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Pipe Organ Stops Glossary


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An organ stop can mean one of three things:

* the control on an organ console that selects a particular sound
* the row of organ pipes, used to create a particular sound, more appropriately known as a rank
* the sound itself

This is a sortable list of names that may be found on electronic and pipe organ stops. Countless stops have been designed over the centuries. This list deals mainly with common stops on Baroque, classical and romantic organs.

Stop name Alternate name Type Notes
Aeoline Aéoline
String an extremely soft stop with a very delicate, airy tone; built frequently as a single-rank stop, or as a double-rank Aéoline céleste
Blockflöte Flute German for "recorder"; a stopped-flute of 4′ or 2′ pitch, taking its name from the common flute called a "recorder" which its tone closely resembles
Bombarde Reed an extremely powerful reed-stop, occurring on the manuals at 8′, or in the pedal at 16′ or 32′ pitch
Bourdon Flute a wide-scaled stopped-flute, 16′ or 8′ on the manuals, and at 16′ (Soubasse) or 32′ (Contrabourdon)
Celeste Voix céleste String, 2 ranks a 8′ string stop composed of two pipes for each note, one being tuned slightly sharp to create an undulating effect
Cello Violoncelle String a string stop at 8′ or 16′; It has a broader, warmer, more "romantic" tone than the Gamba
Choralbass Principal a 4′ octave Diapason in the pedal division
Clarinet Clarionet Reed a reed stop with a richer tone imitating the orchestral instrument.
Clairon Reed a 4′ octave of the French style Trompette
Clarion Reed a 4′ octave of the Trumpet
Cornet Flute pronounced kor-NAY; a multi-rank stop consisting of up to five ranks of wide-scaled pipes. The pitches include 8′, 4′, 2 23′, 2′ and 1 35′. Three- and four-rank cornets eliminate 8′ and 4′ ranks. This stop is not imitative of the brass instrument cornet.
Cornopean Reed a common reed stop used for both chorus and solo, generally in a swell division; The tone is similar to the trumpet.
Cromorne Krummhorn Reed distinctive reed stop, originating from the cromorne typically of low to moderate volume or power and often having a distinctly buzzing or bleating sound; "Cremona", a common variant of the stop's name, has nothing to do with the town of Cremona in Italy nor the famous school of violin makers who lived there.
Diapason Principal a flue stop which is the "backbone" sound of the organ; Most commonly at 8′ on a manual, and 8′ or 16′ on the pedals. Modern organ builders use the term Principal.
Diaphone a special type of organ pipe, producing tone by using a felt hammer to beat air through the resonator; Common on theater organs, it is not often seen on church and concert instruments.
Doublette Flageolet Flute a 2′ flute on a romantic style organ
Fagotto Bassoon
Reed one of the earliest pedal reeds at 16′ It can also be found at the same pitch on the manuals of larger organs, as part of the manual reed chorus.
Gamba Viol da Gamba
String one of the earliest designs of string stops; named after the Baroque instrument viola da gamba; It has a thinner, more cutting tone than the Cello stop.
Gedackt Gedeckt Flute a basic stopped 8′ flute in the manuals, and stopped 16′ and/or 8′ flute voice in the pedal
Gemshorn Cor de Chamois Principal German for "chamois horn"; a narrow-scale, tapered Principal with a tone falling between Principal and Flute.
Harmonic Flute Flute an open metal flute made to sound an octave above its length by means of a small hole at its midpoint; This stop speaks a very pure flute tone and was popularized by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Larigot Flute a single-rank mutation stop of 1 13′ pitch
Mixture Flute or Principal any multi-rank stop; Mixtures enhance the harmonics of the fundamental pitch, and are intended for use with foundation stops, not alone. Mixture IV, for example, indicates four ranks.
Nachthorn Night Horn
Cor de Nuit
Flute a wide-scaled flute producing a soft, but penetrating sound; occurring at 8′ and 4′ pitch
Nasard Nasat
Flute a single-rank mutation stop of 2 23′ pitch in the manuals and 5 13′ in the pedals; It is the lowest non-unison stop that reinforces the 8′ fundamental harmonic and 16′ pedal
Oboe Hautbois Reed a single-rank reed stop used as both a solo stop and a chorus reed
Octave Oktav
Principal a 4′ Principal on the manuals
Ophicleide Reed a powerful reed stop, much like the Bombarde; pitched as a 16′ or 32′ in the pedal division or found as an 8′ or 16′ on the manuals
Orchestral Oboe Reed a different stop than Oboe; designed specifically to imitate the orchestral instrument
Piccolo Flute a flute or occasionally a diapason at 1′
Posaune Reed German for "trombone"; voiced to blend with an ensemble
Principal Montre
Principal a prominent Diapason, commonly found at 8′ as well as 16', 4', and 2' pitches; It is the "basic voice" of the organ.
Quarte Reed a flute at 2′; short for Quarte de nasard, sounding an interval of a fourth above the nasard stop
Rankette Reed a reed stop with 132 length resonators producing a buzzy sound with low fundamental.
Rohrflöte Chimney Flute Flute German for "reed flute"; a semi-capped metal pipe with a narrow, open-ended tube (i.e. "chimney") extending from the top which resembles a reed
Salicional String an 8′ string stop; It is the most common stop used for the Voix céleste in combination with a second rank of salicionals tuned slightly sharp.
Sifflöte Piccolo
Flute a 1′ flute
Super Octave Principal the manual 2′ Principal or Diapason; Its name merely signifies that it is above (i.e. "super") the 4′ Octave.
Tierce Seventeenth
Flute a single-rank mutation stop pitched 1 35′, supporting the 8′ harmonic series
Trombone Pausane
Reed a powerful reed stop, simulating the trombone; most commonly in the pedal at 16′ or 32′ pitch and under a high wind pressure
Trompette en Chamade Fan Trumpet
Horizontal Trumpet
Trompette à Chamade
Reed a powerful reed of the trumpet-family, usually 8′ in the manuals and 16′, voiced as a brilliant solo stop, capable of being heard over full organ
Trompette Militaire Reed a powerful reed of the trumpet-family, with a with brassy, penetrating tone
Trumpet Trumpette Reed 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.
Tuba Reed a powerful large-scale reed of the trumpet-family usually 8′ in the manuals and 16′ (sometimes 32′) in the pedals; The tuba-voice is named after the ancient Roman trumpets though not imitating their sound. Generally on high wind-pressure and usually the loudest voice (decibel level) in the organ, whereas the various 32′ stops are the most powerful voices (sound wave pressure).
Twenty-Second Kleine Principal Principal a 1′ diapason
Unda Maris Flute Latin for "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 céleste. Occasionally built as a double-rank stop called Unda Maris II, one rank at standard pitch and the other tuned sharp.
Vox Humana Reed a type of reed stop designed to impressionistically imitate the human voice

See all musical glossaries:

Published - February 2011

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