These pages comprise a dictionary of terms relating to the pipe organ. Please keep definitions to a few sentences, and do not include pictures or sound clips. When more space is needed for a term, a new page can be created for it.
Waldflöte [noun] - a broad-scale metal flue stop, usually open but with a tapered cap, very popular in the English Romantic tradition. German for "Forest Flute". Usually voiced with a bright tone, having some stringy quality.
Wedge [noun] a component of a reed pipe which holds the tongue and shallot in the block; usually a tapered piece of hardwood.
Weight [noun] 1. a mass placed on the top of a reservoir to help regulate wind pressure. 2. a small mass soldered to the tongue of a large reed pipe to help regulate its speech.
Werck - In north European terminology, a division of the organ, or, frequently, the Great Organ or Hauptwerk. In the early transitional organs, the main division could be in the old medieval stopless format and might be called the Werck, while a second division would have its stops separately drawable and could be a Positiv, a Rückpositiv, or a Brustwerk.
Werkprinzip - An idealized organ design scheme based on north German instruments of the 17th-18th century, centered about the work of Arp Schnitger and others. It is architectural in concept, with each division clearly shown in the layout of the case, and with the base principal of that division showing as facade pipes. Each division would be based on a different pitch, the Hauptwerk (Great) perhaps on an 8' Principal, with the pedal on a 16' Principal in towers on each side. The second manual division might be a Rückpositiv based on a 4' Principal, and a larger organ might have a third manual division, possibly a Brustwerk based on a 2' Principal. Tracker action is required in these instruments and there are rarely any enclosed divisions or registrational aids such as pistons. The emphasis is on lightness of touch, subtlety of pipe speech, and blend and projection of sound within the encased divisions.
Widor, Charles-Marie [1844-1937] - outstanding French organist, teacher and church musician. In 1870 he was appointed "temporarily" to the post at Saint-Sulpice in Paris, where he ruled until 1933. Under the influence of the Cavaillé-Coll style, he developed the organ symphony as a genre, and wrote ten of them. He began teaching at the Paris Conservatoire in 1890. Among his many pupils were Louis Vierne, Charles Tournemire, Darius Milhaud, and Marcel Dupré, who succeeded him at Saint-Sulpice in 1934.
Willis, Henry (1821-1901) - Prominent VIctorian English organ builder, the first of an eventual four generations in the business. He was a mechanical innovator, and built many prominent organs, including cathedrals and concert halls. He developed the thumb piston and the concave/radiating pedalboard. The Willis firm is still building organs.
Wind [noun] the compressed air on which the pipes of an organ speak.
Windchest [noun] - a thick table or box on legs which is filled with pressurized wind and on which the ranks of pipes stand. Valves under the pipes allow wind to go to the pipes, producing real pipe organ tone.