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THE VIRTUAL THEATER ORGAN

A rapidly growing aspect of the Theater Organ hobby is the creation of pipeless organs by means of synthesizers, samplers, and other modern electronic components. Several companies are offering modules that connect to keyboards via MIDI and contain actual samples of Theater Organ pipes. Others have experimented with creating these sounds by programming sound cards in computers. Still others such as myself have attempted to recreate the sounds of the Theater Organ by means of programming digital synthesizers. These synthesizers are more versitle than even their creators anticipated. Although created primarily for the pop music and studio production industries, inside some of these units lurks the Mighty WurliTzer of old. I actually like to think of it as the Mighty WurliTzer of NEW!

The way this hobby is approached varies. Some people already own electronic keyboards equipped with MIDI, the communication system between electronic musical instruments. They purchase sound modules containing Theater Organ sounds and plug the module into their keyboards so then as keys are played, Theater Organ sounds play through the special modules. There used to be sound cards for certain keyboards available so that keyboards such as Roland, Korg, and Akai could be loaded with Theater Organ sounds and play without additional modules. The most 'organ like' way to set up a 'console' using commercial equipment is to buy two keyboards, a two-keyboard stand, load the synths with Theater Organ sounds (or add modules), and add a set of MIDI pedals.

Others that own electronic organs already equipped with MIDI outputs can connect their modules to their existing organs. The modules are used to augment the sounds already coming from the electronic or digital organs. They in essence add the stops that the original organ manufacturers omitted.

Still others start 'from scratch'. They locate a console, if they are fortunate, a horseshoe style, from an old pipe or electronic organ, add commercially available components to enable the keyboards and pedals to output MIDI signals, and connect these to either modules and/or synthesizers.

With different approaches come different methods of controlling the 'organ'. The basic problem is that MIDI keyboards and controllers do not necessarily 'think' like a Theater Organ console. Various ways of 'tricking' a MIDI controller can be used to fool it into behaving more like a Theater Organ console. This is what I have done with my instrument, affectionatly known as the 'Painted Lady' because of the honey gold paint of the console. Since it is located in the basement of my home, I like to also call it the "Beast in the Basement', but Leon Berry thought of that first.

In the pages that will follow I will attempt to give as much information as possible on how my instrument was constructed, and why I did what I did and how I did it. For those who have synthesizers and samplers similar to mine, I am also offering all of my programming for sale, as well as custom sound programming services.

Background

Construction

Operation

Circuitry

Specifications

Virtual Theater Organ Registration Basics-Families of Theater Organ Tone

Virtual Theater Organ Registration Basics-The Tibia/String Relationships

Virtual Theater Organ Registration Basics-Esemble Registrations

Virtual Theater Organ Registration Basics-The Polphony Problem

Virtual Theater Organ Music .mp3's

Email Me at steamrocks@yahoo.com

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