Work (organ)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term work is used in organ building with two easily misunderstood meanings. On the one hand in connection with the working principle and on the other hand as a designation of individual technical assemblies of the organ .

Work principle

Schematic structure of an organ (Hamburg prospectus)
At this organ is working structure easy to recognize ( St. Wolfgang's Church, Schneeberg )

A larger organ consists of a combination of several organs originally set up separately (partial works) . This subdivision takes place according to the sound character and special technical tasks (for example plenum, cantus-firmus or trio-like organ playing ) among other things as main work (HW), pedal work (PW) or swell work (SW), echo work (named after the function) or Oberwerk (OW), Brustwerk (BW), Rückpositiv (RP) and Fernwerk (indicating the location). There are also other, rarer partial works . However, there are also smaller organs with sometimes only one manual and without pedals.

The work is the combination of the case, pipes and wind chest of such an independent part of an organ . It is initially played from exactly one keyboard . The structure of the pipe work of an organ is often reflected in the structure of the prospectus .

North German baroque

The following work names appear in the classic baroque organ:

Main work

The main work (HW, sometimes just called work ) is the central part of the organ with the most important pipes for normal playing. It usually has a full principal choir with mixtures and reeds from the trumpet family. Flute registers, strings and aliquot registers can be added, whereby strings did not appear until the beginning of the 18th century and are therefore not yet present in the typical North German baroque organ. Aliquot registers in the main work were more common in northern Germany in smaller organs, then mainly in the form of the sesquialtera to form a third plenum. In Dutch organ building, which is closely related to North German organ building, there is often a tertian in the main work of larger organs. Usually, third voices for a main work plenum are borrowed from the upper or chest work on large baroque organs by means of the couplings. The reason for this “purity” of the main work is its development from the Gothic block work , which only consisted of a large labial plenum. In this form, even if it was divided into individual stops, it was preserved in large organs as the main work up to the early 17th century, in the course of which a tongue choir that supplemented the plenum or could be used as a soloist slowly became the standard.

Pedal mechanism

The pedal (work) (PW) contains the lowest register of the organ, almost always voices in 16′-pitch are included. It is often housed in so-called pedal towers , which delimit the sides of the organ with their long prospect pipes. In the north German organ building of the late Renaissance and the Baroque, an independent pedal mechanism was mostly completely developed, i.e. it contained both a labial plenum up to the mixture and a reed choir from the 16-foot to the 4-foot or even 2-foot Location, which even allowed for various possible combinations for a pedal plenum. Pedal couplings were unnecessary.


The breastwork (BW) lies directly in front of the player above the gaming table . The origin of the breastwork is an additional shelf built into the organ , which was placed there because of the easy accessibility for frequent tuning. This was later extended by some labial registers, which were mostly small for spatial reasons. To this day, short-bellied tongues can still be found in most breastworks. The labial pipes are usually small (principals often only from 2 ′). This results in a rather thin, pointed sound character.

Upper work

The upper work (OW) is located above the main work and usually forms (after the pedal work) the highest point of the organ. In large organs from the heyday of organ building in North Germany, the upper work often reflects the sound structure of the main work, has a dialogic function and can also be used to reinforce the main work plenum. In north German large organs, for example, there is often only one trumpet 16 'in the main work, while a trumpet 8' is available in the upper work. In the late Renaissance, the upper work was mostly dominated exclusively by reeds and subtle solo voices, often without a full principal choir, while the main work contained only a large labial plenum. The development from the Gothic block work to the Baroque main work can also be clearly seen on this shift line. Some of the main works of small or medium-sized organs of this era are also referred to as "upper works", depending on their location.


The Rückpositiv (RP) or positive is often located in the organist's back in its own case, usually in the gallery parapet . In rooms that are not too large, the closer proximity to the listener often results in a somewhat more direct and fresher sound impression than with the other works on the organ. In addition to various tongue registers, there are often strong solo registers and aliquots. In north German baroque organs there is usually a fully developed flute choir in the Rückpositiv. For optical and acoustic reasons, the Rückpositiv can only have significantly smaller pipes than the main work behind it, the prospect principles of the Rückpositiv are therefore usually an octave higher than those of the main work. Coupling of the Rückpositiv to other parts of the work was unusual for north German baroque organs. Unlike the upper work, the Rückpositiv already contained a fully developed principal choir in the late Renaissance.


Sometimes, even with smaller organs, a weak additional work on a second manual in addition to the main work was called positive. This took place based on the musical instrument of the same name . An arrangement in the uppermost position is a positive crown.


