Pianella / PianOrchestra
Musical and Pipework Terminology

Glossary of Common Musical and Pipework Terms

Bassoon (Fagott, German):
A small-scaled reed pipe voiced to imitate the tone of an orchestral bassoon. The resonators, when using the striking reed format, are of inverted conical form, small-scaled and made of either metal or wood. Some builders use free reeds, using comparatively short resonators formed out of two cones, joined at their bases, with the upper cone truncated, so as to leave a small opening for the emission of sound.
Brass Trombones (Posaune, German):
The only noted listing for a brass trombone is for the immense style 43 Concert PianOrchestra. But no matter what Wurlitzer advertised, due to their great propensity to embellish pipework descriptions, it is probably safe to say that there were no pipes with brass resonators, as might be implied. Philipps mentions a Posaune register in some large instruments, which is a reed pipe imitative of an orchestral trombone, and may be what Wurlitzer termed a Brass Trombone.
Wurlitzer's description for a set of thirteen tuned metal bars, commonly known as "orchestra bells."
A free reed pipe voiced in imitation of the orchestral clarinet. Its resonator tube can be made of metal or wood, and are cylindrical and connected to the reed block by a short conical piece. In Philipps machines, the clarinet consists of a metal boot, with a metal resonator tube.
A small metal reed pipe with a bright intonation, with resonator tubes similar to that of a trumpet pipe. Its voice imparts richness and brilliancy without unduly asserting itself. The term clarionet has been "incorrectly" used to denote clarinet pipes, according to one prominent circa 1905 organ reference. Although the term clarionet has been noted on a Philipps Pianella PM scale stick, its intended use still remains a mystery.
Compound Rank:
Two or more ranks of similar pipes that act or operate as a single rank, i.e., turned on or off simultaneously. Compound ranks tend to reinforce the overall loudness (as opposed to a single rank), while building up the tonal richness due to minute differences in the various pipes (rather than relying on "slightly dissimilar celeste tuning"). Art Reblitz is adamantly of the opinion that the Melodie Violin ranks in an orchestrion were never intended to be tuned in celeste, i.e., each rank tuned slightly differently to produce a "beat" frequency or wavering sound. The same applies to the Melodie Violin violin ranks in a dance organ or fairground organ, too, even when there were 8 or 10 ranks of them. In the Melodie Violin division of a dance organ only the unda maris should be tuned celeste. The reason Art Reblitz does not advise celeste tuning in the Melodie Violin violins is because doing so makes them sound less like a clear violin voice, and more like an accordion.
Generally a small wood or cylindrical metal pipe, of 2 ft. or 1 ft. pitch. The tone is bright and penetrating, in imitation of the old English Flageolet. In the Philipps Paganini, wooden flageolets (perhaps more correctly called Flageolet Harmonique) appear very similar to a regular violin pipe, having a brass frein, but also having a nodule hole (harmonic perforation) mid way in the resonator section, as with usual harmonic pipes.
An open pipe made of wood or metal. The mouth can be cut to various heights and the proportions of the resonator varied, thereby producing several qualities of flute like tone. In Philipps machines, the flute is usually made of wood, with a square cross section and an adjustable slider in the top for tuning. When a harmonic flute is used, a harmonic perforation or nodule hole will be noted approximately midway in the body of the pipe.
French horn:
A term used by Wurlitzer to describe a rank of Gedeckt pipes. With some imagination, one could possibly say that it has a soft, horn-like quality. but certainly not that produced by a true reed type of pipe. See Gedeckt, below. In pipe organs, the term French Horn has been used to describe a reed pipe, which is supposed to imitate that of the orchestral instrument of the same name.
Gamba (Voile de Gambe, German):
This is an open metal pipe, cylindrical and of small scale, producing a refined string-tone more or less imitative of that of the old orchestral Viola da Gamba. In Philipps machines, the true Gamba is metal, although the term may have been applied to wood violin pipes, too.
Applied generally to a covered pipe of wood or metal of any scale. In Philipps machines, it is a wood pipe, square in cross-section, heavy and rugged looking, with an adjustable wood stopper. It can be found in the bass compass of a Caecilia (Concert PianOrchestra) series machine. It produces a hollow, foundational, flute like tone, which is soft and indistinct when played alone, but that, when combined with other pipe registers, augments and enhances the overall color and fullness.
Mixture Rank:
The traditional pipe organ use of the term mixture refers to "two or more ranks of pipes drawn by a single stop control, in which the ranks break in pitch one or more times as the scale is ascended." (Dictionary of Pipe Organ Stops by Stevens Irwin.) In a mixture, the pipes are very small and high-pitched, and reinforce the upper harmonics of the fundamental note with which they are associated. The only actual mixture commonly seen in an automatic musical instrument is the two- or three-rank group of pipes found in many German fairground organs connected to the forte register. The smallest of these pipes speak in the octave above the notes of a piano, with a speaking length of less than one inch!

