“Second Touch” is available on most Theatre Pipe Organs (TPOs). Even some small 7 rank instruments will have some degree of second touch, as is the case with the Union County Performing Arts Center 2/7 Wurlitzer. Second touch is normally found on the Accompaniment Manual, but larger, more deluxe models will have second touch on the Great Manual also.
How does second touch work?
If you “feel” the keys on the Accompaniment Manual of most TPO’s so equipped, you will find that there is a pressure point about half way down the key excursion. If you don’t pass this pressure point, you will only hear the registration you have selected for the Accompaniment Manual. If you exceed that pressure point, you will activate any stops that have been registered for second touch, and the original registration for the Accompaniment Manual will continue to sound.
Second Touch is an area where you will find differences in TPO’s. Most will have a few stops tabs, usually on the back stop rail for use as second touch voices. Others will have an additional tab labeled “Solo to Accomp Second Touch” This is another type of Inter-Manual Coupler that couples the registration on the Solo manual to the Accompaniment second touch feature.
Second touch is used for a variety of purposes in TPO music. It can be used for “Jabs” or more often for counter melodies to add yet another dimension to the arrangement. One can also play melody on the accompaniment second touch while providing rhythmic accompaniment on primary touch while doing embellishments on one of the other manuals. It can be tricky but well worth the effort!