reed stops

List of pipe organ stops

For audio examples, please see the article on organ stops.

An organ stop can mean one of three things:

  • The control on an organ console that selects a particular sound.
  • The mechanism, and in particular the organ pipes, used to produce a particular sound.
  • The sound itself.

This is an alphabetical list of some of the more common names that may be found on pipe organ stops. Stops on some electronic organs are also named after them.

  • Aeoline: An extremely soft stop - usually the softest stop in an organ that contains it - with a very delicate, airy tone. Built almost equally frequently as a single rank stop, and as a double rank Aeoline Celeste.
  • Bombarde: An extremely powerful reed stop. Also a division containing several exceptionally loud reed stops. Not uncommon on the manuals at 8′, but generally in the pedal at 16′ or 32′ pitch.
  • Bourdon: A low stopped flute, 8′ or lower on the manuals, and at 16′ or lower on the pedals. While Soubasse or Sub Bass were at one time slightly different stops in construction and tone, the words are used interchangeably for Bourdon in modern organ building.
  • Celeste or voix céleste: A flue stop composed of two pipes for each note, one being tuned slightly sharp or flat to create an undulating effect. Usually made of string toned pipes. Most commonly at 8′.
  • Cello: A string stop at 8′ or 16′.
  • Cromorne or Cremona or cromorn or cromorna or Crum Horn or Crumm Horm or Crumhorn or Krum Horn or Krummhorn or Kromhoorn (and many other similar sounding and similarly spelled variants): A reed stop. Typically of low to moderate volume or power and often having a distinctly buzzing or bleating sound. The Cremona variant of the name has nothing to do with the town of Cremona in Italy or the famous school of violin makers who lived there.
  • Cornet: A multi-rank stop consisting of up to five ranks of wide scaled pipes. The pitches include 8′, 4′, 2 2/3′, 2′ and 1 3/5′. The 8′ rank is stopped while the other ranks are open. Four and three rank cornets exist that eliminate the 8′ and the 8′ and 4′ ranks respectively. It is not imitative of the band instrument known as the cornet, but of a much different medieval instrument.
  • Cornopean: A common reed stop used for both chorus and solo, generally in a swell division.
  • Diapason: A flue stop intended to be the backbone of the sound, and traditionally and most commonly at 8′ on a manual, and 8′ or 16′ on the pedals. It may be open or stopped, but will always be clarified as "stopped" if it is. Most modern makers use the term Principal instead.
  • Éffet d'orage: A stop found on French organs that often uses the lower three pipes of a pedal rank sounded in unison to create a thunder effect. Not a common stop anywhere, but still occasionally built into large "orchestral" organs for performance of many early nineteenth century works and transcriptions.
  • Fifteenth: A 2′ diapason.
  • Flageolet: A 2′ flute on a romantic style organ. On other styles this is more often called a quarte.
  • Flute: A single rank of open or stopped flue pipes with a relatively pure sound, weak in overtones. In some organ styles, synonymous with stopped diapason. Common at all pitches from 16′ to 1′, and in the pedal division of very large organs, not uncommon at 32′. Since the basic flute tonality is easy for a pipe builder to manipulate, there are probably more different variations of flute tonality and character in organ building than any other type of organ pipe. If the name is used unqualified (ie: "Flute"), it may be either open or stopped. Some other types of flute are understood by their name to be of open design (Flauto Traverso, Flute Harmonique) or of stopped design (Bourdon, Gedackt). In practice, many types of flute rank that are "open" for most of their length have stopped bass pipes, and most stopped flute ranks have open trebles.
  • Gamba: A string stop, one of the earliest designs of string stop in organ building. Called "Viol da Gamba" (leg viol) after the old instrument of the same name, a precursor of the cello.
  • Gedackt: A basic stopped flute in the manuals, and soft stopped flute voice in the pedals.
  • Harmonic flute: An open flute made to sound an octave above its length by means of a small hole at its midpoint. Gives a very pure flute tone. Invented and most commonly used by Aristide Caville-Coll.
  • Mixture: While any multi-rank stop can be called a mixture, when a stop control is explicitly labelled Mixture, for example 2 2/3′ Mixture III, it indicates a multi-rank stop (three ranks in the example) intended to be used in chorus with other stops to build a full sound, rather than on its own. Most commonly composed of diapason-type pipes, mixture stops vary tremendously in tone, as they are designed to enhance whatever main stops are available. Mixtures can vary in sound from a delicate "fringe" of tone to top a soft ensemble, all the way up to a sweeping and powerful sound to enhance the full organ.
  • Nasard: A single-rank mutation stop sounding a twelfth above ranks with which it is used. By far the most common mutation stop. Several styles use the term for different tones; Overall it can mean almost any tone. Most commonly at 2 2/3′ for use with an 8′ stop, less common but expected in some styles at 5-1/3′ for use with a 16′ pedal stop. If strict terminology is adhered to (it often is not in modern organ building) it is built of flute pipes.
  • Oboe or Hautbois: A single-rank reed stop, more "reminiscent" than imitative of the orchestral instrument, used as both a solo stop and a chorus reed in swell and choir divisions.
  • Ophicleide: Another powerful reed stop, much like the Bombarde. Normally a 16′ pedal stop (can also be found as an 8′ or 16′ manual stop), but there are also examples of the 32′ Double Ophicleide (for example Durham Cathedral), which is even louder than the Ophicleide.
  • Orchestral Oboe (different from Oboe) which is designed specifically to imitate the orchestral instrument, and in the hands of a good builder and voicer, it achieves this with a stunning degree of realism. Distinctly different from "Oboe" (above) it is used as a solo reed voice only.
  • Octave, oktav (and other variant spellings): A 4′ principal.
  • Piccolo: A flute or occasionally a diapason at 1′.
  • Posaune: German for "trombone". Similar to the Bombarde in concept, but voiced in the German style rather than the Bombarde's French style.
  • Principal, principale, prinzipal: Unfortunately has two different meanings:
    • Traditionally, a flue stop at 4′; The name is short for principal octave.
    • More recently, a strongly voiced diapason, normally at 8′ - the organ's most basic voice.
  • Quarte: A flute at 2′. Short for quarte de nasard, that is, sounding an interval of a fourth above a nasard stop
  • Rankette: A reed stop with 1/32 length resonators producing a buzzy sound with low fundamental. Example: The Brombaugh organ at Central Lutheran Eugene OR. Brustwerk Rankette 16′
  • Rohrflöte: A semi-stopped flue pipe of metal, with a narrower, open-ended tube extending from the cap on top of the pipe proper. This extension is confusingly known as a reed, which explains the name, from the German for reed flute, referring to the hollow-stem reeds that grow along the banks of streams.
  • Trumpet, Trompette: A loud reed stop, generally a single rank, with vertical full-length resonators flared to form a bell. In traditional organ building, the Trumpet is a firmer, more solid pitched stop than the French Trompette, which emphasizes overtones at the expense of fundamental tone.
  • Twelfth: A nasard of diapason tone, if strict terminology is used (see "nasard").
  • Twenty-second: A 1' diapason, often the only 1' rank in an organ. More commonly called a "Kleine Principal".
  • Unda Maris, (L. wave of the sea) a very soft rank tuned slightly sharp or flat. It is drawn with another soft rank to create a very slow undulation similar to, but less prominent than, a Voix Celeste. Occasionally built as a double rank stop (Unda Maris II). Sometimes refers to two ranks, one sharp, the other flat.
  • Vox humana:
    • A type of reed stop designed to impressionistically imitate the human voice.
    • A tremulant, particularly one for use with reed stops.

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