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where are the names of Hauptwerk, Schwellwerk, Ruchpositiv, Oberwerk come from?

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    where are the names of Hauptwerk, Schwellwerk, Ruchpositiv, Oberwerk come from?


    may I ask:

    1) why use the name of Hauptwerk, Schwellwerk, Ruchpositiv, Oberwerk? not using other words in German, any particular meaning for them?

    2) why translate them in English as Great, Swell, Choir, Solo?

    3) why most 2 manuals organs use Great & Swell, not Great & Choir?

    Thank you again!

    Last edited by wyzwinszh; 03-12-2013, 08:56 PM.

    Organ building progressed separately in the various countries, and each country developed its own naming scheme.

    For the most part, division names are not translated--the language of the division name should indicate the style of voicing it follows. For example, a Hauptwerk should have German voicing; a Swell should have either English or American style voicing.

    Traditionally, a Great division (hauptwerk) and a Ruckpositiv division (choir) would not have expression, or a swell box. Thus Great and Swell became common for many organs. There is, however, no standardization when it comes to the design of an organ. You can have whatever divisions the designer decides to have.

    Choir is believed to be a corruption of "chair", the organ at the back of the organists chair, or Ruckpositiv, meaning, roughly, "back position."


      I think I read somewhere that the German Kronwerk comes from the fact that the division is physically located above the rest of the organ, hence Kron (crown).
      Fishers, IN

      At School Church: Wicks III/40
      At Church Where I Am Director: Hammond BV with Leslie 122
      Summer Practice Organ: Rodgers III/47


        I always thought that the German names for the divisions were based on physical characteristics or location and that the English names were more based on function. Sometimes they happen to agree: "Schwellwerk" and "Swell" both refer to the provision of swell shutters to provide expression, e.g.

        FWIW, the Choir Division on our Klais instrument does have expression, as does the Swell; the Great and Antiphonal/Solo Divisions do not.



          Well, "Hauptwerk" or main division = Great organ; seems like the same function to me.

          Chair--or choir--or organ at the back of the organist's chair, is about the same.

          And Schwell=Swell, the same, so in my mind, at least, the same approach to naming based on function and/or location is about the same.

          Yes, many modern choir organs are enclosed. And in the early part of the 20th century, an enclosed Great was common, too, at least in the US.