1. Quintadeen         16’
 2. Praestant             8'
 3. Holpijp                 8'
 4. Quintadeen          8'
 5. Octaaf                4‘
 6. Roerfluit              4‘
 7. Quint            2 2/3'
 8. Octaaf               2‘
 9. Woudfluit            2‘
10. Sifflet           1 1/3‘
11. Sesqvialtera  2-4 st
12. Mixtuur         6-8st
13. Scherp         4-6 st
14. Dulciaan            16'
15. Trompet             8'
16. Kromhoorn          8’

Transeptorgan Laurenskerk in Rotterdam

The beautiful organ cabinet comes from the Church of St. Bartholomew in Schoonhoven, once it was made for the Hendrik Niehoff organ of 1540. It was expanded with a Rugwerkkast. Sybrand Zachariassen from the company Marcussen & son built this a three manual organ in 1959. Behind the instrument, a niche was affixed for the twelve largest pedal pipes of the Spitsgedekt 16 foot pedal pipes.

The Transept organ is a neo Baroque organ. It has twenty-nine register (plus two transmissions) distributed about Hoofdwerk (Great), Rugwerk (Positive), Borstwerk (Swell) and Pedal. It can be considered as the best work of Sybrand Zachariassen, it was also his last work. The organ was built in a time when the organ builders were still looking for the old historic baroque sound. Later, when the sound concept of the historical organs was better understood, most of the neo baroque organs were adapted by moving over the pipes, or voicing them again or the whole organ has been replaced. Some of the organs of Marcussen, had to be voiced again, as in the Nicolai Church in Utrecht and the Sweelinck organ of the NCRV (Radio Club).

The transept organ was never adapted. Sonus Paradisi has well sampled the sounds particularly, especially in the dry samples. But I was still not satisfied with the sound, especially when the Prestant 8 '. Here, the neo-Baroque intonation is clearly audible. There is something of a cornet sound in the sound of what does not belong there. It is more audible in the samples as in the pipes in the Church. The difference is the volume, which may sound much louder in the church than in the living room. It is to improve with a good voicing. What the organ builders did with the pipes of the neo Baroque organs, did I with the samples. The result is a beautiful but somewhat thin Prestant sound, because the basic tone has not much force, but that is easy to correct by adding the Roerfluit 8' to the principal sound.

For a matter of fact it is customary in the neo baroque organs. The Prestant sounds are often supplemented with the flutes. I have used the dry samples and added reverb from a lexicon MX 300. The voicing of the dry samples have I also applied to the diffuse samples and the rear samples and the tremulant samples. If I move the slider from dry to diffuse, the organ sounds as an Echo organ. When I switch off the reverb of the Lexicon, remains only the reverb of the samples and that makes the sound more vague and distant

Sonus Paradisi
 has made this Sample Set. The dry samples of this set represent the sound best.

I have photographed the voicings in my organ and show them in the booklet:
Rotterdam Laurens Church Transept organ Voicing of the Samples.

The booklet is sent free to all interested organist. Ask for it with your complete postal address.
                                                                            e-mail to John Boersma

1. Gedekt              8'
2. Praestant          4'
3. Blokfluit             4'
4. Nasard         2 2/3'
5. Octaaf              2'
6. Gedekte fluit      2'
7. Octaaf              1'
8. Tertiaan         2 st
9. Scherp        4-5 st
10. Regaal           16'
11. Kromhoorn       8'
12. Regaal            8'

Marcussen-Organ in Rotterdam

The large organ of the Laurens Church in Rotterdam was built in 1973 by Marcussen & son. The organ case was designed by the architect J. W. Besemer. The instrument is based on 32-foot pedal (16 foot in the manuals), it consists of six divisions (Rugwerk, Hoofdwerk, Bovenwerk, Borstwerk, Chamadewerk and Pedaal). It is a completely mechanical organ with 85 speaking stops and ca. 7600 pipes. It is the largest purely mechanical organ in Europe. There is a Barker mechanism to be switched on optionally by a foot lever to help the organist when all the manuals are coupled together. However, the full instrument can be operated without this device very well.

One striking feature of the instrument is its multi-rank Principal stops. Practically all the Principals and Octaves 16', 8', 4' of all the divisions are made of more than one unisono sounding ranks. It makes the sound of the Principal chorus considerably wide and deep. The timbre gets characteristically rich what cannot be achieved easily if a conventional single rank Principal stops are used. Another noteworthy feature is the composition of the mixtures which have unusually high number of ranks as well. The Cimbal of the Bovenwerk is remarkable for its neo-baroque composition including a quart and a sext.

This is a remarkably colorful and beautiful organ whose sound is surprisingly gentle. None of the voicing feels harsh or pushed. Instead, we get double-rank principal stops and large mixtures with many ranks of gently-voiced pipework that result in a natural, unforced sound. In fuller ensembles, the organ roars, but it never screams - even when the chamades are playing.

