World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Pipe organ

Article Id: WHEBN0000149996
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pipe organ  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Collection: Articles Containing Video Clips, Keyboard Instruments, Pipe Organ
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Pipe organ

The pipe organ in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois, Paris[1]

The pipe organ (also known as church organ or chapel organ) is a stops.

A pipe organ has one or more keyboards (called List of pipe organs.

The origins of the pipe organ can be traced back to the range of the keyboards has varied widely across time and between countries. Most current specifications call for two or more manuals with sixty-one notes (five octaves, from C to c″″) and a pedalboard with thirty or thirty-two notes (two and a half octaves, from C to f′ or g′).[36][42]


A coupler allows the stops of one division to be played from the keyboard of another division. For example, a coupler labelled "Swell to Great" allows the stops drawn in the Swell division to be played on the Great manual. This coupler is a unison coupler, because it causes the pipes of the Swell division to sound at the same pitch as the keys played on the Great manual. Coupling allows stops from different divisions to be combined to create various tonal effects. It also allows every stop of the organ to be played simultaneously from one manual.[43]

Octave couplers, which add the pipes an octave above (super-octave) or below (sub-octave) each note that is played, may operate on one division only (for example, the Swell super octave, which adds the octave above what is being played on the Swell to itself), or act as a coupler to another keyboard (for example, the Swell super-octave to Great, which adds to the Great manual the ranks of the Swell division an octave above what is being played).[43]

In addition, larger organs may use unison off couplers, which prevent the stops pulled in a particular division from sounding at their normal pitch. These can be used in combination with octave couplers to create innovative aural effects, and can also be used to rearrange the order of the manuals to make specific pieces easier to play.[43]

Enclosure and expression pedals

The console of the organ in Salem Minster in Salem, Germany.[44] The expression pedal is visible directly above the pedalboard.

Enclosure refers to a system that allows for the

  • "TourBus to the King of Instruments" - Video series with Carol Williams (organist) about the large & small, famous & unique pipe organs of the world American Video & Audio Production Company
  • The "Joy of the Music" - Television Series with Diane Bish about large pipe organs in USA and in Europe.

Resources for pipe organ video recordings

  • International Organ Foundation, an online pipe organ database with specifications of more than 8000 organs in over 80 countries
  • Organ Historical Society Pipe Organ Database
  • The Top 20 - The World's Largest Pipe Organs
  • National Pipe Organ Register, featuring history and specifications of 28,000 pipe organs in the United Kingdom
  • Die Orgelseite, photos and specifications of some of the world's most interesting organs (subscription required for some content)
  • Organ Database, stoplists, pictures and information about some 33,500 pipe organs around the world
  • The New York City Organ Project documents organs present and past in the five boroughs of New York City


  • Organlive An online station of classical organ music.
  • Positively Baroque An online station dedicated to organ music of the Baroque period.
  • At the Organ An online station providing weekly programming about the classical organ.
  • Pipedreams A weekly 2-hour public radio program of organ music.
  • Sacred Classics, a radio program of organ and choral music

Online radio stations

  • The Pipe Organ, a basic overview of the organ
  • The Organ, quarterly UK publication about pipe organs
  •, pipe organ website with information and detailed photos of various organs
  • Flue Pipe Acoustics, a scholarly description of flue pipe physics
  • Organ transcriptions and the Late Romantic Period
  • Organs and Organists, a repository of information on significant organs and organ builders
  • Orgelgalerie, a gallery of over 2000 pipe organ pictures from many different countries
  • The house organ, A little organ construction process
  • Dr Colin Pykett's website - many technical articles on pipe and electronic organs
  • Encyclopedia of Organ Stops, a comprehensive database of over 2500 stops with descriptions, pictures, and sound clips
  • An introductory site to the organ particularly this Glossary of Organ Terms
  • Organ Memes A site dedicated to the humorous struggles of playing the pipe organ.

