A Summary of Organ Stops to be found in Rodgers Masterpiece Organs
Compliled by Ron Pearcy
Basson - An imitative reed stop of 8' or 16' pitch. It is sometimes given the name Bassoon <http://www.organstops.org/f/Fagotto.html> or its synonyms. The name properly given to the lingual stop, of 8 ft. pitch, the tones of which successfully imitate those of the orchestral Bassoon. The pipes of the most satisfactory examples of the stop have resonators of wood or metal, conical or pyramidal in form and of very small scale. The true compass of the Bassoon of the orchestra does not extend beyond Eb1; accordingly, above this note the stop is completed in what are practically Orchestral Oboe <http://www.organstops.org/o/OrchOboe.html> pipes. The tone of the Orchestral Bassoon should throughout its compass be of greater body than that which characterizes the Orchestral Oboe, so as to give a marked individuality to the stop.
Bombarde 16 and 32 modern Bombardeis a powerful chorus reed, usually found on the pedal at 8', 16', or 32' pitch (where it may be called Contra Bombarde <http://www.organstops.org/c/ContraBombarde.html>), or on the manuals at 16', 8' or rarely (according to Wedgwood) 4' pitch. Its resonators are inverted conical metal or inverted pyramidal wood, and may be of harmonic (double) length in the treble. Bonavia-Hunt gives a scale of 7"-8" at 16' CCC, and says that they may be capped.
Bourdon 32, 16, 8 . A stopped wooden flute of large scale. The name is derived from the French word bourdonner,meaning "to buzz". It is possibly the single most common 16' pedal stop. The most common name is Bourdon. It is similar to, and occasionally synonymous with, the Gedeckt <http://www.organstops.org/g/Gedeckt.html> and the Stopped Diapason <http://www.organstops.org/s/StoppedDiapason.html>. On theatre organs, the name is often used for an extension of the Concert Flute <http://www.organstops.org/o/OrchFlute.html>, an open stop.
Chimney Flute 8 The names Rohrflöteand Chimney Fluteare often used to refer to a whole class of flute stops whose pipes feature various kinds of tubes or “chimneys” in their tops. This important pipe form, known as “half-stopped”, has been known for centuries throughout Europe, and probably originated, according to Grove and Williams, in the Rhineland at the end of the 15th century. The names Rohrflöteand Chimney Fluteare often used to refer to a whole class of flute stops whose pipes feature various kinds of tubes or “chimneys” in their tops. This important pipe form, known as “half-stopped”, has been known for centuries throughout Europe, and probably originated, according to Grove and Williams, in the Rhineland at the end of the 15th century. While Audsley claims that it was “systematically neglected” by French, English and American builders, the pipe form was well known to French builders, and Hopkins & Rimbault maintain that in England half-stopped pipes were far more common than fully stopped pipes. Bonavia-Hunt reports that early English builders were very fond of it, particularly Snetzler.
While this pipe form has been used extensively, stop labels often do not mention its use. The name Rohrflöteand its variants were, according to Grove, originally used only north of a line drawn between Breslau and Antwerp. English Stopped Diapasons <http://www.organstops.org/s/StoppedDiapason.html> often had chimneys, as did French Bourdons <http://www.organstops.org/b/Bourdon.html> and Flûtes <http://www.organstops.org/f/Flute.html>. While the name Flûte à Cheminéewas mentioned by Dom Bedos around 1770, it does not seem to have been used with any frequency until a century later. Williams reports that early Dutch Hohlflöten <http://www.organstops.org/h/Hohlflote.html> also used this construction.
This stop has been made at a wide variety of pitches, from 16' to 1', including quint pitches. The most common pitches by far are 8' and 4'.
Choralbass 4 Choralbassis nearly always a 4' pedal Principal <http://www.organstops.org/o/OpenDiapason.html>, prominently voiced for playing the melody or cantus firmus in chorale preludes, hence its name. The prefix “Choral” was used for other stops intended for the same use, including Choralflöte <http://www.organstops.org/c/Choralflote.html>.
