Building a small Organ 

With the construction of several chamber organs, I learned what organ is best in a living room. The resonance in the environment is an important part of the sound. A living room has little acoustic and therefore, the response will be limited. If an organ has just few stops the lack of acoustics will be less important.

In the first place a stopped pipe 8' should be chosen, it has the perfect base sound. The sound could be supplemented with a four foot stop provided, that it has no flute sound. The Principal 4' is the ideal complement of the base sound. Both registers are described extensively in the book about the building of a small organ.

In the 19e century a Secretary organ was very popular. It took very little space in the living room, which today sometimes is the reason to choose a chest organ. The large Octave (C – H) will be built with stopped pipes. It has a sound like a Quintaton. The Principal 4’ should be made of organ metal. Lead a plumber is very suitable.

Although a Principal for a large organ cannot be made of wood, it is satisfactory to use wood for a small organ in the living room. Who wants to make all pipes made of wood, can do it, both structures are described and drawn extensively in the book. In addition to these two registers, there is still room for a treble Nasard 3'. The stop produces a beautiful coloring sound. The construction is described in the book, both made of metal as made of wood.

The sound of chamber organ can be improved with digitally stored acoustics of the churches. The Lexicon MX 300 is the latest development of digital reverberation. The organist can choose from churches of various sizes and so is his chamber pipe organ in a realistic space with natural acoustics.

                                                E-Mail:    John Boersma

Hauptwerk Practical Guide

New discovery leads to new book
What is a Hauptwerk Organ?

An pipe organ sounds best when the air around the organ comes in resonance. That is achieved by good acoustics and by the voicing of the pipes in this acoustic environment. Sound and space belong to each other and good acoustics makes it possible to bring the air of the entire room in motion. That's also what organist like at home: playing a pipe organ in the living room and undergo the same experience of sounds that resonate in the acoustics.
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In a living room the acoustics are missing and therefore Hauptwerk has the advantage that both the sounds in the church as the acoustics of the large space are recorded in a sample set. Important condition is to adapt the sounds in the samples must be voiced to the speakers and the domestic environment. Hauptwerk has all the tools for it.

The selection of good sample set and the method of adjustment are explained in detail in the
                            Hauptwerk Practical Guide

Hauptwerk Practical Guide          
                    on request the book will be sent free
  see Practical Guide

Chamber pipe organs
Many years was designing organs for the living room my speciality. The pipes of a church organ are not suitable in the living room, but it is possible to get the same sound if the pipes are made especially for the living room. The diameter scale remains the same, but with a lower wind pressure and a to the lower wind pressure adapted upper lip, the sound is made less powerful and the pipes will produce the same sound spectrum. Each pipe (sound source) must be voiced in the living room.

Samples contain the sounds of church organ pipes, that now at a lower volume let hear a completely different sound. It corresponds to the church organ pipes which are not usable in the living room. Again, an adjustment is required to listen to the same spectrum of sounds. Hauptwerk offers all possibilities to facilitate this adjustment.

With several organists I have adapted the samples under different conditions. Good active speakers (bass plus treble speakers, including amplifiers) plus a good subwoofer are required for optimal playback of the sample set. With customizing the samples per piece I reached  everywhere the same sound. The quality of the speaker plays only a limited role.

The size of the room where the organ is played proved to be an important factor. It is impossible to play the sample set of an organ in a cathedral in a small room at home, expecting to hear sounds that give the illusion of a large church. This good sound quality is easily reachable in a large room also with audio devices that do not belong to the top class.

Chamber organ or Hauptwerk organ

The Hauptwerk organ is currently more popular than a chamber pipe organ. From the point of view of sound and acoustics, the Hauptwerk organ has great advantages. You can build a pipe organ by a professional expert, then it takes much time and for this reason, the organ was expensive. Amateur organ builder must only consider the time, but material costs are relatively low. A Hauptwerk organ is always more expensive.

The described chamber organ I've built 30 years ago and proved to provide the finest, overtone-rich sound is to reach with wooden pipes. In the book Building a small Organ I described completely the construction of metal pipes, both with wooden pipes and mainly with perspective drawings, so that the various structures look as if they were photographed.