External links

  • Adlung, Jacob (1768). Musica mechanica organoedi. English translation, Q. Faulkner, trans (2011). Lincoln, NE: Zea E-Books.
  • Bédos de Celles, Dom François (1768). L'art du facteur d'orgues. Charles Ferguson (Trans.) (1977). The Organ-Builder. Raleigh, NC: Sunbury Press.
  • Bush, Douglas and Kassel, Richard (Ed.) (2006). The Organ: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-94174-7
  • Klotz, Hans (1969). The Organ Handbook. St. Louis: Concordia. ISBN 978-0-570-01306-8
  • Ochse, Orpha (1975). The History of the Organ in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Praetorius, Michael (1619). De Organographia, Parts III – V with Index (English translation)
  • Soderlund, Sandra (1994). A Guide to the Pipe Organ for Composers and Others. Colfax, North Carolina: Wayne Leupold Editions. No ISBN.
  • Sumner, William L. (1973). The Organ: Its evolution, principles of construction and use (4th ed.). London: MacDonald. No ISBN.
  • Williams, Peter (1966). The European Organ, 1458–1850. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32083-6
  • Williams, Peter (1980). A New History of the Organ from the Greeks to the Present Day. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-15704-1

Further reading

  • Ahrens, Christian (2006). In Bush, Douglas & Kassel, Richard (Eds.), The Organ: an Encyclopedia, pp. 399–499. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-94174-1
  • Audsley, G.A. Art of Organ-Building New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-21314-5:
  • Bicknell, Stephen (1999). "Organ building today". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 82–92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Bicknell, Stephen (1999). "Organ construction". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 18–30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Bicknell, Stephen (1999). "The organ case". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 55–81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Cox, Geoffrey (1999). "English organ music to c1700". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 109–203. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Dalton, James (1999). "Iberian organ music before 1700". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 165–175. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Douglass, Fenner (1995). The Language of the Classical French Organ. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-06426-1
  • Gleason, Harold (1988). Method of Organ Playing (7th ed.). Edited by Catherine Crozier Gleason. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-579459-5
  • Higginbottom, Edward (1999). "The French classical organ school". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 176–189. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Kassel, Richard (2006). Display pipes. In Bush, Douglas & Kassel, Richard (Eds.), The Organ: an Encyclopedia, pp. 145–146. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-94174-1
  • Kassel, Richard (2006). Sound effects. In Bush, Douglas & Kassel, Richard (Eds.), The Organ: an Encyclopedia, pp. 526–527. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-94174-1
  • McCrea, Andrew (1999). "British organ music after 1800". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 279–298. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Randel, Don Michael (Ed.) (1986). The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-61525-5
  • Sefl, Alfred (2006). Blower. In Bush, Douglas & Kassel, Richard (Eds.), The Organ: an Encyclopedia, pp. 70–71. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-94174-1
  • Stembridge, Christopher (1999). Italian organ music to Frescobaldi. In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 148–163. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Sumner, William Leslie (1973). The Organ: Its Evolution, Principles of Construction and Use. London: Macdonald. ISBN 0-356-04162-X
  • Thistlethwaite, Nicholas (1999). "Origins and development of the organ". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 1–17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2
  • Webber, Geoffrey (1999). "The north German organ school". In Thistlethwaite, Nicholas & Webber, Geoffrey (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 219–235. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57584-2


