Organ (music)

In music, the organ (from Greek ὄργανον organon, "organ, instrument, tool")[1] is a keyboard instrument of one or more pipe divisions or other means for producing tones, each played with its own keyboard, played either with the hands on a keyboard or with the feet using pedals. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument,[2] dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria (285–222 BC), who invented the water organ. It was played throughout the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman world, particularly during races and games.[3] During the early medieval period it spread from the Byzantine Empire, where it continued to be used in secular (non-religious) and imperial court music, to Western Europe, where it gradually assumed a prominent place in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.[3] Subsequently it re-emerged as a secular and recital instrument in the Classical music tradition.

Reformierte Kirche Waltensburg (d.j.b.) 11
Organ in church
Classification Keyboard instrument (Aerophone)
Playing range
Organ Range
Related instruments
see Keyboard instrument
see List of organists
see List of pipe organ builders and Category:Organ builders
More articles


Pipe organs use air moving through pipes to produce sounds. Since the 16th century, pipe organs have used various materials for pipes, which can vary widely in timbre and volume. Increasingly hybrid organs are appearing in which pipes are augmented with electronic additions. Great economies of space and cost are possible especially when the lowest (and largest) of the pipes can be replaced.

Non-piped organs include the reed organ or harmonium, which like the accordion and harmonica (or "mouth organ") use air to excite free reeds.

Electronic organs or digital organs, notably the Hammond organ, generate electronically produced sound through one or more loudspeakers.

Mechanical organs include the barrel organ, water organ, and Orchestrion. These are controlled by mechanical means such as pinned barrels or book music. Little barrel organs dispense with the hands of an organist and bigger organs are powered in most cases by an organ grinder or today by other means such as an electric motor.

Pipe organs

4th century AD "Mosaic of the Female Musicians" showing a woman playing organ from a Byzantine villa in Maryamin, Syria.[4]
Mosaic of the Female Musicians
4th century AD "Mosaic of the Female Musicians" showing a woman playing organ from a Byzantine villa in Maryamin, Syria.[4]
Mosaic of the Female Musicians

The pipe organ is the largest musical instrument. These instruments vary greatly in size, ranging from a cubic yard to a height reaching five floors,[5] and are built in churches, synagogues, concert halls, and homes. Small organs are called "positive" (easily placed in different locations) or "portative" (small enough to carry while playing).

The pipes are divided into ranks and controlled by the use of hand stops and combination pistons. Although the keyboard is not expressive as on a piano and does not affect dynamics (it is binary; pressing a key only turns the sound on or off), some divisions may be enclosed in a swell box, allowing the dynamics to be controlled by shutters. Some organs are totally enclosed, meaning that all the divisions can be controlled by one set of shutters. Some special registers with free reed pipes are expressive.

It has existed in its current form since the 14th century, though similar designs were common in the Eastern Mediterranean from the early Byzantine period (from the 4th century AD) and precursors, such as the hydraulic organ, have been found dating to the late Hellenistic period (1st century BC). Along with the clock, it was considered one of the most complex human-made mechanical creations before the Industrial Revolution. Pipe organs range in size from a single short keyboard to huge instruments with over 10,000 pipes. A large modern organ typically has three or four keyboards (manuals) with five octaves (61 notes) each, and a two-and-a-half octave (32-note) pedal board.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart called the organ the "King of instruments".[6] Some of the biggest instruments have 64-foot pipes (a foot here means "sonic-foot", a measure quite close to the English measurement unit), and it sounds to an 8 Hz frequency fundamental tone. Perhaps the most distinctive feature is the ability to range from the slightest sound to the most powerful, plein-jeu impressive sonic discharge, which can be sustained in time indefinitely by the organist. For instance, the Wanamaker organ, located in Philadelphia, USA, has sonic resources comparable with three simultaneous symphony orchestras. Another interesting feature lies in its intrinsic "polyphony" approach: each set of pipes can be played simultaneously with others, and the sounds mixed and interspersed in the environment, not in the instrument itself.


Magnificat, G. Guida
Inner view of organ
mechanism assembly
undergoing overhaul. (Augusta Victoria church -
Jerusalem) 2009 -->
Organ parts undergoing
overhaul (Augusta Victoria
church - Jerusalem, 2009).

Most organs in Europe, the Americas, and Australasia can be found in Christian churches.

The introduction of church organs is traditionally attributed to Pope Vitalian in the 7th century. Due to its simultaneous ability to provide a musical foundation below the vocal register, support in the vocal register, and increased brightness above the vocal register, the organ is ideally suited to accompany human voices, whether a congregation, a choir, or a cantor or soloist.

Most services also include solo organ repertoire for independent performance rather than by way of accompaniment, often as a prelude at the beginning the service and a postlude at the conclusion of the service.