Chorus Mixture IV These names have all been used to indicate a loud, full-toned 8' chorus Diapason <http://www.organstops.org/o/OpenDiapason.html>. The name Major Principal <http://www.organstops.org/m/MajorPrincipal.html> has also been used as a synonym for Major Octave <http://www.organstops.org/m/MajorOctave.html>, and the name Grand Principalhas been used as a synonym for Contra Principal <http://www.organstops.org/c/ContraPrincipal.html>. Chorus Diapason, Major Diapasonand Stentor Diapasonare mentioned only by Irwin, who lists them separately but states that they are practically synonymous. Grand Open Diapasonis mentioned only by Sumner. The prefix Grandhas also been used to indicate stops of sub-octave pitch.
Vox Humana is one of the oldest organ stops, dating back at least as far as the late 1500's. A reed stop of the Regal <http://www.organstops.org/r/Regal.html> class, it has been made in a wide variety of forms, including (according to Audsley) a free-reed. However, throughout the centuries it has most often employed cylindrical resonators, usually 1/4 or 1/8 length, and usually partially or fully capped. A typical form is shown in Audsley's illustration reproduced here (click on it for a larger image). It is arguably the only stop to survive, in its original form, through the symphonic excesses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The tone of the Vox Humana is not particulary unique; other Regals produce similar sounds. Its name, however, establishes a tonal goal which has caused countless critics to write it off as unsuccessful or even laughable. While organ builders have tried for half a millenium to imitate the human voice, the most successful attempts only manage to approximate the sound of a male chorus singing in the distance.
It has been often stated that the most important stop in any organ is the room into which it speaks, and the Vox Humana epitomizes this principle. The success or failure of this stop depends not so much on the details of its construction, but rather on its acoustical environment. A large, reverberant room, distance from the listener, and enclosure in a swell box all contribute greatly to its effect. A tremulant is also essential, which must be carefully adjusted.
No theatre organ could be considered complete without at least one Vox Humana; some consider it to be as important as the Tibia Clausa <http://www.organstops.org/t/TibiaClausa.html>. Larger instruments might have as many as four independent Vox Humanaranks. According to Strony, the finest ones were made by Wurlitzer, who made a few Vox Humanachoruses with separate 16, 8, 4 ranks, and even a celeste <http://www.organstops.org/c/Celeste.html>!
Clairon 4 / Clarion 4 chorus reed of 4' pitch, essentially an octave Trumpet <http://www.organstops.org/t/Trumpet.html>. The word Clarionis also used as a modifier for a variety of reed stops (not all of them chorus reeds) to indicate a stop of octave pitch; for example Oboe Clarion <http://www.organstops.org/o/OctaveOboe.html>. The name Trompette Clarion, mentioned only by Irwin in a stoplist in his entry for Trompette Harmonique.
Clarinet 8 and 16 . This is a favourite solo stop on British and American organs, and can be one of the most successful organ imitations of an orchestral instrument. It is usually found at 8' pitch, occasionally at 16', and rarely at 4'. Since this organ stop is, generally speaking, imitative, the history of the orchestral instrument of the same name may help provide some perspective. While the invention of the clarinet can be traced to Denner at the end of the 17th century, the name clarinetdid not appear until around 1732, having been known earlier by the name chalumeau. However, these early clarinets were tonally closer to the oboe than the modern clarinet, whose tone did not develop until the early 1800's. generally imitative to a greater or lesser degree, the tone of the Clarinet varies a good deal. In its treble range it has been described as being even better than its orchestral prototype, but the bass is difficult to voice properly, and seldom approaches the richness of the original. Wedgwood reports that the Clarinet has occasionally been voiced as a soft Trumpet <http://www.organstops.org/t/Trumpet.html>. Bonavia-Hunt describes three types of Clarinet tone: On the theatre organ, the Clarinet is the most common reed after the Vox Humana <http://www.organstops.org/v/VoxHumana.html> and Trumpet <http://www.organstops.org/t/Trumpet.html>.
