Register (organ)

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Organ stops of the St. Martin Basilica in Weingarten
Rocker stops of the organ of the parish church Herz Jesu in Köllerbach
Register button of the Immanuel Church Marten
Touchscreen registry on the organs of the Freiburg Minster

In an organ, a register is a series of pipes of the same timbre , usually extending over the entire pitch range , which can be switched on or off as a unit. With most registers, exactly one whistle sounds per key; so-called " mixed voices ", on the other hand, consist of several rows of pipes (also English ranks ). As a rule, each register is permanently assigned to a keyboard .

Register and register

In most organs with mechanical tracker action organist operates the register by the register trains or Manubrien called knobs on the game table pulls out for starting and switching off again pushes (hence the phrase "all the stops pull"). There are also levers that can be moved horizontally or vertically. On organs with a spring shutter , the stop pulls even have to be hooked in the end position, as a tensile force is on them. The invention of the pneumatic action made it possible to build register switches that are much simpler because they can be operated more quickly, which is why many organs from the period after 1900 have rocker switches that can also be arranged to save space. Reeds as register switches are also very common for cinema organs or for setting free combinations. The electronics then enabled the register button as a third design , which can be operated even more quickly and offers new design options. An optical control display, i.e. a lamp or light-emitting diode , which shows whether the respective register is switched on, is essential for a button . Nowadays all three variants can be found in modern electric gaming tables, whereby register pulls and rockers can be moved electromagnetically when a stored registration is called up in order to show the switching status. With digital sacred organs all conceivable mixed forms can be found. As a rule, illuminated register buttons are used, which are shaped like classic register pulls or rockers and are thus more reminiscent of a pipe organ and are thus intended to convey a higher quality. Operation of the registers via one or more touchscreens is possible, but so far seldom built .

In principle, each register can be pulled out individually, but not every register is intended to be played alone (e.g. aliquots ). Therefore, the organist must observe a few rules when registering in order to produce an acceptable sound image. The timbres that an organ contains result from the composition of the registers. The registers therefore form an essential part of the disposition of the instrument. It is discussed by the organ builder with the client when designing the instrument in order to adapt the organ to the use and the respective room acoustics.

Choosing the right registry is an art similar to instrumentation . Depending on the character of the piece, the room acoustics, the context of the event, the audience and the possibilities of the instrument, the organist determines the registration and notes in the score which stops should sound when. At a concert, he can be assisted by a registrant , especially if there are frequent register changes within the piece on an organ with a mechanical stop action . This then pulls the registers at the designated places or pushes them off. Countless combinations can be stored in advance on modern organs . A single button (for the hand or as a foot push button ) can then be used to switch between the various registrations, which nowadays often makes the help of a registrant superfluous.

In addition to the actual registers, there are also the so-called secondary and effect registers , which are switched on via stops but do not contain their own row of pipes.

Register types

Differentiation according to pitch

Organ registers can have different pitches. Since the baroque era, the so-called foot tone number, foot pitch or foot position has established itself as a designation . It was clearly derived from the length of the largest pipe (on key C) of open labial registers , measured in the historical unit of length feet (approx. 32 cm). In fact, it is about half the wavelength of the lowest register tone.

With a register made of open labial pipes that sounds in the normal position , the lowest pipe C has an acoustically effective length of 8 feet (8 ′), i.e. approx. 2.56 m. A 16′-register sounds an octave lower than an 8′-register (e.g. a double-C sounds on the C key), the pipes are accordingly twice as long; 4 'registers sound accordingly an octave above the normal range . The so-called closed pipes represent a terminological special case : They are only half as long with the same pitch; with them the foot position (today) describes the sounding pitch (historically, for reasons of clarity, “8′-tone” etc. was often written).

For physical reasons, the actual lengths of the labial pipes differ somewhat from the nominal values ​​of the foot tone number. In the case of reed registers, there is not such a clear relationship to the specified number of foot notes, as the pitch depends primarily on the tongue and less on the length of the air column in the pipe.

