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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Division and Rank”

May 24, 2010

Dear Michael,

I love the organn as much as you. Could you explain the difference between a rank and a division? Also, if I may make a request I would like to hear “In Paradisum” by Theodore Dubois. Thank you so much!




A rank is a row of pipes, one for each note on the keyboard (such as the 8' Diapason). Usually a stop controls access to the rank, though a stop may control several ranks simultaneously (as in the Mixture V). A division is a collection of ranks as played from a specific keyboard (Great, Swell, Positiv, Pedal), though sometimes a division is ‘floating’, insofar as it can be connected to various keyboards according to the organist’s choice…a three-manual (and pedal) organ might have six or seven divisions, Great, Swell, Positiv and Pedal being the normal fixed ones, specific to their individual keyboards, with a floating Solo or Echo or Bombarde division.



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