Sound Gen. Overview

For more than 50 years, pipe organ builders have occasionally used electronic sound generation technology to augment the pipe organ.  Initially, in the mid 20th century, analog electronic tone generators were used to provide Pedal 16' and 32' stops in cases where space or cost considerations prohibited the installation of pipe stops.

In the 70's and 80's, analog electronic tone generation technology improved sufficiently so that many hybrid pipe-electronic organs were built by electronic organ companies such as Rodgers, Allen, Classic, and others.

In the 80's, with the invention of MIDI, and General MIDI sound modules, it became possible to add orchestral voices to pipe organs, as well as pipe voices.

In the 90's, digital tone generation and sampling technology improved the sound quality of electronic stops sufficiently, so that hybrid instruments became commonplace.  At the same time, pipe organ voice modules such as the Ahlborn Archive series provided an easy way to add up to 20 stops to a pipe organ, with only a MIDI connection required.   Also, digital stop equipment by Walker could allow a pipe organ builder to select a custom set of stops to augment any new or rebuilt pipe organ, providing a cohesive result at a huge cost saving over the cost of an all-pipe organ.

In the early part of this century, a new technology came into being, called physical modelling.  Viscount was at the forefront of this technology, bringing to market the CM-100, which provided 12 stops, each of which could be assigned a "voice algorithm", and assigned to any division of the organ.   Many of these found their way into pipe organs.   For the first time, a pipe organ voicer could "voice" a digital stop to get exactly the sound he was looking for, to blend with the wind-blown pipe stops in the organ.   In 2019, Viscount introduced "Laurel", a next generation physical modelling technology with 30+ stops in a box, controlled via MIDI, and with fully selectable and voiceable stops.

Hauptwerk is a sample playback technology, which is primarily design to create a Virtual Pipe Organ in the living room of an organist.   There are currently 100's of sample sets of organs from all around the world,  which you can audition on Contrebombarde, our organ music sharing site.   Hauptwerk has occasionally been used in hybrid pipe-digital organs, but that is not it's real purpose.

Classic Organ Works has been in the forefront of hybrid organ technology from it's inception in the 70's, having built it's first hybrid organ in 1978.   Our control systems were first to fully incorporate MIDI technology, so that General MIDI (orchestral) or MIDI-controlled pipe voice modules could be incorporated and controlled seamlessly with pipe stops, by the organist.

Very recently (Dec. 2019) a new physical modelling technolgy-based Virtual Pipe Organ has been introduced by Modartt in France.  Their OrganTeq software runs on Windows, MacOS, or Linux.  The initial "instrument" is a 35-stop French Romantic organ, with very authentic tone.  CLASSIC is offering a package consisting of an Intel NUC computer running Linux and OrganTeq, along with an 8-channel audio output box, to organ builders who want to add digital stops to a pipe organ at very modest cost.

Today, digital voice technology is being offered to pipe organ builders by Viscount (Laurel), Walker Technical, Classic (OrganTeq) and others.   Regardless of who's technology you want to incorporate, you can be sure that Classic's pipe organ control systems and/or MIDI interface products will make integration of pipes with digitally generated stops, as easy and hassle-free as possible!


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