New instrument: Positive Organ

• Jan 22, 2015 - 20:31
S5 - Suggestion

Hello. I would like to (maybe) introduce you to a very important 10th to 18th century instrument, the positive organ. It was widely used in, among others, basso continuo sections.

I adore its powerful but understated sound and would like to suggest its representation in MuseScore as an instrument in the early music category. I don't think new soundfonts are needed; in beta 1, it was already somewhat present, as the Pipe Organ instrument had Panflute sounds set to it (this was changed to Church Organ in beta 2; thanks to Marc Sabatella for helping me figure that out). I think the positive organ's most important properties are the soft, recorder flute-like sound and the "oomph" whenever a pipe is opened, particularly the larger ones. In any case, I think a dedicated entry for this type of organ would be preferable; in addition to the different sound, it would also have only two staves.

Video of a positive organ playing alone (rare):

Video of a positive organ as continuo (far less rare):

When I briefly used Garritan Personal Orchestra a long time ago, there was a similar-sounding instrument under Organ > Flutes. Here is some terrible music rendered with that library:…

Thank you for your consideration.


For what is worth, I am not convinced.

The positive organ is only one of the innumerable typologies of the pipe organ.

Surely, it has some prevalent design patterns, mainly due to the fact that it is supposed to be carried around and posato (= "put down") where it is needed, which sets serious constrains on the structure and on the registration. However, it neither has a standard range nor a standard design. It is not even mandatory it only had labium pipes, as occasional reed stops are documented.

If we start adding one of the pipe organ sub-types, we will end up adding countless of them: why not the regale, or the North-Italian mid. XVI c. organ (which has a decently well defined typology), or the Romantic French organ, or the Wurlitzer organ and so on...? (just to quote the few which come to my mind on the spot)

What the OP is after can be obtained with a suitable sound font and/or a suitable organ simulating software (GrandOrgue comes to mind) more than with a new entry in instruments.xml, which would be little (if anything) more than a label.

We already introduced questionable entries (like the rather vague variations of the lute or the non-existent alto viol) which, again, are little more than labels; I don't think it is the case to multiply these cases and enter into musicologically dangerous grounds.

Just my opinion, of course!