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Reliable
Registrations
Playing the orchestra at your fingertips
Presented by Brian D. Ebie, PhD
© 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rig...
If organists didn’t have the organ…
© 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
The Imitation Game
• Organ pipes & how they correspond to stops on your ward organ
• Crunching the numbers
All in the Fami...
The Imitation Game
A giant box of whistles
• LARGEST 64’ long & 8’ across
• SMALLEST 6” long & 1/8” across
(And everything...
A realm of contrast
© 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
Crunching the Numbers
• The main principal sound is called eight-
foot (8') pitch
• A pipe half the length of another will...
Flue Pipes
• Principals
• Flutes and Gedackts
• Strings
• Mutations
• Mixtures
Reeds
• Chorus
• Solo
All in the Family2
© ...
Unique to the organ
• Provides the fundamental or
characteristic tone of the organ
• “Aggressive firmness”
• Excellent sup...
The Open Flutes
• Concert Flute, Melodia 8’
• Spitzfloete, Hohlfloete 8’ 4’
• Harmonic Flute 4’
• Nacthorn, Blockfloete 4’...
String pipes are the smallest-
scaled flue pipes
• They produce a bright sound that is
low in fundamentals and rich in
upp...
Strings and Celestes
• Celeste Ranks are purposely
tuned slightly above (or below—
unda maris) pitch to create an
undulati...
All lingual pipes are classified together in
the reed family of registers
• Tone produced by a vibrating reed set into
mot...
All in the Family | Mutations
Ranks that do not speak at the unison or
some octave of the unison pitch are called
mutation...
Mixtures contain multiple ranks of
pipes sounding at consecutive
octaves and fifths
• (and in some cases, thirds) above
un...
Solo & Ensemble3
Combinations | Generals | Pistons | Presets
General Pistons
• Building from soft to loud using 1-10
Manua...
Reliable Registrations: Chorus
Chorus Registrations are like a choir…
Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, Basses
Principal Chorus
• 8...
Reliable Registrations: Chorus
Combination Choruses
• Combining ranks can provide even more variety
For a more full, round...
Reliable Registrations: Solo
Emphasis on a single voice—a melodic line
• Usually completed against an accompaniment on
a d...
Reliable Registrations: Solo
Timbre-creating Combinations:
• Gedackt 8’ + Piccolo 2’
• Gedackt 8’ + Nazard 2⅔’
• Saliciona...
Playing Hymns
The most important thing we do4
© 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
Playing Hymns
Practice EVERY verse of EVERY hymn for next
Sunday during the week
• Read the text and study its relationshi...
Playing Hymns
Congregations are what count
• But congregations don’t COUNT
• Make sure your playing is solid, rhythmic, an...
Playing Hymns
Devote a level of memory to the hymns
Graduated Generals
• Build up from 1-10, adding to each piston, while
...
Brian’s General Pistons 1-5
General 1: (sacrament hymn introduction/general/special effects)
– SW: Solo reed, or flutes 8’...
Brian’s General Pistons 6-10
General 6: (second verse, w/o pedal? “Port and Stilton”)
– SW: General 5 + Oboe 8’ ?
– GT: Ge...
You have an orchestra at your fingertips
• Take time to experiment with what works and what does not.
• Get someone to pla...
Selected References
Audsley, George Ashdown (1921). Organ-stops and their artistic
registration. New York, H. W. Gray, Co....
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Understanding Pipe Organ Stops and Registrations

The pipe organ is a complex musical instrument with countless variations in stops and ranks available to play. In this presentation, noted pipe organ technician and historian, Brian Ebie, presents the basics of organ registration. Each family of stops is discussed, including flue and reed pipes, strings, flutes, gedackts, and principals. Finally, a list of general settings for hymn playing appears at the end of the presentation.

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Understanding Pipe Organ Stops and Registrations

