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The “Janke Chord”

Following the symposium regarding the future of the organ of St. Mary’s church, held in 2009, there was the question, how far there was undeveloped potential within the voicing of the pipes dating from 1938. It was a common opinion that this potential has not been fully exhausted yet.

In early 2012, the well-known voicer Reiner Janke, staff of “Freiburger Orgelbau” organ builders, was invited to investigate the pipework of the Rostock organ. The idea came up due to a major article in “organ – Journal für die Orgel” (vol 3/2011) dealing with Janke’s work and experiences in refining and refreshing the sound of organs in neo-baroque style. This article and more can be found on Janke’s website

At the end of a day of research and talk with organist Karl-Bernhardin Kropf, there was the wish to do something practical. The same evening, one chord has been gently reworked. The measures should be moderate to avoid single notes standing out and to remain reversible. Only the pipes have been reworked, not the wind supply, which would be neccesary too, according to Mr Janke’s opinion and that of symposium participants.

Work was done on the pipes of middle c major chord (c’ e’ g’) in the ranks of Prinzipal 16′, 8′, 4′ and 2′ of Manual II, which in practic is being named and used as “Hauptwerk”. This division is regarded to be most off what it should represent.

(As experiments  in autumn 2020 have shown, this division has the acoustically worst position within the organ corpus)

In the recordings presented here, a scale is played, enclosing the reworked chord. Then two neighbouring chords are played and finally the rewoked c major triad.

In the full recording one can hear the single stops 16′, 8’m 4′ and 2′, followed by combinations 16’+8′, 8’+4′, 8’+4’+2′ ans finally 16’+8’+4’+2′:


Sections: Prinzipal 16′


Prinzipal 8′:


Oktav 4′:


Oktav 2′:


Prinzipal 16′ + Prinzipal 8′:


Prinzipal 8′ + 4′:


Prinzipal 8′ + 4′ + 2′:


Prinzipal 16′ + Prinzipal 8′ + Oktav 4′ + Oktav 2′:



This recording was done in January 2021, years after the work. In general, the bad condition of the pipework and its voicing is audible by slow and uneven speech/attack of the pipes. The “Janke Chord” sounds more poweful, in the individual stops this effect occurs to different extent. One would agree that the original pipes have sort of a tonal under-tension. How far the reworked chord may already sound stressed, is a matter of taste. It was proven that it is possible to gain power without loosing the original colours. Together with a better placement of this division, a tonal improvement seems possible already without considering replacements among the stops.

These thoughts do only apply to a context that deals with a comprehensive re-use of the existing material within a restored/repaired organ. But until now (January 2021) no decision has been made.

For the recording, the microphones have been placed 1 meter in front of the center field of the lower floor of the facade.

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