Organ Humor

Creative definitions:

Stop (a): a device which controls a voice on an organ.
(b): what organists should do more often, cf. refrain
Fugue (a): a composition in which the voices come in one by one and the people go out two by two. -- Virgil Fox
(b): by the time all the voices have come in, all the audience has gone out.

Hybrid instruments:

a Casavant and Moller = a Casserole
a Moller and Estey = a Molestation

What do you say after the concert? (or how to offer faint praise)
to the recitalist:

"Your performance was remarkable."
"Now that WAS a recital."
"Well, that was certainly more than we'd expected."
"Boy, you've done it again."
"I have no idea how you do it."
"It was the most incredible thing I've ever heard."
"I have never heard you do better."
"I wouldn't change a SINGLE thing."
"A lot of people seemed to like it."
"This performance was mind-boggling."
"I'm overwhelmed. I just don't know what to say."
"Boy, I'll bet you're glad it's over."

about the organ:

"This organ really makes a statement."
"It's quite a sound."
"It's certainly a good example."
"Too bad the room isn't better."
"Just think of all the hard work that went into that."
"And to think there was a time it didn't play at all."


Quotes from Virgil Fox:

"It sounded like a rattle snake pissing down an eve's trough." (on a Schlicker 16' reed)
"It's like forcing an elephant through a mattress." (on an E.M. Skinner Tuba Mirabilis)



Typos in programs:

"Lobe den Heron" by J.S. Bach
Sonata in G Major Handel

Integrated church service:

Sermon: Setting out on the sea of life in the ship of faith
Hymn: Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Postlude: Allegro Maestoso from Handel's "Water Music"


What's in a name?

C. Sharpe-Minor was the real name of a
For years, the Tonal Director of Austin Organs was Richard PIPER.

At a convention workshop, the presenter recommended several collection of "free hymn accompaniments" available at the different booths in the exhibit hall. A naive young organist promptly went looking for these books and started to walk away with them without paying, after all they were FREE hymn accompaniments!



Seated one day at the organ, I was cranky and tired and hot.
Then the choir rehearsal started, but my poor brain did not.
I knew not what I was playing, or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one note of discord like the sound of a screeching hen--
Like the music of Messiaen.

It cut through the choir's sweet voices like a knife that is sharp and keen.
And it brought to my mind the sound of a pileup on I-15.
The basses began to snicker, the altos joined in with glee.
'Til all eight parts were laughing-- it was SSAATTBB.

I turned five shades of crimson and looked for a place to hide,
But trapped I was with the choir at my left and the audience at my right side!
I have sought to forget, but vainly, that rumble much maligned.
Which came from the bowels of the organ, but sounded like it came from mine.

It may be that soon I'll live down my feelings of guilt and shame;
It may be that early retirement would ease my sense of pain;
It may be that note will haunt me the rest of my mortal life;
It may be that only in Heaven I shall hear that note played right.



Try playing these selections:

for the funeral of a butcher: "Sheep May Safely Graze"
for the Sunday when time shifts from Standard to Daylight: "Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit" (God's Time is Best)
for a wedding:
..........."Turn Back Oh Man"
..........."Work for the Night is Coming"
..........."If Ever I Would Leave You"
..........."We've Only Just Begun"
..........."Get Me to the Church on Time"
..........."Herr, ich habe missgehandelt" (Lord, I have made a mistake)


Answers found on college exams:

Q. Name two orchestral works by Handel.
A. "The Waterworks" and "The Firewater Suite."




Names of organ manuals:

"So the one thing we know for sure is that some organists play 'Great' and some play 'Swell.'"

"Are you 'Positive?'"

"I am 'Positive' that some organists even 'Swell' at times and become 'Great' and then their nine-month ordeal suddenly does a 'Solo' and later joins the 'Choir.' After much 'Portative' transportation, she receives considerable 'Accompaniment' especially when learning to 'Pedal' his/her own transportation."




From Tim Tikker in The Diapason (mid 1970s?)


16' Grunt
8' Scrape
8' Hoot
4' Hoot
2 2/3' Scratch
2' Scratch
IV Shriek 1 1/3'
IV Screech 2/3'
8' Blatt


8' Chuff
8' Murmur
8' Mumble
4' Choof
2 2/3' Squeak
2' Squeak
8' Buzz
8' Noise (hideous)


8' Moosh
8' Mooshier
8' Hoot
4' Scrape
4' Hoot
2' Squeak
VII Yell
16' Snort
8' Blare
8' Honk
4' Blatt
8' Blatt
4' Blare


32' Woof (wooly)
32' Woof (hooty)
16' Woof (scraping)
8' Scrape (scratchy)
8' Hoot
4' Scrape
2' 4' Moan
IV Scratch 'n' Sniff
32' Pain (frightful)
16' Ugly (downright)


Other fictitious stop names:

16' Belchhorn
8' Tibia Santa Clausa
1' Piccolo Tuba Miserabalis
8' Oprahclide
1/2' Pierce
4' Harmonic Toot
8' Dull Seanna
8' Tibia
4' Fibula
2' Ulna
8' Roar Flute
II Plain Jew
III Fancy Jew
IV Fancy Christian



Max Reger was somewhat given to flatulence. One one occasion he felt the need to pass wind at the beginning of an organ concert. "No problem," he thought, "the concert begins with some big chords on full organ. I will let it out then and no one will hear." So he pulled out ALL THE STOPS, and he PLAYED A MASSIVE CHORD, letting out a MASSIVE ---- and then ... he remembered he had forgotten to turn on the blower switch. [The audience apparently fell about on the floor laughing.]

Example of how a congregation will go about its business regardless (from Ken Sybesma):

The priest gets to the front of the church and begins the opening dialogue "The Lord be with you," except no one can hear a thing. He fiddles around with the microphone pinned to his vestments for a few moments and then, in an especially loud voice said, "There's something wrong with this microphone!" Having heard 'something,' the assembly responded on cue: "And with thy spirit."



play trackers with unsteady wind have only one swell shoe
get a paltry remuneration
play same organ week after week
must find new music each week
lead a clean life of servitude
drink tea
drive their own car
get no billing on a marquee
get blamed for organ ciphers
need to read the week's music
must sit quietly
must play the recessional


play loudly and break wind in time
get to pick and choose for 3 bars until they find the shoe they are looking for
get to push their CD's
get the organ de jour
play the same concert for a year
inhabit sleazy dives to get new arrangements
drink on airplanes, etc.
get chauffeured like royalty
get top, bottom, and sideways sole billing
playe louder and no one notices
can fake it
get to tell the audience jokes
are first out the door and off to the next gig


Comments heard from the organ tuner while the organist was sitting on the bench holding keys:
"I can't find it."
"I can't reach it."
"I can't hear it."
"What do mean, there isn't a stop called that on the console?"
"Whoa. Wait till the train has gone by."
"Would you believe after all that, it had a moth in it?"
"Werckmeister what????"



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