The organ is one of the oldest musical instruments in the western musical tradition, with a rich history connected with the Christian religion and civic ceremony. Its sound output is continous rather than decaying. Some modern electronic organs, however, can respond to how hard a key is held down. Organs range in size from a single, short keyboard to large instruments intended to play a full range of repertoire, which typically have three or four manuals, sometimes as many as seven, plus a two-and-a-half octave pedalboard.
A pipe organ is a keyboard instrument that makes its sound by forcing air through wood or metal pipes. Pipe organs range in size from portable instruments having only a few dozen pipes to grand having tens of thousands. All but the smallest have more than one keyboard, with the most common configuration being two manuals played by the hands plus a pedalboard. Three, four or five manuals is not uncommon for a larger instrument.
Pipe organs are usually found in churches. They are also found in town halls, and in arts centres for the performance of classical music. Pipe organs were also installed in many cinemas for silent films.