update: 12 July, 2011
Technische uitleg aan de hand van instrumenten
The keys of keyboard instruments
The reed organ or harmonium shares the keyboard lay out with other instruments. Most of the time this lay out is referred to as "piano keyboard". In historical sense not a logical choice. The keyboard in itself is much, much older than the piano. Yet we refer to the piano, due to pitch. Because on organ and reed organ / harmonium we can sound different pitches on one key, a property not available in the piano. A piano key can only sound one pitch. Referring to the organ the piano key sounds at 8' pitch.
In an more and more "globalizing" world, uniformity in exact systems is way behind on global development.
Asking the same to Anglo-Saxon organists can result in hearing five (or even more) different answers. Even though they all start at the same key!
The fact that Anglo-Saxon answers deviate from an European answer is due to the fact that the European system is exact. Opposed to that the Anglo-Saxon world uses multiple systems. Even in mixed varieties. Systems that are not even compatible or exchangeable.
Of course it is only a dream to expect a system accepted and in use all around the globe.
Hence on this page some pictures and a table to compare systems.
A piano with 88 keys starts at A0/Sub contra A (so there are only three notes in the 0 octave: A, A# en B). The keyboard stops at C8 / c5. The piano keyboard has been used as a starting point for comparison.
The matrix starts at the top with the lowest octave. Each octave is named with the lowest key up to the highest key. Where the highest key is also the lowest key of the next following octave.
Octave names in keyboards at 8' pitch
* = Shown as a picture, subscript does not work in Dreamweaver.
The yellow printed text refer to European system for designating keys on organ keyboards.
Dean Eckmann, former employee at Fisk Organ Building told me that Fisk uses the system shown in in the last column.
Anecdotal, told by a Fisk pipe maker. Charlie Fisk was a military before becmong an organ builder. [ Does that mean he fitted a home pipe organ of 5 stops with a Trompeta Batalla :-) ] Due to his previous life he he used the "Fisk speak" using the old 1941-1956 phonetic and 1943-1956 RAF phonetic versions of what now is the NATO phonetic:
A = Able, B = Baker, C=Charlie, D = Dog, E= Easy, F= Fox, G = George
A = Alpha, B = Bravo, C = Charlie, D= Delta, E= Echo, F= Foxtrot, G= Golf
Robert Allan on his web site of harmoniums in England used the Norman method:
For pitch notation used throughout this study, we defer to Percy Scholes' Oxford Companion to Music . This states that "old English organ pitch notation'' has CC=8', C=4', c=2', c'=1', c''=6'', and so on. This is similar to modern English organ builders' notation, but slightly different to the American notation.
We will therefore use the convention that the bottom key of a modern 61 key organ manual of normal 8' pitch is referred to as CC, middle c is c and the top key is c3 or c'''. It could be argued that some departments (in particular the pedals) are not based on 8' but on 16' pitch and so on, but we shall also refer to the bottom pedal as CC as it typically pulls down the lowest CC manual key when couplers are in use.
Tony Newnham also pointed out to me that some English Organ builders have a system not shown in the matrix. The bottom C on the keyboard is named C1. The next C is C13. And so on...
Thanks to Dean Eckmann, Tony Newnham, Robert Allan and Brian Styles for their contributions to this page.
Keyboard size in history
From the book 'Faszination Klavier' 300 Jahre Pianofortebau in Deutschland' I took a diagram showing the development of the keyboard size in time.
Graf = Conrad Graf (1782-1851), Viennese/south german school
The relation between piano tone and pipelength in organs
The normal pitch of a tone is most referred to ‘eight feet’. The pitch of a piano is the same pitch as an 8 foot pipe. Not everyone does understand the relation between pipelength and pitch. Hence a diagram to understand it better.
Fifth’s does not have a relation of 2, but (roughly) 1.5 In European style these pipelenghts are most of the time referred to a rounded number, in thirds of an octave, like 2-2/3, 1-1/3.
Then there are Tierces, where the relations is measured in fifth parts of an octave like in 1-3/5, 3-1/5 etc.
More exotic pitches like nones and septimes are not shown in the diagram.
The blue bar is the actual lenght in feet, in red the length in meters