In another form of mixture, each rank continues without breaking back in pitch all the way to the top of the scale. The pipe organ term for this is "cornet;" the carillon in a Th. Mortier dance organ is an example.
Designed to imitate the orchestral oboe, it is, in its common form, a small-scaled striking reed, with the resonant tube being formed of a slender tapered body, carrying at its upper and larger end a long conical bell. This bell is sometimes open, and at other times constructed with a shade, which can be partly closed for the purpose of regulating and modifying the tone of the pipe.
A small scaled open pipe made of wood or metal, usually with a harmonic perforation or nodule hole approximately midway in the body of the pipe. In Philipps machines, the piccolo is made of wood, with an adjustable slider in the top for tuning. If a harmonic flute register is also used, the difference between the flute and piccolo section appears to be scaling, the piccolo being of smaller size and scale.
Posaune (Trombone):
A striking reed pipe of powerful intonation, imitating more or less closely the tone of an orchestral Trombone. Of the Trumpet family, its resonator tubes (properly metal, but can be of wood) are of large scale and are of an inverted conical form.
Cylindrical tin metal pipe, with adjustable stopper, producing a rich, full bodied flute-like tone. It yields a compound tone in which the twelfth or second upper partial tone is present in a pronounced manner, along with the prime or fundamental tone.
Wurlitzer's terminology for a free reed bassoon (or fagott), using wood boots and metal resonators formed out of two cones, joined at their bases, with the upper cone truncated, so as to leave a small opening for the emission of sound. See Bassoon.
Viola (Bratschen or Viola da Gamba, German):
An open wood or metal "string" pipe. In Philipps machines, the Viola pipes (Bratschen) are wood, with an adjustable brass frein and an adjustable slider in the top for tuning. They are of a larger scale than the aforementioned violin pipe, and are very often used to extend the 30-note "violin range" down into the bass. Confusingly, Violoncello pipes (with wood harmonic bridges instead of freins) have also been used to extend the "violin range," giving rise to some confusion as to exactly what Philipps and Wurlitzer considered to be a Viola pipe. For myself, and Art Reblitz apparently concurs, to arbitrarily clear up this puzzlement, wood string pipes with a brass frein sounding any note below the top 30-note "violin compass" is to be considered a Viola pipe. If a pipe has a wooden harmonic bridge (roller), instead of a brass frein, it is a Violoncello pipe.
An open wood or metal "string" pipe, more or less imitative of the richly harmonic orchestral violin. In Philipps machines, wood violin pipes are generally used, probably due to their rugged durability. Each pipe is fitted with an adjustable brass frein (literally a bridle or curb), with an adjustable slider in the top for tuning. The entire rank is usually coupled to the uppermost 30-notes of the musical scale. If the "violin" register is of a 42 or 49-note compass, for instance, Violas or Violoncellos extend the "violin" range.
An open wood or metal "string" pipe imitative of the orchestral Violoncello. In Philipps machines, the Violoncello is wood, with an adjustable slider in the top for tuning. The harmonic-bridge assembly uses a "non-adjustable" wooden roller, instead of the easily adjusted brass frein. It is generally an octave lower than the above mentioned violin pipe rank, and, as a stand alone Melodie Violin rank of pipes it generally occupies the uppermost 30-note compass of the musical scale.

Information provided by Terry Hathaway and Art Reblitz.


The Art of Organ Building, by George Ashdown Audsley
Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1965
ISBN 0-486-21314-5
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 64-18839/MN

Dictionary of Pipe Organ Stops, by Stevens Irwin.