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When an organ possesses only one row of keys for the hands, i.e., only one manual, this generally consists of a suitable combination of stops of either Great, Choir or Swell organs. When there are two manuals the lower is generally the Great and the upper the Swell. On instruments of three or more manuals the order from top to bottom is generally as follows :-
3 manuals III Swell
II Great
I Choir
4 manuals IV Solo
III Swell
II Great
I Choir
5 Manuals V Echo (or Celeste)
IV Solo
III Swell
II Great
I Choir
Keyboard CompassClick for larger image
34. As a rule, the quality of the tone of a stop can be known from its name, e.g., Flute, Trumpet, Viol da Gamba, Etc.
35. The pitch of a stop is made known by stating the length of the longest pipe it contains. A pipe closed at the top with a stopper, or other covering, produces a note one octave lower than an open pipe of the same length. Thus the note is sounded by an open pipe of 8 feet in length, but the same note is sounded by a stopped pipe of 4 feet in length. Hence the stopped pipe is said to be of 8-feet tone and not of 8-feet length.

Stops of 8-feet length or 8-feet tone are of unison pitch, that is to say, are of the same pitch as a pianoforte.

By a law which is familiar to all, a pipe of 4 feet, proportionately formed, will sound notes an octave higher than one of 8 feet. So also a pipe of 16 feet will produce a sound an octave lower than one of 8 feet ; similarly, one of 2 feet two octaves above one of 8 feet, and so on.

36. Hence a 16-feet stop on the manuals is called a Double stop.
37. Stops of 8 feet, or unison pitch, are called Foundation stops (if not specially voiced for soio use),
38. Stops of 4 feet, 2 feet, also of 5 feet 4 inches, and 2 feet 8 inches, are called Mutation stops.
39. Stops having several small pipes to each note are called Compound stops. It will be convenient, therefore, to divide stops into these four heads :—
1. Double.
2. Foundation
3. Mutation.
4. Compound or Chrous
40. The DOUBLES most usually met with are :—
Double Stopped Diapason, or Double Dulciana, or Bourdon (16-feet tone)Soft and sweet.
Of 16-feet length or toneDouble Gamba or Contra GambaReedy, but generally soft.
Double Open Diapason or Double Diapason, metal Of full, rich tone.
41 The FOUNDATION STOPS usually met with are :-
Foundation Stops
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42 The MUTATION STOPS usually met with are :-
Mutaion Stops
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43 The COMPOUND STOPS usually met with are :-
Compound Stops
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So much variety is found as to the number of ranks of Compound stops, their scales, Etc., that a separate treatise might well be written on this subject alone. The young reader must be content to know that generally a Sesquialtera is so arranged that on playing the note Stave 5 the following sounds are produced : Stave 6
As the continuation upwards of such a series of small pipes would be impossible, there is at certain notes a break or return to the same sound as an octave lower. This is the case with all Compound stops.
If the Mixture stop be drawn and the note Stave 8 be played, generally the following sounds will be heard Stave 8 but these are very soon changed by a break.
Sometimes a Sesquialtera will contain five ranks, and thus include in it the pipes usually included in the Mixture also.
44 The FOLLOWING LIST includes the principal stops of this class:

Manual Reed Stops
Reed-stops of 2-feet length are extremely rare in the manuals ; those of 51/3 feet and 22/5 feet are never made in this country. Compound reed-stops are unknown.
45. Certain stops do not exactly come under any of the above divisions—such, for instance, as the V ox Angelica, Voix Céleste, or Unda Maris, a stop of an undulating, wavy tone, the peculiar effect of which is produced by placing together two ranks of Dulciana or Salcional pipes and then making one rank slightly flatter than the other. The beats which result from the want of "accord" cause the characteristic waviness.
The Vox Humana or Voix Humaine is a reed-stop of a strange "whining" sort of tone, supposed by imaginative hearers to resemble the human voice. It is often used not only as a solo stop, but In full chords ; and its likeness to the human voice divine is thought to be largely increased by the use of a tremulant, or mechanical contrivance for producing a regularly recurring disturbance of the supply of wind, the result being that the tones sound unnaturally nervous and highly mock-pathetic.
The Tuba Mirabilis and Harmonic Trumpet, though generally used as solo stops, are occasionally, for a short time, used in conjunction with the full organ if a remarkably grand fortissimo is required.