Relationship between number of feet, octave position and size of an open labial pipe (1 ′ = 1 foot = approx. 32 cm)
Overtone synthesis of the organ: played notes (above), resounding notes (below)
Foot position Partial tone
8th' normal pitch as notated (equivalent position) 1. (root note)
4 ′ an octave higher 2.
2 23 an octave and a perfect fifth higher 3.
2 ′ two octaves higher 4th
1 35 two octaves and a pure major third higher 5.
1 13 two octaves and a perfect fifth higher 6th
1 17 two octaves and a perfect minor seventh higher 7th
1' three octaves higher 8th.
89 three octaves and a pure major second higher 9.
45 three octaves and a pure major third higher 10.
811 three octaves and a perfect fourth and 53 cents higher (see Alphorn Fa ) 11.
23 three octaves and a perfect fifth higher (reaches the upper hearing limit at around 16 kHz) 12.

The different pitches form the overtone series . By combining a basic register (usually 8 ′ position) with one or more overtone registers or aliquots (e.g. 2 23 ′ or 1 35 ′), certain overtones of the basic register are amplified or additional overtones are added. The organ thus offers something like an additive sound synthesis .

There are also corresponding sub-octaves, which can also form an overtone series . Since most of these are already contained in the 8′-overtone series from the 4th partial, only a few registers are useful:

Foot position Partial tone
64 ′ three octaves lower than noted.
32 ′ two octaves lower than notated (reaches the lower audible limit at around 16 Hz ), rarely in smaller organs, common in large organs also 2nd partial of a 64 ′
16 ′ an octave lower than noted also 2nd partial of a 32 ′
10 23 the fifth between 16 ′ and 8 ′ 3rd partial of a 32 ′
5 13 the fifth between 8 ′ and 4 ′ 3rd partial of a 16 ′
3 15 the third between 4 ′ and 2 ′ 5th partial of a 16 ′

The registers can be subdivided into their footnote

  • Basic registers (64 ', 32', 16 ', 8', 4 'etc.) and
  • Aliquot register (the remaining partials).

In order to depict the harmonic relationships, the position of the foot is occasionally shown as a real fraction, i.e. about 83 'instead of 2 23 '. This fraction denotes the 3rd partial, based on an 8 'basic register.


  1. Extremely rare, as the lowest octave is in the infrasound range, so it can no longer be heard, but can be felt as a vibration. There are two organs known around the world, each with a 64 'register up to subsubcontra C (C 3 ) ( organ of the Atlantic City Convention Hall and Sydney Town Hall ), up to subsubcontra G sharp (G sharp 3 ) there are two 64' Register known in an organ and with a 64 'register expanded up to the subsubcontra A (A 3 ), three organs with a 64' register each are known.

Designation of the pitch

While the exact foot measurement for the pitch designation prevailed from the late Romantic period, fractions were often "rounded" up until then. In addition, various other pitch designations were and are common. In particular, the designations with Roman numerals can cause confusion, as these numbers indicate the pitch in Italy, but the number of choirs for mixed voices in many other countries (see below). On the Iberian Peninsula, the palmo (span .: handspan, abbreviation: p ) is more common than the foot, with 13 palmos corresponding to about 8 feet.

Foot measurement (exact) Foot measurement (old) Italy Spain
32 ′ 32 ′ 32 ′, subcontra de 52
16 ′ 16 ′ 16 ′, contra de 26
8th' 8th' (usually only register name) de 13
5 13 6 ′ V, quinta (rare) Docena de 26, 12na de 26
4 ′ 4 ′ VIII, octava octava, 8na, de 7, de 7 12
3 15 3 12 X (unusual) Diez y setena de 26, 17na de 26
2 23 3 ′, 2 12 XII Docena, 12na
2 ′ 2 ′ XV Quincena, 15na
1 35 Tertia from 2 XVII (rare) Diez y setena, 17na
1 13 1 12 XIX, XVIIII Diez y novena, Decinovena, 19na
1' 1' XXII Veint y dosena, 22na
23 12 XXVI Veint y sexta, 26na
12 12 XXIX, XXVIIII Veint y novena, 29na

