Charakter of the tone of a pipe

I've played the organ in many hundreds of churches in Europe. Each organ has its own character, which is determined also by the acoustics of the Church. The first play is an acquaintance with the organ; the organist learns about the typical character of the organ. I never take sheet music to the church; by improvising an organist will better discover the character. Usually, the console is in the vicinity of the pipes is, so that the organist has a direct contact with the sound of the pipes. He can play only nuanced if the moment of playing a note falls together with the moment of hearing the sound. In the same condition the sound of the sample must comply, direct sound, what not is blurred by the reverberation of the church.

If an organist at the console in the church presses a key, the tone begins with a short overtone and then it builds up quickly to the full sound. The flow of the wind let it fluctuate; that brings vitality in the tone.

These musical phenomena give a specific character to the tone; it inspires the musicians to play with it. The character is best heard on a short distance from the organ; on larger distance it is disguised by the reverberation of the church. A microphone on a short distance can record this character in a sample. Unfortunately, the microphone is often placed at a considerable distance to obtain a stronger reverberation.

The spot where the microphone picks up the sound for the sample is crucial for the perception of the organ at home via Hauptwerk. The sample manufacturer must choose the place where a balanced ratio of direct sound and reverb can be heard. It goes best with a microphone on a short stretch of the pipe, a sample with little or even no hall is called a dry sample. A second microphone is a little further from the pipes of the organ can set the reverberation in a second sample. It's called a wet sample. In the Hauptwerk organ, the organist himself can determine the balance between them.

Instead of a second sample, also a reverb from the Lexicon MX300 can be selected. The quality is absolutely identical to the hall of the church. The main difference is the huge selection of reverb to spaces, from small churches to large cathedrals, with free to choose acoustic properties.

Sound examples

A sound example is a good tool for voicing of the samples. Often, there is a CD of the organ for sale, but they are not always usable as a comparative material, because the register is used in conjunction with other registers. Sometimes there is an organ on Youtube presented a sound performance, which registers one by one to hear. A very usable sound presentation can be found on the Arp Schnitger organ in Norden. Principals, flutes and reeds are presented here in short compositions.

Voicing the samples

An organ is a loud-sounding musical instrument, made for a large area where these loud sounds can fit in the large room. This large volume should be reduced to a volume that is acceptable in the living room or a study.

It is a law of physics that a reduction of the volume has a much greater impact on the higher notes than on the low. The hearing has no linear progression, pitch and volume are the determining factors. So it has more influence on the overtones of a sound as on the basic tone.

A sample must be voiced to get the sparkling tone that sounds so transparently in the church. A smaller space reduces the dynamics. The difference between loud and low registers must be reduced. The volume of a trumpet must be weakened more than the sound of a flute.

The Principal 8' is the most important register and its volume should be the norm in a Hauptwerk organ. The volume of the other registers is set so that the proportions make the same sound impression as in the large room of the church.



Order of the voicing procedure

1. No. 13 The transition frequency has a fixed value for the different sample suppliers, but not every sample manufacturer chooses the same value. The value range is between 0.3 and 2.0. Changing this value does not immediately has an audible effect, however, it determines how much the sounds can change with the other sliders. My Hauptwerk Practical Guide is designed to explain the voicing; it is a difficult task, because it's very difficult to explain it in writing. I used the voicing of my own organ as an example. If it is taken literally, certainly a better sound is achieved, but who understand the changing of the sounds, can determine the best setting on the own organ.

2. No. 15 The high frequency boost is the second operation. All sliders are set on the average. With the master slider they are pushed higher all in one go (rarely down), while a broad chord is played in the middle of the keyboard. The character of the sound is amplified now and also the brightness increases. With the character is meant the articulation of the sound and the building up to the full sound. Don't go further at the first time than the first block above the middle layer, the number of 3.0 or 4.0 is visible. This is less critical for the boost setting than for the transition frequency.

By eavesdropping on how the sounds are changing, a feeling for the voicing is learned, that contribute to the routine in the course of time. Play through the entire keyboard and judge which notes per piece or per octave need correction for a steady course. There are two sliders that are alternately can be moved to increase or decrease the whole octave on both sides of each octave. Sometimes there is also a single tone, which behaves differently, which is corrected with the own slider till all sounds are evenly.

3. No. 3 The next option is the setting of the brightness. Also, at the first the entire keyboard is edited with the master slider and then it can be corrected per octave or tone. The slider brightness usually goes up for more clarity. It acts audibly different as the results of the boost slider and careful listening is the only way to achieve results.

4. No. 1 The last act is the amplitude with which the volume is adjusted. If the tonic is excessive strong, it can be adjusted by reducing the amplitude significantly while increasing the brightness as much as is sufficient to get the right volume of the stop. In particular, it will be necessary in the great octave and the small octave. Strong tonics give capacity in the church, but in a living room the capacity should be much lower.

Never try to achieve a perfect voicing in one go. This should be done in steps, judge the sound every day and then do the next step. I have voiced thousands of pipes and I had the same experience. Pipes cannot be voiced again and again, but samples can be voiced endless. If it's totally disappointing, a pressure at reset brings everything back to the start position.

The Hauptwerk Practical Guide the voicing process is explained comprehensively and examples from practice are showed.

Voicing samples for Hauptwerk

Each organ is always built for a particular church. The acoustics of the room is a determining factor for the diameter of the pipes, which is similar to the sound. The voicing of the pipes is done in this room, so acoustics and sounds are balanced. If because of the acoustics some sounds are too much amplified, the volume is reduced. Is the sound too much muted, then the voicer gives more clarity and a larger volume. So forms organ and acoustics a unit.

Proportional decreasing

A move of the organ to another church has big consequences. If the space is much smaller, the voicing must be adjusted drastically. The sounds recorded in the sample represent the sounds in the church. For the application in the living room, the volume must be reduced, but a reduction of the total volume will make the gentle register inaudible and the reeds remains still too loud. The sounds must be reduced proportionally so that the Viola can be heard and the Trumpet shall not sound ear deafening.

Voicing the samples is necessary

Many players of a Hauptwerk organ have too much faith in the sample maker and expect he has brought the sounds in balance already. It is a too difficult task since he does not know the new environment. Each room has its own influence on the sound; parquet floor or carpet, curtains or blinds are large areas. They affect both reflection as absorption of sounds. The organist must voice the samples themselves until a tone from the speaker corresponds to the sound of the pipe.


Options for the voicing

With the mouse on the register and the right mouse button pressed the voicing can be reached. There are 15 options for each key of the keyboard to customize the sound, but only four are important for voicing the sounds.
In the order in which of they are used:

13. transition frequency
– determines the effectiveness of the boost
15. high boost equalizer – emphasizes the character of the sound
03. brightness – adjusts the brightness of the sound
01. amplitude – for a smooth course of the volume