Pipe organs are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. The sound is created by wind at a chosen pressure which has travelled from the bellows (or reservoir) to the soundboard (or wind chest) on which the pipes stand. The keyboard operates the mechanism with either (1) tracker action (mechanically), or (2) pneumatic action (puffs of wind operated by miniature bellows or ‘motors’), or (3) electro-pneumatic action (‘motors’ assisted by magnets). The drawstops operate sliders in the soundboard allowing wind to enter the selected rank of pipes.
Before 1539 there were five small organs in Durham Cathedral, and the organ “ouer the quire dore” was said to be one of the finest in England. Organs have been popular in parish churches since early Victorian times. An organ in a village church might have up to 1000 pipes; the Harrison & Harrison organ in Durham Cathedral has 5734 pipes.