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  • Organ voicing terminology

    As a newcomer to organs from synths I must admit to being a bit confused about some of the terms used. If I set out what I think perhaps some of you good folk could correct any misunderstandings:-

    1 Footage. 8' pitch means if you play the lowest C on a five octave C-C keybord then an open organ pipe would need to be 8' long to produce that frequency. Similarly to produce the pitch an octave and two octaves higher, the lowest c pipes would need to be 4' and 2' long respectively. 16' and 32' pipes would be needed for one and two octaves down, and the 'odd' pitches like 5 1/3 or 2 2/3 produce a fith up and a twelth up for adding a bit of spice. Are any other 'odd' pitches found like a tenth up for instance?

    2 Stop. This is a button or tab that enables a single rank eg a 4' flute or an 8' clarinet. It always does exactly the same thing every time and can't be programmed for a different function, so can be marked with a unique label.It's the lowest level of an organ voice structure and is one of the things I really like about an organ. I guess you would usually change a stop or two to, say, highlight just a couple of measures in a song. It should be easy to change a stop quickly.

    3 Piston. This is a button that operates a group of several stops simultaneously each either going on or off. You can program a piston to operate on any selection of stops you choose so that it's effect will change depending on your programming. A Piston may be configured to work on one manual only or the entire organ. I guess you usually operate a piston to, say, change to the chorus in a song or play a different verse. A piston must also be convenient to operate quickly

    4 There is, or at least should be, one further level above Pistons, the equivalent of 'Song select' which enables you to program all pistons and select percussion, any auto accompaniment and tempo etc all at the same time by selecting a song number. This need not necessarily be changed quickly. Is there such a level on a normal organ?

    5 The Great organ is what's controlled by the Lower manual and the swell organ is controlled by the next manual up (top manual of a 2 manual instrument), any manuals above these are Solo manuals.
    On a two manual instrument you can use the term solo to mean BOTH manuals.


    Please let me know where I'm wrong
    Thanks

  • #2
    While I'm mainly a home organist (though I am also my church's organist), I'll attempt to elaborate on some of your points.

    Those odd pitches (5-1/3, etc.) are also known as mutations. I believe the word "stop" for the voices comes from pre-electro/pneumatic organs, when the stop was used to stop the air from going through a set of pipes.

    For pistons, of the organs I've played, either they have only "generals", which can affect any stop of the organ, or both "generals" and "divisionals", which act like your description. For instance, the organ in my picture on the left has 10 generals (twelve, actually - I re-configured the two meant for the traps) and 10 divisionals for each keyboard, and 6 for the pedals (the two rows of five on the far left are the generals, the 10 under the center of each manual are the divisionals, they can just barely be seen in that picture). A two-manual organ I use to have had 12 generals and no divisionals.

    (edit: continuing)

    I don't know if the current line of Roland or Lowery do what you suggest in #4.

    On a two manual theatre organ, the two would be called Solo and Accompaniment and a church organ has, as you noted, Swell and Great. For the organ on the left, also a theatre organ, the manuals, top to bottom, are Solo, Great, and Accompaniment. If it were a church/classical organ, it would be, IIRC, Swell, Great, Choir. In olden days, the Swell division was encased in a "Swell Box", basically a container that had shutters that could be opened and closed by the organist, so the volume could be controlled. The Great would have always had the same volume (changed only by the number of stops selected).

    I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will correct me, which would be welcomed.
    John
    Allen MDS-317 at home / Allen AP-16 at Church / Allen ADC-3100 at the stake center

    Comment


    • #3
      Everything above looks good to me. I'll expand on #4. That's a new area spawned by the popularity of auto-play and automatic setting up of the organ. Made it more user-friendly for the novice. Seems like those that know how to play have little money and those with money have minimal to zero knowledge. I have a small amount of both. The Atelier definitely sets up groups of pistons by "style" suited to big band, theater, voices classical, voices jazz, latin, etc. That particular model tends to just do the first four pistons but you can subsequently save several of these set-ups to the higher numbers. For instance, mine had three theater groups of four set-ups each, USA, and both quiet and more robust for British organs. I got them all grouped together on one set of 12 pistons although I've not really used them. What brought this on was the floppy disk drive which can so readily save an entire set of registrations. Yamaha, Technics, and Roland all do this and can store anywhere from twenty to 99 different registration sets on a single disk, depending upon brand.

