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Hauptwerk is a very interesting and extremely clever invention.

 

When I first heard of it, I thought that its application would be limited, requiring touch screens and all that stuff. I also believed that you wouod have to have a specification as it was and lump it.

 

I was very wrong.

 

My elderly but rather magnificent 3 manual, 101 stop Compton Electrone was becoming a nightmare to keep going, and I needed to do something about it. I found a very good 4 dekker (toaster-oonie) with about 45 stops over 4 manuals, internal speakers for about £17k. It was good, had plenty of flexibility of voicing etc - but I hated the plastic keys and lighted draw stops, when compared to the 1952 opulance of the Compton.

 

A very clever chap from Brighton had been keeping the Electrone going and he suggested Hauptwerk to replace the old Compton generators etc, and so we embarked on a journey which is slowly drawing to an end.

 

The old console has been stripped of all its old wiring and completly refurbished, and wired for MIDI. A 4th Compron manual of the same design and vintage and matching the orginals has been procured and installed.

 

The 101 speaking stops has been reduced to 87, plus the full range of couplers and octave couplers you wouod expect on a 4 manual instrument.

 

I am using one sample set to "fund" the ranks for half of the Great (20 stops) the Swell, Solo and part of the Pedal. Another set funds the other half of the Great, the Choir, rest of the Pedal and a few odd stops around the organ.

 

The specification is pure British "Town Hall" - no apologies for that - no baroque tricks in my music room thanks.

 

The room it is in is about 25x18 feet.

 

The sounds comes from a bank of 14 speakers including a pair of whopping subwoofers for the 5 32s on the pedal.

 

The computer that runs all of this is hidden, and you would not know it was there - and is only unearthed when something needs changing.

 

The total cost of this will be about £11-12k by the time it is all complete.

 

If you want to indulge your fantasies and have a town hall in your own house I can't think of a better way than this.

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I'd like to add some comments about the Hauptwerk system which I have been using as a practice instrument for 3 years now. Indeed without it, I don't think I would have ever found my way into the world of pipe organs, been in a position to play as deputy organist at my church, and take regular lessons with AMT at St Giles Cripplegate.

 

I have progressively been building my own practice console which I've linked up to Hauptwerk, and it currently comprimises 3 manual stack with divisional and geenral thumb pistons, a full R&C pedalboard, toe pistons and a swell pedal. I use a touch screen on the left stop jamp to control the registrations.

 

The wonderful thing about Hauptwerk as a practice instrument (aside from it's very high levels of realism - includes wind pressure modelling etc.), is that you can obtain sample sets from a good selection of specific pipe organs from around the work. These range from barqoue organs such as by Arp Schnitger & Gottfried Silbermann, through to modern concert instruments by Skinner. The touch screen images of the consoles are photo-realistic, and coupled with excellent sample quality and peripheral mechanical sounds (e.g. blower noise, stop changes) give a real sense of playing the actual instruments. Clearly this is only a simulation of the real thing, but it's a darn good one!

 

Perhaps the following brief annecdote will give you an indication of its realism. The two manual organ at the church where I sing and play is very limited in that it has no reeds or mutations. So by all rights, I should have felt completely lost when I found myself having to play the chancel organ at Chelmsford Cathedral when our church choir was deputising for the cathedral choir at a service there a couple of summers ago. However sitting in front of the console did not feel remotely alien - I knew where everything was likely to be, and having used various Hauptwerk sample sets I had a pretty good idea of what to expect registration-wise. Nerve-wracking - yes; problemmatic - no. Of course, I recognise that to a full trained cathedral organist my playing would probably have been sub-organ scholar level. But the point I'm making is that as home practice instruments go, Hauptwerk provides a wonderful opportunity to get a feel of what it is like to play daily on instruments which unless you are particularly blessed (or talented), would only happen infrequently across your lifetime.

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Guest Lee Blick
I'd like to add some comments about the Hauptwerk system which I have been using as a practice instrument for 3 years now. Indeed without it, I don't think I would have ever found my way into the world of pipe organs, been in a position to play as deputy organist at my church, and take regular lessons with AMT at St Giles Cripplegate.

 

I have progressively been building my own practice console which I've linked up to Hauptwerk, and it currently comprimises 3 manual stack with divisional and geenral thumb pistons, a full R&C pedalboard, toe pistons and a swell pedal. I use a touch screen on the left stop jamp to control the registrations.

 

The wonderful thing about Hauptwerk as a practice instrument (aside from it's very high levels of realism - includes wind pressure modelling etc.), is that you can obtain sample sets from a good selection of specific pipe organs from around the work. These range from barqoue organs such as by Arp Schnitger & Gottfried Silbermann, through to modern concert instruments by Skinner. The touch screen images of the consoles are photo-realistic, and coupled with excellent sample quality and peripheral mechanical sounds (e.g. blower noise, stop changes) give a real sense of playing the actual instruments. Clearly this is only a simulation of the real thing, but it's a darn good one!

 

Perhaps the following brief annecdote will give you an indication of its realism. The two manual organ at the church where I sing and play is very limited in that it has no reeds or mutations. So by all rights, I should have felt completely lost when I found myself having to play the chancel organ at Chelmsford Cathedral when our church choir was deputising for the cathedral choir at a service there a couple of summers ago. However sitting in front of the console did not feel remotely alien - I knew where everything was likely to be, and having used various Hauptwerk sample sets I had a pretty good idea of what to expect registration-wise. Nerve-wracking - yes; problemmatic - no. Of course, I recognise that to a full trained cathedral organist my playing would probably have been sub-organ scholar level. But the point I'm making is that as home practice instruments go, Hauptwerk provides a wonderful opportunity to get a feel of what it is like to play daily on instruments which unless you are particularly blessed (or talented), would only happen infrequently across your lifetime.

 

 

Good to hear some positive comments about digital organ systems. Yes, and you are right. Not all of us are going to ever experience actually playing some of these instruments in person. Something like Hautpwerk can be useful in educating organists about the different tonal styles and opening up a greater interest in the instrument.

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