The footings 1 17 ', 89 ' and even higher aliquots as well as aliquots of 64 'and 32' are usually given in the exact foot size. There are no standardized information for the extremely rare 64 ′, although these registers almost always have the addition 64 ′. The indication with ordinal numbers denotes the key which, when the basic register is drawn, i.e. unless otherwise indicated 8 ′, sounds the same tone as the corresponding register on the C key. The distance between the whole-tone keys from the C key is indicated, whereby the Counting on key C starts with I. This system, with ordinal numbers written out in full, is not only common in Spanish-speaking countries but also in Portuguese, Italian and English-speaking countries. The system can only be used for the octaves, the fifths (thirds of a foot), the thirds (fifths of a foot) and the ninths (ninths of a foot), as the distance to the C key ends on a semitone key for the seventh (seventh foot) and higher aliquots than the ninth. Since in older organs the third (fifth foot) is the end anyway, this was not a problem in the past. In detailed documentation on the organ, ordinal numbers, usually written in Arabic numerals, are also used to indicate the composition of mixed voices.

The information 12 'and 24' have several meanings.

  • In Italy, 12 'means an 8' that starts on the Kontra-F (F 1 ) key , 24 'means a corresponding 16'. In old Italian organs the manual and pedal range sometimes extends deeper than the usual C, e.g. B. up to Contra-F (F 1 ) or even up to Contra-C (C 1 ).
  • In old organs north of the Alps, 12 'means a 16' that only starts from key F, 24 'corresponds to 32' from key F. Manual and pedal range usually only extend to key F. Also, 12 'occasionally denotes a fifth  10 23 ′.

Differentiation according to construction

The various organ registers differ not only in pitch (foot position) but also in their construction and thus in the tone approach (address), overtone content (timbre) and volume. The two main groups are:

  • Lip whistles (also labial whistles): Sound generation like a recorder : an air band hits the sharp-edged upper labium and generates a sound.
  • Reed whistles (also lingual whistles): Sound generated by a vibrating metal tongue, sound amplification and shaping by an attached resonance cup.

In addition, the shape of the pipe influences the sound: open, half-covered (also cane-covered) or covered construction, the pipe sizes (ratio between pipe length and diameter, labia width, etc.) and the level of wind pressure.

Differentiation according to function

The labial registers can be divided into the following functional groups:

  • Principal choir . The registers of the principal family sound strong, tart, clear and balanced. They occur in all registers and represent the tonal core of an organ. The sound crowns, mixtures, cymbals, etc. typical of the organ consist of principal pipes.
  • Far choir , also swarm choir or flute register. They have a soft, dark, and often a little quieter sound. Their lengths are wider than those of the principals. The concert flutes and the overblowing flutes (jubal flute) can be used as soloists.
  • Close choir . The so-called strings are tightly scaled and have a clear and bright sound. They can be very strong and sharp, but also very soft and soft. They are particularly suitable for playing chords and accompanying voices because you can clearly see the notes even in the lower register. They can also appear as a sound crown ( mixture of strings) under the name Harmonia aetheria .

This classification is only one of many possible. It is by no means unambiguous, because many registers fulfill several functions and combine parts of different sound characteristics. For example, “Gedackt” can be used both as a principal substitute and as a flute stop or “Traversflute” as a flute stop with a solo function.

Lingual registers are so diverse in construction and sound that they are classified according to function rather than timbre:

  • Pleno reeds , essentially consisting of the trumpet family (trumpet, trombone, clairon, etc.) as well as some similar registers such as oboe, bassoon, shawm.
  • “Lyrical” tongues that are well suited for performing a solo part, such as musette, clarinet, vox humana, krummhorn and other shelf registers.

However, this division is also not clear, many reed registers can be used in both functions.


