Paddock (organ)

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The mechanical coupling of a baroque organ: the organist presses the keys of the upper manual, the keys of the lower manual are automatically pressed.

Couples are playing aids of an organ (also with harpsichord / harmonium ). As a rule, they establish a connection between the keys / pedals of different keyboards ( manuals / pedal) and thus enable when a key is pressed that the corresponding key on another keyboard or a key is automatically "pulled" to it at a specified interval . So is z. B. playing on all works / with all registers simultaneously possible. One speaks of an attached pedal when the coupling of a manual to the pedal is permanent and cannot be switched off.


With the help of couplers , the pulled registers of another work or the notes of another octave can sound on a manual or pedal . To achieve this, coupling act either on the key action of the organ, or directly on the Tonventile of the connected work. Depending on the type of action mechanism (mechanical, pneumatic, electrical), the couplings are usually also designed. With a few exceptions, couplings only work in one direction. Depending on the technical design, coupling act through coupling , that is: z. B. If the couplers II / I and III / II are activated, the notes of the III will also sound when you play the I. manual. Manuals. In the case of organs with an electric action mechanism, however, all conceivable connections can be implemented without great effort by connecting a computer (see e.g. Sinua Castellan System).

Coupling is described by first specifying the manual (or work) to be coupled and then the manual to which it is to be coupled. For example, "II / I" means: the second manual is linked to the first or "HW / Ped": the main work is linked to the pedal. In the case of normal coupling (the pitch of the coupled registers is the same as on the manual being played), no further information is given. In the case of octave coupling , the pitch offset can be specified using the prefixes “Sub” and “Super” or as foot numbers, “III / I 4 ′” means: the third manual is coupled to the first one octave higher, “Sub OW / HW “: Lets the upper work sound an octave lower on the main work (manual).

The switching on or off of the various paddocks takes place depending on the version

at the gaming table .

Mechanical designs

Schematic drawing of a rocker coupling II / I
schematic animation of the functionality of a rocker coupling
Coupling apparatus of an electro-mechanically supported coupling: Here, electromagnets also activate the abstract to the sound valves

Various types of coupling are common in mechanical organs. Since the mechanical couplings customary today are complex to manufacture, only the most necessary normal couplings are usually built. Mechanical special couplings are rarely made. In historical organ building the sliding coupler was widespread, in which the upper manual was pulled or shifted by a few centimeters so that hooks interlocked (hook coupler) or wooden blocks lay on top of one another (block coupler) when coupled . Joachim Wagner invented the fork coupling , which - like the later invented ram coupling - works without a sliding manual. In Pedal Couplers which engage the abstract into the tracker action of the manuals after a wave board were then directed to the key width of the manual keyboard. With these "old" coupling designs, the keys of the coupled keyboard always move with it.

Today mechanical couplings are usually designed as rocker couplings . The coupling device is integrated into the mechanics of the gaming table and has the following functionality: If a button of the first manual is pressed while the coupling is switched on (upper rocker bar is in the "on" position), the abstract of this button pulls the left arm of the upper rocker down, the right arm moves upwards accordingly and pulls the right arm of the lower rocker up with it. The left arm of the lower rocker now pulls the abstract of the same tone of Manual II down. With modern rocker coupling, the buttons of the coupled manual usually do not move. When the paddock is switched off, the upper rocker bar is in the rest position. This means that when you press a button on the first manual, the upper rocker arm does not move and the entire coupling apparatus remains at rest.

In the case of large organs with a mechanical action mechanism, the coupling is often made electrically. In this case the buttons are equipped with electrical contacts and electromagnets are coupled in the course of the mechanical action, often in or directly under the wind box. While the force to be expended is added with each activated coupling (movement of the action mechanism as well as overcoming the valve pressure point of the coupled work), the easy playability of the keyboards is maintained through this hybrid form . Mechanical and electrical couplings are rarely built in parallel. In this way, the player can choose between low key force and sensitive controls.

