If there is one organ stop which imitates human voice, it is Vox Humana (from Latin "Human voice"). There is a French version of it, called "Voix humaines" but today I'm writing about its German sister.
Actually, when you play on it, the music might really sound like a choir.
This is because of its construction. Vox Humana is a reed stop with short resonators. Personally to me the resonators on some organs seem a lot like mushrooms.
If you listen carefully to the sounds of this stop, you may be able to hear the vowels a, e, i, o, and u, just like in the singing of a choir.
Usually Vox Humana is a stop which is used to play a solo melody, like a chorale tune in the chorale prelude. But sometimes, it is possible to find original registration indications by Baroque composers where Vox Humana is used in playing four voices of a polyphonic composition.
One such collection is "Harmonische Seelenlust" (1733) by the contemporary of J.S.Bach - Georg Friedrich Kauffmann (1679-1735) which is full of interesting and exotic registration indications.
Listen to the sounds of the original Vox Humana stop with reconstructed resonators in the chorale prelude "Komm Heiliger Geist" by Kauffmann from "Harmonische Seelenlust" on the famous 1776 Casparini organ in Vilnius Holy Ghost church (Lithuania) (see the picture above). Can you imagine a 4-part choir singing this beautiful piece?
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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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