Virtual Pipe Organ Project 
Project  Organs  HW1 versus HW2  Order  Links  Contacts 
HistoryScreenshots, UpdatesPicturesDemos

A few notes about historical registration on the Santanyí organ

Every registration given here, no matter how obvious, can actually be found in historical sources, unless otherwise indicated by the use of a qualifier such as "presumably" or "probably."

Some general points:

(1) The Baroque period was one of a great deal of experimentation. A few experimental instruments turned out to have brilliant futures (the unfretted clavichord, the piano), but most did not, even though some were moderately successful at the time (the Geigenwerk, the Pantaleon [a kind of keyed dulcimer], clavichords with wooden or half-leather-covered tangents, etc., etc., etc.) Pianos were around for a good fifty years before they become instruments of major importance. The point is that the mere appearance of some feature does not mean that that feature was widespread. For example, there are sporadic appearances on Spanish organs of devices to change the registration with the feet or knees, but these did not become common until at least the mid-18th century (and garnered criticism even then).

(2) Nearly all Baroque organ music has vanished. The great art of the Baroque organist was improvisation. This was what they trained for, this was what they were tested on, and this is what they played. The vast bulk of the surviving Spanish organ repertoire consists of written-down improvisations. When music was published, the preface often gives us a reason for publication. Cabezón's works were published by his son in order to increase his father's reknown. Correa's works were published for the benefit of student organists. Some music was written down explicitly as lessons, for example Scarlatti's and Seixas's sonatas. But most music is preserved in mansuscripts, and not in the composers' hands, and we simply don't know who wrote it down or why (all of the works of Coelho and Cabanilles, for example). Were these study pieces? Were they played in public and, if so, only by second-raters (players who performed previously composed music were derided as "paper organists")? In any event, what we consider to be "Spanish Baroque Organ Music" represents only a very small part of the organ culture of the time.

(3) Historical registrations are only suggestions. We are not historical people playing for historical audiences under historical conditions. For example, my home organ setup has modern keyboards which make historical fingerings and therefore historical phrasings somewhat of a problem. Furthermore, much of the historical repertoire was played, or at least studied, over a long period of time: many pieces were copied over a period of a hundred years or more. This conservatism was characteristic of the Iberian pennisula. But the organs themselves changed noticeably through time, as outlined below. If, say, Cabanilles's works were played on the Santanyí organ (and we don't know that they were, but it's quite possible), they would not have been registered as Cabanilles would have registered them: the Santanyí organ is very different from the organs that Cabanilles knew, and there's not the slightest evidence that organists were ever interested in historical registrations. Instead, the pieces would have been registered in an up-to-date fashion. We, of course, have a choice, within the limits of the instrument. Finally, a very important point: all the organs were unique. There was no standardization, unlike in France or Italy. In fact, the organs were expected to be unique, as in Germany (where the French-trained Gottfried Silbermann was criticized for making all his instruments alike). The registration directions we have are either very basic, geared toward beginning organists, or refer to specific instruments. Musicians then were expected to make intelligent choices based on local conditions; it would be historically inaccurate for us not to do the same.

Registration in the mid-late 18th century

First, we consider how a player of the Santanyí organ might have registered pieces in or after 1762; after that, we'll mention a few things about earlier registrations.

There were three types of registration: undivided manuals (now called registros enteros but then called plens or llenos, a slightly confusing term for us, but not really ambiguous. A "tieno lleno" called for an undivided registration, not a mixture (lleno = ple). For divided registrations (partidos or medios, a solo r.h. ("tiple" or "mano derecha") could be at 8' or 16' pitch—below the written pitch of the accompanying l.h (which was always at 8'). Similarly, a solo l.h. ("baxón" or "mano izquierda") could be at 8' or 4' or even 2', above the written pitch of the accompanying 8' r.h. This may seem counterintuitive at first.

The Santanyí organ originally had three manuals. There was no room for the echo division when the instrument was installed in its present location, and it was eventually destroyed.

This is the original specifcation. Information on the echo manual is from here. It was probably enclosed in a swell cabinet. Spanish names are from the website of Gerhard Grenzing, who restored the instrument. Below are both the current Catalan labels and Grenzing's Spanish names to make it easier to interpret registration directions.

