The original piston settings on the Lewis organ
Based on an article entitled "Southwark, A foot-note on registration"
written by Relf Clark and published in Organist's Review of February, 1994.
Lewis's version of what are now known as "pistons" were called "key-touches". These took the form of ivory rectangles (measuring approximately 3/8" high, 3/8" wide, 6/8" deep) located at the back of the keyboard associated with the stops they affected (unlike pistons, which are located below their keyboard). Also, key-touches were pressed down (whereas pistons are pushed in) and, for this reason, they were more usually operated by the fingers (rather than by the thumbs, as in the case of pistons). Key-touches can still be seen on the Lewis instruments at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow, and Saint Luke's Church, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.
At Southwark, there were 40 key-touches, ten per manual department - at a time when most organs had less than a handful of pistons per manual. Key-touches for most departments provided suitable Pedal organ registrations (on first touch, as second touch had yet to be invented) and some also drew accompaniment stops on other manuals. This means they could be thought of legitimately as "general" pistons. Still others served as reversibles, operating couplers (the only coupler not available on a reversible was the Solo to Choir). In total, there were nine reversibles, six generals, and 25 departmentals. There were no Pedal-only key-touches.
The settings of the key-touches were probably not adjustable, at least not by the organist. Neither were they numbered - although numbers are used in this document. In the table below, blue boxes indicate departmental key-touches that also provided suitable Pedal stops, while those that did not (i.e. Solo only) are shown in yellow boxes. A red box indicates a reversible key-touch. Generals have green boxes. In the case of blue boxes and green boxes it will be necessary to look up and down the table - in the appropriate column - to see what other stops were operated by a particular key-touch. A written summary of what the pistons did is given below the table.
Solo Key-TouchesSwell Key-TouchesSOLO ORGANGreat Key-TouchesChoir Key-Touches
12345678901234567890Trompette Harm. 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Tuba Magna 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Trombone 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Orch. Oboe 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Clarinet 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Cor Anglais 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flûte Harm. 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Unda Maris 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Vox Angelica 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flûte Harm. 812345678901234567890
Solo Key-TouchesSwell Key-TouchesSWELL ORGANGreat Key-TouchesChoir Key-Touches
12345678901234567890Clarion 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Voix Humaine 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Oboe 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Horn 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Bassoon 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Mixture IV12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flautino 212345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Rohr Flöte 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Geigen Principal 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Voix Celestes 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Viole-de-Gambe 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Rohr Flöte 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Open Diap. 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Lieb. Bordun 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Solo to Swell12345678901234567890
Solo Key-TouchesSwell Key-TouchesGREAT ORGANGreat Key-TouchesChoir Key-Touches
12345678901234567890Trumpet 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Mixture IV12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Cornet III-V12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Super Octave 212345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Octave Quint 22/312345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flûte Harm. 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Octave 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Stopped Diap. 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flûte Harm. 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Open Diap. II 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Open Diap. I 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Bourdon 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Contre Viole 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Solo to Great12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Swell to Great12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Choir to Great12345678901234567890
Solo Key-TouchesSwell Key-TouchesCHOIR ORGANGreat Key-TouchesChoir Key-Touches
12345678901234567890Mixture III12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Lieb. Gedeckt 212345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Lieb. Gedeckt 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flauto Traverso 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Salicet 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Dulciana 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Salicional 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Lieb. Gedeckt 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Geigen Diap. 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Lieb. Gedeckt 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Solo to Choir12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Swell to Choir12345678901234567890
Solo Key-TouchesSwell Key-TouchesPEDAL ORGANGreat Key-TouchesChoir Key-Touches
12345678901234567890Trumpet 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Posaune 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Bombarde 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Cont. Posaune 3212345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Octave Flute 412345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Flute 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Violoncello 812345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Dulciana Bass 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Sub Bass 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Violon 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Great Bass 1612345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Major Violon 3212345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Great Bass 3212345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Solo to Pedal12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Swell to Pedal12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Great to Pedal12345678901234567890
12345678901234567890Choir to Pedal12345678901234567890
The first key-touch on each department was a reversible, operating the appropriate manual-to-pedal coupler. Similarly, Swell #0 acted upon the Solo to Swell and Choir #0 operated the Swell to Choir. On the Great, 8, 9, and 0 were reversibles to the Swell to Great, Solo to Great, and Choir to Great, respectively. Settings for the Solo organ were straightforward enough but #6 drew the unison Flûte Harmonique together with the Trompette Harmonique! Curious though this combination may seem, it is what was specified in Relf Clark's source (Grove, 1907 edition, pp 556 & 557).
Key-touches 2 through to 6 on the Swell, Great, and Choir manuals provided the build-up of each department's ensemble, together with suitable Pedal. This meant that if, for example, Full Organ was required, one had to press Great #6 after Swell #6 - otherwise the Pedal organ's stops would be reduced (to that set on Swell #6). Clark notes says it is not clear if 'Full Great and Pedal' meant literally that, although he goes on to say "there is no reason to think that it did not...Again, 'Full Swell' is not defined". It is interesting to note that the unison chorus reeds were drawn before the mixtures in the build-up on the Great and Swell departments.
Key-touch #7 on the Great drew the Flûte Harmonique 8 on its own and provided suitable Pedal basses, together with the Swell organ's Rohr Flöte 8 and Oboe for accompanimental purposes. The respective celestes were drawn by key-touch #7 on the Solo and Swell departments, but the latter also provided Pedal registers and accompaniment stops on the Choir manual. The Choir organ's own key-touch #7 drew the Lieblich Gedeckt family (16-8-4-2), together with soft Pedal registers and a pair of accompanimental stops on the Swell. Choir #8 withdrew the 16 and 4-foot Gedeckts, reduced the Pedal and accompaniment stops to a quieter volume, and brought on the Swell to Pedal coupler. Key-touch #8 on the upper two manuals gave orchestral-type registrations (i.e. Solo: Cor Anglais 16, Orchestral Oboe 8, Flûte Harmonique 4. Swell: Rohr Flöte 8, Voix Humaine 8) but, once again, only the Swell was given Pedal and accompaniment stops. These were also provided for Swell key-touch #9, which drew the Horn. Solo key-touch #9 also provided brass tone in the form of the big reeds (16-8-8), whereas, by contrast, Choir key-touch #9 drew the Choir and Pedal Dulcianas and the Choir to Pedal coupler.
Obviously, there were advantages and disadvantages to Lewis's system but, even so, the Southwark instrument had a degree of control and flexibility rarely seen at that time.
© 2004–2021, Stephen D. Smith
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