      Regarding SWELL. I've noticed that many organs give you two volume pedals. One for the MAIN and one for the SOLO where theater is concerned, with those divisions not really referring to which keyboard. Some SOLO division (chamber) stops play from the GREAT keyboard, etc. I've seen classical organs with a pedal for the SWELL and another for the GREAT, even though the GREAT was traditionally unenclosed and hence uncontrollable. With amplification and digital sound technology, there's no reason not to make everything "under expression".

      On a virtual organ, pistons may be reassigned from generals to divisionals and conversely. This may be true on hardware organs too. There is no concept of divisionals on most modern organs such as Yamaha and Roland. All pistons effect everything and if you want only the SOLO changed, you have to program the accompaniment and pedal the same for each piston. Some, like Roland, give you a choice of whether or not the rhythm pattern and tempo changes. I guess that it would be too confusing for today's typical (and older) organ buyer to make certain pistons do a single manual. It would cost more also, since we would now need buttons under the lower manual also, something one rarely sees today. The builders have very little legacy pipe organ experience and the piston designs, hence pay no homage thereto. I mean, LIGHTED buttons? I love it but it only existed on a few legacy organs where done to save the cost of building movable drawknobs/tabs. Excuse me, that's why they made lighted drawknobs. You get the idea though. There has been some evolution and I'm not inclined to complain. Anything that lengthens the potential life of this ergonomic layout (manuals and pedal) ultimately benefits us. I appreciate Yamaha's AR, Technics GA/FA, and Roland's Atelier series. These instruments have added more than they have taken away, in my opinion, even though they barely resemble consoles of old.
      Last edited by Kurzweil; 01-20-2012, 11:49 AM.
      Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
      Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
      Moved on:
      Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
      Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

      Comment


      • #4
        Technically, your definition #2, "Stop", is a combination of "Rank" and "Stop". A Rank is a set of pipes of the same voice and footage for each key, but a Stop may have more than one Rank. The Stop is what is controlled on and off--if it consists of more than one Rank, all of them are turned on or off together. Stops that have more than one Rank are designated by a Roman Numeral that identifies the number of Ranks involved: "Mixture III" would have 3 Ranks; "Cornet V" would have 5 Ranks; etc. These are called "Compound Stops" and usually at least one Rank will be a Mutation (fractional footage).

        Your #5 is correct for a 2-manual classical instrument; a 3-manual organ would have the lowest manual be the "Choir", with the "Great" and "Swell" above it. I understand some European organs have the "Great" and "Choir" reversed, with the "Great" on the bottom. There are even instruments with a switch allowing the organist to choose which arrangement is preferred. Sometimes the lower manual ("Choir") is called a "Positive" and the 2 names don't necessarily have the same tonal characteristics, even though their manuals are usually located in the same place. When there are more than 3 manuals, there is not a lot of standardization as to what they are called and what order they are put in. Examples are "Solo", "Antiphonal", "Echo", "Bombarde".

        Your #1, "Footage", asks a question about what other varieties there might be. The answer is that there can be Ranks of pipes designed to play any of the harmonics possible. To see what harmonic a Rank is, and what footage it is that harmonic of, just take the footage value and expand it to an improper fraction: 5 1/3' expands to 16/3', for example, which indicates that it is the 3rd harmonic of a 16' Rank; a 1 1/7' Rank would be 8/7' and would be the 7th harmonic of an 8' Rank; etc. Of course, a 16/3' could also be expressed as 32/6' (not in lowest terms), and the same Rank would also be the 6th harmonic of a 32' Rank. In practice, Mutations are always expressed in lowest terms, though. There is at least one fractional footage that is not a Mutation: 1/2'--it is the 16th harmonic of an 8' Rank (or 32nd harmonic of a 16' Rank, etc.) and is "octave related" (the same note of the scale as what is played, although several octaves higher); technically this is not a Mutation, because that name indicates the note is not octave related. I don't know of many (or any) instruments with Ranks above 1/2' because the pipes at the top end are just too small to be practical; the frequencies they produce are getting above the range of normal human hearing, too.

