, the scope of music on which the Hammond organ has been used is incredible.