  1. ^ Organ built by François-Henri Clicquot, 1771 and Joseph Merklin, 1864. Poliquin, Robert (1997). Église Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, ParisOrgans in France: . Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  2. ^ Willey, David (2001). "The World's Largest Organs". Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  3. ^ a b c Randel "Organ", 583.
  4. ^ Douglas Bush and Richard Kassel eds., "The Organ, an Encyclopedia." Routledge. 2006. p. 327.
  5. ^ Randel "Organ", 584–585.
  6. ^ Michael Woods, "Strange ills afflict pipe organs of Europe". Post-Gazette, April 26, 2005. Archived February 22, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ N. Pippenger, "Complexity Theory", Scientific American, 239:90-100 (1978).
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Thomas, Steve, 2003. Pipe organs 101: an introduction to pipe organ basics. Retrieved on 2007-05-06.
  10. ^ see WorldHeritage: Organ_pipe and Materials heading
  11. ^ Randel "Organ", 578.
  12. ^ a b Randel "Organ", 579.
  13. ^ Bicknell "Organ construction", 27.
  14. ^ a b Bicknell "Organ construction", 20.
  15. ^ Gleason, 3–4.
  16. ^ William H. Barnes "The Contemporary American Organ"
  17. ^ Bicknell "Organ construction", 22–23.
  18. ^ " Pull out all the stops". Draw knobs were the only type of stop control in past centuries, and are still used.American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company (1992). Retrieved on 2007-05-06.
  19. ^ a b William H. Barnes, "The Contemporary American Organ"
  20. ^ Bicknell "Organ construction", 23–24.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Dalton, 168.
  23. ^ The Atlantic City has four stops on 100 inches and ten stops on 50. Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ. Retrieved on 2007-07-04.
  24. ^ Bicknell "Organ construction", 18.
  25. ^ Koopman, Ton (1991). "Dietrich Buxtehude's organ works: A practical help". The Musical Times 123 (1777) (subscription required, though relevant reference is viewable in preview). Retrieved on 2007-05-22.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Sefl, 70-71
  31. ^ About Opus 72. C. B. Fisk, Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-05-13.
  32. ^ Bicknell "Organ construction", 18–20.
  33. ^ a b Bicknell "Organ construction", 26–27.
  34. ^ Bicknell "Organ construction", 27–28.
  35. ^ Johnson, David N. (1973). Instruction Book for Beginning Organists. Revised edition. Augsburg Fortress. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8066-0423-7. Google Book search. Retrieved on 2008-08-15.
  36. ^ a b This article uses the Helmholtz pitch notation to indicate specific pitches.
  37. ^ The purpose of extended ranks and of their being borrowed is to save on the number of pipes. For example, without unification, three stops may use 183 pipes. With unification three stops may borrow one extended rank of 85 pipes. That's 98 fewer pipes used for those three stops.
  38. ^ Randel "Rossignol", 718.
  39. ^ Ahrens, 339; Kassel, 526-527
  40. ^ Organ built by M. P. Moller, 1940. USNA Music Department. United States Naval Academy. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  41. ^ Pipe Organ Guide. American Guild of Organists. Retrieved on 2008-08-13. Archived January 1, 1970 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ Pipe Organ Guide. Wayback Machine
  43. ^ a b c
  44. ^ Organ built by Wilhelm Schwarz, 1901
  45. ^ a b Wicks "Swell division", "Swell shades".
  46. ^ Wicks "Expression pedals".
  47. ^ Wicks "Crescendo pedal".
  48. ^ Pipe Organ Guide. American Guild of Organists. Retrieved on 2008-08-13. Archived January 1, 1970 at the Wayback Machine
  49. ^ Electronic setter. The Cinema Organ Society. Retrieved on 2009-07-07.
  50. ^ Randel "Organ", 580.
  51. ^ Kassel, 146.
  52. ^ PETER WILLIAMS, BARBARA OWEN, New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ORGAN STOP: Montre (Fr.). The case pipes of the French organ, corresponding to the English Open Diapason, the German Prestant, the Italian Principale, etc. Early alternative names were ‘le principal de devant’, ‘devanture en monstre’ (Reims Cathedral, 1570). The tone of the classical French Montre was somewhat more fluty than the various English Open Diapason types or German Principals.
  53. ^ G.A. AUDSLEY Art of Organ-Building, Vol. I, p.544 ISBN 0-486-21314-5: MONTRE, Fr. -The name commonly applied by the French organ builders to such foundations and organ-toned metal stops as may be mounted or displayed in the buffet or case of an organ; accordingly, the MONTRES, which are usually of burnished tin, may be of 32 ft., 16 ft., and 8 ft. speaking lengths, as in the Organ in the Royal Church at Saint Denis near Paris. Sometimes the name is applied to the PRESTANT 4 ft., when its pipes are mounted. All the MONTRES are most carefully fashioned and finished, producing, when of tin brightly burnished, a beautiful effect in combination with the dark wood-work of the case.