The organ was designed to allow the performance of all organ literature. Indeed, the plenitude of stops, the complete set of horizontal reeds, the French type of reeds, strings in a swell box, rich selection of wide scaled mutations, complete Principal pyramid, full range of stops in pedal. Thus, wide range or organ literature from Renaissance, Baroque, Romanticism up to the modern times can be performed adequately on the instrument.

 1. Gedekt             16'
 2. Praestant            8'
 3. Baarpijp              8'
 4. Roerfluit             8'  
 5. Viola di Gamba     8’
 6. Viola di Gamba     8’
 7. Octaaf               4’
 8. Open fluit           4'
 9. Terts           1 3/5'
10. Roerquint     2 2/3'
12. Nachthoorn       2'
13. Terts          1 3/5'
14. Mixtuur       5-7 st
15. Cimbel           3 st
16. Bombarde        16'
17. Trompet           8'
18. Voix Humaine     8'
19. Clairon             4'
 1. Praestant           16’
 2. Octaaf                8’
 3. Open fluit            8’
 4. Quint             5 1/3’
 5. Octaaf                4’
 6. Spitsfluit             4'
 7. Octaaf                2'
 8. Ruispijp         3-4 st
 9. Mixtuur        8-10 st
10. Scherp         6-8 st
11. Trompet           16'
12. Trompet            8'

13. Cornet           5 st
1. Tromp. magna d. 16'
2. Tromp. brillante   8'
3. Tromp. batalla     8'
4. Clarin fuerte        4'
5. Clarin bas           2'
6. Orlos                 8'
 1. Praestant            32'
 2. Octaaf                16'
 3. Open Subbas        16'
 4. Gedekte Quint 10 2/3'
 5. Octaaf                  8'
 6. Gemshoorn            8'
 7. Roerquint         5 1/3'
 8. Octaaf                  4'

 9. Koppelfluit             4'
10. Nachthoorn           2'
11. Dwarsfluit             1'
12. Ruispijp             5 st
13. Cornet              3 st
14. Mixtuur            10 st
15. Bazuin                32'
16. Bazuin                16'
17. Fagot                 16'
18. Trompet               8'
19. Trompet               4'
20. Zink                    2'
Sample sets with good articulation

The samples of a Hauptwerk organ are meant to play the sounds of a church organ in a living room. Each organist could choose the sample set of church organ according to his own preference. But sometimes there is a big problem: the organ might sound nice in the church, but the manufacturer of the set has not succeeded to save the sounds well in the samples. An organ sounds best in the churches that have good acoustics. But in the samples, the acoustics may not dominate the sounds.

The reverberation is an important part of the sound, it's also the reason that the pipes of a chamber pipe organ cannot sound well in bad acoustics. However, if the samples have too much reverb and to little direct sound, the sounds are still more worse transferred. In a church with great acoustics people cannot understand each other when the distance between them is too far. But the organist, who want to convey emotions with a fine sense of subtle playing has the same problem, people cannot hear him in the extensive acoustics.

A microphone which is placed too far from the pipe cannot save the sound well in the sample; the details are lost in the acoustics because they are covered by the echo. The organist in the church hears the direct sounds on a short distance and the resonances in the hall come behind it; this is the ideal sound experience. The samples of the Hinsz organ in the Bovenkerk in Kampen are an example of bad samples. I know the sounds and acoustics, because I played the Reil-organ ans the Hinsz-organ in this church. The sample set that MDA has made of the Hinsz organ, is recorded so far of the pipes, that the organist never get the feeling he plays in the Bovenkerk.

A sample that contains the sound plus the acoustics, is always a compromise between these two types of sound. There are sample sets with several recordings with different distances from the same pipe. On the Hauptwerk organ, the organist can choose himself the best conditions.

Using dry samples with the hall from another source is another possibility. With convolution reverb a perfect equivalent is to achieve, but the price of a reverb equipment is too high. Lexicon offers a reverb unit, which hardly is inferior, but the price remains under 300 Euros. I've tried other reverb systems, but no system was satisfying me. The Lexicon MX 300 is built in my organ and gives a more realistic listening as the reverb, which is recorded together with the sound in the samples. Sample sets of organs in churches with little reverb have my preference. Often these are small organs, such as the Radeker & Garrels organ in Anloo, however, the choice of sounds is more than sufficient and I like to play this organ.

Using the Marcussen-Organ as a chamber organ

A set like the sample set as the large Marcussen organ in the Laurens church in Rotterdam is a large set. The organ has 85 stops and is the largest organ in the Netherlands. I bought the set with the dry samples; here the pipes are recorded very close, sometimes even in the organ case. The samples reproduce the sounds with all details, the articulation is phenomenal.

In the Lexicon MX 300, I choose the desired hall, matched to the music. Sometimes the hall of a medium-sized church, which fits to the short and quick notes; every nuance can be heard very well. If I use registrations with wide slowly played chords the hall of a cathedral is useful.