Today this organ may be a pipe organ (see above), a digital or electronic organ that generates the sound with digital signal processing (DSP) chips, or a combination of pipes and electronics. It may be called a church organ or classical organ to differentiate it from the theatre organ, which is a different style of instrument. However, as classical organ repertoire was developed for the pipe organ and in turn influenced its development, the line between a church and a concert organ became harder to draw.

Concert hall

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, symphonic organs flourished in secular venues in the United States and the United Kingdom, designed to replace symphony orchestras by playing transcriptions of orchestral pieces. Symphonic and orchestral organs largely fell out of favor as the orgelbewegung (organ reform movement) took hold in the middle of the 20th century, and organ builders began to look to historical models for inspiration in constructing new instruments. Today, modern builders construct organs in a variety of styles for both secular and sacred applications.

Theatre and cinema

State organ close
Theatre organ in State Cinema, Grays. (Compton Organ)
Marimba in the solo chamber at Ann Arbor's Michigan Theatre (3/13 Barton)

The theatre organ or cinema organ was designed to accompany silent movies. Like a symphonic organ, it is made to replace an orchestra. However, it includes many more gadgets, such as mechanical percussion accessories and other imitative sounds useful in creating movie sound accompaniments such as auto horns, doorbells, and bird whistles. It typically features the Tibia pipe family as its foundation stops and the regular use of a tremulant possessing a depth greater than that on a classical organ.

Theatre organs tend not to take nearly as much space as standard organs, relying on extension (sometimes called unification) and higher wind pressures to produce a greater variety of tone and larger volume of sound from fewer pipes. Unification gives a smaller instrument the capability of a much larger one, and works well for monophonic styles of playing (chordal, or chords with solo voice). The sound is, however, thicker and more homogeneous than a classically designed organ.

In the USA the American Theater Organ Society (ATOS) has been instrumental in programs to preserve examples of such instruments.

Chamber organ

Dallas Meadows Museum Organ by Oldovini 1762
Chamber organ by Pascoal Caetano Oldovini (1762).

A chamber organ is a small pipe organ, often with only one manual, and sometimes without separate pedal pipes that is placed in a small room, that this diminutive organ can fill with sound. It is often confined to chamber organ repertoire, as often the organs have too few voice capabilities to rival the grand pipe organs in the performance of the classics. The sound and touch are unique to the instrument, sounding nothing like a large organ with few stops drawn out, but rather much more intimate. They are usually tracker instruments, although the modern builders are often building electropneumatic chamber organs.

Pre-Beethoven keyboard music may usually be as easily played on a chamber organ as on a piano or harpsichord, and a chamber organ is sometimes preferable to a harpsichord for continuo playing as it is more suitable for producing a sustained tone.

Reed or pump organ

Footpropelled organ
A harmonium. Operation of the two large pedals at the bottom of the case supplies wind to the reeds.

The pump organ, reed organ or harmonium, was the other main type of organ before the development of the electronic organ. It generated its sounds using reeds similar to those of a piano accordion. Smaller, cheaper and more portable than the corresponding pipe instrument, these were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes, but their volume and tonal range was extremely limited. They were generally limited to one or two manuals; they seldom had a pedalboard.

  • Harmonium or parlor organ: a reed instrument, usually with several stops and two foot-operated bellows.
  • American reed organ: similar to the Harmonium, but that works on negative pressure, sucking air through the reeds.
  • Melodeon: a reed instrument with an air reservoir and a foot operated bellows. It was popular in the US in the mid-19th century. (This should not to be confused with the diatonic button accordion which is also known as the melodeon.)

The chord organ was invented by Laurens Hammond in 1950.[7] It provided chord buttons for the left hand, similar to an accordion. Other reed organ manufacturers have also produced chord organs, most notably Magnus from 1958 to the late 1970s.[8]

Electronic organs

Since the 1930s, pipeless electric instruments have been available to produce similar sounds and perform similar roles to pipe organs. Many of these have been bought both by houses of worship and other potential pipe organ customers, and also by many musicians both professional and amateur for whom a pipe organ would not be a possibility. Far smaller and cheaper to buy than a corresponding pipe instrument, and in many cases portable, they have taken organ music into private homes and into dance bands and other new environments, and have almost completely replaced the reed organ.


Hammond b3 con leslie 122
Hammond B3 organ,
and Leslie speaker cabinet.