Left Hand Right Hand

Orgue Major (Órgano Mayor)

Flautat Major (Flautado Mayor) 16' Flautat Major (Flautado Mayor) 16'
Flautat (Flautado) 8' Flautat (Flautado) 8'
Bordó (Violón) 8' Bordó (Violón) 8'
Tapadet (Tapadillo) 4' Tapadet (Tapadillo) 4'
Octava II 4' Octava III 8' 4' 4'
Flautes Dobles (Flautas Dobles) II 8'
Nasards (Nazardos) V Corneta Magna X
Ple (Lleno) XXII             Ple (Lleno) XXV
Trompa Batalla (Trompeta batalla) 8' Trompa Batalla (Trompeta Batalla) 8'
Trompa Reial (Trompeta Real) 8' Trompa Reial (Trompeta Real) 8'
Baixons (Bajoncillo) 4' Clarins (Clarines) 8'
Clarins (Clarines) in 15ª 2' Xirimia alta (Chirimía) 4'
Trompa Magna (Trompeta Magna) 16'
Regalies (Orlos) 8' Regalies (Orlos) 8'
Dolçaina (Viejas) 16'

Cadireta (Cadereta)

Flautat tapat (Flautado Tapado) 8' Flautat tapat (Flautado Tapado) 8"
Octava Tapada 4' Octava Tapada 4'
Nasards (Nazardos) III Corneta III
Dinovena (Decinovena) II 1 1/3'
Siurell (Chiflete) 2/3' (possibly untuned)
Saboiana 8' Saboiana 8'

[Orgue eco]

[Flautado] 8' [Flautado] 8'
[Octava] 4' [Octava] 4'
[Quincena] 2' [Quincena] 2'
[Lleno} V [Lleno] VI
[Corneta] III [Corneta] V
[Oboe] 8' [Oboe] 8'
[Voz Humana] 8' [Voz Humana] 8'

Pedal (8 notes)

Contras 16' (always on)
Bombarda 16'
T[erratrèmol] (Terremoto) [128'?]

Orgue Major

Flautat 8'
The basic unstopped flue tone; corresponds to the "principal" in the rest of Europe (or the French "montre"), not to the "flutes."
Octava 4'
4' version of the Flautat; cf. the French Prestant.
Stopped Flautat, but only partially stopped, like a German Rohrgedeckt.
Tapadet 4'
4' version of the Bordó.

USES: The above four stops can be used individually or in any combination. The Octava 4' is a compound stop; if used without a balancing 8', it is best suited for a r.h. solo. In some respects, the "basic" 8' is the open Flautat, while the "basic" 4' is the Tapadet.

Flautat major 16'
Sources recommend using this by itself or in any combination with the 8' flautat and/or either of the 4' flues, but not the 8' bordó.

Flautes dobles 8'
A gentle beating stop. Used for slow moving pieces such as Tientos de Falsas. In the Mass, may be used for the Elevation. (Perhaps it can be combined with the Temblor to produce sea-sickness.)

A compound stop consisting of a nasard (flute 2 2/3') plus other stops that would otherwise have to be drawn individually with it. (Sources usually use the singular "nasard" for the single stop, and the plural for a compound stop.) Can be used for a l.h. solo, against a flue registraton (probably 8' only) in the r.h. Can also be used as bass against the treble cornet for pieces that have four moving parts. Optionally can be drawn with Flautat Major 16', or either 8' (but not both), or 16' + Flautat 8'. The registrations with 16' are presumably not good for solo use.

Corneta Magna
Used either as a r.h. solo stop against an 8' bass registration (either flue, or the Trompa Batalla 8' with optional Clarins in 15ª), or with the Nasards in four-part music with moving parts. Can be drawn with the following stops: Flautat 8', Tapadet 4', or either 8' plus either 4' (only one of each).

