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This is the first English translation of Musica mechanica organoedi, originally published in Berlin in 1768. Its author Jacob Adlung (1699-1762) was a musician and scholar and organist at the Predigerkirche in Erfurt.

The Musica mechanica organoedi focuses primarily on the organ, from the perspective of the information an organist might need to know about the instrument; specifically, it encompasses the following:

• an evaluation, from an 18th-century perspective, of earlier works on its subject: Praetorius, Werkmeister, Mattheson, Niedt, Kircher and others

• an appreciation of the organ: its value and regard

• the history of the organ

• a thorough description of all the parts of an organ, and all facets of the organbuilder’s art, including definitions of several hundred organ stops.

• suggestions about organ registration: the use and combination of stops, and how to go about choosing what stops an organ shall have

• advice to those who intend to purchase an organ: cost, advantages and faults, testing, maintenance and repair

• temperament and tuning

• construction and assessment of other keyboard instruments, notably the harpsichord and clavichord with pedal

• stoplists of almost 90 organs of various types and sizes (most of them in Germany).

One of Mmo’s most valuable features is its attempt to be a compendium of information from earlier sources. Adlung not only recorded his own ideas and observations, but incorporated those of every previous major German publication that treats the organ, beginning with Praetorius’s Syntagma musicum (1619). This attempt at comprehensiveness is interesting because it gathers information from so many diverse sources, and because in commenting on his predecessors Adlung offers yet another perspective (closer to the sources than any commentary from our time) on the matters they treat. His work is therefore, more than any other contemporary publication, a mirror of the state of knowledge and preferences concerning the 18th-century German organ.

Left unpublished at Adlung's death, the work was entrusted to Johann Lorenz Albrecht (1732-73), Cantor and Music Director at the Marienkirche in Mühlhausen. The book's publisher subsequently entrusted the work to his local collaborator Johann Friedrich Agricola (1720-1774), the Royal Prussian Court Composer and a former student of J. S. Bach, who added a further layer of commentary.

The work has been translated into English by Dr. Quentin Faulkner, Larson Professor of Organ and Music Theory/History (emeritus) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr Faulkner holds the degrees B.Mus. cum laude from Westminster Choir College, M.S.M. and M.Th. from Southern Methodist University, and S.M.D. from Union Theological Seminary, and is the author of J.S. Bach's Keyboard Technique: A Historical Introduction (1984) and Wiser Than Despair: The Evolution of Ideas in the Relationship of Music and the Christian Church (1996). He was formerly an organist at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City. In addition to the extensive annotations, he has added a compendium of the many organ stoplists cited but not originally included in the Mmo.

This electronic edition of the work is arranged to show the German original on the left and the English translation on the facing right-hand pages. It runs 1222 pages or 68 Mb in this version. Chapter-opening bookmarks are provided for easier navigation.



Publication Date



Zea E-Books


Lincoln, Nebraska


Organ, Organ builders, Germany


History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Musicology | Music Practice | Other History

Musica mechanica organoedi • Musical mechanics for the organist