The Hammond organ was the first successful electric organ, released in the 1930s. It used mechanical, rotating tonewheels to produce the sound waveforms. Its system of drawbars allowed for setting volumes for specific sounds, and it provided vibrato-like effects. The drawbars allow the player to choose volume levels. By emphasizing certain harmonics from the overtone series, desired sounds (such as 'brass' or 'string') can be imitated. Generally, the older Hammond drawbar organs had only preamplifiers and were connected to an external, amplified speaker. The Leslie speaker, which rotates to create a distinctive tremolo, became the most popular.

Though originally produced to replace organs in the church, the Hammond organ, especially the model B-3, became popular in jazz, particularly soul jazz, and in gospel music. Since these were the roots of rock and roll, the Hammond organ became a part of the rock and roll sound. It was widely used in rock and popular music during the 1960s and 1970s by bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Procol Harum, Santana and Deep Purple. Its popularity resurged in pop music around 2000, in part due to the availability of clonewheel organs that were light enough for one person to carry.


In contrast to Hammond's electro-mechanical design, Allen Organ Company introduced the first totally electronic organ in 1938, based on the stable oscillator designed and patented by the Company's founder, Jerome Markowitz.[9] Allen continued to advance analog tone generation through the 1960s with additional patents[10]. In 1971, in collaboration with North American Rockwell,[11] Allen introduced the world's first commercially-available digital musical instrument. The first Allen Digital Organ is now in the Smithsonian Institution.[12]

Other analogue electronic

A Vox Continental combo organ

Frequency divider organs used oscillators instead of mechanical parts to make sound. These were even cheaper and more portable than the Hammond. They featured an ability to bend pitches.

In the 1940s until the 1970s, small organs were sold that simplified traditional organ stops. These instruments can be considered the predecessor to modern portable keyboards, as they included one-touch chords, rhythm and accompaniment devices, and other electronically assisted gadgets. Lowrey was the leading manufacturer of this type of organs in the smaller (spinet) instruments.

In the '60s and '70s, a type of simple, portable electronic organ called the combo organ was popular, especially with pop, Ska (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) and rock bands, and was a signature sound in the pop music of the period, such as The Doors and Iron Butterfly. The most popular combo organs were manufactured by Farfisa and Vox.

Conn-Selmer and Rodgers, dominant in the market for larger instruments, also made electronic organs that used separate oscillators for each note rather than frequency dividers, giving them a richer sound, closer to a pipe organ, due to the slight imperfections in tuning.

Hybrids, starting in the early 20th century,[13] incorporate a few ranks of pipes to produce some sounds, and use electronic circuits or digital samples for other sounds and to resolve borrowing collisions. Major manufacturers include Allen, Walker, Compton, Wicks, Marshall & Ogletree, Phoenix, Makin Organs, Wyvern Organs and Rodgers.


Nord Electro2 61keys
A modern digital organ (Nord Electro 2) utilizing modeling and DSP technology

The development of the integrated circuit enabled another revolution in electronic keyboard instruments. Digital organs sold since the 1970s utilize additive synthesis, then sampling technology (1980s) and physical modelling synthesis (1990s) are also utilized to produce the sound.

Virtual pipe organs use MIDI to access samples of real pipe organs stored on a computer, as opposed to digital organs that use DSP and processor hardware inside a console to produce the sounds or deliver the sound samples. Touch screen monitors allows the user to control the virtual organ console; a traditional console and its physical stop and coupler controls is not required. In such a basic form, a virtual organ can be obtained at a much lower cost than other digital classical organs.

Other organ types


  • Barrel organ—made famous by organ grinders in its portable form, the larger form often equipped with keyboards for human performance
  • Organette—small, accordion-like instrument manufactured in New York in the late 1800s
  • Novelty instruments or various types that operate on the same principles:
    Orchestrion, fairground organ (or band organ in the USA), dutch street organ and Dance organ—these pipe organs use a piano roll player or other mechanical means instead of a keyboard to play a prepared song.
Welte Cottage Orchestrion Style 3, Kelvingrove museum, Glasgow
from Germany
Carousel Band Organ Wurlitzer (Cultural Education Center, NY)
Band organ
from USA
Organ At Great Dorset Steam Fair
Dance organ
from Belgium


The wind can also be created by using pressurized steam instead of air. The steam organ, or calliope, was invented in the United States in the 19th century. Calliopes usually have very loud and clean sound. Calliopes are used as outdoors instruments, and many have been built on wheeled platforms.

Organ music

Classical music

The organ has had an important place in classical music, particularly since the 16th century. Spain's Antonio de Cabezón, the Netherlands' Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, and Italy's Girolamo Frescobaldi were three of the most important organist-composers before 1650. Influenced in part by Sweelinck and Frescobaldi, the North German school rose from the mid-17th century onwards to great prominence, with leading members of this school having included Buxtehude, Franz Tunder, Georg Böhm, Georg Philipp Telemann, and above all Johann Sebastian Bach, whose contributions to organ music continue to reign supreme.

