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18 May 2021, 15:44 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 16:31
A mighty Bach organ Toccata – with actual flames. Con fuoco!
This incredible instrument was found at the Transworld Halloween and Attractions Show, which took place a few weeks ago in St. Louis, Missouri.
It’s played by Tom BetGeorge, a Californian music teacher and YouTuber who goes viral every Christmas with his house light displays to Beethoven, John Williams and more. So he knows a thing or two about syncing music and blazing visuals.
On the fiery instrument, BetGeorge plays that spooky staple: Bach’s dark, brooding and virtuosic Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
The musician said: “I was able to play this amazing fire organ! It was a lot of fun although it got pretty hot when playing the higher keys. Please excuse my mistakes as I was playing it off the top of my head from when I was a child.”
We can forgive a few wrong notes, Tom – we came for the fire. Take a look at the magic in the video above.
Flame-throwing keyboard instruments has been around a bit longer than you might first expect. People have been experimenting with the tones of small explosions in organ pipe-like tubes as far back as 1777.
A more sophisticated instrument, the ‘pyrophone’ – also known as a ‘fire/explosion organ’ – was first invented by French physicist and musician Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner in 1869.
In the pyrophone, jets of fire are pushed through cylindrical glass tubes. It is the flame itself that creates the oscillations and sound.
From the looks and sound of things, this instrument isn’t a pyrophone per se, but more an electric organ with some spectacular jets of flame added. Still looks epic though. Organ builders and fire departments, please do @ us to advise.