  54. ^ Bicknell "The organ case", 66–67.
  55. ^ Wicks "Organ Chamber".
  56. ^ Painting by Meister des Bartholomäus-Altars, 1501.
  57. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001). Organ. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
  58. ^ Liddell, Henry George & Scott, Robert (1940). Organon. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-864226-1. Perseus. Retrieved on 2008-02-09.
  59. ^ a b Randel "Hydraulis", 385.
  60. ^
  61. ^ Douglas Bush and Richard Kassel eds., "The Organ, an Encyclopedia." Routledge. 2006. p. 327.
  62. ^ Riaño, J. F. (1887). Critical and Bibliographical Notes on Early Spanish Music (PDF). London: Quaritch, 119–127. ISBN 0-306-70193-6.
  63. ^ a b Kennedy, Michael (Ed.) (2002). "Organ". In The Oxford Dictionary of Music, p. 644. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  64. ^ Sumner "The Organ", 39.
  65. ^ Keyboard instrument (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica Online (subscription required, though relevant reference is viewable in concise article). Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
  66. ^ Douglass, 10–12.
  67. ^ Thistlethwaite, 5.
  68. ^ Phelps, Lawrence (1973). "A brief look at the French Classical organ, its origins and German counterpart". Steve Thomas. Retrieved on 2007-05-07.
  69. ^ Organ by Hermean Raphaelis, 1554. Copenhagen Portal: Roskilde Cathedral. GBM MARKETING ApS. Retrieved on 2008-05-13.
  70. ^ a b Webber, 222.
  71. ^ a b Randel "Organ", 585.
  72. ^ Bicknell "The organ case", 66–71.
  73. ^ a b Thistlethwaite, 12.
  74. ^ Douglass, 3.
  75. ^ (French) Bédos de Celles, Dom François (1766). Extraits de l'Art du facteur d'orgues. Ferguson (Tr.) (1977). Retrieved on 2007-05-07.
  76. ^ a b c Randel "Organ", 586–587.
  77. ^ McCrea, 279–280.
  78. ^ Randel "Organ", 586.
  79. ^ "The decline of mixtures," in George Laing Miller (1913), The Recent Revolution in Organ Building. Retrieved on 2009-07-07.
  80. ^ Thistlethwaite, 14–15.
  81. ^ Bicknell "Organ building today", 82ff.
  82. ^ Retrieved on 2009-07-07.
  83. ^ , March 1930Popular Mechanics"Small Pipe Organ for Home Shaped Like Grand Piano" bottom-left pg 375
  84. ^ Portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, c.1748
  85. ^ Caldwell, John (2007). "Sources of keyboard music to 1660, §2: Individual sources". In L. Macy (Ed.), Grove Music Online (subscription required). Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  86. ^ Cox, 190.
  87. ^ Stembridge, 148.
  88. ^ Webber, 224.
  89. ^ Stembridge, 160.
  90. ^ a b Caldwell, John (2007). "Keyboard music, §I: Keyboard music to c1750". In L. Macy (Ed.), Grove Music Online (subscription required). Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  91. ^ McLean, Hugh J. (2007). "Böhm, Georg". In L. Macy (Ed.), Grove Music Online (subscription required). Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  92. ^ Ledbetter, David (2007). "Prelude". In L. Macy (Ed.), Grove Music Online (subscription required). Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  93. ^ Yearsley, David (1999). "The organ music of J. S. Bach". In Nicholas Thistlethwaite & Geoffrey Webber (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, p. 236. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  94. ^ Lang, Paul Henry (1971). "Michael Haydn: Duo Concertante for viola and organ. Joseph Haydn: Organ Concerto in C major". The Musical Quarterly 57 (1). Retrieved on 2007-07-10.
  95. ^ Portrait by Jeanne Rongier, 1888.
  96. ^ Higginbottom, 177, 189.
  97. ^ Higginbottom, 178–181.
  98. ^ Cox, 198.
  99. ^ McCrea, 279.
  100. ^ a b c d e f g Owen, Barbara (2007). "Keyboard music, §II: Organ music from c1750". In L. Macy (Ed.), Grove Music Online (subscription required). Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  101. ^ Brooks, Gerard (1999). "French and Belgian organ music after 1800". In Nicholas Thistlethwaite & Geoffrey Webber (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Organ, pp. 274–275. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  102. ^ Barone, Michael (2004). "Pipe organs are popping up in concert halls nationwide. Now—what to play on them?". Symphony magazine, Nov–Dec 2004. Retrieved on 2007-05-07.
  103. ^ Lozenz, James Edward (2006). "Organ Transcriptions and the Late Romantic Period". In An Organ Transcription of the Messe in C, op. 169 by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (PDF). Florida State University College of Music. Retrieved on 2007-06-19.
  104. ^ Glück, Sebastian Matthäus (2003). "Literature-based reed assignment in organ design". PIPORG-L. Retrieved on 2007-06-19.
  105. ^ Galuska, Andrew R. (2001). "Messiaen's organ registration". Moore's School of Music: University of Houston. Retrieved on 2007-06-19.


