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What do you call a single row of keys on a keyboard if it has more than one (for example on an organ)? Is "claviature" the right word for it (example: "The keyboard of the organ has 4 claviatures.")?

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Andalur, asking "how do you call" is awkward and uncommon. A wording that is more natural is what do you call. – Tristan r Jan 15 '14 at 17:06
@Tristanr or also "What is the word for ...?" – Mitch Jan 15 '14 at 17:47
Seeing how you are trying to translate Klaviatur, you should start by looking it up in a bilingual dictionary of your choice. Or just check out Wikipedia, which not only has the English translation, but actually points out that the musical term in German is Manual as well. – RegDwigнt Jan 15 '14 at 17:56
Mitch, yes. That is another possible wording. – Tristan r Jan 15 '14 at 21:23
up vote 12 down vote accepted

An organ has one or more manuals (and, usually, a pedalboard which the organist plays with his feet).

manual noun

3 an organ keyboard played with the hands not the feet.


The collection of manuals, together with the stops, is called the console. However, one would normally say "the organ has four manuals" rather than "the organ console has four manuals", because the manuals are always in the console.

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What a wonderfully misleading phrase for someone who knows nothing about musical instruments. If I saw the sentence, “The organ has four manuals” (out of context, obviously), I’m sure I would be left wondering why anyone could possibly need more than just one user guide for a heart or a liver … – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 15 '14 at 17:32
@Janus Every phrase ever is misleading for someone who knows nothing about the subject at hand. Even more so if it's out of context. – RegDwigнt Jan 15 '14 at 17:57
Yes: I have learnt something in 35 years of playing organs! – Andrew Leach Jan 15 '14 at 18:39
What about synthesizers that have more than one row of keys? – Peter Shor Jan 15 '14 at 21:16
What about them? I'd call those manuals, too; but then I'm an organist. Others might call them upper and lower keyboards, perhaps. The question was about organs, which, as Janus has noted, have a specialised vocabulary. – Andrew Leach Jan 15 '14 at 21:55

An organ console has one or more keyboards (if you mean to be played with the hands or feet) or one or more manuals (if you are referring only to keyboards played by the hands).


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