Exploring Second Touch
by Jim Henry
Second touch (2T) is a feature of keyboard and pedalboards that activates a second set of contacts when the key is pushed with a bit more pressure. On a Wurlitzer the manual keys move about 1/8 inch further down past the first touch position.
Second touch stops are provided for each manual that has the second touch feature. On Wurlitzer theatre organs, the bottom two manuals and the pedals have second touch. Therefore both manuals and the pedals have second touch on the style 216. Wurlitzer second touch stops are shorter and located on the straight fall board immediately behind the upper manual. The second touch manual stops of the South Pasadena Rialto Style 216 are highlighted in the photo below.
Point to a key with your mouse and press the left mouse button. You’ll hear the first touch stops being played. Now add the right mouse button and you’ll hear the 2T stops being added. One way second touch can be used is to add rhythm to a sustained accompaniment chord. You can experiment with this effect by playing a chord on the computer keyboard, for example Z-C-B, and tapping out a rhythm on the spacebar with your thumb. On a real second touch keyboard you have to press all the keys into the second touch to get this effect.
Skillful second touch players can play a chord and then play second touch on individual notes of the chord to get a counter melody. Try playing a chord on the computer keyboard and then add second touch with the right mouse button pointing to notes being played in the chord.
You may be wondering where the second touch pedal stops are. The four pedal traps are second touch stops on the pedal but they aren’t labeled as such on the Miditzer.
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