A Virtual Theatre Pipe Organ Experience

Don Lafayette Don Hammond
Don Hayek at the Lafayette Theater 2/11 Ben Hall Memorial Wurlitzer organ and the 3/12 Wurlitzer in the Middletown NY Paramount theater.

A theatre pipe organ such as the ones pictured above may have individual pipe sounds recorded so that, note for note and rank for rank, an emulation of the sound may by reproduced. In order for these pipe sounds to be playable, there must exist keyboards and a virtual control panel so that an organization of these sounds may be accomplished.They use either samples of real organs or a synthesized method of sound generation. The keyboards trigger the sounds using MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), and are part of the console. The control panels are called relays. The relay (console) is also controlled using MIDI as designed by a computer program. The keyboards used in playing the following organ tunes are made by Yamaha and the relay is developed as the Miditzer relay.These virtual organs are an attempt, as a do it yourself facility, to build a playable facsimile of a real organ.

The following songs were recorded by me on a virtual theatre pipe organ (VTPO) which I built in my basement. It utilizes most of the basement. Speakers and amplifier combinations are called audio channels and there are twenty audio channels plus three sub-woofers which are located in two large chambers and two smaller chambers. A third chamber contains the third sub-woofer and is used for flute and tibia deep pedal sounds. Along the chamber rear wall exists a 32 ft 12" wide PVC pipe which matures the bottom octave of the flute, tibia and diapason ranks. A tuned box and 12" sub-channel amplifier generate and terminate one end. The large chambers occupy most of the length of our forty five ft. long basement. These are named, as they are in a real theater, left (Main Chamber) and right (Solo Chamber). Certain groups of the audio channels, relate to ranks, in these chambers, and produce a stereo effect. Ranks, in a real pipe organ, are groups of pipes, each group making up a single instrumental sound i.e. an oboe.The smaller chambers are on either side of the console. The audio channels therein represent the sounds of the percussive instruments i.e. the marimba, plus the traps (drums, castanets and other such toys). You may easily build one of these wonderful organs by downloading the rank samples and relay from the following sites.

Miditzer download
jOrgan download
Comments are appreciated:


Much information has been written concerning the problems of creating and reproducing music, using amplifier/speaker combinations.  Electronic systems for producing organ music, as opposed to pipe generated systems, contain all of these problems. They include, 'heterodyne', 'inter modulation', 'harmonic distortion', and others. One problem which has eluded the  minds of the virtual organ people of late, is what I call the " electronic organ resonant factor". or "EORF".

In organ pipe generated systems, an entire set of problems are created by enclosing the ranks in rooms or chambers. Some of the above problems may be experienced in theatre pipe organ chambers, with the exception of "EORF".   Simply put, "EORF" would best be explained using the  common "blivet", as an example, or 10lbs in a 5 lb bag.

Every loudspeaker has a resonant frequency. Even the best of boxed speaker systems exhibit certain resonant characteristics, whereas organ pipes are each tuned to their individual frequencies. The recent virtual organ producers are currently attempting to sway users of these systems to use as many amp/spkr systems as affordable.  To reproduce the virtual sound of a 20 rank pipe organ would require using as much as 1400 amp/spkrs, in order to represent each pipe, electronically, without any "EORF". In addition, each speaker would need to be designed so that it's resonant frequency is exactly at the resonant value, as the pipe, which it replicates.

The benefits of the virtual theatre pipe organ are vast. Few, if any cyphers, (stuck notes).  The absence of continuous tuning. The ability to easily maneuver speakers to achieve the "real TPO" reality, and if extra large pipe (pedal sounds) are desired, add a sub-woofer.

Virtual Theatre Pipe Organs have exhibited a more accurate replication of the pipe sound using sampling, than previous electronic attempts.
In my opinion, however, it would be foolish to expect the sound of any virtual theatre organ to replace the sound of a real theatre pipe organ, in a  properly designed theatre.