Special coupling

Game table chassis with mechanical pedal coupling device

Particularly in the Romantic era , the new technical possibilities that came with the introduction of the pneumatic and later the electric action meant that various special couplings were increasingly used, which can be distinguished as follows:

Octave coupling

The octave coupler was built in the middle of the 19th century on Italian organs as a mechanical playing aid, there called terza mano soprani ("the third hand"; it is a super octave coupler in the treble ). In the case of an octave coupler, for every key that is struck, another key is struck (one octave apart), namely one octave lower with the sub- octave coupler and one octave higher with the super octave coupler. In contrast to the early mechanical couplers, however, the coupled keys here usually do not move with it (exception: keys on the harmonium). When using the octave coupler, the player has to pay attention to the keyboard limits, because when playing in the lowest octave with the sub-octave coupler switched on, no notes can be heard through them. The same applies to the top twelve keys when the super octave coupling is activated. In order to be able to take advantage of the tonal expansion and the fullness of notes across the entire keyboard, which is particularly valued in romantic organ music, parts of an organ that can be coupled with a super octave coupler are therefore occasionally expanded by up to twelve additional tones (sometimes not in all registers) . In the case of sub-octave couplings, this expansion is not common (for reasons of cost, due to the additional large pipes required). In addition to the octave couplers, there are also a few other interval couplers , the main organ of the Marienbasilika (Kevelaer) has a fifth coupler in the pedal .

Melody and bass coupling

The melody coupler (also called soprano coupler ) is a technical invention from the time of the pneumatic action. Instead of all (pressed) keys, this only affects the top (highest) key and thus filters out the highest note of a struck chord. Depending on how the melody coupler works, this can now sound on a different work / manual or offset by an octave or both. The bass coupling (also known as the “pedal effect”) works in the same way for the lowest key pressed; it is particularly suitable for players who are not yet very familiar with playing the pedals. Melody and bass couplers are mainly found in romantic organs with pneumatic action and are rarely built today. A bass coupler can be found in almost every digital sacred organ as a playing aid.

The organ builders van den Heuvel have also invented an old coupler for St-Eustache (Paris) and the Copenhagen Concert Hall , which filters out the second highest key pressed. In combination with a soprano pair, it enables a four-part movement to be played with different registrations for each part, without having to play two manuals with one hand in a technically virtuosic manner.

Idle coupling

The idle coupling was invented by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll , originally only with the purpose of protecting the Barker machine and reducing action noises if you only play the secondary manuals on the main work keyboard (mostly Manual I) by means of coupling , in order to adopt a physiologically more comfortable body posture can. The action of the main work was decoupled from the main work keyboard, which also led to the desired, pleasantly easier playability of the keyboard. In the course of time, the organists also discovered the registration "side effect" of this device: At the time, when the free combinations were not yet invented, the stops of the main work could be made to sound or to be silenced at a desired time by activating the idle coupling which, possibly flanking the swell, caused a strong dynamic change. For this reason, idle couplers were later built into pneumatic and even electric actions. They then no longer served their original purpose, but served as a pure registration aid. Today, game aids such as free combinations or even typesetting systems with thousands of programmable combinations are available. Therefore, the idle coupling has not been built since the 1950s.

Return coupling

The return coupling is a complicated mechanical coupling. It enables the main work to be played on the side manuals. It is very rarely found, but was installed on the organ of Passau Cathedral by Martin Hechenberger, for example . Because of the possibility of using freely selectable electrical couplings, this design is no longer used today.

Coupling manual

The coupling manual can occasionally be found as an additional manual, especially in smaller, actually two-manual organs. Technically and practically, different constellations are conceivable, but they all have one thing in common: It is a manual without its own register, to which the other two manuals are linked. A further dynamic level is gained through the coupling manual. While the possibilities are limited with a two-manual organ (either both manuals independently; or one manual coupled with the other, the other independently), the pulled stops of both manuals can now be played both together and separately. The auxiliary keyboard ( auxiliaire ) is a variant with similar possibilities . This is permanently coupled to one of the two manuals, but there is a normal manual coupling that does not affect the auxiliary keyboard. When the coupling is activated, this results in the same constellation as with the coupling manual. This version offers the possibility of operating the paddock during play, and there can also be advantages for the arrangement of the manuals.


  • Wolfgang Adelung: Introduction to organ building. 2nd Edition. Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden 2002, ISBN 3-7651-0279-2 , pp. 154-158.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Émile Rupp : The establishment and meaning of the idle paddock in the modern gaming table. In: Zeitschift für Instrumentenkunde. Born 1912–1913, p. 488. Online at, accessed on November 26, 2016.