Is this called an Organ Piano? How does it work?

• Aug 22, 2019 - 10:35…

I generally have no idea how it works. Seeing a piano with 2 um.. levels?.... (I don't know what it's called) made me interested how people use it to their advantages during performances. But, it's there the kind of piano that also has 2.. levels but without the organ features? I think I've seen it somewhere before, but it could be a false memory.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

That is an electronic "spinet organ". It has 13 pedals, one for each possible bass note, plus one. The keyboards are short -- the upper one is always for the right hand and the lower for the left (this is not true of real organs). This is a kind of entertainment/toy, which was very popular many years ago. You cannot play organ music on it. A real organist would not even want to play that instrument -- it is not for organists, but for home entertainment. Real, real organs have pipes. Electronic substitutes for real organs on which organ music can be played, like real organs, have 56 to 61 notes on each "keyboard" (they're called "manuals"), and 30 or 32 pedals, and require actual skill and taking lessons to learn how to play. You may not be aware that the organ (the real, pipe organ), is a much, much older instrument than the piano, There is no music written for "spinet organ", except maybe "easy play" books sold by the manufacturer so that people with no musical knowledge or training can make simple music. My family had one briefly when I was a child (and I soon tired of it).

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

One would never encounter a "performance" on such an instrument, as no music is written for it. Other than for home entertainment, one would sometimes see them used in low-grade bars (drinking establishments) or cafés many years ago. Even for home entertainment, inexpensive electronic synthesizers have made it very unlikely anyone would want a spinet organ. Even in rock or jazz ensembles, more adequate electronic substitutes for organs have left spinet organ technology in the distant past. It is not adequate to accompany a choir in a church. It is musical toy.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

I see. Do you know the name similar to this instrument by chance? It also have piano tiles and the "2 layer" (still don't know what it's called) piano.
I don't know why, but I assumed that the upper and lower piano can played in different octaves of our choice and in different instrument sounds. It's that true?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Those are cheap and easy to obtain. No concert hall, orchestra, band, or functional church has a spinet organ. As the article rightly says, they were an artifact of postwar (post World War II) pre-digital technology, and I doubt that they are even still manufactured. In Early 1960's America, their place in time and space, I very rarely encountered homes owning them, while spinet pianos (which are fully capable of the full range of piano repertoire) were common. I think they served a niche market, such as myself as an 11-year old, who were becoming interested in real organs from phonograph records of great instruments, and imagined that this might be a start, a necessary compromise, between a New York City apartment and the Abbey at Weingarten. It took a year to understand that it was not.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

Thanks, that made me less confused.
I gave a quick look at the wiki. So, if I ever wanted to perform with a band on the streets or somewhere in which a performer has to play with more than 1 sound for whatever reason (like not enough players, or budgets). I'll need to get an Electric Organ?
I saw the first image came up with an electric organ that has 145 keys in total. Is that average for an organist? How long would it take a pianist to learn the organ?

In reply to by Haoto 2

Organs are not used in bands. Organs are not played in the street. A 1950's spinet organ is not really an organ at all. The Organ is not a "machine to make many sounds when you don't have enough musicians", but an instrument with its own music, players, composers, and history. A serious organist would not play a spinet organ (and many I know would not play an electronic organ at all; real organs have pipes). Organs are not a kind of piano. An organist is not a pianist. No one studies to play spinet organs. I think you need to hear an organ played in a church, not any web sites, you tubes, or wiki pages to learn what an organ is.

In reply to by Haoto 2

Yes, you got it now : Organs are very, very old, large, and complicated. Sometimes rock musicians who want to play two different sounds use two synthesizers on a rack, one above the other. And there are some synthesizers that can split the keyboard into two different instruments. You should be investigating synthesizers, not organs. Try to find a church where organ music is being played on a real organ and just visit. Here is a wonderful video of a great, great organist playing a great, great work by the greatest composer on the world's greatest organ -- please listen for a few minutes: There are thousands of pipes behind him.

In reply to by Haoto 2

Good question! It is not playing by itself! He is playing the pedalboard with his feet the whole time. The pedals of a real organ are notes, just like the keys on the manuals (keyboards). Real organs have 30 or 32 pedals. See here: . An organist has to use his or her hands and feet at the same time. The deepest (lowest-pitched) pipes are controlled by the pedals. Organ music has 3 staves (staffs), one for each hand and one for the feet. Example (the "sheet music" for that "song"): . Take a look. I'm glad you watched the video!