[105] continued to progress through the music of [104] In the 20th-century symphonic repertoire, both sacred and secular,

Organ music was seldom written in the Classical era, as composers preferred the piano with its ability to create dynamics.[100] In Germany, the In the 19th and 20th centuries, organ builders began to build instruments in concert halls and other large secular venues, allowing the organ to be used as part of an orchestra, as in Saint-Saëns'

[100] were installed in theatres to provide accompaniment for the films.[100]

[99][98] through the 19th century.voluntaries wrote multi-sectional free works for liturgical use called John Stanley and John Blow In England, composers such as [97] In France, organ music developed during the Baroque era through the music of

Saint Clotilde, Paris[95]

[94] Early Baroque organ music in Germany was highly

. Juan Cabanilles which culminated with [90] In the Renaissance period, Dutch composers such as

Before the Baroque era, keyboard music generally was not written for one instrument or another, but rather was written to be played on any keyboard instrument. For this reason, much of the organ's repertoire through the Renaissance period is the same as that of the Faenza Codex, dating from 1420.[87]

Although most countries whose music falls into the Western tradition have contributed to the organ repertoire, France and Germany in particular have produced exceptionally large amounts of organ music. There is also an extensive repertoire from the Netherlands, England, and the United States.

The organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach forms an important part of the instrument's repertoire.[84]

The main development of organ repertoire has progressed along with that of the organ itself, leading to distinctive national styles of composition. Because organs are commonly found in churches and synagogues, the organ repertoire includes a large amount of transcriptions of orchestral works.


One US firm, the Estey Organ Co. of Brattleboro, Vermont, developed a small pipe organ for homes that used the traditional way of producing music. The entire organ, pipes, bellows, keyboard and foot pedals was enclosed in what appeared to be a baby grand piano.[83] This came in both a standard grand piano shape as well as an upright grand piano case. It was called the Estey "Grand Minuette."


Positive organ

In the late 20th century, organ builders began to incorporate digital components into their key, stop, and combination actions. Besides making these mechanisms simpler and more reliable, this also makes it possible to record and play back an organist’s performance via the MIDI protocol.[82] In addition, some organ builders have incorporated digital stops into their pipe organs.

In the mid-20th century, organ builders began to build Organ reform movement.

The pipe organ in the chapel of San Carlos Seminary, Makati City, Philippines exhibits a modern façade.

The development of pneumatic and electro-pneumatic key actions in the late 19th century made it possible to locate the console independently of the pipes, greatly expanding the possibilities in organ design. Electric stop actions were also developed, which allowed sophisticated combination actions to be created.[80]

Modern development

The Cavaillé-Coll organ of the cathedral of Nancy (France)

Organ builders began to lean towards specifications with fewer mixtures and high-pitched stops. They preferred to use more 8′ and 16′ stops in their specifications and wider pipe scales.[79] These practices created a warmer, richer sound than was common in the 18th century. Organs began to be built in concert halls (such as the organ at the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris), and composers such as Camille Saint-Saëns and Gustav Mahler used the organ in their orchestral works.