        David

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        • #5
          Thanks to all for the explanations. Much better than the Wikipedia article. More information that I could get in my one organ lesson and the 2 minutes I have had touching a pipe organ. If all the sounds on my favorite E. Power Biggs record are "mixture", that doesn't help me set the drawbars on my H100 electronic organ at all. E P Biggs did do a tour of the Pipe Organ LP, "The organ in Sight and Sound", which helps me pick out tibias and reeds by ear. Unfortunately, the H100 does tibias and oboe and trumpet well enough off the preset keys. But the definition of a "mutation" was completely obscure, even though the H100 has odd fraction drawbars without a name. Stops including more than one rank is a idea appealing to my education in Fourier analysis of sound.
          city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC, Wurlitzer 4500, Schober Recital Organ, Steinway 40" console , Sohmer 39" pianos, Ensoniq EPS, ; country Hammond H112

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          • #6
            Interesting thread, and good replies from all but I wonder if the OP is really interested in the innards of pipe organs or in how the terminology of organs in general applies to modern home instruments! It's the talk about autoaccompaniment that gives rise to my thoughts.

            Perhaps tosgilbert will enlighten us, to save us taking him down any blind alleys! :-)
            It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

            New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

            Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
            Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
            Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
            Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

            Comment


            • #7
              His description of the "level above piston" for song recall surely means that he is mostly interested in the very latest instruments that combine keyboarding features with the traditional organ. If he makes mention of the name we probably have some posters who would be very familiar with the exact instrument.

              Comment


              • #8
                There has been much good information being provided here, but let me approach it point-by-point (I'm bored!);-). I like to be as complete (and boring) as possible in my answers.
                Originally posted by tobsgilbert View Post
                1 Footage. 8' pitch means if you play the lowest C on a five octave C-C keybord then an open organ pipe would need to be 8' long to produce that frequency. Similarly to produce the pitch an octave and two octaves higher, the lowest c pipes would need to be 4' and 2' long respectively. 16' and 32' pipes would be needed for one and two octaves down, and the 'odd' pitches like 5 1/3 or 2 2/3 produce a fith up and a twelth up for adding a bit of spice. Are any other 'odd' pitches found like a tenth up for instance?
                Correction--technically, the footage is measured from the languid (tongue of the pipe) to the top of the resonator/opening, and that is true only of open flue pipes. The foot (below the mouth) is not included in the measurement. Also, stopped
                2 Stop. This is a button or tab that enables a single rank eg a 4' flute or an 8' clarinet.
                David described it well, and you described a Stop well, but a Stop does not always control a single sound--sometimes it can control a composite sound (i.e. 2-7 different sounds controlled by the same stop). Because they are always used together, they only have one tab (or drawknob). There are basically 3 types of stops:
                • Straight Stops--Stops that control 1 rank, and speak at the pitch designated.
                • Fractional Stops--These stops are 1 rank and speak at the pitch designated, but they are not in an octave relationship with the Straight Stops. These stops are generally called Mutations and have names like Nazard 2 2/3', or Twenty-Fifth.
                • Composite Stops--Those stops that have more than 1 rank, and speak at a variety of pitches at the same time. Mixtures would be comprised of from as few as 2 ranks up to 6 or 7 ranks. Mixtures are generally a mix of Straight and Fractional Stops.
                Just a note, my terminology may differ slightly from the standard terminology accepted by some organists.

