Couplers are a special family of stops which interlink manuals (“inter-manual couplers”) or interlink notes on one manual (“intra-manual couplers”). Coupler stopkeys are, by convention, coloured black.

An example of an inter-manual coupler would be “Solo to Great”. By drawing this stop and playing on the Great, as well as the Great stops sounding, any Solo manual stops drawn will sound as well.

An example of an intra-manual coupler is the “Great Octave”. By drawing this stop and playing on the Great, for every note played, the note an octave above will sound as well as the note played. Sub-Octave couplers play the notes an octave lower as well as the notes being played.
 By way of example, these are the couplers available on a large 4-manual Wurlitzer organ:

Inter manual couplers

Accompaniment to Pedal

Great Octave to Pedal

Solo to Pedal

Solo to Accompaniment

Solo to Accompaniment Second Touch

Solo on Great

Great on Orchestral

Solo on Great Second Touch

Solo on Great Pizzicato

Intra manual couplers

Accompaniment Octave

Great Sub Octave

Great Unison Off

Great Octave

Orchestral Sub Octave

Orchestral Octave

Solo Sub Octave

Solo Unison Off

Solo Octave

The Unison Off coupler silences the notes being played (sometimes to the confusion of the novice!) but – if the octave and/or sub-octave couplers are drawn – still allows these notes to sound.

Pizzicato couplers are a special form of inter-manual coupler that only allow the coupled manual to play for a very short moment, thus simulating the pizzicato of a string. Typically, a loud reed could be coupled to a softer flue registration to give a kind of ‘plucking’ effect. These were usually only found on large(r) Wurlitzer organs, e.g. Solo to Great Pizzicato.

Mutation couplers, which may function as inter- or intra- manual couplers, couple notes at pitches other than a pure octave (see link below).


See further:

Mutation coupler