A wonderful monster, and an important contributor to the unique sound of the Santanyí organ. Since it's larger than the "ple" on other organs that historical sources refer to, we have to use some (educated?) guesswork concerning its use. I suspect it was used only sparingly. A friend who restores and maintains organs points out that it would have been a major job to keep the Ple in tune; furthermore, historical sources say that the most impressive registrations were used only on important feast days. Historical sources say to use a minimum number of stops with the Ple to avoid taxing the wind supply. There is also a principle of balancing very high mutation stops with low-pitched stops and, since the Ple includes very high ranks (up to 4/5'), this would mean drawing it with the Flautat Major 16'. For the 8' and 4' stops which might be drawn with it, sources disagree. Some say use only Bordó 8' and Tapadet 4', others allow the Flautat 8' and Octava 4' in addition to (but not instead of) these. Sources say specifically do not combine the Ple with the Nasards or the Corneta. A Ple combination in one hand can be dialogued against a reed chorus in the other hand, but the Ple is never combined with reeds.

Trompa Batalla 8'
Can be used by itself in both hands or with Bordó 8'. Like all reeds, this gets noticeably weaker in the treble, which may have to be reinforced with another reed, probably the Trompa Magna 16', the Clarins 8', the Xirimia Alta 4', or any combination of these. The Trompa Batalla 8' also be used as a solo, especially in the r.h., against a flue or Ple registration (but probably should be reinforced against the Ple; see under "registration in older music," below.

Trompa reial 8'
An interior reed, and more evenly voiced than the exterior reeds. Can be used as a solo in either hand against a flue registration. Can be combined with 8' and/or 4' flues (some sources say only the stopped flues, not the open ones). Historically, it is unclear whether this was part of a reed chorus; my own preference is not to combine it with other reeds (although it could certainly dialog against them).

Baixons 4'
As a solo, against an 8' (flue or reed) registration in the r.h. Also reinforces the Trompa Batalla 8' in a reed chorus.

Trompa Magna 16'
As a solo, against an 8' (flue or reed) registration in the l.h. Also reinforces the Trompa Batalla 8' and/or Clarins 8' in a reed chorus

Clarins en 15ª 2'
As a solo, against an 8' (flue or reed) or 4' (reed) registration in the r.h. Also reinforces the Trompa Batalla 8' in a reed chorus.

Clarins 8'
Exactly the same uses as the Trompa Batalla 8'.

Xirimia Alta 4'
Not mentioned in historical sources. The fact that the top few notes break back indicate that this was a reinforcing stop, but if the range of the part permits, it can also be used as a r.h. accompaniment against a l.h. Clarines en 15ª

Regalies 8'
A very useful, and ancient, reed with untuned resonators. Can be use by itself or with Flautat 8' and either 4' flue in an undivided registration, or as a solo in either hand against an 8' flue (in earlier music, only the r.h. was used as a solo). Some sources say specifically that this should not be combined with other reeds or used in pieces with a lot of chords, but this restriction does not apply to earlier music; see below.

Dolçaina 16'
Another reed with untuned resonators, most useful as a solo stop against an 8' l.h. registration. As with the Regalies 8', some sources say not to combine with other reeds or play chords.


Flautad Tapad 8' and Octava Tapad 4'
Either one separately or both together.

Dinovena 1 1/3'
Combine with Flautad Tapad 8' and/or Octava Tapad 4', and with any of those possibilities + the Corneta.

Siurell 2/3'
Not mentioned in historical sources. Presumably can be added optionally to the Dinovena 1 1/3' (and the Corneta?) The name means "whistle" and I don't recommend using it if there are dogs in the vicinity.

Saboiana 8'
A useful stop, like the Regalies on the Orgue Major. Can also be combined with the Dinovena 1 1/3' (and, presumably, the Siurell 2/3').

Nazards III and Corneta III
Like the Nazards and Corneta on the Orgue Major, can be used together in an undivided registration or either can be used as a solo. The Corneta can be drawn with optional Dinovena 1 1/3' and, presumably, Siurell 2/3'.


Use of the pedal stops is not discussed in historical sources, presumably because it's so obvious. The pedal can make noise at cadences and that's about it. I assume the Bombarda 16' is most useful as the bass for a reed chorus.

