the virtual pipe organ

Ever fancied a go on a pipe organ? Here's your chance! Click on the stops or the keyboards to find out what they sound like. All samples are in MP3 format.

Swell A Typical Pipe-Organ Great
Oboe The circular knobs on each side of this text are called "stops".
Each stop brings a different set of pipes into play.
Mixture III Click on a stop to hear what it sounds like. The red lettered stops use reeds to make their sound, like a real oboe or clarinet. Fifteenth
Voix Celeste The black lettered stops use flue pipes, similar to a recorder. The Mixture has a "III" because it uses three sets or "ranks" of pipes. Flute
Gemshorn The numbers on the other stops are the length of the longest pipe in feet. A 4' pipe sounds an octave above an 8' pipe. Principal
Salicional The Swell is the top keyboard, or "manual" and the Great is the bottom manual. Click on a manual to hear all of its six stops together. Stopped Diapason
Stopped Diapason Swell Manual Open Diapason
Great Manual
Couplers Couplers connect manuals together, or manuals to pedals.
For example, if the Swell to Great is drawn, when you play a note on the Great, the same note on the Swell is also played.
Swell to Great The pedalboard is a big keyboard, played by the feet. Click on it for a demonstration, or listen to its stops individually. Bass Flute
Swell to Pedal Just above the pedals is the Swell Pedal, which controls the volume of the pipes belonging to the Swell manual. Click on it for an example. Principal
Great to Pedal Swell Pedal Bourdon

So what does it sound like when everything is put together? It sounds like this! The way you can change the sound by pulling out different stopknobs predates electronic synthesisers by over four hundred years. Even though the stopknobs are much smaller in relation to the keyboards in real life, when you're playing a piece like this (Widor's Toccata from his 5th Symphony), you don't have a spare hand to change stops, which is where the small pistons beneath the manuals and above the pedalboard come in - they change the stops automatically when pressed.

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