During the Barker lever" to assist in operating the key action.[78]

A typical modern 20th-century console, located in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

Romantic period

In France, as in Italy, Spain and Portugal, organs were primarily designed to play [76][77]

Baroque pipe organ of the 18th century at Monastery of Santa Cruz, Coimbra, Portugal

Different national styles of organ building began to develop, often due to changing political climates.[71] In the Netherlands, the organ became a large instrument with several divisions, doubled ranks, and mounted cornets. The organs of northern Germany also had more divisions, and independent pedal divisions became increasingly common.[71] The divisions of the organ became visibly discernible from the case design. 20th-century musicologists labelled this the Werkprinzip.[72]

[70] During the

Renaissance and Baroque periods

The Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark[69]

Until the mid-15th century, organs had no stop controls. Each manual controlled ranks at multiple pitches, known as the Blockwerk.[66] Around 1450, controls were designed that allowed the ranks of the Blockwerk to be played individually. These devices were the forerunners of modern stop actions.[67] The higher-pitched ranks of the Blockwerk remained grouped together under a single stop control; these stops developed into mixtures.[68]

[63] It had twenty bellows operated by ten men, and the wind pressure was so high that the player had to use the full strength of his arm to hold down a key.[65] Large organs such as the one installed in 1361 in

Portable organs (the miniatures of illuminated manuscripts appear to have real keyboards with balanced keys, as in the Cantigas de Santa Maria.[62] Its portability made the portative useful for the accompaniment of both sacred and secular music in a variety of settings.

The 9th century Aachen in 812, beginning its establishment in Western church music.[61]

The Greek engineer hydraulis, which delivered a wind supply maintained through water pressure to a set of pipes.[59] The hydraulis was played in the arenas of the Roman Empire. The pumps and water regulators of the hydraulis were replaced by an inflated leather bag in the 2nd century AD,[59] and true bellows began to appear in the 6th or 7th century AD.[3]

[58] a generic term for an instrument or a tool.[57] The organ is one of the oldest instruments still used in European classical music that has commonly been credited has having derived from Greece. Its earliest predecessors were built in

A painting of Saint Cecilia playing a portative. Her left hand can be seen operating the bellows.[56]
Hydraulis, 1st century BC, Archaeological Museum of Dion, Greece

Antiquity and Medieval

History and development

Regulation adjusts the action so that all pipes sound correctly. If the regulation is wrongly set, the keys may be at different heights, some pipes may sound when the keys are not pressed, or pipes may not sound when a key is pressed. Tracker action, for example in the organ of Cradley Heath Baptist Church, includes adjustment nuts on the wire ends of the wooden trackers, which have the effect of changing the effective length of each tracker.

The goal of tuning a pipe organ is to adjust the pitch of each pipe so that they all sound in tune with each other. How the pitch of each pipe is adjusted depends on the type and construction of that pipe.

Tracker action showing adjusters on tracker ends which engage with the keys of the great organ.

Tuning and regulation

Many organs, particularly those built in the early 20th century, are contained in one or more rooms called organ chambers. Because sound does not project from a chamber into the room as clearly as from a freestanding organ case, enchambered organs may sound muffled and distant.[55] For this reason, some modern builders, particularly those building instruments specializing in polyphony rather than Romantic compositions, avoid this unless the architecture of the room makes it necessary.

Organ cases occasionally feature a few ranks of pipes protruding horizontally from the case in the manner of a row of Iberian peninsula and large 20th-century instruments.[54]

[53][52], will most often contain pipes, which may be either sounding pipes or dummy pipes solely for decoration. The façade pipes may be plain, façade The case often is designed to complement the building's architectural style and it may contain ornamental carvings and other decorations. The visible portion of the case, called the [50] The pipes, action, and wind system are almost always contained in a case, the design of which also may incorporate the console. The case blends the organ's sound and aids in projecting it into the room.

The organ of the Severikirche in Erfurt, Germany, has a highly decorative case with ornate carvings and cherubs.


