Timonium United Methodist Church is very fortunate to have a magnificent pipe organ to lead the musical portion of our traditional worship service. Looking below, you’ll see that our instrument has three keyboards, playing different Divisions or families of pipes. Changes to the sound, such as going from soft strings to trumpet-like sounds, can be rapidly made by simply switching from one keyboard to another. There are also times when the Organist may play two keyboards simultaneously, with one hand perhaps playing a melody on one keyboard, and the other hand playing the accompaniment on another.
Our organ has thirty-five Ranks or sets of pipes. Most ranks have one pipe for every note on the keyboard or pedalboard.
Each Rank or Stop has its own unique sound.
They are identified by the kind of sound they make, such as Flute or Oboe, and by the height of their tallest pipe. The pipe for the lowest note of a Trumpet 16’ for instance, will be sixteen feet tall. Pipes get shorter as the pitch gets higher.
Other ranks may start at eight feet, four feet, two feet, and even smaller!
The Organist creates the sound of the instrument by choosing a combination of Stops, perhaps from two or more Divisions. The white tabs you see above the top keyboard allow the Organist to to “Couple” or connect different Divisions so they can be played from one keyboard.
The Organist selects which sounds he or she wants by pulling a Drawknob, located to the left or right of the
keyboard. The white buttons you see under each keyboard are called “Pistons,” which may be pre-programmed to quickly turn on any combination of Stops the Organist chooses.
The Pedalboard in the bottom half of the picture is played by the Organist’s feet. Notice it’s just like a large keyboard, with black keys in groups of two and three, and white keys between, just like a piano.
The large round buttons above the Pedalboard are called Toe Stubs, which have the same function as Pistons, enabling an Organist to change sounds by tapping the Toe Stub with their foot.
Notice the three flat rectangular pedals above the pedalboard. The two pedals on the left are called Expression Pedals. Operated by the Organist’s foot, they increase or decrease the sound of some Divisions by opening or closing “Shades,” much like blinds, in front of the pipes.
The flat pedal on the far right is called a “Crescendo Pedal.” It gradually adds more Ranks of pipes as the Organist plays, creating a Crescendo or increase in sound.