Organ pedantry (was: RE: Off topic RE: Ballet Shoes (was RE: DWJ sans frontiers))

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at
Tue Jul 12 07:11:34 EDT 2005

Colin, quoting me:

>> That was why I mentioned organs in the first place.  A "Stop" is the
>> control to select a rank of pipes, often in the form of a little
>> round button as you suggest.
> A stop is usually a big knob to pull. The little push-buttons are
> generally 'couplers'.

Just to set the record straight, a "stop" is a control for a rank of
pipes; a "coupler" is a control that links to one keyboard all the ranks
of pipes belonging to another keyboard.  Controls to play an octave
higher or lower are often also grouped under the latter heading.

Traditionally these are all large knobs to pull, arranged on either side
of the console; early electric actions moved them to one or more rows of
lever switches above the top keyboard.  The trend with modern electric
actions (which I had in mind) is to put little round push buttons where
the pull knobs used to be, on either side of the console; but instead of
having tactile "in" and "out" positions, they merely light up when the
rank is selected (a practice I detest, by the way.)

Colin, I think you may be confusing the couplers with "thumb pistons" -
these are little round buttons just under the keys, that can be pressed
with the thumb without stopping playing.  These pull out or in
pre-defined selections of knobs for stops or couplers.  They are called
pistons because in the days before electric actions, they moved the
knobs by letting in compressed air (of which an organ has plenty!) to a
piston to move the knob.  (And before anyone points it out, many organs
have thumb pistons dedicated to particular couplers.)

Now I've given more information than anyone needs, I'll shut up ;-)


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