  1. 1. Reliable Registrations Playing the orchestra at your fingertips Presented by Brian D. Ebie, PhD © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. If organists didn’t have the organ… © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  3. 3. The Imitation Game • Organ pipes & how they correspond to stops on your ward organ • Crunching the numbers All in the Family • Flues • Reeds Solo & Ensemble • Chorus Registrations • Solo Registrations Pulling Out the Stops • Some thoughts on hymn playing Where are we going? 3 2 1 4 © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  4. 4. The Imitation Game A giant box of whistles • LARGEST 64’ long & 8’ across • SMALLEST 6” long & 1/8” across (And everything in between) Electrically & mechanically operated • EP, DE, Tracker • Wave Oscillation • Digital Sampling Blown with air, pumped by hand 1 © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  5. 5. A realm of contrast © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  6. 6. Crunching the Numbers • The main principal sound is called eight- foot (8') pitch • A pipe half the length of another will sound one octave higher • If the longest pipe, C, is 8 feet in length, the pipe one octave higher will be 4 feet long, and two octaves above (middle C) will be 2 feet long © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  7. 7. Flue Pipes • Principals • Flutes and Gedackts • Strings • Mutations • Mixtures Reeds • Chorus • Solo All in the Family2 © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  8. 8. Unique to the organ • Provides the fundamental or characteristic tone of the organ • “Aggressive firmness” • Excellent support for hymn singing • Cleanliness for counterpoint 16’ 8’ 4’ Principal, Diapason, Open Diapason, Montre 4’ 2’ 1’ Octave, Super Octave, Fifteenth, Dog Whistle Principals | All the in the Family © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  9. 9. The Open Flutes • Concert Flute, Melodia 8’ • Spitzfloete, Hohlfloete 8’ 4’ • Harmonic Flute 4’ • Nacthorn, Blockfloete 4’ 2’ • Waldfloete, Piccolo, Flautino 2’ • Schweigelpfife, Sifflöte, 1’ The Gedackts (stoppers) • Subbass, Leiblich Gedackt, Quintaton, Woof 16’ • Bourdon, Stopped Diapason, Gedackt 8’ • Rohrflöte, Rohrgedackt, Flute, 8’ 4’ Flutes | All the in the Family © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  10. 10. String pipes are the smallest- scaled flue pipes • They produce a bright sound that is low in fundamentals and rich in upper partials • String stops are named after bowed string instruments • Generally soft • Narrow pipework 16’ 8’ • Gambe, Salicional, Viola, Viole, • Contra Viole, Gemshorn, Erzahler 8’ 4’ • Gemshorn, Violina Strings | All the in the Family © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  11. 11. Strings and Celestes • Celeste Ranks are purposely tuned slightly above (or below— unda maris) pitch to create an undulating effect when paired with the primary rank • This is done to simulate the string section of an orchestra • Celeste ranks are not used alone, or usually with anything other than strings • Great for accompanying, solo organ works, and funerals Celeste, Voix Celeste, Aéoline, Unda Maris 8’ Celestes | All the in the Family © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  12. 12. All lingual pipes are classified together in the reed family of registers • Tone produced by a vibrating reed set into motion by air • Generally nasal, pungent timbres • Size/shape of reed & resonator determine volume and timbre • “solo” and “chorus” reeds Contra Bombarde, Posaune, 32’ Trombone, Pousane, Fagott 16’ Trompette, Trumpet, 16’ 8’ 4’ Clarion, Rohrschalmei, Snarl 4’ Schalmei, Oboe, Krumhorn, Cornopean, Regal 8’ Reeds | All the in the Family © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  13. 13. All in the Family | Mutations Ranks that do not speak at the unison or some octave of the unison pitch are called mutation stops © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  14. 14. Mixtures contain multiple ranks of pipes sounding at consecutive octaves and fifths • (and in some cases, thirds) above unison pitch The number of ranks in a mixture is denoted by a Roman numeral on the stop knob • For example, a stop labeled "Mixture V" would contain five pipes for every note • So for every key pressed, five different pipes sound (all controlled by the same stop) Fourniture, Scharf, Plein Jeu, Zimbel II, III, IV, V Mixtures | Mixing it up © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  15. 15. Solo & Ensemble3 Combinations | Generals | Pistons | Presets General Pistons • Building from soft to loud using 1-10 Manual Pistons • With couplers, can be used to “bring on” color for a verse change Practice using pistons, toe studs, and hand-registering© 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  16. 16. Reliable Registrations: Chorus Chorus Registrations are like a choir… Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, Basses Principal Chorus • 8, + 4, + 2, + mixtures Flute Chorus • 8, + 4, + 2 String Chorus • 16, + 8, + 4 (Strings and Celestes) (“Moonbeams”) Reed Chorus • 16, + 8, + 4 + mixtures (sometimes) © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  17. 17. Reliable Registrations: Chorus Combination Choruses • Combining ranks can provide even more variety For a more full, rounder sound • Principals & Flutes at 8’ 4’ For a softer principal-type sound • String 8’ & Flute 8’ • Adding up to 4’ and 2’ For an aggressive principal chorus, add reeds • Principals 8’ 4’ 2’ +Reeds 8’ + 4’ (“Midnight Swell”) © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  18. 18. Reliable Registrations: Solo Emphasis on a single voice—a melodic line • Usually completed against an accompaniment on a different manual • Usually a distinctive character stop or combination of stops against flutes or strings/celestes. • Can be displaced by an octave in either direction, depending on range, timbre, etc… Solo voices can be an individual stop or a combination of stops © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  19. 