In the course of Romanticism, the work principle lost its importance. Instead of the differentiated timbres and spatial graduation, there is now a dynamic gradation. The first (lowest) manual receives the stronger registers, the further manuals increasingly quieter. Different types of timbres can be displayed on all manuals and dynamic levels can be selected via the different manuals.

The principle can be seen quite well in exemplary registers of the organ of the Luther Church (Apolda) (new construction by Sauer 1893/94):

I Manual
Principal 16 ′
Principal 8th'
Dumped 8th'
Viola di gamba 8th'
octave 4 ′
Flûte harmonique 4 ′
Mixture V 5 1 / 3 '
Trumpet 8th'
II swell
Lovely Gedackt 16 ′
Violin principal 8th'
Lovely Gedackt 8th'
Salicional 8th'
octave 4 ′
Reed flute 4 ′
Progressio IV – V
oboe 8th'
III swell
Principal amabile 8th'
Delicately packed 8th'
harmonica 8th'
Soft flute 4 ′

Above all, high registers often no longer have a correspondence in the third manual, sometimes even in the second manual, so that the number of registers usually decreases as the increases.

The rapid changes in dynamics and timbre in romantic organ music also required more works than the baroque organ. The following work names have emerged in Germany , all of which refer to the location of the pipes , except for the swell , which had a special task:

  • Substation: It is usually found on both sides of the gaming table on the same level.
  • Hinterwerk: It is set up behind the main plant. The Hauptwerk does not have a closed case so that it can sound in the room.
  • Swell: It is built in a swell box , see Swell .
  • Fernwerk: see below.


In romance Furthermore came the (already particularly in the southern German Baroque without swell built) Echo works particularly well. This designation means a weakly occupied part of the organ to create an echo effect compared to the other works, the voices of which are in the swell box or lower case of the organ.


Sound opening, Passau Cathedral (Heiliggeistloch)

The remote work is "remote" from the other works of an organ; H. at another location in a church or concert hall. Typically, remote units are "hidden"; H. not visible. They can be found, for example, behind a wall or ceiling cladding, in particular in a sound chamber in the attic of a church building; the sound of the remote control is then conducted into the church through a sound opening in the vault.

Fernwerke are an invention from the time of the early romantic organ building. They serve the "effect game", i. H. the creation of special sound effects. Reverb and echo can be imitated with remote control units. Their sound should trickle down like "the distant stream of silver"; In other words, “mystical” sound experiences arise, as if the organ were sounding from other spheres.

Fernwerke are for example in the Passau cathedral organ , in the main church St. Michaelis (Hamburg) and in the Marienbasilika (Kevelaer) .

Other works are to be distinguished from remote works, which are positioned "far" from the main organ in a church or concert hall and are also played from the main console. Some of these are smaller (independent) organ works, such as choir organs , which can be played from the main organ (for example via WiFi ).

Auxiliary plant

An auxiliary work (also Hilfswerk , Latin auxiliari = to help) is an "dependent" organ that is usually positioned at a spatial distance from the main organ and does not have its own console and, unlike a romantic remote work, is often visible. It does not necessarily serve the "effect game", but supports the main organ in order to fill an area of ​​the room further away from it, which can only be reached with difficulty by the main organ. Therefore, the disposition of an auxiliary work usually corresponds to that of a main work, in order to mix well with it acoustically.

For example, an auxiliary work was built in the westwork of St. Paul's Cathedral in Münster , since the main organ, which is located in the east transept, does not penetrate the rear of the cathedral, but rather sounds like a remote work. The organ in Essen Minster also has an auxiliary mechanism.

Other work names

The following work names can also be found in large organs:

  • Bombard (en) werk : Part of the organ with tongue registers (preferably bombards )
  • Chamad (s) factory: A Chamade was in military history a given with a bugle of particular volume that should be heard in the enemy camp. A chamad (en) work mainly consists of chamad registers, i.e. H. Strongly sounding tongue registers that produce a trumpet or fanfare-like sound and usually extend horizontally into the church. Often these are high pressure registers .
  • High pressure plant: A self-contained organ plant, consisting of high pressure registers , often in cathedral churches.
  • Kronwerk : A (small) positive above the main work (similar to the upper work ) with its own prospect pipes.

Technical assemblies

In addition to the work principle, the term work is also used to denote the individual assemblies of an organ. In addition to the pipework is an organ nor of the winch , which the wind is generated and leads to the wind chests, and the Regierwerk . This is the central and arguably the most complex part of an organ. The control unit consists of the console and the action and connects the operating elements ( keyboards and stops ) with the functional elements , the pipework.

Individual evidence

  1. Michele Del Prete: Sound Thresholds. Visual and Acoustic Values ​​of the Fernwerk in Post-Romantic Organ Building and Architecture. In: Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography. XLII / 1-2 (2017), 233-251.