Concert Flute 8 This stop has the distinction of having more names than any other organ stop, by a considerable margin. The words traverse, querand their variants mean "across", referring to the manner in which the orchestral flute is played. The word Allemandeand its variants means "German"; The name Vienna Fluteis most likely derived from Wienerflöte <http://www.organstops.org/w/Wienerflote.html>. Theobald Boehm was a Bavarian instrument-maker who made important improvements to the orchestral flute during the first half of the 19th century. Grove cites the name Travesierain the entry for Flauto,but does not make it clear whether the word Flautoproperly precedes it. Traversais mentioned only by Williams, who does not define it, saying only “see Flauto Traverso”. Maclean claims, possibly erroneously, that Flûte Creuse <http://www.organstops.org/h/Hohlflote.html> is also a synonym.
As the names imply, this stop is imitative of the orchestral flute, and can be one of the most effective orchestral imitations found in the organ. It is invariably a flue stop, but this is the only generalization that can be made for its entire history. A variety of materials have been used in its construction.
Contrabass 16 . imitative string stop of 16' pitch. Some sources consider these names to be synonyms for Violone <http://www.organstops.org/v/Violone.html>. According to Adlung, Contrabassis sometimes a synonym for Subbass <http://www.organstops.org/c/ContraBourdon.html>.
Contra Bombarde 32 . A Bombarde <http://www.organstops.org/b/Bombarde.html> stop pitched an octave lower, at 16' or 32'. It is common in large French organs. Audsley describes its tone as “dry and hard”. Starter pneumatics are sometimes used to obtain prompter speech. Both wood and metal resonators have been used. Bonavia-Hunt considers it synonymous with Contra Bombardon <http://www.organstops.org/c/ContraBombardon.html>.
Cornet 2 English. In its quintessential form, the Cornet is a wide-scaled compound stop without breaks, containing a third-sounding rank, often of short (treble) compass. Like so many other organ stops, it has its origins in attempts to imitate another instrument, in this case the Renaissance instrument known as cornet or zink, which was blown in the manner of a brass instrument, but made of wood, and furnished with finger-holes. Early organ-builders used both reed stops and compound flue stops in their attempts to imitate the instrument. The classical stop is not related to the modern orchestral instrument called cornet (see Orchestral Cornet <http://www.organstops.org/o/OrchCornet.html>), although the Cornet of the theatre organ is a 4' Tuba <http://www.organstops.org/t/Tuba.html> or Trumpet <http://www.organstops.org/t/Trumpet.html>.
Cremona 8 This name is an English corruption of Krummhorn <http://www.organstops.org/k/Krummhorn.html>, and has been used mainly as a synonym for Clarinet <http://www.organstops.org/c/Clarinet.html>. In the past, some organ builders have incorrectly interpreted it as indicating a violin, after the Italian city of Cremona, famed for its violins. Irwin claims that the name has also been used as a synonym for Clarinet Flute <http://www.organstops.org/c/ClarinetFlute.html>. Grove dates the name from around 1680, which predates the introduction of the name Clarinet by half a century.
Cymbale III FrenchThe Cymbale of the classical French organ was an important component of the Plein Jeu registration. Along with the Fourniture <http://www.organstops.org/f/Fourniture.html>, it provided brilliance and stability to all ranges. The Cymbale and Fourniture were designed to complement each other, and both were considered indispensible, except in the smallest instruments in which the Cymbale alone was provided. Occasionally, the two mixtures would be combined into a single Mixture <http://www.organstops.org/p/PleinJeu.html>. The classical French Cymbale never contained third-sounding ranks, only octave- and fifth-sounding ranks, and always broke every fourth or fifth, that is, twice per octave. In its upper range it included ranks supporting the 16' harmonic series (e.g. 5-1/3'), and in some cases even the 32'. The Cymbale had the same number of ranks as the Fourniture, or perhaps one or two less, but never more.