19. Reliable Registrations: Solo Timbre-creating Combinations: • Gedackt 8’ + Piccolo 2’ • Gedackt 8’ + Nazard 2⅔’ • Salicional 8’ + Nazard 2⅔’ (Synthetic Oboe) • Gedackt 8’ + Nazard 2⅔’ + Piccolo 2’ • Gedackt 8’ + Nazard 2⅔’ + Tierce 1⅗’ (Synthetic Clarinet) • Salicional 8’ + Flute 4’ + Nazard 2⅔’ • Gedackt 8’ + Flute 4’ + Nazard 2⅔’ + Piccolo 2’ + Tierce 1⅗’ (Cornet) • Bourdon 16’ + 8’ + 4’ + 2’ (+ Tremulant = the “Tabernacle” sound) • Bourdon 16’ + Piccolo 2’ • Bourdon 16’ + Nazard 2⅔’ Adding to the Reeds: • Oboe 8’ + Gedackt 8’ • Oboe 8’ + Nazard 2⅔’ • Oboe 8’ + Salicional 8’ © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  20. 20. Playing Hymns The most important thing we do4 © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  21. 21. Playing Hymns Practice EVERY verse of EVERY hymn for next Sunday during the week • Read the text and study its relationship to the music; which determines what stops to choose and where the climax is • Have a plan which frees you up to be creative or inspired “People do sing over here, and quite boldly, and therefore one can be bold in setting up the correct mood for the hymn. But once it’s going, you can step back a bit and let them enjoy the sound of their own voices…” John Scott © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  22. 22. Playing Hymns Congregations are what count • But congregations don’t COUNT • Make sure your playing is solid, rhythmic, and that you and the chorister are holding the notes for their full value Your hymn introduction does not have to be what appears between the [ ]’s in the Hymnal • Sometimes the entire hymn is appropriate to invite the Spirit • You set the tempo, give out the tune, and set a mood • I try to play the introduction in the tempo I hope we will sing © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  23. 23. Playing Hymns Devote a level of memory to the hymns Graduated Generals • Build up from 1-10, adding to each piston, while typically including the previous piston’s stops “Finding just the right balance between too much and not enough is a lifelong pursuit…” ---Bruce Neswick Playing Hymns © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  24. 24. Brian’s General Pistons 1-5 General 1: (sacrament hymn introduction/general/special effects) – SW: Solo reed, or flutes 8’ 2⅔’, or similar – GT: flute celeste + 8’ gemshorn – PD: flutes 32’ 16’, GT/PD General 2: (sacrament hymn/contrasting verse) – SW: strings, celestes, flutes 8’ 4’ – GT: flutes 8, 8 (celeste) SW/GT – PD: flutes 16’ 8’ SW/PD General 3: (solo diapason/hymn intro) – SW: flutes 8’, string 8’ 4’ – GT: 8’ principal, 8’ flute 8’ gemshorn – PD: flutes 16’ 8’ SW/PD General 4: (orchestral/verse contrast) – SW: flutes, strings, 8’ 4’ – GT: gemshorn 8’ flutes 8’ 4’ SW/GT – PD: 16, 16, 8, SW/PD General 5: (hymn verse 1) – SW: 8, 8, 8, 4, 4, – GT: principal 8’ flute 8’ 4’ SW/GT – PD: 16, 16, 8, SW/PD © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  25. 25. Brian’s General Pistons 6-10 General 6: (second verse, w/o pedal? “Port and Stilton”) – SW: General 5 + Oboe 8’ ? – GT: General 5 – PD: General 5 General 7: (third verse, with pedal, no reeds) – SW: full without reeds – GT: full without reeds – PD: full without reeds General 8: (last verse, plenum) – SW: General 7 + 8’ reeds (“midnight swell”) – GT: General 7 – PD: General 7 + principals 8’ 4’ + GT/PD General 9: (full with reeds and mixtures) – SW: General 8 + Mixture – GT: General 8 + Mixture (?) – PD: General 8 + 32’ + 16’ reed General 10: (solo reed) – SW: 8, 8, 8, 4, 4, 2’ – GT: 8’ festival trumpet + 8’ principal + 8’ flute (played 8vb) – PD: 16, 16, 8, SW/PD © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  26. 26. You have an orchestra at your fingertips • Take time to experiment with what works and what does not. • Get someone to play while you sit around the chapel. • Listen to good organists. Discover a use for each stop on the organ, and try to apply it at least once over the course of a month. Hymn playing is an art form. It requires a palette of hundreds of techniques, to which the organist will have constant subconscious access. Hymn playing, when executed well, is a personal response to other art forms—poetry and music—as well as the spontaneous singing of a body of untrained participants Conclusion © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.
  27. 27. Selected References Audsley, George Ashdown (1921). Organ-stops and their artistic registration. New York, H. W. Gray, Co. Engel, James (1986). An Introduction to Organ Registration – Church Music Pamphlet Series. St. Louis, Concordia Forster, Stuart (2013). Hymn Playing: A Modern Colloquium. St. Louis, MorningStar Goode, Jack C (1964). Pipe Organ Registration. New York, Abingdon Press Bonavia-Hunt, Noel Aubrey (1923) Modern organ stops: A practical guide to their nomenclature, construction, voicing and artistic use. Musical Opinion. Irwin, Stevens (1962). Dictionary of Pipe Organ Stops. New York, G. Schirmer © 2015 Brian Ebie. All Rights Reserved.

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  • JMScheibe

    Aug. 30, 2016
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    Dec. 7, 2016
  • mandysinspirations

    Jun. 12, 2017

The pipe organ is a complex musical instrument with countless variations in stops and ranks available to play. In this presentation, noted pipe organ technician and historian, Brian Ebie, presents the basics of organ registration. Each family of stops is discussed, including flue and reed pipes, strings, flutes, gedackts, and principals. Finally, a list of general settings for hymn playing appears at the end of the presentation.

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