46. The all-important distinction between stops on the Pedal Organ and those on the Manuals is that the former are uniformly one octave lower in pitch. Thus, as the Open Diapason of a Manual is of 8-feet length, the Open Diapason on the Pedal Organ will be of 16-feet ; also, as the Double stops of the manuals are of 16-feet length or tone, those of the pedals are 32-feet.
47. The DOUBLES most usually found on the Pedal Organ are :

Redal Organ Doubles
48. The FOUNDATION STOPS of a Pedal organ are usually:
Pedal Organ Foundation Stops
49. The MUTATION STOPS usually found on a Pedal organ are
Pedal Organ Mutation Stops

50 A COMPOUND STOP is often found on large Pedal Organs, namely : -
Mixture . . . Of three or more ranks.
51. The FOLLOWING LIST includes the chief stops of this class
Pedal Reed-stops
The following tables of combinations will teach the student the principles on which stops are added to each other, and what stops to draw when practising by himself. It will be found that in the case of a large organ the numbers of Foundation, Mutation, and Compound stops remain in much the same proportion as in a small instrument.
52. The progressive stages of tone on the Great Organ will be (if the instrument has no Choir Organ)—
Combination Of Great Organ Stops
If the Great Organ pipes are not on a high pressure of wind, the following would be a common gradation of power on a small instrument:-
Great organ stops
The Stopped Diapason and Clarabella or Harmonic Flute (8 feet) are valuable as solo stops.
A good "Small Open Diapason" is often most useful as a solo stop, especially in the middle and lower portions.
Other combinations, such as Flute, 4-feet tone, with Bourdon, 16-feet tone, or the Trumpet with or without the Diapasons, will be found-available for special effects.
53. The chief characteristic of the Swell Organ is the number of its reed-stops. The fine crescendo obtained by their use accounts for this.
The following will show the ordinary gradations of tone required :—
Swell organ stops
Some beautiful effects may be obtained by playing an octave higher on such combinations as the following:-

Swell organ stops 2
If the stops of a Swell Organ are thoroughly well balanced as to tone, a mysterious and solemn effect can often be obtained by using all the stops except the reeds, or, as it is termed, playing "full without reeds."
On many Swells the following is a peculiar but charming combination

Swell organ stops 3
The stops on the Swell often used for solos are—

Swell organ stops 4
The Swell Organ derives its name from the fact that its pipes are enclosed in a Swell box, the opening and closing of which gives the effect of increasing and diminishing the volume of sound. This is controlled by means of a contrivance named the Swell pedal, which is moved by the right foot of the performer.
54, As a rule, stops of a delicate quality of tone are generally assigned to the Choir Organ, The- following would be ordinarily a graduated list of combinations on the Choir Organ :—
Choir organ stops
The addition of a 4-feet flute to a stop of "clarinet" tone produces a somewhat tender and mournful effect.
Solo stops or combinations on the Choir Organ will ordinarily be accompanied by a soft (not too soft) combination on the Swell.
In cathedrals and churches where there is a choral service, the soft stops of the Choir Organ form a charming accompaniment to a solo voice or voices soli ; but this organ is rarely powerful enough to give support to a large number of voices singing forte.
On many instruments now the pipes of the Choir Organ are placed in a separate Swell box, and controlled by a separate Swell pedal.
55. As its name implies, to this organ are assigned stops for solo use. Except in very large organs, not more than four distinct qualities of tone are found amongst these registers, namely, Flute (8 feet or 4 feet), Oboe (Orchestral), Clarinet, Tromba (or Tuba).
It will hardly be expected that anything should be said as to the " combination " of stops specially intended for independent use. All that need be pointed out is, that many organists use always an 8-feet Flute or Clarabella with the Clarinet, in order to give it more body. Some players use always an 8-feet Flute with the solo Tromba (or Tuba) because it gives mellowness to the tone.
The solo stops can be accompanied by any row of keys found suitable. On account of the remarkable power of the Tromba (or Tuba) the Great Organ is frequently used as an accompaniment to it. When this stop is of a rich, pure tone it may occasionally be used in full chords, either on its own row of keys or coupled to the full Great.
The pipes of the Solo Organ, like those of the Swell Organ, are placed in a separate Swell box, and actuated by a separate Swell pedal.
This is only to be found on exceptionally large organs, and its pipes are placed at some distance from the rest of the instrument. It is practically an independent Organ on a small scale, consisting of Flue and Reed Stops, imitations of Bells, Etc., and intended for special and distant effects.
56. On small organs the player has not a large number of pedal stops to select from. On large instruments considerable skill may be displayed in the use of varieties of tone on the Pedal Organ and their adjustment to the power and quality of the manuals. On organs with two pedal stops, a Bourdon, 16-feet tone (or in its place a Violone of 16 feet), forms the soft pedal, and an Open Diapason of 16 feet is added for forte passages ; all other gradations of tone being obtained by coupling the manuals to the pedals. A pedal stop of 32-feet length is rarely used alone except in its upper portion.
Pedal Organ stops