Varying sound colors

This large sample set is a huge selection of sound colors. It's a musical pleasure to find different registers, which can be used together in small combinations. The Lexicon MX 300 offers a choice of reverberations from different church sizes. Reverb settings that sound well can be saved and are quickly available. The hall sounds better than the stored hall in the samples, because it puts the organ are far away, while the hall out of the Lexicon let the sounds in the vicinity of the organ and the hall in the background. It is more what an organist experienced in the Church.

Customize the sound

Usually, the samples of a church organ are installed on a Hauptwerk organ to play this as a chamber organ. The largest organ in the Netherlands can be used excellently in this manner also, but the overwhelming impression she makes in the Laurens Church, is not similar to realize in the living room. Many registers are needed to fill this large church with sounds, but they are too much for a living room. The value that the set of the Marcussen organ has, is a large range of sound colors. With two or four register per manual, the volume can remain modest and give the most beautiful sound color to each composition.

However the sounds must be adapted to the space of the living room. I have experienced that there are few sample sets that can be voiced so easily. The sounds are stored well balanced in the samples and can be processed quickly with the total slider. Correcting divergent tones will not happen often. So, at lower volumes the same sounds can be heard as in the church heard. With good voicing, the mild character is even better than in the church.

In my chamber pipe organs I used sometimes double pipes, it needs more space, but rather in a living room the singing sound is still more valuable than in a church. In the Marcussen organ all the Principal voices perform more chorus and that is of great value. In a living room where no hall is available, the sounds have an extension, without increasing the volume significantly. The round transparent sounding flutes are wonderful in the living room.

Hauptwerk provides the ability to voice the character of sounds according to your own taste. On this organ, it is not only useful, but even necessary to adapt all the nuances of the sounds. Sonus Paradisi as the creator of this set has done a good job by the smooth processing of the samples. With the total slider you can change the sound of the entire register at one go. Then the opportunity to correct a different tone still remains. I didn't often need it.


The sounds of the Transept organ of the Laurens Church are recorded at different places and transferred to samples. These samples should all be voiced to the same sound in the living room or the study; it is a work that takes a lot of time but it is absolutely necessary. I have voiced the dry samples at first. On the Mixen and Noises-screen I adjusted the direct sounds maximal and the diffuse sounds minimal. Then I put the mouse at the registry button and chose:  
adjust voicing for rank

The screen shows then the intonation for the diffuse samples at first. On the menu, I go down and choose the intonation screen for the direct samples. In these sounds the articulation and every detail is recorded good audible and they are nowhere masked by reverb. The dry samples give the most beautiful sound.

The voicing of the dry samples should all be transferred accurately to the simultaneous recorded diffuse, rear and tremulant samples plus the right and left part of the 'Borstwerk'. For this extensive work I have found an economic solution. I photographed all voicing’s and printed them. With this prints I can quickly transfer the same voicing to all samples. Later, adjustments can be carried out per sample, but based on the intonation of the dry samples it is an excellent basis.

Sounds are changed and became milder

In 1973 the organ was finished and played for the first time. Not every organist was immediately enthusiastic. The basic stops would be too narrow and sound not warm, the sounds of the two feet and higher were too thin. The sounds of the flutes were too sober. These views were not unanimously shared. An organist like Klaas Jan Mulder gave often a concert and played wonderful with his registrations.

Nowadays, the organ builders are better able to accommodate the metal of organ pipes, they bring the sounds in resonance. When touching the pipe wall this vibration is felt. The same thing happens with aging; the metal changes and gives more shine to the sound. The organ sounds different today than at the beginning 43 years ago. The changed conditions made the sounds warmer and they got a singing character.

The instrument has multi-rank Principal stops. Practically all the Principals and Octaves 16', 8', 4' of all the divisions are made of more than one unisono sounding ranks. It makes the sound of the Principal chorus considerably wide and deep. The timbre gets characteristically rich what cannot be achieved easily if a conventional single rank Principal stops are used.


Hoofdwerk      Rugwerk           Borstwerk               Pedaal

Prestant 8’           Holpijp 8’              Gedekt 8’               Spitsgedekt 16’
Roerfluit 8’           Prestant 4’            Quintadena 4’         Prestant 8’     transmissie
Octaaf 4’             Roerfluit 4’            Koppelfluit 4’          Spitsgedekt 8’ transmissie
Spitsfluit 4’          Woudfluit 2’           Prestant 2’            Octaaf 4’
Octaaf 2’             Quint 1 1/3’           Blokfluit 2’             Mixtuur 6 st.

Mixtuur 5-7st       Sexquialter 2 st      Sifflet 1’                Fagot 16’

Cymbel 3 st         Scherp 4 st            Cymbel 2 st
          Schalmei 4'
Trompet 8’           Dulciaan 8’            Regaal 16’ chamade