During this time, the French Classical school also flourished. François Couperin, Nicolas Lebègue, André Raison, and Nicolas de Grigny were French organist-composers of the period. Bach knew Grigny's organ output well, and admired it. In England, Handel was famous for his organ-playing no less than for his composing; several of his organ concertos, intended for his own use, are still frequently performed.

After Bach's death in 1750, the organ's prominence gradually shrank, as the instrument itself increasingly lost ground to the piano. Nevertheless, Felix Mendelssohn, César Franck, and the less famous A.P.F. Boëly (all of whom were themselves expert organists) led, independently of one another, a resurgence of valuable organ writing during the 19th century. This resurgence, much of it informed by Bach's example, achieved particularly impressive things in France (even though Franck himself was of Belgian birth). Major names in French Romantic organ composition are Charles-Marie Widor, Louis Vierne, Alexandre Guilmant, Charles Tournemire, and Eugène Gigout. Of these, Vierne and Tournemire were Franck pupils.

In Germany, Max Reger (late 19th century) owes much to the harmonic daring of Liszt (himself an organ composer) and of Wagner. Paul Hindemith produced three organ sonatas and several works combining organ with chamber groups. Sigfrid Karg-Elert specialized in smaller organ pieces, mostly chorale-preludes.

Among French organist-composers, Marcel Dupré, Maurice Duruflé, Olivier Messiaen and Jean Langlais made significant contributions to the 20th-century organ repertoire.

Some composers incorporated the instrument in symphonic works for its dramatic effect, notably Mahler, Holst, Elgar, Scriabin, Respighi, and Richard Strauss. Saint-Saëns's Organ Symphony employs the organ more as an equitable orchestral instrument than for purely dramatic effect. Poulenc wrote the sole organ concerto since Handel's to have achieved mainstream popularity.

Because the organ has both manuals and pedals, organ music has come to be notated on three staves. The music played on the manuals is laid out like music for other keyboard instruments on the top two staves, and the music for the pedals is notated on the third stave or sometimes, to save space, added to the bottom of the second stave as was the early practice. To aid the eye in reading three staves at once, the bar lines are broken between the lowest two staves; the brace surrounds only the upper two staves. Because music racks are often built quite low to preserve sightlines over the console, organ music is usually published in oblong or landscape format.


Electronic organs and electromechanical organs such as the Hammond organ have an established role in a number of popular-music genres, such as blues, jazz, gospel, and 1960s and 1970s rock music. Electronic and electromechanical organs were originally designed as lower-cost substitutes for pipe organs. Despite this intended role as a sacred music instrument, electronic and electromechanical organs' distinctive tone-often modified with electronic effects such as vibrato, rotating Leslie speakers, and overdrive-became an important part of the sound of popular music.

The electric organ, especially the Hammond B-3, has occupied a significant role in jazz ever since Jimmy Smith made it popular in the 1950s. It can function as a replacement for both piano and bass in the standard jazz combo. The Hammond organ is the centrepiece of the organ trio, a small ensemble which typically includes an organist (playing melodies, chords and basslines), a drummer and a third instrumentalist (either jazz guitar or saxophone). In the 2000s, many performers use electronic or digital organs, called clonewheel organs, as they are much lighter and easier to transport than the heavy, bulky B-3.

Popular music

Performers of 20th century popular organ music include William Rowland who composed "Piano Rags"; George Wright (1920–1998) and Virgil Fox (1912–1980), who bridged both the classical and religious areas of music.

Rock music

Los Potatos w Lizard King (1)
A modern digital Hammond organ in use

Church-style pipe organs are sometimes used in rock music. Examples include Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman (with Yes and solo), Keith Emerson (with The Nice and Emerson, Lake and Palmer), George Duke (with Frank Zappa), Dennis DeYoung (with Styx), Arcade Fire, Muse, Roger Hodgson (formerly of Supertramp), Natalie Merchant (with 10,000 Maniacs), Billy Preston and Iron Butterfly.

Artists using the Hammond organ include Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Pink Floyd, Hootie & the Blowfish, Sheryl Crow, Sly Stone and Deep Purple.

Soap operas

From their creation on radio in the 1930s to the times of television in the early 1970s soap operas incorporated organ music in the background of scenes and in their opening and closing theme music. In the early 1970s the organ was phased out in favour of more dramatic, full-blown orchestras, which in turn were replaced with more modern pop-style compositions.

In sport

Nancy Faust in Cellular Field organ booth 2010-09-27 1
Nancy Faust playing at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox

In the United States and Canada, organ music is commonly associated with several sports, most notably baseball, basketball, and ice hockey.