It is very difficult to give any definite advice as to the coupling of manuals to pedals. For legato playing and where uniformity of tone is necessary, it is generally advisable to couple them to the particular manual on which the chief harmonies are being played. Soft staccato passages, however, generally sound better when played on pedal stops without any manual being coupled.
Young organists should be specially warned against the use of too many pedal stops. The over-weighting of the manual-tone by the Pedal Organ becomes exceedingly unpleasant if continued for any length of time, Variety is as important in the use of pedal stops as in every other department of playing.
57. In all pieces or passages in which the crescendo of the Swell is required in addition to the steady, dignified tone of the Great, it is usual, of course, to couple the Swell to the Great Organ ; but, on the other hand, the occasional use of the Great without the Swell coupler, especially if the diapasons are good, will be found to produce a very pure and "fresh" effect.
58. When an organ contains a coupler "Swell to Choir," this may be drawn with advantage, either for the purpose of adding a crescendo to a passage being played by both hands on the Choir ; or, when a solo combination is being used on the Choir with accompaniment on the Swell, for the purpose of producing the same crescendo in the accompaniment as in the solo part.
59. A very valuable addition to the Diapason or flute-tone of the Great Organ is obtainable by the coupler "Solo to Great," which enables any rich-toned stop of 8 feet or 4 feet on the Solo to be combined with the 8 feet or 4 feet stops of the Great.
60. "Octave couplers," such as "Swell to Great super-octave" or "Swell to Great sub-octave," will be found occasionally of great value, not only as productive of unusual effects, but also as enabling the player to render rapid orchestral octave passages effectively and smoothly while playing only single notes.
61. By drawing one or more fine reed-stops on the Swell, shutting off all the Great Organ stops, and drawing sub-octave, unison, and super-octave couplers, a very fine crescendo may be obtained by playing on the Great Organ manual with both hands.
62. In the matter of combining stops, a little experience is worth a vast amount of theory.
A refined ear and good taste will point out unmistakably, first, what combinations of stops produce a really good tone ; next, which combination is most suitable for a particular passage.
It is specially necessary to warn young organists against implicit obedience to the directions given in arrangements for the organ. For instance, "full swell" is Pianissimo on some organs in large buildings, but fortissimo on many others ; "up to mixtures" in old cathedral organs means a rich mezzo forte, whereas in a modern organ (especially in a small place) it is probable the result would be a screamy fortissimo. When an "arranger" has an instrument with bad "Double Diapasons" he is constantly writing the direction without "doubles," whereas if they are so properly voiced as to become a subordinate ingredient of the tone their frequent use is not only admissible but desirable. On an instrument with a small weak-toned Pedal Organ a good player frequently plays the pedal part in octaves, but if this were to be indiscriminately followed on a properly balanced instrument the effect would often be detestable. Many German writers have written for organs possessing a large independent Pedal Organ, but very intractable couplers (if any) of "manuals" to "pedals" : in order therefore to get strength of tone these composers give frequent passages in octaves. When played on an English organ with proper couplers these gymnastic efforts may often (not always) be dispensed with.
63. A good organist may be known, if by nothing else, by his use of the crescendo of the Swell Organ. A bad player, when he has a leg to spare, seems to think it cannot be better employed than by pumping the Swell pedal up and down with utter disregard to the composer's intentions. It might often be said that such performers try to use the Swell pedal even when one leg cannot be spared, and thus frequently sacrifice beautiful pedal passages by consigning their rendering to the frantic efforts of the left foot only. On one occasion the writer remembers to have heard an organist performing on an instrument having a very prominent Swell Organ case with highly-decorated shutters. He was playing on the Choir Organ with both hands and without using the pedals, but so strong was the force of habit that his right leg was busily engaged working the Swell pedal. The absurd effect can be imagined ; the tone remained level and passionless to the ears of the hearers, while their eyes were annoyed by the meaningless "gaping" of the Swell shutters.
The following rules should be impressed on young players :—
"Never use the Swell pedal unless the proper expression of the music demands a crescendo or diminuendo."
"Never sacrifice the proper performance of a pedal passage for the sake of using the Swell pedal."
"Be as careful of the way you let the pedal return upwards as of the way you press it down."
"Observe carefully the length of the passage marked crescendo, and do not get the Swell fully open till the climax—unless you are prepared to carry on the crescendo, by adding stops."
"The Swell crescendo is the more effective, if not used too frequently."
The early student will be well-advised to avoid altogether the use of the Tremulant. Great judgment is required in the selection of those rare and brief occasions on which it may effectively be called into play, and this can only be gained by considerable experience. It is a matter for regret that many players—and even composers—of the present day, make far too much use of this somewhat artificial and ad captandum device. Perhaps it is only fair to mention, however, that the modern Tremulant is much less aggressive than its representative of earlier days.
64. Stops should on no account be changed either by composition pedals, pistons, or the hand, unless it can be done without breaking the time or disturbing the rhythmical form of the music.
It is the more important to impress this upon the young organist at the present time, inasmuch as it has become a vicious fashion among a certain class of organists to hold down a chord for more than its proper duration with one hand while the other is ostentatiously hunting about for stops. This trick is bad enough when it happens to be the final chord of one movement which is unduly protracted for the purpose of preparing the stops for that which is to follow ; but when, as is often the case, it is a chord in the middle of a passage which is selected for protraction, only because it can be conveniently held down by one hand, the effect is truly distressing. The beginner will therefore do well to bear the following rule in mind :-
"Never sacrifice the time or rhythm of a passage in an attempt to change the stops. Consider that the alteration of stops should have the result of producing a better rendering of an author's composition, not of ruining its effect."

Extract:- Novelos Music Primer No3.
By J. Stainer
Edited by John E. West