Repeating registers break off at a certain pitch for reasons related to instrument construction (pipes are too small to be worked on) and tonal reasons (reaching the hearing limit) and start again with a lower-lying tone. If the choirs jump into the lower octave in multi-choir registers , one speaks of an octave repeater , alternating fifth and octave choirs , this is called fourth-fifth repetition or also mild repetition . The number of repetitions depends on the size of the choirs and the desired sound effect of the overall register. A special art of organ building is to make the insertion of the lower choirs inconspicuous. With sound crowns, a lower-lying choir often sets in without the highest choir breaking off. Then the number of choirs increases over the course of the keyboard. This is then given, for example, as a mixture 1 13 ′ 4–6 times . Repeating wide choirs have also been built in aliquots since the 20th century . If the repetitions are sufficiently inconspicuous, an effect similar to the Shepard scale is created .

The octave repeater can sometimes be found in individual voices ( 1 13 ′ and higher), if these would exceed a specified tone limit in the highest register. This construction is typical of Italian baroque organs, in which the high aliquot rows repeat when they reach c 5 or 18 ′ length. The cymbal 1f. however, it is usually performed in fourth-fifth repetition.

Both single and mixed voices occasionally begin in the lowest register (lowest fourth, fifth or octave) an octave higher and only then jump into their actual position. This type of octave repetition is also called reduction and is found relatively often in the Sesquialter .

Mixed voices

In addition to the registers, which consist of exactly one row of pipes, there are also the mixed voices , which are made up of several pipe choirs. With them, two or more pipes sound at the same time for each key. The mixed registers include the sound crowns (also called mixtures ) and the mixed color registers.

The number of rows of pipes is often given in Arabic numerals ("Mixtur 5–6-fold" or "Scharff 3f.") As well as Roman numerals (eg "Cornet V"). Rarely (such as in historical organ building in southern Germany) is only the foot position of the lowest row of pipes indicated on the C key (e.g. “Sesquialter  2 23 ′” or “Scharff 1 ′”). With modern organs in particular, both the number of choirs and the footing of the lowest row of pipes are often given on the C key (e.g. “Cornet V 8 ′” or “Mixtur 5–6f.  1 13 ′”).

Sound crowns

Sound crowns or mixtures belong to the registers in the principle of construction and usually only contain octave and fifth choirs, but sometimes also thirds. Depending on whether they also contain thirds, they are characterized as:

  • “Silver-colored” sound: sound crowns only contain octaves and fifths .
  • "Gold-colored" sound: sound crowns contain octaves and fifths as well as a third.

The latter are also called the third mixture or third drum . In modern organs there are also sound crowns that z. B. also contain a seventh choir (third seventh cymbal).

Most sound crowns are repetitive voices. The sound crowns include the Mixtur , Scharff , Zimbel and Hintsatz registers . As a rule, sound crowns in the pedal do not repeat.

Example for a repeating mixture 1 13 ′ 3–4 times:

Scheme of a repeating mixture
C – H: 1 13 + 1' + 23
c – h: 2 ′ + 1 13 + 1' + 23
c 1 –h 1 : 2 23 + 2 ′ + 1 13 + 1'
c 2 –h 2 : 4 ′ + 2 23 + 2 ′ + 1 13
from c 3 : 4 ′ + 4 ′ + 2 23 + 2 ′

The following graphic illustrates the course of the individual rows of pipes:

Rows of Organ Pipes.svg

The repetition takes place here between the notes B and C. If there are several sound crowns in an organ, the repetition is usually carried out at different points in order to enable the most inconspicuous changes possible.

The number of choirs is variable. In multi-choir mixtures, the choirs are often doubled. That means there are two choirs in the same position; See the example above for the two 4 'choirs from c 3 . Choirs with three or even four members are only found in very large organs. In Spanish organs, however, such mixtures ( Spanish lleno ) are often found. Smaller organs, or if only one pipe per tone is required for reasons of sound, usually only have between three and six choirs in the mixture. Mixtures are usually performed with as few repetitions as possible, a mild repetition per octave is common.

