Organists, I need to learn your language!
  • Registration, stops, pedals, and all the names and words that go along with them, it's all Greek to me. I found a decent book for my research, but unfortunately for me it is written for people who already know these things! I'm well enough acquainted with all the usual academic search suspects, but it isn't going well because I don't know exactly what to search for.
    Even more specifically, I am searching for any information on seventeenth century Austrian instruments, in English if possible.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    The Wikipedia page on pipe organs seems to provide a good beginners overview.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Try here:
    Also try to look at repertoire. In your case, since you're looking for Austrian stuff, try some big organ composers from the German-speaking work, like Hindemith and Reger. Bach and Bruckner are good, too, but they didn't generally give registration for their pieces.
  • Here's another relevant website (this one from Wisconsin) regarding organ stops:

    I'm not sure how many baroque organs from Austria are still in existence, but my guess is, quite a few (compare and contrast with the fate of organs in Dresden and Lübeck during the Second World War). The Oehms label has issued a CD devoted to organ compositions by the Saxon-born but Austrian- and Bavarian-domiciled Johann Kaspar Kerll; I note that the instrument used is an ancient one in an Austrian abbey, and that the webpage has (on a try-before-you-buy basis) sound samples of it:
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • mrcoppermrcopper
    Posts: 653
    I agree about the Grecian nature of the problem. My own strategy to try to internalize it all is to divide into compartments: Where the fingers/feet play: manuals (pedal). What kind of pipe makes an individual sound: flutes, reeds, special effects. How banks of pipes are combined: mixtures. Coupling: making a bank of pipes or a mixture sound by playing on a different manual/pedal and possibly at a transposition of an octave or sometimes another interval. A 'stop': any individual rank of pipes, or a mixture, or a 'coupling'. And then you get into the wild variety of names for all these things, which gets regional.
    Thanked by 2R J Stove irishtenor
  • mrcoppermrcopper
    Posts: 653
    As to Austria, remember how big it was at that time: such organs might be found in Hungary, Slovenia, NE Italy, etc.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,123
    I'm well enough acquainted with all the usual academic search suspects, but it isn't going well because I don't know exactly what to search for.
    And we're supposed to know what to tell you? ;-) What is the nature of your research, and what is the name of the book that was too technical?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    Are you familiar with the "Little Organ Book" by Flor Peeters? It contains some basic info in the first few pages and is priced somewhere between $10 and $15. If you are a beginner - and I don't know where you are in your studies - the Peeters book is a good place to start. It has some excellent training exercises and quite a few of the pieces are based on older Catholic hymns.
  • Some basic organ terms explained:

    Manuals - Keyboards (manus, manus - latin for "hand")

    Pedals/Pedalboard - The big keyboard played with the feet (pes, pedis - latin for "foot")

    Stop - Depending on the organ, this is either a tab or a draw-knob which switches on and off different sets of pipes.

    Piston - A push-button which activates a pre-set combination of "stops." Depending on the organ, you may have "General Pistons" and "Divisional Pistons"

    Divisions - Sets of pipes, divided by which manual (or the pedal-board) which plays them. A typical small pipe organ would have the "Great" "Swell" and "Pedal" Larger organs may also have a "Choir" or "Positive" and possibly a "Solo" Division.

    Coupler - A stop which "couples" one Division to another so that the stops on those divisions can be played from another manual

    Console - The place where the organist plays.

    Diapason/Principal - The classic "Organ Sound"

    Flutes - Pipe which sound like flutes. Names like "Flute" or "Bourdon"

    String - Pipes with a thin, "stringy" sound. They may or may not imitate instruments such the Violin or Cello.

    Reed - Pipes such as "Trumpet" "Clarinet" "Oboe"

    Mixture - A combination of pipes at higher pitches which give brightness/sparkle to the sounds.

  • donr
    Posts: 949
    Hartleymartin, So when an organist refers to the "Great" and "Swell" are they refereeing to which manual they are playing on, or a set of pipes by this name that are just so happened to be attached to the manual they are playing on.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,115
    Learn them in French and German also....:)
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 209
    donr, it refers to either
    (1) the manual, or
    (2) to the set of ranks that are applied to that manual by default.

    In the case of the latter, it is called a division. So you would have a Swell division and a Swell manual. With couplers you can play ranks from the Swell division (for instance) on the Great manual, even if you are not using any of the ranks in the Great division.

    You might have divisions (such as Solo, Bombarde, Positiv) that do not have corresponding manuals; therefore if you pull those stops there will be no sound until you couple them to a manual or to the pedals (if that is an option).