Actually, I grew up taking organ lessons on a very-different spinet: a Hammond M-3. When I compared it to the bells-and-whistles models that my cousins' parents had bought, I felt ill-used. Little did I know that this tonewheel organ was the little brother to the B-3: only one set of drawbars, had only 11 pedals (no high-"C"). But, although I did not appreciate it at the time, "it had The Sound.™"

Decades later, I sold it to a local band who DOES use it in performances every night. And, by Jove, "there is that B-3 sound!" (My Dad had rigged it up with a headphone jack ... for, umm, obvious reasons ... and they'd actually used that (I think) to hook it to a Leslie!

Looking back, I am today very grateful that this taught me how to use – and, how to appreciate – drawbars.

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In reply to by mrobinson

I had and learned on a real B-3 for 25 years, one for each of its 25 pedals, and learned to categorize the Bach organ corpus into works needing the missing pedal notes and not -- the very famous BWV 565 and BWV 582, and countless chorale preludes do not. I built my own reverberation system (based on the kind of spring reverberator later seen in guitar amps). It sort of sounded like a real organ ... to a degree. I had a Leslie, but, for classical music, it did me little good. I sold it in 1987 and got a state-of-the-art Allen digital organ with 32 real pedals and 43 stops, which sufficed for another 25 years, after which I could no longer stand the sound (in comparison to Hauptwerk-style technology). Now I am of the Hauptwerk world. Want a partly-functional 30 year old Allen organ (but I keep the pedalboard :)?

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Wurlitzer theatre organs (real pipe organs, but very different from classical/church pipe organs in the way pipes and ranks are built and used) were the best available. That's, of course, a famous horseshoe-shaped console of such an organ, quite sometihing to see. Unlike as with church organs, the organ itself, i.e., the pipes, were always hidden. Although there are still some contemporary artists who can do it, the magical art of improvising appropriate music to a silent film (hopefully that you've been through once) in real time is a rapidly vanishing one.

What spinet organs were good for is when you had someone in the family who "kinda likes music", and wants to be able to play simple arrangements of songs everyone knows and loves in a simple style, with left-hand chords and maybe chord-root bass, like an accordion. This little excerpt of organ technology actually worked well for these limited goals. You could use one to a accompany a singer, or maybe instrumental soloist. The thing you could not do is play "repertoire", because there wasn't any, and organ repertoire, even for one manual, was completely inaccessible. Even serious jazz and gospel organ (e.g., Ethel Smith, Jimmy Smith, let alone Fats Waller) was as inaccessible as Marcel Dupré.

When my wife and I got married in our University chapel ... gosh, more than thirty years ago ... there was not only a pipe organ in the chapel but also a purely-mechanical (and very historic ...) "tracker" organ in the chapel tower. Unfortunately, at the time, said "tracker" was ... ahh ... covered with bird ... ahh. (Yeah, I climbed up there. Pretty bad. Leave it at that.)

And, to the great disappointment of the professional organist that we had hired, the pipe organ was in similarly neglected state. Therefore, we had to fall back to the B-3. (The cassette tapes that I still have of this [now, alas, departed ...] man's musical performance, on that B-3, still amaze me.)

And ... the whole darned thing has a happy ending! "$$$ The $$$ Benefactors $$$" thereafter took a renewed interest in both instruments, as with the chapel itself. Thirty-odd years later, "Life is Good.™" The Chapel and both instruments have been restored, and – along with a number of other notable pipe-organ installations in the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee – they are now used from time to time for concerts.

In reply to by mrobinson

I am aware of one musical piece that has a part specifically written for this kind of “organ”: PDQ Bach’s parody oratorio “The Seasonings”. This is based on a 40 year old memory from college, and so may be suspect. This doesn’t make BSG wrong, rather it’s the exception that proves the rule.
There was also a part for foghorn...

At the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, on University Avenue, which is the main drag with restaurants and shops, just a stone's throw from the Stanford campus, they show old classic movies (Bogey, Hitchcock, etc.). At intermission, a man playing a huge Wurlitzer organ comes up through the stage. Also plays during silent movies. The theatre is in the old grandiose ornate style. Takes one back...

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