Also not discussed in the historical sources, and not a very common effect on historical instruments (although the common tremulant was often called a "temblor"). Players may want to experiment with using one of the Terratrèmol pedals with other pedal notes to vary the effect. In 1888, an earthquake caused the vault of the Seville cathedral to collapse, destroying the largest organ that Bosch had ever made, so use of the Terratrèmol might be inauspicious.


Reed chorus (lengütaría)
The reed chorus consists of horizontal reeds and is generally built around the Tromba Batalla 8'. In the treble, add one of more of the following in any combination: Clarins 8', Tromba Magna 16', Xirimia Alta 4'. In the bass, add either or both the Baixons 4' and the Clarins in 15ª. The reed chorus was used as a unitary registration like the Ple combinations, that is, any place where a lot of noise is desired (the sources mention specifically the beginnings of processions and the endings of sets of versos). It was also used as a substitute for brass instruments, in batallas and similar pieces, especially in the trumpet's (the brass instrument, not the organ stop) home keys of C major and D major. Finally, either bass or treble reed chorus could be dialogued against a registration built on the Ple.

Two manuals.
Echo effects. The original "eco" division of the Santanyí organ is gone, but the Cadireta can be used. The most common echos will be between stops of the same (or similar) name, such as Flautat 8' echoed by Flautad Tapad 8'. Also, the Regalies can be echoed by the Corneta or the Saboiana.

Two-hand dialog, that is, one hand on each manual. Some recommended combinations: L.h. on Orgue Major Tromba Real 8', or Baixons 4', or Tromba Batalla 8', or Bordó 8', against r.h. on Cadireta Corneta (with optional Dinovena 1 1/3' and perhaps Siurell 2/3' if dialoguing against the louder reeds). R.h. on the Orgue Major Trompeta Batalla 8' against the l.h. Cadireta Flautat Tapad 8'.

Other register changes
Unless you're switching manuals, there has to be a pause in the music. Modern organists are obsessed with changing registrations in the course of a piece, but this was not the Baroque esthetic, in which the changing texture of the music and the skill of the player in phrasing were paramount. A few organs were fitted with quick-change mechanisms operated by the knees or feet, but these were not routine before the 1770s or so; older organs might have been updated with modern mechanisms at that time. Not surprisingly, the history of pedals and knee levers on harpsichords is pretty much the same: occasional experiments, in the Baroque spirit of experimentation, but routine use of such mechanisms only from about the 1770s on. Earlier Spanish organ sources do not mention quick-change mechanisms very much and when they do, the notice tends to be unfavorable. Pablo Nassare in 1723, for example complained about musicians who changed registrations too frequently and played the instrument rather than playing the music. Instead of obsessing about changing registrations, it is better to consider the wise words of Francis Chapelet, who has extensive experience on historical Spanish organs. He was writing about an organ built by Jorge Bosch's father: "The fact that once one or two stops have been drawn one has no desire to change the registration is, to our mind, a sign of the perfection of the organ..." (notes for the cd Orgues Historiques / Baleares, Palma de Mallorca, Harmonia Mundi France 1901225). Bosch chose not to put a quick-change mechanism on the Santanyí organ (and remember that the draw knobs for the cadireta were originally behind the player); I think that it would be historically inappropriate to counterfeit one now. The multiple loops and velocity sensitivity of the Hauptwerk software reproduce the expressivity and flexibility of older organs; it would be a shame, I think, to conceal these under a thick whitewash of continual registration changes.

Registration in older music

Registration and repertoire were both conservative. An anonymous registration treatise from the 1820s paraphrased Nassarre from the 1720s who, in turn, gave similar advice to that of Correa in the 1620s. But "conservative" doesn't mean "static." In some important ways, the Santanyí organ was a product of its time. No doubt, its players would have played earlier music with up-to-date registrations: these were the ones that made the best use of the instrument. But it is worth considering the differences between mid-18th century registrations and the ones that earlier composers would have had in mind.

The two biggest differences between the Santanyí organ and earlier organs were the mutation (aliquot) stops and the reeds.

