My student is practicing Prelude and Fugue in F major, BWV 556 and wanted to know what kinds of stops I would suggest for him to use when he will come to the church alone.
This is a wonderful place to start for anyone who wants to eventually master all Bach's organ works.
I selected the stops and he made a photo on his phone so that later he can refer to it when he came for practice.
But then I thought I would explain the principle for feeling if the balance is right.
This is not a very dramatic piece, so I think Organo Pleno registration with mixtures would be ideal. I wanted something lighter. Maybe 3 principals (Principals 8', 4' and 2') or 3 flutes (Flutes 8', 4' and 2').
Then is the question of pedals, right? How to know if pedals are not too loud?
Well, for starters, always use your ear. Your good taste will determine that.
But another point to keep in mind is this:
If the pedal line is very straightforward, not polyphonic at all, like an accompaniment, of course the registration could be softer. This works for the prelude.
But in the fugue, the pedal part takes the theme so it becomes melodically independent. Often here we can add a little juice for your feet.
This is of course when you can't use the same registration in the pedals throughout. Otherwise, why bother, right? When you can simplify, do it.
So in this case, if the manuals use 8', 4', and 2' stops, the pedals could go one octave deeper: 16', 8' and 4'.
Hope this helps.
When you practice, miracles happen.