New:Table positive with bellows

I have equipped now the Table positive with blower bellows which are operated by hand. This gives great advantages compared to a wind engine.    

1. The sound is more beautiful, no whirls of a wind engine
2. The sound comes from the silence, as any music instrument
3. A blower plus magazine bellows are easy to produce
4. There are no cost for a wind engine

The construction of a blower plus magazine bellows is more sinple than the bellow of a Portative with his many folds, that just provides wind in the downward movement.  

The blower bellows causes that the magazine can deliver a constant wind flow. Also, the wind chest is easier to construct because no regulated pressure bellows is required.
                        See:        Building a Table Positive
mouse over bellows     

Quality of the Samples

1. The sample manufacturers are largely responsible for the quality, but just in a single sample set the pipe sounds are so close to the pipes recorded, that the musical phenomena at the start of the tone are well audible stored.

2. If a well recorded sample set is installed, the audio system should be well thought out. At the left and the right side an active speaker box of impeccable quality must be set at ear level. If there are multiple speakers, they blur the ideal sound reproduction. With a good subwoofer the bass tones of a 16-foot register can be produced. A 32-foot register is impossible in the living room.

3. If all conditions are fulfilled, the sample set must be adapted to the living room. This is an act that will be skipped often, but who has heard the differences in my house, understands that voicing is necessary. In addition to my Hauptwerk organ, a large chamber pipe organ with excellent voiced metal pipes is present. It can be used to compare it with the Hauptwerk organ, but then it turns out that real pipes sound less realistic than the sounds from a good sample set.

The Hauptwerk Practical Guide is sent now in three languages 600 times to all parts of the world and my request to inform me about the results has given a stream of reactions. They show that organists understand how they can get beautiful sounds of the samples. It gave me a better insight into the mindset of the other Organists. The content of the book is updated regularly so that it remains up to date.   

Since last year, there is also a translation into the Chinese language. In Asia, there is a great interest for organs with European sounds.

To request the Hauptwerk Practical Guide,
                please send an email with your complete postdates to:  John Boersma

Sparkling sounds of the Schnitger Organ in Zwolle (Nld)

Although a church organ is too large for a living room and it would sound too loud there, Hauptwerk offers the possibility to reduce the sounds proportional, so that an organist at home can play a real pipe organ and still has the realistic feeling of being surrounded by the acoustic space of the church.

To make this possible the pipe sounds should be recorded and samples of the sound are stored in a memory. Every sound is stored per pipe in a sample, together they form the Sample set of the organ. How lifelike the sounds in a sample set are stored, is dependent on the ability of the sample maker and only the very best can create a sample set that represents the organ.

Of the North German Baroque organs built by Arp Schnitger, are some sample sets created that do not reflects the beautiful sounds optimally. A positive exception is the set of the Schnitger organ in Zwolle, created by Dr. Jiri Zurek of Sonus Paradisi. He placed the microphones at a short distance from the pipes, the place where also the organist at the console hear the sounds. Not only the sounds are here the best, but especially the articulation, the manner of speaking of the pipes. If the samples are played on the Hauptwerk organ, the organist has the feeling to sit at the console in the Church.

The Central German Baroque organs differ to al larger extent from the Northern Baroque. Thanks to an another scale for the pipes they sound playfully, overtone-rich and more varied as the North German organs. Wonderful examples of this Baroque style are the organs of Heinrich Trost, Johann N. Holzhey, Gottfried Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt. Johann Sebastian Bach lived in this area and his compositions were inspired by the sounds of the Central German Baroque organs.

In the second half of the last century, the organ builders were looking for historic organs to rediscover the art of organ building. This approach focused on the organs of Schnitger, because the Middle German Baroque was in the GDR, which was not to reach for Western people. Only in the last few years, the organ experts discover that the organs in the area where Bach lived are better examples for his sound world. Documented is the opinion of Bach himself that the sounds of the Heinrich Trost organs correspond best with his music.

Het WELLENBORD  verbindt toetsen en ventielen
Das WELLENBRETT  verbindet Tasten und Ventilen
A  ROLLERBOARD  connects keys with the valves
tekeningen van bouw klein Huisorgel
zeichnungen der Aufbau Kleinorgel
drawings of building up small Organ
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