View Full Version : How Organ is played?

Aug-01-2005, 17:10
I'm new to Organ as i never seen a real organ and i have Yamaha 5 octave keyboard using Hauptwerk virtual pc organ but i'm unable to know how to play solo,accomp and pedal keyboards and i have some quieries,please clarify

1.Is piano and organ playing both are same?

2.I have downloaded methodist hymns notation from www.hymnsite.com (http://www.hymnsite.com) and is this notation same for organ?or any seperate music sheet for pipeorgan?

3.My virtual pc organ has one keybaord and one pedal keyboard.So how (suprano,alto,tenor,bass) are played with this one keyboard and pedal?

4.In some organs i have both solo,accomp keyboard and also one pedal keyboard.so how the 4 part melody is seperated?

I hope someone will help me.


Frederik Magle
Aug-01-2005, 23:57
Welcome sunny https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

I'll try to answer some of your questions:

1. Piano and organ playing is the same onlyy in the way that both instruments are controlled by a keyboard. I cannot even begin to mention all the diffferences, but some of the basic ones are the way the tone develops when you press a key. On the piano the tone will quickly decrease in volume (can be somewhat extended by useing the forte pedal). However on the organ the tone can be held in infinity (or at least until the wind supply stops, probably when electricity is cut when someone can't stand that infinite noise anymore https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif) and the tone is less modulated in most cases. Of course you know this already but it greatly effects the way the instruments are played.

2. I haven't seen any of those sheets from hymnsite so I cannot answer that question, maybe someone else can. But there are indeed lots of sheet music especially made for organ. However, when performing most hymns you will normally play the bass voice on the pedal and the tenor, alto, soprano on the manuals. Either all three on the same manual, or the soprano on its own manual accompagned by the tenro/alto on another.

3. bass on pedal, rest on manual.

4. Soprano on solo, tenor/alto on accomp and bass on pedal.

Hope this answers most of your questions and good luck on the organ playing https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

D P Werner
Aug-11-2005, 09:23
I cannot improve on what Mr. Magle writes, perhaps only elaborate:

1. Piano technique is primarily about how the piano key is depressed. Organ technique is about precisely how long to hold each note. There is no tonal effect from how an organ key is depressed. One difficulty pianists might encounter is that on the organ the hands remain quiet and the touch remains light no matter how loud the music is.

2. For hymns, there is no special music notation for organ. Hymns are usually four voices written on two staves. On an organ with no pedal all four voices are played on one manual. If there is a pedal, the bass is played with the pedal and the three upper voices are played on one manual.

Music especially for organ with pedal is generally written on three staves. Sometimes it is written on two staves with an option to play the bass on the pedal instead of the left hand indicated by the abbreviation "Ped".

3. Use some musical sense when deciding when to use pedal or not. Even in choral music, the basses do not sing nonstop. Sometimes they are silent and the tenors then become the lowest note. This is true of organ music also. The bass line goes on the pedal, but the tenor line does not go on the pedal when the bass line is at rest.

4. When there are two manuals, you may play the soprano on a solo keyboard to highlight the cantus firmus (melody), but when playing four part hymns, most organists still choose to play the upper three voices on a single manual.

Yours truly,

Aug-28-2005, 11:56
i need some information on how the pipe organ works

Thomas Dressler
Aug-28-2005, 21:11
A pipe organ is basically a large collection of whistles of all different sizes and shapes. Most are made of metal, some are made of wood. Most of them work like a recorder where the air is blown across a "lip" which makes the vibration. Some have a metal reed in their base, and their sound is made more like one of those party horns you (at least we here in the US) blow to make noise for New Year's Day or at birthday parties.

Organ pipes can make all kinds of sounds, from imitating flutes, stringed instruments, trumpets, etc. as well as pure organ sound which doesn't imitate anything else. For each sound an organ can make, it needs a complete set of pipes, one for each note.

These pipes are arranged on a big box, called a windchest, and the air inside the windchest is pressurized. In the old days this was done by someone pumping bellows by hand (or by foot) and nowadays it's most often done with an electric fan blower. However, many people agree the old fashioned way sounds better and new organs are being built that can be blown by hand.

The keyboards control which pipes will play. There are a number of ways of doing this. Without electricity it is done by a series of levers and strips of wood which eventually lead to a little door under the pipe feet called a pallet. When you press a key the levers move and open this pallet, allowing the wind into the proper pipes. It can also be done using electricity, in which case the key at the keyboard simply has a switch under it which closes an electrical circuit, energizing a magnet under the pallet. The magnet "turns on" when you press a key, and attracts the pallet, opening it and allowing the wind in. Other actions include pneumatic actions, which use pressurized air to move the pallet. The actual workings of the actions are somewhat more complicated than this, but this is the simplest explanation I can think of.

There are arguments among organists about which is the best kind of action. Some prefer the mechanical (levers) type action because it is more sensitive. Some prefer the other kinds because they allow you to play more pipes more easily and also to very quickly change registration, or combinations of sounds.

Does that help? Ask if you need more information.

Thomas Dressler

Sep-06-2005, 07:58
I wasn't the one asking the question, but I'd just like to say, that that was a brilliant explanation. https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif Thank you

Thomas Dressler
Sep-07-2005, 04:32
And thank you for the compliment! https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Thomas Dressler
Sep-07-2005, 15:49
By the way, Lotus, I think your avatar is really creative. Every time I look at it it makes me laugh!


Sep-08-2005, 08:24
Thank you Tom, I feel it is a very good representation of me https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

Oct-08-2007, 23:17
I was new to the pipe organ last summer. I belong to a methodist church.
If you can play a keyboard, an organ will be a wiz for you. Just try your
self on a pipe organ if your church has one and see if you can. I did that
and I never played a pipe organ. I played organs like the smaller hammonds
at other churches. The first one was no bigger than a small house organ
which was too small for that size of church. The little hammond sounded
like a toy. If you can play a piano then you can play an organ. You just
have to adjust to it. It is like the difference from a pickup truck and an
eighteen wheeler. But don't worry,the driver's seat is much more fun.
judy tooley:grin:

Corno Dolce
Oct-09-2007, 07:57
*Difference between a pickup truck and an eighteen wheeler*

ROTFLMAO!!! :):D;):grin::banana: