A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Positive Organ

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POSITIVE ORGAN (Fr. Positif; Ger. Positiv). Originally a stationary organ, as opposed to a portative or portable instrument used in processions. [See Organ, p. 575b.] Hence the term 'positive' came to signify a 'chamber organ'; and later still, when in a church instrument a separate manual was set aside for the accompaniment of the choir, this also was called a 'positive,' owing no doubt to the fact that it generally had much the same delicate voicing as a chamber organ, and contained about the same number and disposition of stops. By old English authors the term is generally applied to a chamber organ; the 'positive' of our church instruments being called from its functions the 'choir organ.' When placed behind the player (Ger. Rückpositiv) it was often styled a 'chair organ,' but it is difficult to say whether this name arose from a play upon the terms 'choir' and 'chair,' or from a misunderstanding as to the origin of its distinctive title. With the French the 'Clavier de positif' is our 'Choir manual.' Small portable organs were called Regals. [See Regal.]

[ J. S. ]