Hauptwerk - sounds of a pipe organ

Vowels and consonants
The stereo microphone should be very close to the pipes. This records the accent with which the tone begins along with the tone in the sample. Tones are like vowels that are given meaning by consonants and the organist must be able to hear them well. Two channels of DRY samples are sufficient to transfer the organ to the living room.

The loud tones in the church should be heard at a lower volume in the living room. As a result, the proportions between the higher and lower tones shift and these must be corrected by intonation. Voicing is simple and should not be compared to voicing pipes.

The acoustics are recorded with Impulse-Response technology and recorded in the memory of the Hauptwerk organ. Sounds and acoustics thus form an exact representation of the organ.

Sweelinck and the authentic organ sound

From the year 1000, organ builders have sought out which pipe shape generated the most characteristic sound for an organ. The tones of the pipes had to have carrying capacity – tonic – but also singing – rich of overtones – which are two opposing requirements. The composers who wanted to interpret their music with this sound were of great influence.

The human voice is a good measure, a vocal sound in which the fundamental is moderately present and the overtones form a formant. A formant is a group of overtones that remain the same per pitch, such as a vowel that remains recognizable regardless of pitch. In addition, it is important that the tones sound sweet; it must be pleasant to listen to them. The optimal sound was achieved in the time of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Composers such as Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach were inspired by it.

The pipe tone is created by a collision of the wind against the upper labium. It produces a violent response, which can be heard as an accent before the tone. It is the most important part of the tone, similar to a consonant that gives expressiveness to a vowel. In a fast successive tempo, the accent and tone building up only sound briefly and an organist must be able to hear it immediately, without any delay.

Samples of Renaissance – Baroque pipes are of great value to Hauptwerk. They are the most authentic organ sounds. The microphones must be placed close to the pipes in order to capture the properties. So those are DRY samples; WET samples are not usable.

The organ that Antonius Wilde made in Lüdingworth is the best example, that an organ maker fully mastered the art of organ making 400 years ago. The organ has always remained unchanged and never adapted to new styles. When the art of organ making had to be rediscovered in the 20th century, the organ in Lüdingworth was an authentic one, showing organ makers the way in rediscovering the lost art. The samples of this organ therefore contain the most valuable sounds of an organ. It is the best sample set with authentic sounds for music from the renaissance and baroque times.
                                     see:     Renaissance-Baroque Sounds


Authentic Renaissance-Baroque Sounds

The organ that Antonius Wilde built in 1598 has kept its original pipes. Arp Schnitger added a Positive in 1682 and voiced the pipes to the sounds of Wilde. The more than 400-year-old pipes of the Oberwerk and the Borstpositiv still sound in the organ. The aging of the metal gives the pipes a special resonance with great sound beauty.

The DRY samples show this perfectly. Each tone begins with a characteristic round accent and then delivers an authentic Renaissance sound of great beauty.

The 36 registers are divided over three manuals and pedal


Pressing a key and pipe tone must coincide

Pressing the key activates a mechanism that opens the valve and let the pipe sounds. A mechanism with intermediate links is easy to make, but works with some delay. A direct connection between key and valve is constructively more difficult, but is still preferred because the tone responds immediately to key pressure.

To play an instrument, a musician must immediately hear the tone, whether it be a violin, flute, or piano. It cannot be otherwise 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 here too the delay must be minimal. An organist would prefer to play directly on the valves.

Amateurs who prefer a multi-channel organ should play more often in a church to hear the difference between a real organ with one source of sounds and a room full of loudspeakers that are all sound sources.


The samples are reproduced in the Hauptwerk organ with some delay – the latency. This latency can be reduced if computer performance is taken into account. On my organ I have greatly reduced the latency and although it is about milliseconds, the touch is much more pleasant. Now every nuance of my playing is immediately audible in the rapidly changing tones. This is only possible with DRY samples; it makes no sense to do this with the slow WET samples.