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.


New book!   Voicing Schnitger-Wilde organ

The organ sound went through a long development before reaching its peak around 1600. Organs built during the Renaissance and Baroque periods played sounds that harmonized perfectly with the choral singing. The human voice was an example for the voicing of the pipes. A choir of altos and sopranos, tenor and basses was musically supported by principal and octave pipes in various positions. These pipe sounds easily merged with the choral voices.

The human voice was the benchmark, a vocal sound in which the first overtone is stronger than the fundamental and all overtones together form a formant. A formant is a group of overtones that remain the same per pitch, like a vowel that remains recognizable even when it is sung higher or lower. The accent with which the tone begins acts like a consonant that gives meaning to the vowel. The optimal sound of the pipes was achieved with organs of the Renaissance and Baroque.

The organ that Antonius Wilde made is the example that an organ builder in 1600 completely mastered the art of organ building. The pipes that Schnitger added 80 years later were voiced to the sounds of Antonius Wilde. After that, this organ remained unchanged for centuries. When the art of organ making had to be rediscovered in the 20th century, the organ in Lüdingworth was an authentic one. For Cor Edskes and Jürgen Ahrend, it was source material that showed them the way in rediscovering the art of organ making. Now the organ makers of our time are making their pipes again as they were made in the 17th century.

The samples of the Schnitger - Wilde organ capture the valuable sounds of an authentic organ; ideal for the music of Sweelinck, Buxtehude and Bach. The tone of a pipe is created by the collision of the wind against the upper labium. This gives a violent reaction, audible 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. These are refined qualities that are inspiring when playing the organ in Lüdingworth. Playing at a fast tempo, the accents and the tone structure only sound briefly, so the organist must hear it directly, without any delay. This is possible with the DRY samples in which Jiri Zurek has correctly recorded the sounds with all properties. Because the church sounds are too loud for the living room, a lowering of the volume is necessary, but it weakens the accents more than the sounds. This must be restored by voicing. I have made this important adjustment in a way that is easy to follow and I described it in detail in my book. With over 100 high-resolution photos, the positions of the control sliders are shown.

I know the organ from my own performances in Lüdingworth and I spent months working on the voicing of the samples so that the sounds I heard in church could be heard in my living room. With absolute pitch it is not difficult to remember and reproduce sounds. As a builder of pipe organs, that is part of my profession. The book is ready and can be requested free of charge, stating name and full postal address. I do expect a report of the results achieved with intonation.

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

            see: Schnitger-Wilde Lüdingworth

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.