The Scharff and Zimbel registers are basically structured in a similar way, only with higher-lying choirs. Their sound is therefore sharper and brighter, but the number of choirs is usually smaller. In the Romantic period , sound crowns containing terz were sometimes referred to as "Scharff". The Scharff usually contains three to four choirs, the cymbal usually one to three choirs, and the third cymbal usually three choirs (third, fifth and octave). Cymbals are often performed with a large number of repetitions, although mild repetitions predominate even with multi-choir cymbals.

The backrest is a non-repeating mixture that only contains fifths and octave choirs and is usually on the pedal. The name comes from the also non-repeating backplate of the block mechanism that stood behind the prospectus.

One register for which the increase in the number of choirs is particularly characteristic is the progressive harmonica or progressio for short , which is not repeated and can be 1–8-fold. Due to the strong emphasis on the treble range, it is suitable for special sound effects and also for emphasizing a melody in the upper part.

Mixed color registers

The mixed color registers are a large group of mixed voices that also contain aliquots. As a rule, they are used for acoustic delimitation of solo voices or for amplification. Their tonal spectrum is practically unlimited. Important registers are the cornet , the terzian , the sesquialtera and the Rauschpfeife .


Advance deduction

Loop for advance withdrawal
only previously withdrawn row I switched on
both rows switched on

With a pre-selection , you gain an additional register by making a single row of pipes from what is actually a multi-choir register playable separately. For example, you can get an octave 2 ′ from a 4-fold mixture , a nasat 2 23 ′ from a cornet and a third 1 35 ′ from a sesquialtera . In the case of the slider drawer, this is done through additional holes in the register loop. Compared to dividing all choirs into separate registers, the space for the additional loops is saved, but only the row drawn in advance can be used alone. In practice, preliminary deductions are seldom found.

Split registers

The divided register is a specialty especially of Iberian organs ( teclado partido , Spanish: divided work , in the Iberian baroque organs all registers are usually divided), but can also be found on small instruments to expand the sound possibilities. It is a register that can be switched on separately for the upper and lower areas of a keyboard . Usually this is technically implemented by a register loop divided in the middle, the two halves of which each receive a register pull. In rare cases, the wind boxes are divided and their individual halves can be supplied with air via a valve.

The first documents mentioning divided registers in Spain date back to the 16th century ( Saragossa 1567 ). But the organs in other countries were already provided with such divisions (e.g. in the Innsbruck Ebert organ from 1561 ). The real origin of the divided register seem to have been shelf-like small organs whose very limited sound possibilities could be expanded by such a device. When these shelves were then integrated into the large organs, the division was apparently also taken over.

The division point on the Iberian Peninsula lies uniformly between c 1 and c sharp 1 (that was exactly the middle of the keyboard at that time ). In other countries, apart from the middle division between b and h or h and c 1 , divisions that are more in the lower range of the keyboard are known, e.g. B. between f sharp and g (as in southern Germany, e.g. with Holzhey ) or e and f (Innsbruck - there it was the limit of the lowest octave). The practical use is to be able to emphasize a bass or treble part in order to either get a clearly marked bass foundation or to let one or two voices stand out as a soloist without the need for an additional keyboard. In this way, however, the sound possibilities are multiplied even with more manual instruments.

By defining the division between c 1 and c sharp 1 , a separate musical genre could emerge in Spain and Portugal , the tiento de medio registro . There, in almost all organs, all registers are split registers, unless they are organs that are based on the organ building of the rest of Europe . These are primarily instruments of the romantic era .

Unbalanced registers

Asymmetrical registers are special divided registers that have a different number of foot notes in one half than in the other, whereby the bass half (B) is usually an octave higher than the treble half (D), e.g. B. 4'B / 8'D or 8'B / 16'D. Unbalanced registers are often found in Iberian baroque organs in particular.

Half register

These registers are only available for the treble half or, more rarely, the bass half of the keyboard. Examples of half registers that are only available for the treble half of the keyboard are cornet , flute and, in small organs, sesquial tones . Iberian baroque organs often have half stops, not to be confused with asymmetrical stops.

