Basically I was asked to write a piece for pipe organ until tomorrow morning. I've played a pipe organ before, so I sort of know how it works, but I don't have an organ I can play on before tomorrow.

I've composed pieces for piano and string quartets before, but I have never composed anything for organ so far.

Are there any important things I need to know? Any tips?

  • 1
    How many manuals, pedals, octaves?
    – Tim
    Dec 24, 2021 at 13:15
  • you have the possibility to choose different sounds for each manual and pedal, you can change the registration during the piece. And you can easily assume that if you compose something for the choir, it will probably work really well with organ too :) (but voice crossing each other won't be that noticeable)
    – Jack L.
    Dec 24, 2021 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


Know the ranges of the manuals and pedals.

Don't feel you HAVE to specify the mechanics. If you write a section 'f' then a section 'p', the player will automatically set up suitable registrations on a couple of manuals and change between them. And yes, there IS a swell pedal, but you will often play a complete service without using it.

As this has to be done by tomorrow, may we assume this is a transcription rather than a big composing project? Consider giving the organist the piano part. He's very accustomed to translating it into organ terms on-the-fly.

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