Technical Library

CONTINUO ORGAN III: Tuning the Continuo Organ

Entire Contents Copyright © 2015 CBH

Next 1K gifBack 1K gif

Hints for a good tuning…

Carey Beebe Tuning in the Carmel Mission 73K jpeg
Tuning the continuo organ
for a performance in the
San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission

Tuning the Continuo Organ…

Organ tuners traditionally prefer to set their temperament from a Principal rank: Without a change of approach, they are likely to spend far too much time on this sort of small organ without obtaining a decent result. I tune in a somewhat unconventional manner, but the following method which I’ve developed over fifteen years works well:

1. Always set the temperament on the middle octave of the stopped 8⁠´. This is the basic voice of these small continuo organs, and depending on repertoire, it is sometimes even the only rank to be used during a performance.

2. The Klop can be tuned single-handedly while playing the keyboard with the left hand. There is good access to almost all the pipework through the top flap. The exceptions are the E–F on the 8⁠´ (which require the treble panel to be removed); C (front panel) and C (rear panel) on the 4⁠´; and C and C on the 2⁠´ (rear panel). The panels should always be replaced and the tuning checked after those notes before proceeding.

3. There is not a lot of harmonic information available to the ear from the stopped wooden pipes, so the temperament is quickest set with an electronic tuner or app. Work from c' to c'', checking for those intervals which according to temperament may be pure, or have known or comparative rates.

4. Tune the treble up in octaves from the bearings octave.

5. Tune the bass down in octaves.

6. Add the 4⁠´, and tune it to the 8⁠´ of your c' to c'' bearings octave.

7. Leave the 8⁠´ ON, and tune the treble of the 4⁠´, always playing octaves to simulate the likely amount of wind drawn in actual playing, rather than tuning a single upperwork pipe to a single other pipe.

8. Tune the 4⁠´ down from c', again playing octaves.

9. Add the 2⁠´, and tune the bearings octave from c' to c'' in unison with the 8⁠´ + 4⁠´.

10. Leave both 8⁠´ + 4⁠´ ON, and tune the treble of the 2⁠´, again always playing octaves.

11. Tune the 2⁠´ down from c' likewise.

12. Add the Quint, and tune the bearings octave to all the other ranks.

13. Continue the Quint from c'' to the extreme treble, playing in octaves.

Please refer to the Temperament section of the Technical Library for background and instruction on setting a variety of historic temperaments.

Klop 3.5 rank Continuo Organ tuning layout 41K gif
Location of the pipes at A440 for tuning purposes in the Klop Continuo Organ
pdf icon 2K png

Continuo Organ index:

CBH Icon 1K gif Continuo Organ for hire
CBH Icon 1K gif Your own Continuo Organ
CBH Icon 1K gif Technical Library overview
CBH Icon 1K gif Harpsichords Australia Home Page