Earlier organs had individual mutation stops that could be built up to form a corneta or a ple, or added to a pre-existant small corneta or ple. There were often two or three small mixtures, a ple, a low simbalet, and a high simbalet. The Santanyí organ, like many of its time, has these already combined—there isn't even an extant 2' flue stop. This is a great convenience for the player (who would want to pull the knobs for a 10-register corneta or a 24-register ple, and where could the knobs even fit?) but it means a loss of flexibility in registration. This characteristic might even be a survival from the early 16th century, when only the 8' and 4' registers had separated from the large Blockwerk that made up the basic organ sound. More likely, it is an evolutionary throwback.

The wonderful array of reeds is extremely characteristic of the mid-18th century—many older organs were updated with them, but the use of reeds in older music (which is most of what we play nowadays) was originally rather more restrained. The essential points are these: (1) Interior reeds appear early, from the mid-1500s, but only on large instruments. For about a hundred years, through the 1660s, they gradually become more common on smaller instruments, except in Catalonia and Valencia where they become less common. This includes stops with full-length resonators, such as the Trompeta Reial, and stops with short, untuned resonators, such as the Regalies. Stops of the Regalies and Dolçaina type were sometimes mounted on the outside of the case, perhaps horizontally, as early as this period. When Correa or Coelho specify "clarines," they mean an interior stop, like the Trompeta Reial. The restrictions on the Regalies (do not use in pieces with a lot of chords, do not combine with other reeds) are only from the mid-eighteenth century onwards; they do not apply to any earlier period. But in the 17th century, the regalies were used as a solo only in the r.h. (2) Full-length horizonatal reeds first appear in the 1660s (1659, actually) and were soon adopted everywhere except in Catalonia and Valencia. The large catherdral organ in Valencia, the home instrument of Cabanilles, had no reeds at all until 1693, when a Trompeta Real and a treble Clarín were added. Cabanilles was 50 years old at the time, had travelled widely, and must have known about reeds from Castilian and possibly French organs, but he showed no interest in the major banks of reeds that were the norm outside of his home terrority. Catalonian and Valencian organs, in this respect, were 50 years behind the rest of the Iberian pennisula; they finally had major lengüetarías added in the 1720s through 1740s.

A third difference between 18th century and earlier organs is a tendency for the earlier Catalan instruments to have two manuals while earlier Castilian instruments had divided registers on a single manual. This was only a tendency, and there were many exceptions, but the player should always consider the possibility of using two manuals rather than divided registers in Catalan music in the music of Cabanilles' predecessors (and, occasionally, in the music of Cabanilles as well).

When registering pieces on the Santanyí organ, players should consider the characteristics of the instrument. For example, it might seem historically appropiate to play a Cabanilles r.h. solo piece with the l.h. Ple and one r.h. exterior trumpet stop (Clarins 8' or Trompeta Batalla 8). But the Santanyí's Ple is much larger than anything that Cabanilles had, so it is necessary to reinforce the treble, for example by using both 8' exterior trumpet stops together.

Further reading

On the web: two sites. Martin Doering gives the original specification for the Santanyí organ but doesn't say where he got his information. Gerhard Grenzing reconstructed the organ as well as other Bosch organs. His site has details about these and other Spanish organs, also an interesting biography of Bosch and account of Grenzing's restoration of the organ in the Palacio Real, Madrid, redistributed in pdf format from the ISO Yearbook, 1993.

As for books, on historical organs in general, an organ-restorer friend recommends:

Andersen, Poul-Gerhard. 1969. Organ Building and Design. New York: Oxford University Press. Explains how historical organs were put together, along with a brief historical survey. Andersen was an actual organ builder, not a theoretician. This is an English translation of the first (1955/1956) edition of Orgelbogen. There have been at least 5 subsequent editions, the most recent that I know of edited by Hanrik Fibiger Nørfelt, and published by the Dansk Organist- og Kantorsamfund in 1979. (Andersen died in 1980.) There are other books that are similar to this one—one by Hans Klotz is mentioned below—but I haven't seen them yet.

