Why Pipe Organs Sound Scary

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From Sideways.

They don’t, except for when they do

Edit:
So I want to clarify what I said about Bach not writing the Toccata and Fugue in d minor.
There’s been a lot of discussion on the subject, and from everything I’ve gathered the answer is that this piece is one of the more anomalous in Bach’s repertoire which, along with the lack of an original score written in Bach’s hand, makes his authorship of the piece seem somewhat less that certain by a handful of Bach scholars.
However, until there is more substantive evidence, the convention is to attribute this piece to Bach.
So "Bach didn’t write the toccata and fugue in d minor" may have been a little too strong here, maybe even misleading, and I just wanted to take a minute to completely clarify that point.
The quote from Jean-Claude Zehnder is "The matter still remains open, despite the scholarly discourse that began in 1981. Until proof of the contrary, BWV 565 should be considered as a work by Johann Sebastian Bach."

oops.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toccata_and_Fugue_in_D_minor,_BWV_565#Authenticity_research_and_reconstructions

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sideways440
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/sideways440
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Sideways440

Sources:

A fantastic source on trying to decipher how much Bach actually appeared in the silent film cannon, as well as some scoring conventions of the time:
Status, Standards, and Stereotypes: J.S. Bach’s Presence in the Silent Era
James M. Doering
https://search.proquest.com/docview/2306777140/fulltextPDF/E624FD9F7329402EPQ/1?accountid=14503

A brilliant article about the 1931 Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hide, I doubt I would’ve ever noticed that the organ in the opening was transposed down a minor third and this article shed a lot of light on one of the first ever horror soundtracks:
The Strange Case of Rouben Mamoulian’s Sound of Stew: The Uncanny Soundtrack in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/film/gaines/historiography/Music%20in%20the%20Horror%20Film.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0tYFHtbjLpf5usPJxOgQs1u5eBgn8AUxvVKiq72tnqnW2JSKvTn_oTiLE

Basically everything you could ever want to know about the narrative themes and significance of organs in films.
I cannot stress enough how valuable this source was and if you’re at all interested in what a musical instrument could represent then you owe it to yourself to give this a read:
Carnival of Souls and the Organs of Horror
https://www.academia.edu/3138033/Carnival_of_Souls_and_the_organs_of_horror?fbclid=IwAR0ZiK4Pn_oRkNhYfJe7b5zGKyxRGSmbUnpCs0mfMT7Tok5ZuM7uKMdQbCE

There are also a LOT of articles that outline the history of the Toccata and Fugue in d minor and its presence in film history, there’s just too much to organize and they overlap a lot so I’m just going to link them all en masse here:

https://www.wqxr.org/story/what-makes-the-famous-bach-organ-piece-toccata-fugue-so-spooky/?fbclid=IwAR0hlX3B6TkYz5CKwIFis9ZQ72c8m4z_Voabn6YQrQ9St2Vl1kKZ1_aP8vo

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/why-the-organ-is-such-a-spooky-instrument-according-to-musicians-1.3825017?fbclid=IwAR1XVluAsaOEIM4Rd6tbXQmhphD1kvKm1WqUQGYUsueI1TFidiBzzMTBhmQ

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/why-the-organ-is-such-a-spooky-instrument-according-to-musicians-1.3825017

https://blog.oup.com/2012/08/pipe-organ-king-instruments-sleep-scare/

https://theconversation.com/the-pipe-organ-more-than-just-a-church-instrument-82712

https://www.wqxr.org/story/what-makes-the-famous-bach-organ-piece-toccata-fugue-so-spooky/

https://books.google.com/books?id=iGN9x-OclFAC&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=toccata+and+fugue+silent+film&source=bl&ots=f9ak5C7TgW&sig=uUJOOJfSSEACwPKDTAvCrzBBzw0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEoQ6AEwCGoVChMI8Ya-wO_jxwIVSaseCh3rAgNa#v=onepage&q=toccata%20and%20fugue%20silent%20film&f=false

https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/pictures/composer/scary-classical-music-listen-frightening-pieces/church-organ/

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