Organ stops can be combined in countless permutations, resulting in a great variety of sounds. A combination action can be used to switch instantly from one combination of stops (called a registration) to another. Combination actions feature small buttons called pistons that can be pressed by the organist, generally located beneath the keys of each manual (thumb pistons) or above the pedalboard (toe pistons).[48] The pistons may be divisional (affecting only a single division) or general (affecting all the divisions), and are either preset by the organ builder or can be altered by the organist. Modern combination actions operate via computer memory, and can store several channels of registrations.[49]

Combination action

[47] The most common method of controlling the louvers is the

Sometimes the shades are exposed, but they are often concealed behind a row of facade-pipes or a grill. [45]; their position can be adjusted from the console. When the swell shades are open, more sound is heard than when they are closed.Venetian blinds, which operate in a similar way to swell shades. At least one side of the box is constructed from horizontal or vertical palettes known as swell box The pipes of an enclosed division are placed in a chamber generally called the [45] Keyboards played by the hands are known as


The controls available to the organist, including the keyboards, couplers, expression pedals, stops, and registration aids are accessed from the console.[41] The console is either built into the organ case or detached from it.

The five-manual, 522-stop detached console at the United States Naval Academy Chapel crafted by R. A. Colby, Inc.[40]


[39] Special unpitched stops also appear in some organs. Among these are the

Sometimes, a single rank of pipes may be able to be controlled by several stops, allowing the rank to be played at multiple pitches or on multiple manuals. Such a rank is said to be unified or borrowed. For example, an 8′ Diapason rank may also be made available as a 4′ Octave. When both of these stops are selected and a key (for example, c′)[36] is pressed, two pipes of the same rank will sound: the pipe normally corresponding to the key played (c′), and the pipe one octave above that (c′′). Because the 8′ rank does not have enough pipes to sound the top octave of the keyboard at 4′ pitch, it is common for an extra octave of pipes used only for the borrowed 4′ stop to be added. In this case, the full rank of pipes (now an extended rank) is one octave longer than the keyboard.[37]

The label on a stop knob or rocker tab indicates the stop’s name and its pitch in feet. Stops that control multiple ranks display a Roman numeral indicating the number of ranks present, instead of its pitch.[35] Thus, a stop labelled "Open Diapason 8′ " is a single-rank diapason stop sounding at 8′ pitch. A stop labelled "Mixture V" is a five-rank mixture.

To facilitate a large range of timbres, organ stops exist at different pitch levels. A stop that sounds at unison pitch when a key is depressed is referred to as being at 8′ (pronounced "eight-foot") pitch. This refers to the length of the lowest-sounding pipe in that rank, which is approximately eight feet. For the same reason, a stop that sounds an octave higher is at 4′ pitch, and one that sounds two octaves higher is at 2′ pitch. Likewise, a stop that sounds an octave lower than unison pitch is at 16′ pitch, and one that sounds two octaves lower is at 32′ pitch.[33] Stops of different pitch levels are designed to be played simultaneously.

Stop knobs of the Baroque organ in Weingarten, Germany

[34] Each stop usually controls one rank of pipes, although


[32] until the action allows it to flow into the pipes.windchests The wind supplied is stored in one or more regulators to maintain a constant pressure in the [31] Playing the organ before electricity required at least one person to operate the

[23] The wind system consists of the parts that produce, store, and deliver wind to the pipes. Pipe organ wind pressures are on the order of 0.10 psi (0.69 kPa). Organ builders often measure organ wind using a U-tube

Bellow of a pipe organ at Museu de la Música de Barcelona

Wind system

The most modern actions are primarily electronic, which connect the console and windchests via narrow data cables instead of the larger multiconductor cables of electric actions. Boxes containing small embedded computers in the console and near the windchests translate console commands into fast serial data for the cable, and back into electrical commands at the windchest[s].

When electrical wiring alone is used to connect the console to the windchest, electric actions allow the console to be separated at any practical distance from the rest of the organ, and to be movable.[20] Electric stop actions can be controlled at the console by stop knobs, by pivoted tilting tablets, or rocker tabs. These are simple switches, like wall switches for room lights. Some may include electromagnets for setting or resetting when combinations are selected.

