VIRTUAL THEATER ORGAN MUSIC

Here are some tunes I have recorded on my Virtual Theater Organ. Click on the titles to hear the .mp3 files. You must have some type of .mp3 player installed in your computer is order to hear the files. After each title are notes on the music, how it was played and interesting things to look for.

All the songs were recorded 'live' in real time with either audio or MIDI recording with no multi-tracking. Many of the songs were first recorded onto a MIDI sequence program, then the audio was recorded as the MIDI sequence program played them back. This was done to eliminate key and pedal 'clacking' which picks up very easily in a relatively small recording environment such as a basement studio. This was also done so that ambient noise such as doorbells, conversations and pet noises would not ruin an otherwise good take. Recording directly from line-out outputs was avoided entirely. This is a totally wrong way to record a Virtual Theater Organ. The tones of the various stops need to mix in air and 'bloom' before they are heard. The difference between line-out recording and microphone recording from a 'live' speaker source is like listening to a theater organ in the pipe chamber versus in the theater. Listening to a theater organ in a pipe chamber can be, to put it mildly, a quite unmusical experience. Listen to the same organ in the environment for which is was voiced, and it can be a wonderful musical experience. I tried to play a variety of tunes ranging from tried and true theater organ numbers to pop rock, which I particularly enjoy doing. There are George Wright inspired arrangements, some of which are intentional copies, and even Leon Berry's signature tune, Blacksmith Blues. This was done to show that a Virtual Theater Organ can emulate everything from the Hub Rink to the 'Frisco Fox, and add a few touches of its own in the process. Tunes such as 'The Shoop Shoop Song' (it's in his kiss) and 'Bohemian Rhapsody' are newcomers to the theater organ, but modern music isn't anything a Theater Organ can't handle

It Happened in Montery
This is inspired by the George Wright 'Roaring Twenties' album he did at the San Francisco Fox back when that magnificant organ was still in the theater. The Tibia/String/Vox registration in the beginning is Strings and Vox at 16', Tibia/String/Vox at 8' and 4' Tibia, done on the Great which is powered by two Korg 01 synths. The Solo Tibias at 8' and 4' you hear in the second portion of the melody are from the Akai Sampler, played on the Solo manual. They are the most breathy Tibias in the organ. Originally sampled from the Korg Solo Tibia on the Great, through editing they have taken on a life of their own. The second chorus features 8' Tibia and 8' Vox. Closing is a Tibia/String/Vox ensemble in Crawford style 'open voicing', with a closing chime from the Akai powered Solo manual. That, too was sampled from the Korgs.

Our Love is Here To Stay
Another arrangement basically copied from George Wright, this time off the 'Let George Do It' album issued in the early 60's. The Solo reed is the Tuba Mirabilis. This arrangement swings a bit harder than the Wright version, with more blusey references in the solo improvisation. The ensemble registration in the middle of the piece is a 16'-8'-4' String/Vox chorus with an 8' Tibia right in the middle of it. Brass stabs are from the Serpent in 2nd touch. The ending features the 16'-8'-4' String/Vox chorus.

Blacksmith Blues
Originally recorded by Ella Mae Morse in the late 1950's, this became Leon Berry's signature tune at the Hub Rink in Chicago. All of Berry's 'Glockenspiels, traps and Plenty of Pipes' are used here. Most of the 'hardware' is coming from the Akai sampler, with the big chorus Tubas and other pipe voices being played on the Korgs. The reiterating xylophone is from the Akai also, using sampler looping techniques to obtain the re-it. The traps are from The Akai, sampled from a Roland DR5. Looping techniques were also used to create the snare drum roll. Looped re-its are made by sampling a single stroke instrument, then looping it. The length of the loop determines the re-it speed. This means that each individual note has its own sample and loop, otherwise the re-it speed would increase as you went up the keyboard. My samples are of EVERY SECOND note. In this way, there is a slight variation in re-it speed, as there is in mechanical Theater Organ percussions. The loop length is the same for all samples. This recording is a tribute to Leon Berry, my first keyboard inspiration.

