Move to Eelde near Groningen (Groningen Airport)

The living room in our new house is twice the size of that of the previous house. The relocation of the organ is excellently taken care of by Orgelmakerij Noorlander. The first thing I noticed when playing was the effect of the larger space on the reproduction of the sounds. I had never heard my organ so magnificent before.

Inside the church, pipe sounds are reflected first by the nearby walls and then by columns, walls and vaults further afield. The reverb allows the sounds to build up to a wider volume and gives them more shine. For the organist, this is a natural quality he is used to playing in church. It is clearly audible at the organ, but it escapes the audience in the church.
The acoustics from Impulse-Response recordings are a copy of the acoustics of the church that give the sounds of my Hauptwerk organ the same effect. This comes into its own even better in my new spacious environment.

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!

Prytanée – French sounds from the Baroque 

Every time it is a feast to press a key of this organ and hear the striking chiff of the pipes. The chiff of each pipe give vivid accents to the vocal sounds of this organ.

The sounds of the Prytanée organ are very closely related to the sounds I got to know from the Central German organs in the Dresden and Freiberg area. By voicing these pipes I gained a thorough knowledge of the clear sounds of the organs from the Baroque era. Sounds with which Johann Sebastian Bach composed his masterpieces.

Organists who played on my organ works of Bach with the Prytanée samples were extremely enthusiastic about this Bach interpretation.

I didn't have to voice one sample from the Prytanée set! The registers sound without adjustment in good proportions with a volume, which is not too loud for the living room.

           Jiri Zurek
has created the ideal set        Prytanée - French Baroque

Channels with WET samples (Surround)

WET samples are recordings of microphones placed at a great distance from the organ. Addressing the pipe gives the musical characteristics and the organist must be able to hear that immediately. Because WET samples are recorded far from the pipes, pressing the key does not coincide with hearing the tone. Multichannel sets also include samples some close to the pipes, yet the tones can be heard with delay. A Hauptwerk organ displays the tones already delayed, which is called the Latency of the system. This Latency can be shortened, but for that, the computer needs to work harder. Usually that space is present and if the samples are also voiced, the Hauptwerk organ can sound equal to the pipe organ. Both organs are next to me to compare

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

Key pressure and pipe tone must coincide

Hauptwerk players often have a preference for surround sample sets. They are recordings made at different distances from the organ. Only the microphones that were at a short distance captured the articulation of the tone and the build-up to full strength. In order to make music, it is essential for an organist that he can hear it without any delay. The moment the key is pressed must coincide with the beginning of the tone.

By pressing the key, a mechanism is activated, which opens the valve and makes the pipe sound. A mechanism with intermediaries is easy to make, but works with some delay. A direct connection between key and valve is constructively more difficult, but is still preferable because the tone reacts immediately to the key pressure.

In order to play an instrument, a musician must immediately hear the tone, be it a violin, a flute, or a piano. There is no other way with these instruments; they are in the immediate vicinity of the musician. With an organ there is more distance between keys via the valves to the pipes, but again: the delay must be minimal. An organist would prefer to play directly on the valves.

The samples are displayed in the Hauptwerk organ with some delay – the latency – This latency can be reduced, provided that computer performance is taken into account. On my organ I have reduced the latency and although it is milliseconds the touché is much more pleasant. Now every nuance of my way of playing is immediately audible in the rapidly changing tones. This is only possible with DRY samples; there is no point in doing this with the slow WET samples

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.