The baseball organ has been referred to as "an accessory to the overall auditory experience of the ballpark."[14] The first team to introduce an organ was the Chicago Cubs, who put an organ in Wrigley Field as an experiment in 1941 for two games. Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, hired baseball's first full-time organist, Gladys Goodding. Over the years, many ballparks caught on to the trend, and many organists became well-known and associated with their parks or signature tunes.

Historical instruments



Hydraulis 001






Regal (instrument) 1


Bibelregal1988ME I

(after the 16th century)[15]


  • Panpipes, pan flute, syrinx, and nai, etc., are considered as ancestor of the pipe organ.
  • Aulos, an ancient double reed instrument with two pipes, is the origin of the word Hydr-aulis (water-aerophone).

Early organs

Medieval organs

See also


  1. ^ Organon, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus project
  2. ^ The organ developed from older musical instruments like the panpipe, therefore is not the oldest musical instrument.
  3. ^ a b Douglas Bush and Richard Kassel eds., "The Organ, an Encyclopedia." Routledge. 2006. p. 327.
  4. ^ Ring, Trudy (1994), International Dictionary of Historic Places: Middle East and Africa, 4, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 1884964036
  5. ^ The Wanamaker Organ is built from the 2nd to 7th floors.
  6. ^ The King of Instruments - National Catholic Register
  7. ^ Laurens Hammond, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2009 - His later inventions included the chord organ (1950, i.e. Hammond S-6 chord organ).
  8. ^ "'Play by Numbers' Organ Hottest Musical Merchandise". Billboard. May 11, 1959. p. 1.
  9. ^ Jerome Markowitz low frequency oscillator patent
  10. ^ Allen Organ Company patents
  11. ^ Allen Organ collaborative effort with North American Rockwell
  12. ^ The 111th Congress 2nd Session Congressional Record honored Allen Organ technological advancements and the Smithsonian acquisition of the first Allen Digital Organ
  13. ^ Synthetic Radio Organ Church Diagram French Print 1934, The ILlustration Newspaper of 1934, Paris
  14. ^ Arrangement of Hazard (Richard Marx) - Ballpark Organ on YouTube
  15. ^ Landkreis Bad Kreuznach - Regal (1988, Gebr Oberlinger) - Copy of an instrument by Michael Klotz, ca. 1600
  16. ^ Hydraulis: The Ancient Hydraulis and its Reconstruction
  17. ^ Greek and Roman Pipe Organs, Bellum Catiline - two items from "The Story of the Organ"  by C. F. Abdy Williams, published in 1903 by Walter Scott Publishing.
  18. ^ The Music of the Bible by John Stainer, M.A.
  19. ^ Hunt 2008
  20. ^ Barnes 2007
  21. ^ Williams, Peter F. (1993). The Organ in Western Culture, 750-1250. p. 137ff


Further reading

External links

  • Organ Library of the Boston Chapter, AGO. 45,000 items of organ music.
  • Music and organ recital at Notre-Dame de Paris
  • – Homepage of the National Pipe Organ Register of the British Institute of Organ Studies, with extensive information on and many audio samples of original instruments
  • The Organ Historical Society – The Society promotes a widespread musical and historical interest in American organbuilding through collection, preservation, and publication of historical information, and through recordings and public concerts.

Alternatim refers to a technique of liturgical musical performance, especially in relationship to the Organ Mass. A specific part of the ordinary of the Mass (such as the Kyrie) would be divided into versets. Each verset would be performed antiphonally by two groups of singers, giving rise to polyphonic settings of half of the text. One of these groups may alternatively have consisted of a soloist, a group of instruments, or organ. The missing even- or odd-numbered verses were supplied by plainchant or, perhaps more commonly (to judge by the organ masses of Hans Buchner), by improvisations on the organ. The verso became a particularly prevalent genre in Baroque Iberian organ music, and most of the French classical organ literature consists of alternatim versets.

A large amount of musical repertoire was specifically written for alternatim performance, with Heinrich Isaac and Charles Justin (1830-1873) as notable composers. Alternatim performance of the Mass was common throughout Europe in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. A similar tradition of alternatim performance existed for example also for Magnificat compositions.

Documentation in England is rather slight. The organ involved seems to have been a man-portable instrument, of 1 or so speaking ranks. There is no evidence for the use, in alternatim, of the larger "standing" (on a loft or platform) organ of the English Cathedral.

In the Catholic church, the practice was banned by Pope Pius X in his 1903 Motu proprio Tra le Sollecitudini. The practice did, however, inform the works of Olivier Messiaen who wrote pseudo-versets for his many liturgical organ works, especially his Messe de la Pentecôte (1950).

Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

"Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir" (From deep affliction I cry out to you), originally "Aus tieffer not schrey ich zu dir", later also "Aus tiefer Noth schrei' ich zu dir", is a Lutheran hymn of 1524, with words written by Martin Luther as a paraphrase of Psalm 130. It was first published in 1524 as one of eight songs in the first Lutheran hymnal, the Achtliederbuch, which contained four songs by Luther, three by Paul Speratus, and one by Justus Jonas, and also appeared the same year in the Erfurt Enchiridion. It is part of many hymnals, also in translations. The text inspired vocal and organ music from the Renaissance to contemporary, including composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, who based a chorale cantata on it, Felix Mendelssohn and Max Reger.

Cinema Organ Society

The Cinema Organ Society (COS) was founded in 1952 by Hubert Selby and Tony Moss for those interested in organ music as entertainment. The aim of the society is to preserve and promote the presentation of these wonderful instruments for the enjoyment of existing and future generations.It is for everyone interested in organ music as entertainment, with the emphasis on the cinema or theatre organ.The COS is organised into a number of districts around the UK, each with its own 'adopted' cinema organ.

Northern District Wurlitzer, Victoria Hall, Saltaire. Originally installed in the Gaumont Cinema, Oldham, Lancashire, 1937. 3 Manuals, 11 Ranks + Midi Piano

Midlands & Wales District Compton, Hampton-in-Arden, Fentham Hall. Originally installed in the Tower Cinema, West Bromwich. 3 Manuals, 11 Ranks, Melotone, Digital Piano

Southern District maintains the largest Wurlitzer ever imported to Europe from the US. Now fully restored and installed in Troxy, East London, it was originally installed in the Trocadero, Elephant & Castle, London. 4 Manuals, 25 Ranks, Piano

Commotio (Nielsen)

Carl Nielsen's Commotio or Commotio for Organ, Opus 58, was composed between June 1930 and February 1931. The composer's last major work, it was first performed privately on 24 April 1931 in the chapel at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.

Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl

"Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl" ("The mouth of fools doth God confess") is a Lutheran hymn of 1524, with words written by Martin Luther in 1523, paraphrasing Psalm 14. It was published as one of eight songs in 1524 in the first Lutheran hymnal, the Achtliederbuch. It was also published later that year in the Erfurt Enchiridion. It has appeared in many hymnals, both in German and in translation. The text inspired vocal and organ music by composers such as Johann Pachelbel.

Fugue in G minor, BWV 131a

The Fugue in G minor, BWV 131a, is a piece of organ music attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach.

It is a transcription of the last movement of his cantata Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131.

The cantata is definitely by Bach, while the arrangement for organ is regarded by some authorities (from Spitta onwards) as spurious.

The cantata dates from 1707 or 1708, which almost certainly provides a terminus ante quem for the organ arrangement.The key of G minor, sometimes associated with sadness, is used extensively in the cantata, which sets one of the penitential psalms. In the cantata the fugue (a permutation fugue) is sung by the choir.

The score of the cantata does not feature an organ part as such, but the basso continuo (for which a figured bass is provided) may well have been played on the organ.

Fugue in G minor, BWV 578

Fugue in G minor, BWV 578, (popularly known as the Little Fugue), is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach during his years at Arnstadt (1703–1707). It is one of Bach's best known fugues and has been arranged for other voices, including an orchestral version by Leopold Stokowski.Early editors of Bach's work attached this title to distinguish it from the later Great Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, which is longer in duration and more challenging to play.

Howl and Other Poems

Howl and Other Poems is a collection of poetry by Allen Ginsberg published November 1, 1956. It contains Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl", which is considered to be one of the principal works of the Beat Generation as well as "A Supermarket in California", "Transcription of Organ Music", "Sunflower Sutra", "America", "In the Baggage Room at Greyhound", and some of his earlier works. For printing the collection, the publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, another well-known poet, was arrested and charged with obscenity. On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton W. Horn found Ferlinghetti not guilty of the obscenity charge, and 5,000 more copies of the text were printed to meet the public demand, which had risen in response to the publicity surrounding the trial. "Howl and Other Poems" contains two of the most well-known poems from the Beat Generation, "Howl" and "A Supermarket in California", which have been reprinted in other collections, including the Norton Anthology of American Literature.

The collection was initially dedicated to Lucien Carr but, upon Carr's request, his name was later removed from all future editions.

Organ repertoire

The organ repertoire is among the largest for any solo musical instrument. Because of the organ's (or pipe organ's) prominence in worship in Western Europe from the Middle Ages on, a significant portion of organ repertoire is sacred in nature. The organ's suitability for improvisation by a single performer is well adapted to this liturgical role and has allowed many blind organists to achieve fame; it also accounts for the relatively late emergence of written compositions for the instrument in the Renaissance. Although instruments are still disallowed in most Eastern churches, organs have found their way into a few synagogues as well as secular venues where organ recitals take place.