Acoustic registers

acoustic 32 ′ register

Occasionally one finds an acoustic bass (acoustic bass, acoustics, resultant). This one uses Residualtöne to cost, space and weight saving for very large pipes.

An acoustic 32 'register consists of the two rows of labial pipes octave 16' and fifth 10 23 '. The residual tone creates the impression of a relatively quiet 32 ​​'register. For reasons of sound, the octave involved is preferably executed with open labial pipes and the fifth involved with covered labial pipes. The octave involved is always available as a single register. Most 64 'labial registers ever built are acoustic registers, at least in the lowest octave, consisting of octave 32' and fifth 21 13 ', which circumvents the problem of having to build pipes that sound below the human audibility limit. Due to the system, an acoustic register does not achieve the sound volume of a register with its own pipes in the corresponding foot position. Acoustic registers can also merge into registers with their own row of pipes for the corresponding foot position in a higher register, whereby the octave and fifth are then continued for sound reasons. A 64 'in the pedal is then z. B. structured as follows: Keys C – H: 32 ′ + 21 13 ′, from key c 0 : 64 ′ + 32 ′ + 21 13 ′. For the 64 'pipes from c 0, an existing covered octave 32' is usually used in the extension process .

64 'register: keys C – H acoustic: 32 ′ + 21 1⁄3 ′, from key c0 real: 64 ′ + 32 ′ + 21 1⁄3 ′


A transmission is the coupling of a single register to another work. With a mechanical action it occurs only from the manual to the pedal , so that certain individual registers of the manuals can also be used independently in the pedal. In the case of the slider box , the transmission takes place through additional sound chambers , the valves of which are permanently coupled.

The transmission method using the example


In the case of an extension , individual registers are expanded in the tonal range so that they can also be addressed in other foot positions. For example, a 16 'can be created from an 8' register with only twelve additional pipes and using the existing pipes offset by one octave. The most common application of this method is to implement a 32 'in the pedal - here it not only saves a lot of space and weight, but also costs in the five-digit range. Extensions are only common in the pedal (in the manual there is the problem that when playing polyphonic octaves, fewer pipes sound at the same time than with other intermittent chords, which can make the overall sound appear unbalanced and thin).

Extensions are also carried out for octave couplings so that they can still be effective in the top or bottom octave.

Extensions are often used, especially in large American organs. So from a row of pipes 32 ', 16' and 8 ', sometimes even the fifths 21 13 ' (as a single register or together with 32 'as an acoustic 64') and 10 23 'are obtained, although the latter are the same not pure fifths (frequency ratio ), but equally tuned fifths (frequency ratio ). The deviation of −2  cents compared to the perfect fifth is usually not perceived as disturbing in the lower register. The quintextension, however, requires the organ to be equally tuned. In the meantime, extensions can be found in the pedal work of large organs worldwide.

An extreme example of the extension method is the multiplex organ, which is always tuned equally , in which the registers are obtained from a few rows of pipes through octave extensions, sometimes also fifths and occasionally even thirds. The third extension creates an equally tuned major third (frequency ratio ), which deviates from the pure third (frequency ratio ) by +14 cents, which can be perceived as very annoying. The classic cinema organs are usually built according to the multiplex system .

The extension process using two pedal registers as an example

Broken registers

When broken registers are called registers that are not consistently built along its course through the Klaviaturambitus in a design or scale; this is mainly done for practical reasons (space and weight reduction in the lower register, tuning and intonation in the higher register). So it can happen that an actually open register is built as covered in lower pitches (with 8 'registers mostly CH or Cg). In return, covered registers (positions 4 ', 2', less often 8 ') are built open in their highest position, in order to avoid too small, barely tunable and intonatable whistles.

4′-reed stops, especially from the trumpet family, are often filled with labial pipes (usually principals ) for reasons of tunability in the highest fifth (often with 2 pipes of the same height per tone); this is often hardly recognizable even for trained listeners .

