The console is the part of the organ from which all mechanisms of the instrument are centrally controlled. Depending on the equipment of the organ, it mainly contains the keyboards ( manuals for the hands and pedals for the feet), the stops (or levers or buttons) and a music stand (usually with lighting). In addition, you will find the operating elements of the game aids such as coupling , blind swell and roller or switches for the combinations . Occasionally wind pressure displays and voltmeters are also attached to the gaming table.
With mechanical organs, the console is usually built directly onto the organ (often as a lockable play cabinet in the lower wall of the organ prospectus ) in order to keep the playing weight and the organ's susceptibility to errors as low as possible. In most cases this leads to the organist playing with his back or with his side facing the church; In these cases, one speaks of “foreplay” and “side play”. The latter is more common with smaller, single-manual organs with limited space. In rare cases, play systems can also be found behind the scenes, ie the console is behind the organ. The view of the church interior is often ensured by mirrors.
After free-standing gaming tables with a view of the room had been built on various occasions from the middle of the 18th century, especially in southern Germany, this became widespread with the introduction of the pneumatic game mechanism in the 19th century. When using an electronic, electric or electropneumatic action, mobile gaming tables are also possible, which can be flexibly positioned in the church space as required.
With organs outside of churches, the organist was made visible to the conductor in the orchestra by means of the electrically operated, movable console. However, this required electricity in the concert halls. Electrically operated concert organs made their way from the USA via England to Germany. The first electric gaming table in Germany was built in 1903 by the Voit company for the new town hall in Heidelberg (with three manuals and pedal). In 1993 this organ was restored.
Large organs can also have two gaming tables (mechanical gaming table directly on the instrument and electric gaming table in the church interior), which can be used depending on the purpose (church service or concert). In churches with several organs there is sometimes a main console from which all instruments can be played centrally.
Other systems that are not directly used for organ playing can also be attached to the console. Many organs are equipped with mirrors or a monitor in connection with a video camera in order to enable the organist to have contact with the liturgical events. Lights and switches or, less often, telephones are used to communicate with others involved in the worship service. In Catholic churches there is also often a device for controlling the song display near the organ. Some gaming tables also have a microphone connected to the church's loudspeaker system. This supports the acoustic effect of the singing voice in a large church room when the organist also acts as the lead singer at church services or masses .
The dimensions of gaming tables are very different. In contrast to piano construction, no fixed standards have been established to this day. Many organ builders use historical or historically influenced console dimensions in order to give a historically inspired organ a corresponding playing feel. For example, gaming tables often differ in the distances between the manuals, the size of the keys on the manuals and the pedal.
In June 2000, the Association of Organ Experts in Germany and the Association of German Organ Builders presented a new set of standards for organ console. The VOD / BDO standard 2000 is intended for the first time to link technological developments in this area with ergonomic requirements and knowledge. However, the organ builder is not obliged to adhere to the standard. As before, the recommendations only apply to newly built organs. They are not used for listed instruments. It is recommended that clients of new buildings use the standard as the basis for tenders.
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- Christoph Keggenhoff: New gaming table standards . Joint meeting of VOD and BDO in Bremen. In: Orgel International (Freiburg Music Forum), Issue 4, 2000.
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- Klemens Schnorr: About the placement of the gaming table. In: Small large organ world. 25 contributions of various kinds collected and edited by Silke Berdux. Allitera Verlag, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-96233-126-9 , pp. 147–157.
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- Klotz: The book of the organ. 1979, pp. 67-68.
- Standards committee of the Association of Organ Experts in Germany (VOD) and the Federation of German Organ Builders (BDO) (ed.): Spieltischnormen 2000. Orgelbau-Fachverlag Rensch, Lauffen am Neckar 2001, ISBN 3-921848-10-5 .