Hauptwerk - sounds of a pipe organ

An organist can prepare his concert on a church organ at home by studying it on the Hauptwerk organ. In the living room, Hauptwerk shows the sounds of the church organ in the acoustics of the church. The full tone of each pipe has been stored in memory as a sample from the beginning with the articulation and then the fluctuating tone build-up to full strength.

A digital copy of the acoustics of the church is made with the most modern technology and stored in the Hauptwerk organ. The sounds from the samples are reproduced in the living room through these acoustics. If three explicit conditions are met, the organ in the living room sounds similar to the church organ.

1. A microphone must make the recording at a very close distance from the pipe. It is a DRY sample in which the characteristics of the tone without the reverb are recorded.

2. The loud sounds in the church should sound at a lower volume in the living room. As a result, the ratios between the higher and lower harmonics and the fundamental tone determine the timbre together. Hauptwerk has ample opportunities to correct this.

The correction is a voicing, but not comparable to the voicing of pipes. This is a profession that I have been practicing for many years in churches throughout Europe. My students have learned it in practical lessons, writing it is not transferable.

The voicing of the samples is much easier. Samples are sounds of well-voiced pipes of a church organ used in the living room at lower volume. I described the voicing in books, supported with hundreds of photos. Organists with good hearing were able to apply it successfully.

3. The acoustics are recorded with Impulse-Response technique and stored in the memory of the Hauptwerk organ. The acoustics are an exact copy of the church acoustics and make the use of the inferior WET samples superfluous.

Tones of pipes

An organ case has the function of bundling the sounds of all pipes to bring them out as one sound. There, two microphones record the sounds in stereo and store them as DRY samples in the memory. With two channels, the church organ has been completely transferred to the Hauptwerk organ in the living room.

When an organist presses a key, the pipe immediately speaks with an accent on the beginning of the note. It is the articulation of the tone with which the organist makes music through his play of rhythm and phrasing. The pipe notes are heard immediately and at a short distance by the organist, followed by reflections against walls, columns and other objects that are increasingly distant, causing the reverberation to fade and fade away in the distance.

A direct speak is a necessary condition for an organist to play. The development of the tones in the acoustics of the church increases the intensity to sounds that fill the large space. Hauptwerk 5 can copy the acoustics with the new Impulse Response, which gives the living room cathedral dimensions! This is the situation that corresponds completely to playing the organ in the church. Sounds that the organist hears immediately and a reverberation that begins near the organist and dies far from him. Only under these conditions does playing a Hauptwerk organ in the living room correspond the playing in the church. Set the latency to a low value!

My house pipe organ has pipes that are voiced with a small volume, matching the living room. It is an excellent benchmark for the voicing of the samples.

Channels with WET samples
WET samples are recordings of microphones placed at a great distance from the organ. At that distance, the response of the pipes cannot be heard and the character of the tones is also vague. There is reverberation, but without the effects that pipe tones experience in acoustics. WET
samples do not contain usable organ tones.

Surround is a collection of WET samples that have been recorded at different distances from the organ and are reproduced through speakers to the back of the room. That sounds absurd, because in the church an organist never hears sounds from behind the church. Surround is a confused reproduction of vague sounds from various directions with the big disadvantage that the tones sound with a delay. See: Hauptwerk

At the GdO (Gesellschaft der Orgelfreunde) with 6000 members in all countries of Europe, it has been trying for years to recognize Hauptwerk as a serious replacement for a house pipe organ. In a good configuration, the sounds are similar to a church organ and the acoustics correspond to the church. The recognition would convince more organists that it makes sense to study on a Hauptwerk organ. However, the committee was confronted with surround organs and then decided that the hobbyists who played them could not be organists, but only listeners at the loudspeakers.
                                        Surround gives Hauptwerk a bad name

at the Console  the organ is best heard

Amateur players have a preference for multichannel sample sets. As an advantage, they mention that they can then determine the place themselves, from where they want to play the organ in the church. For an organist, however, there is only one place: at the console !
Although they have never or very rarely played in a church, amateurs claim that this is the worst place, the organ shouldn’t sounds very well there. It is a persistent misunderstanding that the sounds on the organ cannot be heard well at the console.
For years I have visited hundreds of organs in different European countries to voice the pipes. It is the voicer’s job to make every pipe sound optimal and the best place to listen that is on the organ bench at the console.

The voicing of the pipes is done in the organ cabinet and then I go to the console to assess the sounds. When intonation, there are two options; bring each pipe to the most beautiful sound or strive for an even gradient between the pipes. My preference goes to the first option, sometimes beautiful nuances arise in the sound per pipe differences. A choir also does not consist of a multitude of the same voices. When the pipes harmonize with each other, I maintain the characteristic differences. A refined voicing is created by judging the sounds at the console. After each change I listen to the sounds at the console; what it sounds like there is the criterion. This is how every voicer works, the console is the place where the sounds are judged. The organist has the best place to hear the sound beauty of the organ. When the acoustics in the church are good, this sound beauty will be heard everywhere in the church, but a listener hears it at some distance. For a listener that is not an objection, but the organist must hear it immediately for his playing. Therefore, the DRY samples on the Hauptwerk organ should be used; the WET samples are too slow.

The diameter pipe determines the sound of a pipe. Because I have an absolute hearing, I can write the scale list by listening to the sounds. I've done that many times from the console and that would be impossible if it was a bad listening position.

Good acoustics ensure that the proportions throughout the church correspond to those at the console. Where the sounds in the church deviate, that cannot be compensated by adjusting the voicing, it would disturb the balance in other places. I was involved in the organs in Bedheim (Thuringia) where the main organ is located on one side of the church and the Swallownestorgan on the other. The sounds of both organs merge completely and it is never possible to hear where the sounds come from.

However, the console is not the place where the microphones should be to capture the tones of the pipes in the samples. This would affect the relationship between direct sounds and reflected sounds through acoustics. The microphones must record the tones at a short distance from the pipes.

Characteristic sounds

The most important part of a pipe tone is the beginning, the moment when the pipe starts to form its tone. It is the articulation that the organist needs for his musical expression, as is the case with any musical instrument. When the wind from the languid gap reaches the upper labium, there is an underpressure that draws the wind in. This results in an overpressure in the pipe that pushes the wind out again. see Prestant

This swirling wind gives a clear asccent to the tone. The accents differ according to the nature of the register, a Principal starts differently than a Stopped Diapason. The microphones must be a short distance from the pipes to capture the character in the DRY sample or the important part of the sound will not be heard. Sometimes it is not possible to get the microphones in the ideal place and it becomes a semi DRY sample, but with the wide possibilities that Hauptwerk offers to adjust the sounds, the articulation can still be heard.

In normal playing, the articulation and the first moment of tone formation is the only thing that is heard from the organ sound. It is therefore important that this is properly recorded. I have played a lot in churches in southern Germany and in Switzerland with a huge reverberation and then the acoustics of the empty church are were annoying. Then I am happy that the church fills up and dampens the acoustics.

I made the convolution reverberation of my Hauptwerk organ adjustable with the left pedal, so that it can always be adjusted to the music.