High pressure register

High pressure registers are both lip and tongue registers , which are blown with significantly higher wind pressure than usual (up to 300  mm water column or even more), which means that they can sound significantly louder than normal organ registers (the usual wind pressure for an organ register is between 50 and 100  mm water column ). With reed voices, high pressure is sometimes used to get a rounder, not necessarily stronger sound. One example is the "Tromba" by Harrison & Harrison from England, the volume of which is actually no greater than that of a French-style trumpet .

High pressure registers emerged as a technical innovation in organ building in the 19th century . They are more common in English and American organ building than in continental Europe. They are almost never found in France, except for some exceptional 20th century instruments (e.g. Verdun Cathedral, Jacquot-Lavergne, 1935).

According to the name, high pressure registers can be recognized by prefixes such as “high pressure” or “stentor” (e.g. stentor flute , stentor viol , stentor diapason ; named after the Greek legendary figure Stentor .) Typical names of high pressure registers, which consist of reed pipes , are tuba mirabilis and Royal Trumpet .

If they consist of lip pipes , high-pressure registers must have particularly wide labia so that the high wind pressure can also be converted into a corresponding volume. Sometimes high pressure registers also have two labia:

  • Either on the opposite sides (front and back) of the pipe, such as B. in the synthematophone invented in 1906 by E. F. Walcker & Cie ;
  • or, as invented by the German organ builder Wilhelm Theodor Friedrich Weigle (1850–1906) in 1901 , a special type of high-pressure register, the so-called seraphone parts , in which the two labia on the front of the pipe are adjacent and meet at right or an obtuse angle.

Beat register

With beat registers, instead of one row of pipes, two rows of pipes that are slightly detuned from one another are used to generate a beat . Typical representatives of these registers are:

  • Unda maris (lat. "Sea wave"), in different designs (flutes or strings, wood or metal)
  • Vox coelestis or Voix céleste (Latin or French "heavenly voice") made of strings
  • Voce umana (it. "Human voice") made up of principals. This register is mainly used in Italian organs from the 16th to 18th centuries. It is not to be confused with the register Vox humana , which consists of reed pipes .

Beat registers sound mostly in the 8 'position. Sometimes (according to the Voce umana ) the beat register consists of a single row of pipes, which is then "out of tune" accordingly. In this case it must be used in conjunction with another 8 'register in order to achieve the desired beating effect.

Here is the typical sound of a vox coelestis :

Audio file / audio sample Vox coelestis 371 kB ? / i

Side and effect registers

As organ stops in the broadest sense are also referred to tremulants and as auxiliary register by register trains operable gaming aids such as coupling , combinations and check valves, and which is also switchable by drawknobs mechanical game works and special effects such as Zimbelstern , cuckoo (Cuculus), Nachtigall , bass drum, Thunder and chimes. The so-called “ calcant call ” to notify human helpers when the bellows is kicked, which is connected to a bell near the calciner, is rarely found . Today, the switch for the electrically operated fan is sometimes hidden behind this register. Another help when registering is the register fetter (also known in French as prolonguement ).

Non-acoustic stops

Non-acoustic stops activate special effects on the organ that are not intended for making music. One example is the "fox tail", when switched on, the tail of a fox pops out of a flap. Another famous example of a non-acoustic stop is the "Riesling 2fach", built in an organ in the wine-growing town of Lorch am Rhein : The actuation lets a drawer open, in which there are two bottles of wine. There is a similar register in the cathedral of Ratzeburg , there titled “Rauschwerk” and filled with whiskey. The Vleugels organ from St. Fidelis (Stuttgart) has two unusual stops: On the one hand, “Penicillus 12 ′” ( penicillus = Latin for tail or brush) - behind this slide is a brush for cleaning the keyboard; as well as a "plumbum 23 ′" ( plumbum = Latin for lead) - this pull opens a drawer with a pencil. In Cologne Cathedral , when the register “Loss jonn” ( Cologne dialect : “Let go!”, “Los!”) Is pressed, the head of the then incumbent provost Bernard Henrichs appears behind a flap with the fool's cap on . A rooster appears in St. Peter in Munich, in Trier Cathedral a flap with a pan-playing devil opens at the base of the swallow's nest, and in the Paulus Church in Werl there is a register “Vox Strigis” which, accompanied by the “ Schuhu ”a wooden pipe, a wooden owl (named Pauline by the children) emerges from inside the owl organ . Such stops are not to be confused with blind stops .