There are three big books about historical registration. At least as far as Spanish organs are concerned, there is massive redundancy among these. They cite much the same sources and contain much the same information, but each has some unique information (and some unique errors). In terms of overall quality and usefulness, the progression goes from oldest to newest, thus showing that there is such a thing as progress in the field; but in spite of this, and some differences in emphasis, these are more alike than different, and all three are extremely good.

Klotz, Hans. 1986. Über die Orgelkunst der Gotik, der Renaissance und des Barock. Kassel: Bärenreiter. 3rd (and final; the author died the following year) ed. Klotz's other book, Das Buch von der Orgel, is well known, easy to get, and inexpensive, but I haven't read it. The 1986 work is out-of-print and very expensive, but summarizes a good selection of older registration lists. Nit: Klotz says (p. 263) that Castilian organs from 1640 to 1750 were characterized by a lack of individual mutation stops. I don't see this as a Castilian characteristic, and even the examples he gives do have individual mutation stops.

Owen, Barbara. 1997. The registration of Baroque Organ music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Unlike the other two books, this is geared towards modern organists who want to understand historical registration and also play older music on their modern instruments. Easy to follow and easy to get (widely distributed and inexpensive). Has a few small errors (what doesn't?); here are two: The registration directions for the Segovia organ, 1770, do not say "With Nasardos drawn in both hands one can play in four parts, providing that the music has a few rests [to change manuals or hand position?]"—Owen's confusion is evidenced by her question mark—but "... providing that the music has few rests," meaning "only a few rests," i.e., providing that there are four moving parts (p. 234). Also the registrations given for the Soler two-organ concertos on p. 233 are incomplete.

Radole, Giuseppe. 2001. Le Registrazioni organistiche nelle culture europee dal 1500 al 2000. Udine: Pizzicato Edizioni Musicali. I think this is still in print (I'm using a library copy). Much easier to follow than Klotz, and has a few hints which may be useful for modern organists. Radole is unsympathetic to the organs with pre-composed mixtures and a lack of individual mutation stops which, in fact, were very different from the Italian organs he seems to prefer.

A superb book on historical Spanish techniques for beginning organists is vol. 1, Spain, ed. Calvert Johnson, of the series Historical Organ Techniques and Repertoire, general editor Wayne Leopold. (1994, Boston: Wayne Leopold Editions, ECS Publishing). In addition to lots of information on historical organs and registration it contains information on historical fingerings, phrasing, etc. The bulk of the work consists of a series of graded and annotated pieces to teach the student historical techniques. Unfortunately, it is hard to get and expensive, but may be available from the Organ Historical Society (towards the bottom of the page). Otherwise, check your favorite used-book search engine or library.

Some interesting information on the organs in the Valencia Catherdral is given in the biographical introduction to: Johannis Cabanilles, Opera Omnia, Vol. 1, ed. Higinio Anglés. (Biblioteca de Cataluña: Barcelona, 1927). The Kalmus reprint doesn't have this instroduction, but the 1983 reprint by the Biblioteca de Cataluña does (and it's a much better quality reprint, too).

Barbara Brewster Hoag's dissertation "The Performace Practice of Iberian Keyboard Music of the Seventeenth Century" (New York University, 1980) has an extensive selection of source material about instruments, registration, fingerings, rhythms, ornamentation, etc.

Finally, James Wyly seems to know more about historical Spanish registration than anybody else. His articles are listed in the books above.

A Final Word

I am not an organist. My principle keyboard instruments are the harpsichord and clavichord, and my academic training is in historical musicology. Harpsichordists spend almost no time thinking about registration (and, in the case of Spanish harpsichords, absolutely no time, since the historical instruments almost entirely played 2×8' all the time without changing registrations). Clavichordists, of course, don't have registrations to think about, and clavichords were of extreme importance to Spanish composers, since the clavichord was the standard practice instrument of every Spanish keyboard composer. (For detailed information on the construction of a modern clavichord based on an 18th-century Portuguese model, see here.) Much of what we consider "organ" music must have been played, and played often, on the clavichord.

Since I knew nothing about organ registration, it seemed natural to read up on historical registration practice and then summarize things in writing. I hope that other beginning organists find this page useful. Please send corrections, complaints, queries, and the like to me at <>.

—Stuart Frankel