A more recent development is the electric action which uses low voltage DC to control the key and/or stop mechanisms. Electricity may control the action indirectly through air pressure valves (pneumatics), in which case the action is electro-pneumatic. In such actions, an electromagnet attracts a small pilot valve which lets wind go to a bellows ("pneumatic") which opens the pallet. When electricity operates the action directly without the assistance of pneumatics, it is commonly referred to as direct electric action.[19] In this type, the electromagnet's armature carries a disc pallet.

A later development was the tubular-pneumatic action, which uses changes of pressure within lead tubing to operate pneumatic valves throughout the instrument. This allowed a lighter touch, and more flexibility in the location of the console, within a 50-foot (15-m) limit. This type of construction was used in the late 19th century to early 20th century, and has had only rare application since the 1920s.[19]

Tracker action has been used from antiquity to modern times. Despite the extra effort needed in playing, many organists prefer tracker action because of a feel and a control of the pipe valve operation. Before the pallet opens, wind pressure augments tension of the pallet spring, but once the pallet opens, only the spring tension is felt at the key. This provides a "breakaway" feel.

In a mechanical stop action, each stop control operates a valve for a whole rank of pipes. When the organist selects a stop, the valve allows wind to reach the selected rank.[14] This control was at first a draw [18] More modern stop selectors, used for electric actions, are tilting tablets or rocker tabs.

[17] A key action which physically connects the keys and the windchests is a mechanical or

Interior of the organ at Cradley Heath Baptist Church showing the tracker action. The black rods, called rollers, rotate to transmit movement sideways to line up with the pipes.

An organ contains two actions, or systems of moving parts. When a key is depressed, the key action admits wind into a pipe. The stop action allows the organist to control which ranks are engaged. An action may be mechanical, pneumatic, or electrical (or some combination of these, such as electro-pneumatic action).[16] The key action is independent of the stop action, allowing an organ to combine a mechanical key action along with an electric stop action.

Cross-section of one note of a mechanical-action windchest. Trackers attach to the wires hanging through the bottom board at the left. A wire pulls down on the pallet (valve) against the tension of the V-shaped spring. Wind under pressure surrounds the pallet, and when it is pulled down, the wide rectangular chamber above the pallet feeds wind to all pipes of this note and stop; note the cutaway passages at the top.


[15] The [14].windchest Pipes are arranged by timbre and pitch into ranks. A rank is a row of pipes mounted vertically onto a

Organ pipes are divided into flue pipes and reed pipes according to their design and timbre. Flue pipes produce sound by forcing air through a fipple, like that of a recorder, whereas reed pipes produce sound via a beating reed, like that of a clarinet or saxophone.[13]

Interior of the Seville Cathedral, showing the pipes of the organ.

Organ pipes are made from either wood or metal [10] and produce sound ("speak") when air under pressure ("wind") is directed through them.[11] As one pipe produces a single builder to produce the desired tone and volume. Hence a pipe's volume cannot be readily changed while playing.[12]

The Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah has 11,623 pipes and accompanies the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


A pipe organ contains one or more sets of pipes, a wind system, and one or more keyboards. The pipes produce sound when pressurized air produced by the wind system passes through them. An action connects the keyboards to the pipes. console.



  • Construction 1
    • Pipes 1.1
    • Action 1.2
    • Wind system 1.3
    • Stops 1.4
    • Console 1.5
      • Keyboards 1.5.1
      • Couplers 1.5.2
      • Enclosure and expression pedals 1.5.3
      • Combination action 1.5.4
    • Casing 1.6
    • Tuning and regulation 1.7
  • History and development 2
    • Antiquity and Medieval 2.1
    • Renaissance and Baroque periods 2.2
    • Romantic period 2.3
    • Modern development 2.4
  • Repertoire 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7
    • Online radio stations 7.1
    • Databases 7.2
    • Resources for pipe organ video recordings 7.3
Stanford Memorial Church in Stanford, California.

Pipe organs are installed in churches, synagogues, concert halls, and other public buildings and are used for the performance of repertoire, which spans over 500 years.[9]

[7] in the late 19th century.telephone exchange a distinction it retained until it was displaced by the [6]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.