Blind stops

Blind stops are usually only used for reasons of symmetry or (with newer organs) as placeholders for possible extensions. Sometimes they are with humorous labels such as sermoner , nihil sine me ("nothing without me"), Noli me tangere ("don't touch me"), Schwyger 32 ′ or simply Schweiger ( Schwyger = "Schweiger, der Schweiger"), Ductus inutilis (“useless pull”), vox ineffabilis (“ineffable voice)”, pro forma , manum de tabula (“stop working!”), Nihil (“nothing, meaningless”) or similar. Often these trains are simply labeled with Vakant , Vacat or Vacant (from Latin vacare = "missing") or not at all. They have no function.

Electronic organs

Register buttons of an electronic sacred organ, shaped like classic rocker switches
Drawbars on a Hammond organ for 9-step or stepless mixing (with the information in "feet" taken from pipe organ construction)

In electronic organs , too , registers are implemented that are more or less based on the model of the pipe organ. In the case of electronic sacred organs in particular, efforts are made to reproduce them as precisely as possible so that a player can find the same naturalized register switches and register names and can use the music literature directly. In the case of organs for the entertainment sector, the possibilities of the electronics are then further exhausted, for example, in that the various registers can be mixed using drawbars with 9-level or infinitely variable volume ratios.


Due to the organ register, the phrase “pull all the stops” has become established in everyday usage. With regard to the organ, the entire sound volume of the instrument is used. In a figurative sense, the user wants to exhaust all means to achieve his goal.

See also


  • Carl Locher: The organ registers and their timbres as well as the related acoustic phenomena and effective mixtures. A reference work for organists, physicists and physiologists. 4th greatly increased edition. Emil Baumgart, Bern 1912.
  • Paul Smets: The organ stops, their sound and use. A manual for organists, organ builders and organ enthusiasts. 5th and 6th edition. Rheingold-Verlag, Mainz 1948.
  • Christhard Mahrenholz : The organ register. Its history and its construction. 4 deliveries. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1929–1930 (2nd edition. Ibid. 1942 (= publication of the German Organ Council. Vol. 2, ZDB -ID 1210669-0 ); Unchanged reprint of the 2nd edition. Ibid. 1968).
  • Thekla Schneider: The names of the organ registers. Compendium of all register names from old and new times with references to the origin of the names and their meaning. Bärenreiter, Kassel u. a. 1958 (2nd edition, ibid 1970, ISBN 3-7618-0001-0 ).
  • Dom Bedos : The Art of the Organ Builder. = L'art du facteur d'orgues. Organ building specialist publisher, Lauffen am Neckar 1977, ISBN 3-921848-03-2 .
  • Rudolf Reuter: Orgeln in Spanien (= publications of the organ science research center in the musicology seminar of the Westphalian Wilhelms University. No. 14). Bärenreiter, Kassel u. a. 1986, ISBN 3-7618-0769-4 .
  • Ferdinand Klinda: organ registration. Sound design of organ music. Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-7651-0212-1 .
  • Roland Eberlein : Organ register. Their names and their history. Siebenquart, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-941224-00-1 .

Web links

Commons : Register (organ)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Walcker-Mayer: Harmonica aetheria - veiled harmonies, aetheric magic. In: aeoline - blog. May 3, 2008, accessed September 11, 2018 .
  2. Data throughput and graphics of mixtures
  3. L'Hydraule (the example without throughput) example
  4. " Pull out all the stops ". Wiktionary
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on December 10, 2006 .