The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)
This old Motown hit was re done by Cher a couple years back. This recording shows that the theater organ can easily handle new music as well as old. This is one of my favorites to play, and is well liked at the Arcada theater in St. Charles, IL where I occasionally am featured. Rock poses a challange for a lot of theater organists because of they think it needs a lot of percussion in the background. A lively bass line and accompaniment playing, as well as substituting other arrangement 'tricks' for things such as drum breaks (a piano passage is used here) often do the trick. There's even a 'shoop shoop' effect at the end using the large scale Solo Tibia. Check this one out.

Bohemian Rhapsody
This Classic Rock by Queen was an ambitious effort, both by them and by me working on transcribing it. It takes as much to adapt a tune like this to Theater Organ as it did organists in the twenties to transcribe overtures and symphonic works. This one gives the combination action a workout. Some of the very sharp Barton-like strings in the organ at the time have since been replaced. Speaking of arrangements, check out 'Roundabout' by Yes.

Roundabout
Another Classic Rock masterpiece, this one by the English Progressive Rock group YES. The tune has as many different sections as a symphony movment and ever changing registrations, giving the combination action another workout. Several banks of combinations are used in playing this tune, and registration as well as playing had to be carefully rehearsed. Yes is known for incorporating round-like structures into their songs, and towards the end of the tune, the bass Ophicliede ostinato line is played first against the current melody line, then against the opening melody, showing how cleverly all the varoius parts of the song intermix. This joined with the accompaniment constitutes nothing short of a three part Fugue. Transcribing this tune was a challange for both organ and organist. The variety of registration required would not be possible without the multi-bank combination action and the large number of combinations the synthesizers provide.

Feelin' Allright
This Classic Rock standard was originally recorded by Dave Mason in the 70's, and a very popular arrangement was done by Joe Cocker a few years later. The opening piano riffs are one of the signatures of the tune, and are duplicated here. There is a piano solo in the middle, and a few riffs that are exclusively arranged for theater organ, too. Another fun one to play.

(You're Just) Too Good To Be True
A Four Seasons tune, this is another live favorite at the Arcada In St. Charles where I play it on their 3/16 Marr & Colton. The audience often sings along with the chorus (I Love You Baby, and if it's Quite Alright.......). This again shows that pop rock from the 50's, 60's 70's, 80's and beyond is fair game for a theater organ. I forgot that I recorded this, and was happy that I discovered it when putting the music together for this site.

Ove Como Va
This is a Latin Rock tune by Santana. Again proving that Rock need be no stranger to the theater organ. From Santana's second album, 'Abraxis'. In doing arrangements, the great British organist Sydney Torch said 'Don't listen to organists, listen to orchestras'. The same holds true now, don't listen to organists, listen to groups. In the case of this tune, I have not only played it on theater organ, but many times on a Hammond while I was in rock groups. I didn't just listen to the groups, I was IN them.

What Is This Thing Called Love
Another George Wright 'ripoff', again taken from 'Let George Do It'. This is a ROUGH cut with a couple of bloopers and some 2nd touch bleed through on the second verse. I didn't have the 2nd touch adjusted right at the time, I had just installed it on the Great, and wanted to try it out. I deviate from the original in the mid portiion of the song. Rather than copy note for note, I decided to add my own 'thing'. That's the rock musician in me coming out. This cut is obviously live, you can hear key and pedal 'clacking' here and there. Now you know why I recorded to a MIDI sequencer before doing audio recording on later tracks. The sequencer doesn't press the keys and pedals, so there's no 'clack'.

Light My Fire
The Doors' classic. Much of the 'jam' portion of the 7 minute album version is included here. I will probably re-record this sometime, with a heavier bass, that would give a more Rock feel. All the notes are there, just not pronounced enough.

Home

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

Email Me at steamrocks@yahoo.com

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