Diapason 8 The quintessential tone of the pipe organ. Open cylindrical metal, or open rectangular wood.
Diaphone 32 , 16 English. Wind-blown organ pipes come in two broad types: flues and reeds. While the Diaphone is in many ways similar to reeds, it is considered to be in a class by itself, sometimes called "valvular". Instead of a reed, it employs a beating palette to produce the vibrations which are amplified and fixed in frequency by a resonator. Unlike beating reeds, the pitch of a Diaphone is not affected by variations in wind pressure. (This is also true of free reeds.) Diaphones are uncommon, and are found most often in theatre organs. Diaphonic pipes are typically only used in the 16' and 32' octaves.
Doppel Flute 8 Doppelflöteis a wooden stop with two mouths, located on opposite sides of the pipe. It is nearly always found at 8' pitch It is chiefly a solo stop; Audsley considers it a good blender, but Skinner disagrees. Because of its two mouths, the Doppelflöterequires more than the usual amount of space on the wind chest.
Double Diapason 16 Diapason <http://www.organstops.org/o/OpenDiapason.html> stop pitched an octave or two below unison pitch; i.e. 16' or 32'
Double Trumpet 16 A Trumpet <http://www.organstops.org/t/Trumpet.html> stop pitched an octave lower than normal, at 16' or 32'. Wedgwood and Maclean maintain that it is usually identical with or slightly more powerful than the Contra Fagotto <http://www.organstops.org/c/ContraBassoon.html>. Hopkins & Rimbault characterize its tone as weaker than the unison Trumpet; Irwin calls it free, brilliant and fiery. Strony reports that “no theatre organ builder made a practice of building Trumpets that extended all the way down to 16' pitch”; thus theatre organ Double Trumpets ended at tenor C.
Dulciana 8 true English Dulcianais a diminutive Diapason <http://www.organstops.org/o/OpenDiapason.html>, smaller in scale, softer and more delicate in tone. It is often the softest stop on the organ in which it is placed. It was introduced to England by John Snetzler in 1754 at the Church of St. Margaret, Lynn Regis (King's Lynn), Norfolk. It brought him great acclaim, and was soon a favorite of English organ builders. Snetzler probably encountered the name while working as a junior builder with Egedacher of Salzburg, Austria. According to Grove, those early Dulcianaswere as likely to have been small-scale Dolcans <http://www.organstops.org/d/Dolcan.html> as miniature Diapasons. Grove dates the name from as early as c, indicating gentle flue stops of various forms in non-Latin Europe. Eventually English builders apparently grew tired of the tone of the Dulciana, and began voicing it with a stringy tone, or even a horny tone like the Keraulophone <http://www.organstops.org/k/Keraulophone.html>. In 1905 Wedgwood wrote without remorse: “the real Dulciana is rapidly becoming obsolete, yielding its place to the Salicional <http://www.organstops.org/s/Salicional.html>.”
While most sources agree on the definition of the Dulcianaas a diminutive Diapason, and not a string, E. M. Skinner saw it differently. Acknowledging its origin as an Echo Diapason, he writes: Reference has been made to the Dulciana as belonging to the Diapason family, because of its lack of string quality, but this is erroneous as its scale is out of the Diapason range. It may be appraised more accurately as a muted string. While the earliest examples of the Dulciana, according to Grove, were most often at 4' pitch, since its introduction to England it has most often been found at 8' pitch, though 16' examples are not uncommon, and it is not unknown at 32' and 4' pitch. proper English Dulcianais invariably made of cylindrical open metal pipes of small scale, though the scale does vary considerably.
English Diapason 8 The quintessential tone of the pipe organ. Open cylindrical metal, or open rectangular wood.
