Meet The Instrument: The Organetto

organetto tapestry

Royal Ladies playing music for a nobleman. Tapestry. 15 cent. Flanders.

Roger Helou: Lavandose Le Mane / Francesco Landini – Che cosa è questa amor.

Meet The Instrument: The Organetto

Also known as the portative organ, the organetto is a pipe organ in miniature, small enough to be supported on one knee or slung from a shoulder strap, the keyboard is played with one hand while the other hand pumps the bellows. Because the instrument does not have an air reservoir, each phrase has to be planned so that the bellows will provide enough air for its completion.
Because the performer has complete control not only over the keyboard, but also the wind supply, it is possible to play with more dynamic expression (the contrast between loud and soft) than is possible with other types of organ not equipped with a swell pedal.
Thank you young man, for assisting so ably in demonstrating this instrument for our audience. Might I ask you to introduce yourself?
“Grazie! Il mio nome è … uh, my name is Francesco da Fiorenza, though some people prefer to call me Blind Francesco – I was robbed of my sight in childhood, but as you can hear, the colors of my world are your sounds. Merciful God has given me many opportunities to serve my fellows in the art of music, may it please you. And may my songs both please your ear and give food to your thoughts. Should any of you be sojourning in Venezia over the next few days, I have been engaged by his grace, the Doge, to perform for the entertainment of his majesty the King of Cyprus.”