Keyboard instruments

The main medieval keyboard instrument was the organ, which was made in many different sizes for different purposes. The biggest was the great organ, which was built in churches: this bellows for this huge instrument were operated by manpower (from two to seven people were needed!). The positif (positive) organ was used in a chamber setting: it only required two operaters, one to pump the bellows and one to play the keys. Its name is derived from the fact that it could be placed ('positioned') on a piece of furniture, unlike the great organ. The smallest of the organs was the portatif (portative) organ, which could be carried and played by one person. The musician used one hand to operate the bellows while the other hand played on the keyboard.