                Also, stops are not usually used for a couple measures at a time, and are not often that easily changed while both hands and feet are busy. Hence, the pistons:
                3 Piston. This is a button that operates a group of several stops simultaneously each either going on or off. You can program a piston to operate on any selection of stops you choose so that it's effect will change depending on your programming. A Piston may be configured to work on one manual only or the entire organ. I guess you usually operate a piston to, say, change to the chorus in a song or play a different verse. A piston must also be convenient to operate quickly
                Theoretically, a piston could be programmed to work on any stop, but that's not how most organ builders program them. There are 3 or 4 types of pistons (often mistakenly called presets):
                1. General Pistons--Can be programmed to reset the entire organ as desired. These are usually on the left half of the console under the keyboards.
                2. Divisional Pistons--These can be programmed to work only on one division. This may or may not include couplers that affect that division (i.e. Swell to Great, etc.). These are located under the keyboard they control on the right, or in the case of the pedals, they are located to the right of the Swell pedals/boxes.
                3. Reversible Pistons--These pistons are used to turn on/off pre-programmed settings. Such settings could be: Tutti I, Tutti II (louder than Tutti I), Sforzando (full organ w/reeds), etc.
                4. Individual Reversible (Specialty) Pistons--These pistons control only one or two parts of the organ. For classical instruments, they may be couplers (i.e. Swell to Great), a single stop (i.e. 32' Contre Bombarde), effects (i.e. Crash Cymbal on Theatre organs), or even special settings specific to that organ (i.e. Antiphonal Speakers On/Off or Main Organ On/Off). Of course, there are always other variations.
                Toe studs just above the pedals are sometimes available for all the above pistons mentioned (except keyboard divisionals). Presets are generally pistons that are pre-determined at the factory and cannot be changed. On a classical organ, they will appear under the keyboards as described above. On a Hammond organ, they will be the white-on-black keys to the left of each keyboard, or a tab above the top keyboard on spinet models. Pistons are there for the exact reason you say--to change settings quickly.
                4 There is, or at least should be, one further level above Pistons, the equivalent of 'Song select' which enables you to program all pistons and select percussion, any auto accompaniment and tempo etc all at the same time by selecting a song number. This need not necessarily be changed quickly. Is there such a level on a normal organ?
                "Song select" as you call it, is being made available more and more on all types of instruments. For home organs, they are sometimes programmed in the organ at the factory. The drawback is that you're stuck with what the factory programmed. As one moves up the food chain to classical or theatre models, the songs can be made available via many other means:
                • Floppy Disk--One can purchase pre-configured diskettes from the organ company with varying purposes--to teach, to learn, or to perform. These files usually come in the form of MIDI files (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).
                • MIDI Sequencer--This can be an on-board device, or connected via computer to play the organ. This can be used for practice, learning, or teaching. Examples of this can be found at Allen Organ's store: http://www.allenorgan.com/www/store/mainmididisks.html
                • Digital Audio
                Beyond that, I don't know much. I have only use my MIDI and Digital Audio inputs for recording and performance reasons.
                5 The Great organ is what's controlled by the Lower manual and the swell organ is controlled by the next manual up (top manual of a 2 manual instrument), any manuals above these are Solo manuals. On a two manual instrument you can use the term solo to mean BOTH manuals.
                A slight correction on a post already made. The names of the manuals depend, in part, on the construction of the organ. In fact, my investigation led me down a 6-hour rabbit trail! Fun, though. Here are some general guidelines:
                Two Manual Instrument
                Manual American French German
                21 Great Grand Orgue Hauptwerk
                Three Manual Instrument
                Manual American French German
                21 Great Grand Orgue Hauptwerk
                Four+ Manual Instrument
                Manual American French German
                4+21 Great Grand Orgue Hauptwerk
                As already noted, there are always exceptions to the above, for example, the order of the manuals in French organs, but these are general guidelines.

                Then, there's the theatre organ where all the rules are changed again! Generally on a two-manual instrument, the top manual is called Solo, and the bottom is called Accompaniment. The other names from the classical organ come in when you add a 3rd or 4th manual.

                There are several excellent web pages with this information, and I'm sure this post is more information than you ever wanted, but I did my best (I think)!:o

                Michael
                Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

                Comment


                • #9
                  To add to or clarify further the "stop" definition, I would offer a fourth type of stop, the celeste family which draws two or three unison (hopefully) ranks together which are detuned to impart a beat (wavering effect).
                  And for the sake of confutation, footages relating to the length of the pipe also fail to be pitch-determinative for pipes that are: mitered, Haskelled, or produce the tone by another means all together such as beating reeds, free reeds, diaphones, and magnetons; in the latter three instances the pipe length is relative to it's effectiveness as a "tuned resonating chamber" because the pitch has been already produced by a separate device, the resonator just further develops the character of the sound.
                  Casey
                  Of course, I may be wrong

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've always called the upper manual on a 2 manual theatre organ the Great, and the top on a 3 manual the Solo. 4th might be Orchestral.

