The keyboards from which the organ is played. May be single touch or have second touch. On a theatre organ, each manual contains five octaves, 61 notes altogether.

Manuals (keyboards)
Manuals (keyboards)

Theatre organs usually have two, three or four manuals. A few exceptional cases of five-manual consoles exist, as well as one spectacular example of a six-manual console.

Two manual consoles are considered the minimum needed to play a melody line and accompaniment; more manuals provide the possibility to make quick changes of registration and distribute the resources of the instrument better.

On classical (straight) organs, each manual controls a different department and set of pipes, and greater use is made of inter-manual couplers for ensemble sounds.

On theatre organs, the manuals are often termed Accompaniment and Solo (on two-manual organs), Accompaniment, Great and Solo (on three-manual organs) and Accompaniment, Great, Orchestral (or Bombarde) and Solo on four manual organs. These names give a hint to the musical use that each manual will be put to.

The manuals may be inclined from the horizontal (especially higher manuals such as the Solo on three manual instruments and larger) for ergonomic reasons.


See further:


Second Touch