Paul Richardson (organist)

Paul Richardson (1932 – October 2, 2006) was the home field organist for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1970 to 2005.

In 1980 when the Phillies won the World Series, Richardson was awarded a World Series ring alongside the players.

Richardson also played organ for the New York Yankees (owned by his friend George Steinbrenner) from 1978 to 1982 when the Phillies were on the road.

He is credited with popularizing the use of the "Charge!" fanfare in sports games, and with being the first to play a theme song for each player as they stepped up to the plate.

Once a staple of Phillies games, Richardson's organ music was heard much less frequently from the mid-1990s on, as pre-recorded ("canned") music became more prevalent. When the team moved into Citizens Bank Park in 2004, Richardson was not given a booth, and was seen only before games on the Ashburn Alley outfield concourse. A recording of his version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame was used for the seventh-inning stretch. This diminished role combined with health problems and no longer having a place where he could see the game were factors in Richardson announcing his retirement prior to the 2006 season.

On October 2, 2006, Richardson died after a long battle with prostate cancer [1]. The Phillies paid tribute to him prior to their 2007 home opener and also during the seventh-inning stretch of that game.

Pipe organ

The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air (called wind) through the organ pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass. Most organs have multiple ranks of pipes of differing timbre, pitch, and volume that the player can employ singly or in combination through the use of controls called stops.

A pipe organ has one or more keyboards (called manuals) played by the hands, and a pedalboard played by the feet; each keyboard has its own group of stops. The keyboard(s), pedalboard, and stops are housed in the organ's console. The organ's continuous supply of wind allows it to sustain notes for as long as the corresponding keys are pressed, unlike the piano and harpsichord whose sound begins to dissipate immediately after a key is depressed. The smallest portable pipe organs may have only one or two dozen pipes and one manual; the largest may have over 33,000 pipes and seven manuals. A list of some of the most notable and largest pipe organs in the world can be viewed at List of pipe organs. A list consisting the ranking of the largest organs in the world - based on the criterion constructed by Michał Szostak, i.e. 'the number of ranks and additional equipment managed from a single console - can be found in 'The Organ' and in 'The Vox Humana'.

The origins of the pipe organ can be traced back to the water organ in Ancient Greece, in the 3rd century BC, in which the wind supply was created by the weight of displaced water in an airtight container. By the 6th or 7th century AD, bellows were used to supply Byzantine organs with wind. Beginning in the 12th century, the organ began to evolve into a complex instrument capable of producing different timbres. A pipe organ with "great leaden pipes" was sent to the West by the Byzantine emperor Constantine V as a gift to Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, in 757. Pepin's son Charlemagne requested a similar organ for his chapel in Aachen in 812, beginning the pipe organ's establishment in Western European church music. In England, "The first organ of which any detailed record exists was built in Winchester Cathedral in the 10th century. It was a huge machine with 400 pipes, which needed two men to play it and 70 men to blow it, and its sound could be heard throughout the city." By the 17th century, most of the sounds available on the modern classical organ had been developed. From that time, the pipe organ was the most complex man-made device — a distinction it retained until it was displaced by the telephone exchange in the late 19th century.Pipe organs are installed in churches, synagogues, concert halls, schools, other public buildings and in private properties. They are used in the performance of classical music, sacred music, secular music, and popular music. In the early 20th century, pipe organs were installed in theaters to accompany the screening of films during the silent movie era; in municipal auditoria, where orchestral transcriptions were popular; and in the homes of the wealthy. The beginning of the 21st century has seen a resurgence in installations in concert halls. The organ boasts a substantial repertoire, which spans over 500 years.


Pipedreams is a radio music program produced and distributed by American Public Media (APM) based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, created and hosted since its inception by J. Michael Barone. Each one- or two-hour show features organ music, and centers on a theme such as a particular instrument, venue, organ builder, performer, composer, period, etc. The program has been in weekly national broadcast syndication since 1983 (following pilot episodes in 1982), and it remains the only nationally syndicated radio program in the United States devoted to organ music. The program is available on APM-affiliated stations and on the website. In recent years, Pipedreams' weekly radio audience has fluctuated around 200,000 listeners. The program's major sponsors include the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America, and the program's major accolades include the 2001 Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award for Excellence from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach sometime around his years as court organist to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar (1708–1717).

Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548

Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548 is a piece of organ music written by Johann Sebastian Bach sometime between 1727 and 1736, during his time in Leipzig. The work is sometimes called "The Wedge" due to the chromatic outward motion of the fugue theme.Franz Liszt arranged the work for piano (S. 462).

