Since the topic of organ registration is so important for many organists (I get questions about it from my readers every week), I decided to share with you 32 tips which will help you register your organ pieces.
1) For Baroque free works,use Organo Pleno (full principal chorus with mixtures).
2) For canzonas, Flutes 4' with or without 2' work well.
3) For the solo voice in ornamented chorale preludes, use Cornet, solo reeds, such as Oboe, Krummhorn, Vox Humana, combinations with mutations with or without the tremulant.
4) For accompanying voices, use 8' with or without 4'.
5) For cantus firmus in the tenor, Trompette 8' works well.
6) For cantus firmus in the tenor played by the pedals don't use 16'.
7) For cantus firmus in the alto or soprano in the pedals use 4' or 2' solo stop.
8) For French Classical Grand Jeux, don't use mixtures.
9) For French Classical Plain Jeux, use the reeds only in the pedals (8' stops).
10) In order to build a Cornet registration, use Flutes 8', 4', 2 2/3', 2', 1 3/5'.
11) Use Cornet registration only in the right side of the keyboard.
12) Don't use German Vox Humana in the French Voix Humaine registration.
13) Don't double the stops at the same pitch level on instruments with flexible winding system.
14) Use 16' in the manual with low mixtures (based on 4', for example).
15) Use higher mixtures (Scharf) with low mixtures in Organ Pleno pieces (if available).
16) Use 16' reed in the manual bass part, if the tenor is played by the pedals.
17) For Plain Jeux, use Principals and Mixtures in the manual (with 16').
18) For Grand Jeux, use Flutes, Reeds, and Cornets (no 16').
19) Use 2 stops at 8' pitch level in the pedals on some modern organs to imitate French Classical pedal Flute.
20) Avoid 32' pedal stops in pieces with faster moving pedal part.
21) If there is no French Voix Humaine on your organ, try Flute 8', Nassard and a tremulant.
22) Although some Baroque organs had tierce mixtures, adding tierce stops manually to the Organo Pleno sound doesn't always work.
23) For French Toccata, you can play the manual part one octave lower (if the lowest note is tenor C or higher) on some modern organs which lack foundational stops at 16' and 8' pitch level and have high-pitched mixtures.
24) If you are playing one octave lower with your hands, don't use 16' stops in the manual.
25) Don't change the stops within the piece unless there is a reason to do it.
26) In hymn-playing, sometimes you can add 16' stop for the tune in the soprano part played by the right hand (Dutch tradition).
27) Use manual couplers with care in mechanical action organs with electric couplers.
28) When all parts seem to be equally important in the piece, play them on one manual.
29) When one part is more important than the others, solo it out on another manual.
30) In French Classical fugues, usually the right hand plays with Cornet and the left hand - with Crommorne.
31) In French Classical fugues, don't use 16' in the pedals.
32) Always use your ear as the determining factor for registration.
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my organ practice guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition".
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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