English Horn 8 . The orchestral English Horn is neither English nor a horn; it is essentially a tenor oboewhich dates back at least as far as the 18th century. The name “English Horn” is a translation of the French cor anglaiswhich is probably a corruption of cor anglé, meaning “angled horn”, referring to an early form of the instrument which was bent in the middle at an angle. The earliest known reference to an organ stop of this name is cited by Grove, who states that in Italy around 1820 it had a coarse tone and wide cylindrical resonators; see Corno Inglese <http://www.organstops.org/c/CornoInglese.html>. In the mid-19th century it took on a form resembling the orchestral instrument, with a double bell at the end, as shown in Audsley's drawings reproduced here. French builders favored the use of free reeds for this stop, a practice also used by German builders. In England and America it was usually made as a beating reed. In the 1920's the English Hornwas re-invented by Skinner, who gave it a smoother tone and called it “the aristocrat of the reed family”. His resonators featured a telescoping section of straight tubing below the bell for tuning, since he felt that slotting or shading the bell would destroy its acoustical integrity. This tone of this stop is intended to imitate the instrument. Its tone has been described as rich, round, plaintive, and somber. It most often found at 8' pitch, but 16' examples are not uncommon.
Flageolet 2 English - the name Flageolet denotes an open flue stop of 2' or 1' pitch, rarely 1 1/3', usually a flute. It is usually made of cylindrical metal pipes, but has also been made of wood, particularly in Victorian England. Various sources have equated it with the Piccolo <http://www.organstops.org/p/Piccolo.html>, Flautino <http://www.organstops.org/f/Flautino.html>, Sifflet <http://www.organstops.org/s/Sifflote.html>, and Schwiegel <http://www.organstops.org/s/Schwiegel.html>; others sources maintain that it is (or should be) softer than the Piccolo. While Flageolet should properly be used for a stop imitative of the instrument of the same name, in practice it has been used for any high-pitched flute stop. Douglass dates it from the 16th century.
Flauto Dolce 32 Sweet quiet voiced. According to Seidel, a Flute with pipes tapering slightly (Gemshorn <http://www.organstops.org/g/Gemshorn.html> shape). Flauto Douce is also synonymous with Flauto Dolce <http://www.organstops.org/f/FlautoDolce.html>.
Flute Céleste II 8 An undulating Flute stop of 8' manual pitch, made from any Flute well-developed harmonically and somewhat on the soft side. A prominent fundamental damages this delicate, subtle tone quality. The pattern of pitches is normal-sharp, normal-flat, or sharp-flat, the first two giving the organist a stop for other combinations. A slow undulation blends more easily with other soft stops, and wipes out less of this Flute's timbre. The Spitzflöte <http://www.organstops.org/s/Spitzflote.html> has become almost synonymous with this name, but the Dolce Flute <http://www.organstops.org/f/FlautoDolce.html>, Viol Flute <http://www.organstops.org/v/ViolFlute.html>, and other forms may also be used. This is a background tone and an accompaniment stop.
Flûte d'Amour 4 These name have been given to small-scaled flute stops of 8' or 4' pitch having a variety of forms and tonalities. Wedgwood and Irwin describes its tone as being slightly stringy, whereas Audsley describes it as a cross between the Lieblich Gedeckt <http://www.organstops.org/l/LieblichGedeckt.html> and the Rohrflöte <http://www.organstops.org/r/Rohrflote.html>. Audsley, Bonavia-Hunt and Grove all specify wood as the material. Grove says it is sometimes stopped, while Skinner defines it as a small-scaled 4' Gedeckt <http://www.organstops.org/g/Gedeckt.html>. Bonavia-Hunt calls it a miniature Waldflöte <http://www.organstops.org/w/Waldflote.html> and specifies an inverted mouth, with a body that is sometimes triangular. Williams defines Flûte d'Amour as a “wide, stopped Dutch flute” around 1772.
