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On the left the calcane, which lifts the upper parts of the bellows, which are weighted down, one after the other. When the last bellows is “filled”, it starts again with the first. The organist can be seen on the right. Engraving from Bédos de Celles : L'art du Facteur d'Orgues, 1776
Winch with three wedge bellows, which are pulled up by "milking" ( coin tax ).
Organ motor with throttle valve

A Kalkant or calcAnt (from Latin. Calcare , contact), even bellows or Bälgetreter called, is a helper that by operating of bellows , the air supply of an organ Instruments ensures. A young person in this activity was sometimes called an organ boy , and when the bellows were pulled instead of kicked, the Kalkanten was sometimes called an organ puller or organ milker . In the case of positives or shelves , the bellows can be operated by one person, rarely by the player himself. Large organs require ten or more bellows treads, which do this with their hands, feet and their entire body weight.


The Kalkant could usually be made aware of the fact that he had to start work by means of the so-called Kalkanten call. It was a stop that was connected to a bell near the bellows.

At court organ builders were always at the same time Kalkanten. In the time z. For example, when Graz was the royal seat of the Habsburgs (1379 to 1619), there were permanently employed court calcants at their archducal residence, who had to maintain the organs and keyboard instruments of the court chapel and court church, and who also performed or organized the calcante services during the music.

The organ player was dependent on the dutiful and skillful execution of the activities of the calculator. At lesser churches, the Kalkanten were often schoolboys or farmers and craftsmen who, due to their unreliability through arbitrary exposure, sometimes caused strange situations. Elsewhere, confirmands were also entrusted with the calculating service, for example until 1950 in the Carolinensieler Church in East Frisia .


Since church buildings have been connected to the power grid , the muscles of the Kalkanten have gradually been replaced by electrically operated fans . These fans, called “organ motors ” in organist jargon, are mostly operated with three-phase current and, in contrast to earlier models, run almost silently. As a result of this type of electrification of an organ, a single bellows was then mostly used as a wind magazine and supplied by the organ motor, and all other (working) bellows were shut down.

In the course of the restoration of historical instruments, however, the old “lungs” of an organ are included, with the bellows being restored and, if lost, reconstructed. Because a so-called “living wind” is valued and belongs to the sound of a historical organ. Therefore, the play wind provided by a Kalkanten is used at relevant concerts and recordings. A wind generated in this way is free of motor vibrations or turbulence noises, which are sometimes in the audible range. In contrast, an attentive listener can hear the “breathing of the organ” when the Kalkant is operating the bellows professionally.

Recently, when restoring historical bellows systems, bellows lift machines with gear motors or pumping bellows systems have been used: in both systems, all bellows are set in motion alternately, as if actuated by limestone (e.g. the Dummel organ restored in 2007 in St. Leonhard ob Tamsweg, or the Ignaz Egedacher organ in Vornbach, which was restored in 2009 ).

See also

  • For a precise description of the activity of the calculator, taking into account the practical importance of the performance, see Windwerk .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Otmar Heinz: Early baroque organs in Styria. On the genesis of a southern German-Austrian type of instrument from the 17th century. Vienna / Münster 2012 (= research on the historical regional studies of Styria, published by the Historical Commission for Styria , Volume 53), ISBN 978-3-643-50232-2 , p. 111.
  2. ^ Walter Vonbank: Restoration report. Triebendorf 2007, p. 25.
  3. Information on the website of Orgelbau Kuhn , accessed on May 25, 2017.