Organ Keyboard Vs. Piano Keyboard

By Wesley Tucker ; Updated September 15, 2017

Organs and pianos are the two most popular keyboard instruments. An organ produces tones by controlling air passing over various size apertures housed in sound-amplifying tubes, similar to a woodwind instrument. Each key on the organ keyboard corresponds to a different aperture and tube combination. Pianos produce sound by the key acting as a lever lifting a hammer to strike a string. Each key is a separate mechanism for each string.

How Does An Organ Keyboard Function?

Organ keys are individual devices for opening and closing each organ sound element. Organ keys are not touch sensitive; striking the key softly or more energetically will not alter the tone or volume of the note. Organ volume is controlled by a separate action (usually a foot pedal) by the musician. Modern electric organs replace the individual sound elements of traditional organs with individual sound circuits channeled through sound-producing amplifiers.

How Does A Piano Keyboard Function?

A piano key is a lever that lifts and activates a hammer to strike the string. The piano key is touch responsive. The harder the performer strikes the key, the harder the hammer strikes the string and the greater the volume. The touch sensitivity of the piano keyboard is the distinguishing feature of the piano over previous keyboard instruments like the organ, harpsichord and clavichord.

Can Pianos And Organs Be Played The Same?

The techniques needed to play various passages on different keyboards can be duplicated. The difference is piano technique takes touch into consideration while organ technique involves coordination of the hand and feet operating multiple pedals.

Why Do Organs Often Have Multiple Keyboards And Pianos Only One?

Pianos are restricted by the arrangement of the strings over a large volume-producing soundboard. Organs can be as intricate and involved as the manufacturer wishes. Also, many organ makes have additional sounds and effects replicating different instruments (trumpet, clarinet, etc.) Each keyboard is set to different settings to mix these various sounds.

Who Manufactures Pianos And Organs?

Quality pianos are made by Steinway, Bosendorfer, Yamaha, Kawai and Baldwin. Organs are available through Hammond, Wurlitzer and Yamaha.

About the Author

Wesley Tucker is a lifelong southerner whose politics are objective, whose sports are many and whose avocations range from aviation to anthropology to history and all forms of media. With a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina College of Journalism, Tucker has been a writer for more than 30 years, with work ranging from news reports to feature stories.