Flûte Traversière 4 This stop has the distinction of having more names than any other organ stop, by a considerable margin. The words traverse, quer and their variants mean "across", referring to the manner in which the orchestral flute is played. The word Allemande and its variants means "German"; The name Vienna Flute is most likely derived from Wienerflöte <http://www.organstops.org/w/Wienerflote.html>. Theobald Boehm was a Bavarian instrument-maker who made important improvements to the orchestral flute during the first half of the 19th century. Grove cites the name Travesiera in the entry for Flauto, but does not make it clear whether the word Flauto properly precedes it. Traversa is mentioned only by Williams, who does not define it, saying only “see Flauto Traverso”. Maclean claims, possibly erroneously, that Flûte Creuse <http://www.organstops.org/h/Hohlflote.html> is also a synonym. As the names imply, this stop is imitative of the orchestral flute, and can be one of the most effective orchestral imitations found in the organ. It is invariably a flue stop, but this is the only generalization that can be made for its entire history. A variety of materials have been used in its construction. In Theatre Organs, Concert Flutes are typically very similar to the Melodia <http://www.organstops.org/m/Melodia.html> of classical organs. Kimball, Morton and Moller reportedly used wooden harmonic pipes for their Concert Flutes, at least in some cases. While Wurlitzer did produce a Harmonic Flute <http://www.organstops.org/h/HarmonicFlute.html>, their Concert Flutes did not employ harmonic pipes.
Fourniture V In the classical French organ, the Fourniture, along with the Cymbale <http://www.organstops.org/c/Cymbal.html>, was an essential ingredient of the Plein Jeu registration, and was included in all but the smallest instruments. It contained octave- and fifth-sounding ranks only, and in its upper range included pitches supporting the 16' and sometimes even the 32' harmonic series. At the bottom of its compass, the Fourniture started at lower pitches than the Cymbale, but at the top of its compass contained much the same pitches. The two mixtures were occasionally combined into a single Plein Jeu <http://www.organstops.org/p/PleinJeu.html> mixture, especially toward the end of the classic period and afterward.
Gedeckt Bass 8 English. From other uses of the suffix bass in English stop names, we can infer that this name is used for a Gedeckt <http://www.organstops.org/g/Gedeckt.html> that appears in the pedal.
Gedackt Pommer 8 These names refer to a variety of Quintaten <http://www.organstops.org/q/Quintaten.html>, made of stopped wood or metal, found at 16', 8' and 4' pitch. According to Irwin, this stop is voiced so that the 2nd harmonic (twelfth) is prominent, to the point of being as loud as the fundamental. Audsley takes this even further, maintaining that the 2nd harmonic is more prominent than the fundamental, which may even be absent. Wedgwood calls it “virtually a harmonic stopped twelfth <http://www.organstops.org/h/HarmonicTwelfth.html>”. Maclean, on the other hand, claims that the twelfth is less prominent in the Gedeckt Pommer than it is in the Quintaton, and cites Smets as saying that the Gedeckt Pommer is practically identical with Cavaillé-Coll's Cor de Nuit <http://www.organstops.org/c/CorDeNuit.html>. Williams dates the name Gedacktpommer from at least as early as 1695.
Geigen 8 The Geigen, whose name comes from the German geige, meaning “violin”, is a common diapason/string hybrid. While its tone varies between builders, it is usually (and properly) more diapason than string. It blends well, and is often used as the 8' foundation in Swell divisions. It is most often found at 8' pitch, though 4' examples are not uncommon, and has also been made at 16' pitch. This stop is usually made of open cylindrical metal pipes, though it has also been made of wood.
Geigen Octave 4 German/EnglishA Geigen <http://www.organstops.org/g/Geigen.html> of 4' pitch “many organists consider [it] to be the superior Octave <http://www.organstops.org/o/Octave.html>, because it imparts liveliness, great clarity, and a ‘fiery’ quality to the unisons without giving the string-like sound.”
Gemshorn 8 The modern Gemshornis a foundation stop of conical construction, found at 32', 16', 8', or 4' pitch, having a tone which may be classified as a flute/string hybrid. Its tone has apparently varied considerably since it first appeared in the first part of the 16th century; Williams lists the name Gemshornas an alternate name for Waldflöte <http://www.organstops.org/w/Waldflote.html>