    Some divisions are enclosed (or even doubly-enclosed), meaning they are inside a box that has shutters which open and close and are controlled with a pedal by the organist. This is not a volume pedal for the pipes: if you were standing inside the box you would hear no difference whether the shutters are open or closed.

    (This is not necessarily true for a digital organ. On my 1982 Allen 305B, the swell pedal is a volume pedal for the whole organ. This is rather obscene to me and it is not the right way to control the overall sound level. You do that with registration. How much you have the box open is really part of your registration at any given moment. Organists who have a real organ should not use the Swell pedal or the pedal for any enclosed division as merely a volume pedal.)

    The point of my digression about enclosed divisions is just to explain further the difference between a manual and a division. If you couple an unenclosed division (such as a Solo division with a big pontifical trumpet) to a manual which by default controls an enclosed division (such as the Choir manual), the pedal controlling the enclosed division will have no effect on the unenclosed ranks.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 209
    And Kevin is right that it's important to know the French/German counterpart terms. I used only the English terms in that post.
  • @Richard: The book is Barbara Owen's The Registration of Baroque Organ Music. It appears to be a good resource and she includes instruments from all over Europe that still exist from the time.
    I am researching a work for stringed instruments that features many styles that are idiomatic to organ music, and I am wanting to take that discussion further and attempt to pin down more specific things. In many ways it's like working in reverse order, if I were to arrange the thing for organ how would I do it, is a particular passage or movement attempting to imitate a specific sound of the organ, (as I suspect is the case), and if this is true what kind of organs were around during the composer's time and place. The central argument of my thesis is to prove that this work was intended for liturgical use, written by a composer who spent much of his life attempting to prove the value of instrumental music-specifically that of stringed instruments-in sacred settings.
    And also because my advisor is demanding more detailed discussion when I just want to be done with it already ha...
    Thanks to all, looks like I have plenty of work ahead of me!
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,123
    OK, I see now the risk that if you were less mysterious about your subject we might be trying to talk you out of a thesis ;-) Owens is rich in "for the modern American kitchen" hints, but you should have started with general survey like Wills and then Cambridge Companion. Another language-learning strategy is the full immersion route: how much of the piporg-l archives have you read through already?
    Thanked by 1JonLaird
  • @Richard: thank you for pointing me in a better direction. I am not aware of the archives you mentioned, but I will try to find them!
    I am probably over-protective of my thesis subject, but I consider this to be a "safe haven" of sorts because so many here feel the same way I do about sacred music. :-) Considering I'm the only person crazy enough to attempt to explain this piece of music I shouldn't worry too much lol!
    Language isn't a tremendous barrier, I have a decent enough background in Latin and German to pick my way through most stuff, but time is of the essence and English is only preferred for that reason.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    FidemInFidebus : searching for any information on seventeenth century Austrian instruments

    Help us out with a framework on which we can hang data.

    Create a google doc spreadsheet ...
    Column 1: type (City or Town or Village)
    Column 2: name of C or T or V
    Column 3: name of church in C or T or V
    Column 4: year church built
    Column 5: organ info (year builder manuals pedals compass stopcount stoplist etc)
    Column 6: names of persons associated (organist priest etc)
    Column 7: the online URL reference

    Post the Spreadsheet URL to this Discussion.
    Forum Readers can fill in cells.
  • The Gleason method book for organ has the information you're looking for near the beginning.
  • @eft: That is a great idea! The flu is still rampaging through my house, now the six year old has it, so it may be a few days before I get around to it.
    @Clerget: Will check it out thanks!

  • The Oxford Organ Method [C. H. Trevor] has PICTURES! Veddy, veddy British, not there's anything wrong with that.
  • Pipe organs vary according the practices by builders at different times in history and in different countries. It pays for an organist to get familiar with the instrument before playing it publicly.

    One which caught me out recently is the way an organ is the "tonal scheme" and "voicing." On some pipe organs, individual stops are meant to be played and blended together to achieve various tonal effects. On other organs, the stops are designed to be built up into a chorus sound.

    I've often found that if an organ has an "Open Diapason" and also has either a "Chimney Flute/Rohrflute" or a "Stopped Diapason" that the Open Diapason doesn't sound right unless the other stop is also drawn. It all depends on the way the organ was designed.

    Experience with lots of different instruments will educate you as to the way certain organs were created. I'm most familiar with Late 19th-Century English pipe organs, simply because most of the instruments I have played are of this type. I've also been fortunate to be exposed to a few different instruments such as an Italian Neo-Baroque organ, which is a VERY different instrument to play.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen mrcopper
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    Oh, this finds me quite helpfull ! Merry Christmas and also New Years,