                    And for many years (20 or more), pistons, presets, registration memories, panel memories (or whatever the makers called them!) on home organs have all been programmable.

                    I think we've probably confused the life out of the OP! Let him reply before we go any further. :-)
                    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

                    New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

                    Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
                    Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
                    Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
                    Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

                    Comment


                    • #11

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by indianajo View Post
                        If all the sounds on my favorite E. Power Biggs record are "mixture", that doesn't help me set the drawbars on my H100 electronic organ at all. E P Biggs did do a tour of the Pipe Organ LP, "The organ in Sight and Sound", which helps me pick out tibias and reeds by ear. Unfortunately, the H100 does tibias and oboe and trumpet well enough off the preset keys. But the definition of a "mutation" was completely obscure, even though the H100 has odd fraction drawbars without a name. Stops including more than one rank is a idea appealing to my education in Fourier analysis of sound.
                        I have that set of E. Power Biggs records, with the accompanying booklet--it's great! Your statement about all his sounds being "Mixture" does confuse me, though--my recollection is that he covers all the pipe types in his demonstrations.

                        I am not familiar with the H100 instrument, but suspect it has the "standard" set of drawbars: (left to right) brown, brown, white, white, black, white, black, black, white. The drawbar technique of voicing essentially mixes together controllable amounts of more or less pure sine waves at different harmonics; one can think of these as being like Tibia ranks at different footages, each of which can be set to 9 different loudnesses from off to maximum. Going from left to right, the equivalent footages are 16', 5 1/3', 8', 4', 2 2/3', 2', 1 3/5', 1 1/3', and 1'. There are documents that describe how to convert standard stop specifications into equivalent drawbar settings--you may be able to do a web search on them, particularly in Hammond sites. The white drawbars are "octave related", being the 8', 4', 2', and 1' footages; the black drawbars are the "Mutations", being the 2 2/3', 1 3/5', and 1 1/3' footages; and the brown drawbars are the sub-octave (16') and its third harmonic (5 1/3').

                        Flutes can be set up by programming a strong fundamental on a white drawbar, with just a little of the drawbars to its right. Diapasons (Principals) are like flutes, but with a stronger 2nd harmonic. Some reed sounds can be simulated by creating a "V" in the drawbars--small increments at the ends getting larger in the middle. String sounds have a lot of higher harmonics. Play around with different shapes of the drawbar settings to get a feel for what they do.

                        David
                        (edited to add)
                        I found this link that might be of interest: http://www.stefanv.com/electronics/h...r_science.html
                        and it also says that there are more drawbars on the H100 than I described above. I recommend you read the article.
                        Last edited by davidecasteel; 01-22-2012, 06:39 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SubBase View Post
                          To add to or clarify further the "stop" definition, I would offer a fourth type of stop, the celeste family which draws two or three unison (hopefully) ranks together which are detuned to impart a beat (wavering effect).
                          In my experience with classical organs a celeste stop control adds/subtracts a single rank of pipes which is detuned (either sharp or flat) to another rank. The two ranks can be used together by activating both stop controls. The celeste is rarely (never?) activated without its companion rank.

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                          • #14
                            haskey, there are some celeste stops that invoke a pair of ranks, one tuned slightly sharp and the other slightly flat--they play together but don't normally rely on a "straight" rank for their effect. Traditionally, some celeste ranks (intended to be played with a straight rank) are tuned sharp and others are tuned flat: Voix Celeste ranks are normally slightly sharp; Unda Maris ranks are usually slightly flat, for example. (No, I don't know why that is so.)

                            David

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                            • #15
                              This talk of 'Celeste stops' is interesting I've tried setting up 2 slightly detuned copies of the same synth voice either in unison or harmonically related. Nowhere near the warmth of a pipe organ of course but a bit of slow random pitch shift can be quite pleasing. Adding further footage copies brings more warmth but the 'law of diminishing returns' applies. Its rather better than the so called 'chorus' type effects which soon become stale do to their rather repetitive nature.

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