Raven Records

For the defunct Canadian label of the same name, see Raven Records (Canadian label)

Raven Records is an Australian record label that specialized in retrospectives and reissues or recordings by American, British and Australian artists.

Raven Records was established in 1979 by Glenn A. Baker, Kevin Mueller and Peter Shillito.

There is also an American label called Raven which specializes in organ music. It is not connected with the Australian label.


Tiento (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtjento], Portuguese: Tento [ˈtẽtu]) is a musical genre originating in Spain in the mid-15th century. It is formally analogous to the fantasia (fantasy), found in England, Germany, and the Low Countries, and also the ricercare, first found in Italy. By the end of the 16th century the tiento was exclusively a keyboard form, especially of organ music. It continued to be the predominant form in the Spanish organ tradition through the time of Cabanilles, and developed many variants. Additionally, many 20th-century composers have written works entitled "tiento".


Tutti is an Italian word literally meaning all or together and is used as a musical term, for the whole orchestra as opposed to the soloist. It is applied similarly to choral music, where the whole section or choir is called to sing. Music examination boards may instruct candidates to "play in tuttis", indicating that the candidate should play both the solo and the tutti sections.

An orchestrator may specify that a section leader (e.g., the principal violinist) plays alone, while the rest of the section is silent for the duration of the solo passage, by writing solo in the music at the point where it begins and tutti at the point he wishes the rest of the section to resume playing.

In organ music, it indicates that the full organ should be used: all stops and all couplers. Some organ consoles offer a toe stud or piston to toggle the tutti: pressing once activates all stops (although it does not physically move the stop knobs), and pressing again reverts to the previous registration.

Voluntary (music)

In music a voluntary is a piece of music, usually for an organ, that is played as part of a church service. In English-speaking countries, the music played before and after the service is often called a 'voluntary', whether or not it is titled so.

The title 'voluntary' was often used by English composers during the late Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods. Originally, the term was used for a piece of organ music that was free in style, and was meant to sound improvised (the word voluntary in general means "proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent"). This probably grew out of the practice of church organists improvising after a service.

Later, the voluntary began to develop into a more definite form, though it has never been strictly defined. During the late 17th century, a 'voluntary' was typically written in a fugal or imitative style, often with different sections. In the 18th century the form typically began with a slow movement and then a fugue. Two to four movements were common, with contrasting tempos (slow-fast-slow-fast). In the 18th century England, the word 'voluntary' and 'fuge' were interchangeable. These English style 'fuges' (or fugue) do not follow the strict theoretic form of German-style fugues. They are more related to the 'fugues' written by Italian composers of the time.

Besides the fugal type of voluntary, two other common forms developed: the trumpet voluntary and the cornet voluntary. These two were usually non-fugal, but still contained movements with contrasting tempos. These voluntaries were meant to feature the stops for which they are named. One very long example of this form of voluntary was written by Pepusch, and has 13 total movements. Several of the movements are named after organ solo stops or mixtures (bassoon, cornet, trumpet, sesquialtera, flute, twelfth, etc.).

Many composers wrote voluntaries, including Orlando Gibbons, John Blow, Henry Purcell, William Boyce, John Stanley, Handel and Thomas Arne. Often, when English music printers published continental organ music, they would, by default, title the works as 'voluntaries', though the word was not used by composers in mainland Europe. Typically, these continental works were fugues or other imitative forms.

Some voluntaries were called double voluntaries. These were pieces written for organs with two manuals (keyboards). The pieces contrasted a loud manual with a soft one.


WBVM (90.5 FM, "Spirit FM 90.5") is a Christian radio station licensed to Tampa, Florida. Owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Petersburg, the station broadcasts a Contemporary Christian music format serving the Tampa Bay Area. The station's studios are currently located at 717 S. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, and the station's transmitter is located in Riverview. WBVM is primarily listener-supported through donations, including an annual "Shareathon" pledge drive.

The station's programming includes Christian music, along with programs featuring local diocesan speakers, the Saturday morning children's program Kid's Kingdom with Elle, and Spanish language programs on Sunday evenings. Some syndicated programs are carried, such as Focus on the Family Minute, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Christopher Close-up. Sacred Classics, a weekly program of traditional choral and organ music, originates from the station. WBVM broadcasts two HD Radio subchannels, including The Light (which carries additional Christian programming), and the Spanish-language El Fuego.Programming from WBVM is also simulcast on WWLC, 88.5 MHz, in Cross City, Florida, owned by the neighboring Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine. In 2012, WBVM received the Gabriel Award as best Religious Radio Station of the Year by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals. It also received a Gabriel Award in the category Best Ecumenical or Interreligious Program for Local Release.

Amplifiers, speakers

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