Pedal in Pipe Organ

• Nov 17, 2018 - 03:06
Reported version
S4 - Minor
by design

Edit, Instruments, Keyboard, Pipe Organ adds the Pipe Organ staffs (2 manuals and pedal) but the pedal clef is such that the note displayed is 1 full octave too high. Recommend removing the '8vb' from the definition of the pedal bass cleff. The bass clef of both the manual and pedal should display and sound the same when the same note is selected.


Status active by design

The pedal staff of a pipe organ sounds an octave lower than the bass cleff staff, that's the way a big pipe organ (like in a church) works and sounds.
But a 'normal' organ does not, there indeed the midle and bottom staff are in the same octave, so use that instead.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

You are incorrect sir, I am an organist, I play a large 3 manual pipe organ (not digital) every week for church. If I select an 8' stop on the manual and an 8' stop on the pedal, they display the same in notation, and they sound the same. If I select an 8' stop on the manual and couple it through to the pedal, I activate the same pipe by depressing the bottom note of the manual as I do by depressing the bottom note of the pedal. They are the same in all regards. The only way the pedal sounds an octave lower is if you choose a 16' foot stop for the pedal (which is common), but if you use that as your reasoning, then you would have to use 16vb for 32 foot stops, and 32vb for 64 foot stops (uncommon). Then what do you do when you use 8, 16 and 32' stops at the same time? What about a 4 foot stop on the pedal, it sounds 1 octave ABOVE the manual pitch.
This reasoning does not make sense.

In reply to by mpiercey

Correct me if I'm wrong as I only had a brief look at some organs for a couple of days out of personal interest, but it seems to me that the octave each manual or pedal sounds in is only determined by the stop (or stops) you have enabled, so there no predetermined relation between manual name (i.e. great or swell) and the octave you're playing.

You are correct Watery, which is why I mentioned that the pedal can sound an octave above the manuals if a 4 foot stop is used, or 2 octaves below if using a 32 foot stop (assuming the manual plays an 8 foot stop).

In reply to by mpiercey

With so many options possible for the octave of manuals and pedalboards on the organ, it sounds like any choice made by the developers are more likely to be wrong than right. Since there are no text controls to change octaves on a note in MuseScore I would suggest that it is up to the user to force the proper octave to sound. As Jojo pointed out, there are two staff configurations already for organs (including the one you requested). If you don't want one of these I will point out that there are many methods for changing the octaves and an organ composer will always have to resort to one of these to take full advantage of the organ's capabilities. There are also workarounds like saving an empty score with the setup you like to a file that can be loaded as a starting point, unfortunately these don't currently work as a template but there has been discussion in the last couple of days to change this.

The many options available are why organizations such as the American Guild of Organist (AGO) and the British Royal College of Organist (RCO) all adopted the standard of the 8 foot stop for pipe organ notation.
I will let this discussion drop now.

Maybe this is a case where no option really fits and I agree with you mike that any choice could not be the best one.

But it seems to me there are two issues here: one that's visual about score editing (the OP mentions an "8vb" attached to the clef) and one about score playback.

Bear in mind that I have no experience of organ playing nor organ engraving, what follows is just a bunch of ideas off the top of my head - plus I'm using 2.3 and I don't know if anything is already being developed in the new major.

Let's tackle the visual issue first: if it's wrong to have a whole staff to be one octave lower "by default" then it could be enough to have the right bass clef; this would make the score properly written.

As an example, have a look a the first downloadable score here:…
there's a single bass clef labeled "Pedal" (with no "8vb" under it) and at the very beginning of the score there's indication of what stops are to be used.

Next, let's face the playback one. It seems to me that this open a whole new opportunity.

I think you shouldn't differentiate between "pipe organs" and "organs" (I didn't investigate further what this curretly means in the program), but between "stop-based organs" and "drawbar-based organs" - take these names as meanunfigul for this explanation, instrument UI labels maybe different.

You can offer a default system of three staves in both cases - I can't tell if the current defaults are fine for common usage, but any change could break previous scores; if anybody needs a different clef configuration it can drag in a new clef right after score creation and the change will be for the whole piece.

Although both instruments resolve to the same visual (printable, etc) score appearance, having two different types allows:

  • to offer a base pipe organ sound in the first type and a base Hammond-like sound in the other (I don't know if the latter is already available within MuseScore).
  • in a future release MuseScore could add a way to assign a specific stops or drawbars configuration (let's call this a profile) to each organ type
    • with the addition of letting the user change the stops configuration in the middle of the score, by using the already existing "Instrument change" function and assigning a different profile.
Regression No Yes
Workaround No Yes

mpiercey If I recall, the Octave Lower Bass Clef makes it even easier to distinguish the Left Hand Part from the Pedal Part so that's actually correct, plus it really adds some lower end that you'd get from the 16 ft Pipe Ranks.

Actually the Octave Lower Bass Clef in the Organ Pedals is actually to facilitate distinguishing the Pedal Staff from the Manual Staffs even further, it's more updated.

Actually the Octave Lower Bass Clef in the Organ Pedals is actually to facilitate distinguishing the Pedal Staff from the Manual Staffs even further, it's more updated.

Whoever chose the Octave Lower Bass Clef for the Pedals actually had a Pedal Piano where the Pedal Part only sounded an Octave Lower than written, & that is a Doppio Borgato.

I have a Doppio Borgato Pedal Piano which has the Pedals sounding an Octave Lower than written at 16 ft Pitch, that means the Octave Lower Bass Clef is more appropriate for a Pedal Piano than a Pipe Organ. In fact it should probably be renamed as "Pedal Piano".

Attachment Size
A Pedal Piano.jpg 107.83 KB