                                                                                              Merry Christmas 20152010                                                                                                                                                            

Have a Holly Jolly  Christmas
Santa Clause is Coming to Town
Let it Snow
Rudolph The Red Nosed  Reindeer
White Christmas
Winter Wonderland
Silver Bells
Jingle Bells
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Adeste Fidelis
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Oh Holy Night

The Songs

3 Little Fishes Oahu Sunset Non Dimenticar Poinciana
Always Frankie & Johnnie Dinah Chinatown
What a Differece a Day Makes Mr Sandman Volare Green Eyes
I'm Confessin' A Your Adorable The Days of Wine and Roses Cara Mia
Hindustan Heart of my Heart Linger Awhile At Sundown
Don'tcha Ever Wonder My Blue Heaven The Desert Song Twilight Time1
Home Home on The Range Indian Love Call Show Me The Way To Go Home Sleepy Time Gal
Tenderly Tennessee Waltz The Nearness of You The Song Has Ended
All In The Family Theme Try To Remember When I'm With My Baby When We Were Young
Humor Medley South You'll Never Know Surrey With A Fringe On Top
Oh Suzanna Old Grey Mare Medley Love Walked In
La Paloma If You Were The Only Girl In The World Ida I Wish You Love
Hokey Pokey My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean The Old Lamplighter Ain't Misbehavin'
Beer Barrel Polka Cruisin' Down The River Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone Have You Ever Been Lonely
Dreamers Holiday
Till You
You'll Never Know 2
Buttons and Bows
Ebb Tide Embraceable You
Blackbird Medley Three Coins in the Fountain Sweet Lorraine Blues Medley
We'll Meet Again Blessed are the Children Yakety Sax Rain
Tea For Two Clarinet Polka Harbor Lights The Breeze and I
Chicago I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me Louise Hello Dolly
Again More What'll I Do When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
I'll See You In My Dreams
Blue-room Little Orphan Annie The Perfect Song
Battle of Jericho A Man Without Love Allegheny Waltz Georgie Girl
Anything Goes Georgia Embraceable You 1 In The Garden
September in the Rain Summer Samba The Ol' Grey Mare Third Man Theme
Memories Where Did Robinson Carusoe Go La Cucaracha Once In Love With Amy
Falling In Love With Love I'll See You In My Dreams 1 Slow Poke Nola
It's a Big Wide Wonderful World
Spanish Eyes
Wabash Cannonball
Love and Marriage
Classical Medley
Side by Side
Banana Split Delight
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Muus I Demm
Old Devil Moon
I Left My Heart In San Fransisco
Peg O My Heart
The Breeze and I (New Version)
Can't Help Lovin" That Gal of Mine
Drifting and Dreaming
Maybe You're the One for Me
Pony Boy
Ramblin' Rose
Red Wing
Someday You'll Want Me to Want You
I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now
On The Street Where You Live
Valley of the Moon
Someone To Watch Over Me
In a Little Spanish Town
Petite Waltz
A Little Street
Instant Karma
Diddly Squat
People Will Say We're in Love
C'est Magnifico
Just a Closer Walk With Thee
Breezin' Along With the Breeze
Boogie Woogie
Who's Sorry Now
Doin' a What Comes Naturally
You Were Meant For Me
Button Up Your Overcoat
Deed I Do
Help Me Make it Through The Night
Wind Medley
As Time Goes By
Stranger in Paradise
It Had To Be You
Stars Fell on Alabama
Bye Bye Blackbird
Melody of Love
Pretty Baby
Toot Toot Tootsie
For You Till Then
Only You
If I Had You
Dances With Wolves
Then You Came Along
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
My Buddy
Cara Mia1
Lili Marlene
I Only Have Eyes For You
Mares Eat Oats
I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover
Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend
Twilight Time
Go Away Little Girl
The Godfather
The Song Has Ended1
Someone to Watch Over Me2
I Talk to The Trees1
I'll Be Seeing You
Two Sleepy People
Deep in the Heart of Texas
She's a Grand Old Flag
Bohemia Rag
With A Little Bit Of Luck
More Than You Know
Mouse Song
My Happiness
You Belong to My Heart
June Night
Auf Wiederseh'n
Hoop Dee Doo
Old Folks at Home
Barbara Polka1
Oh! Dem Golden Slippers
You You You
I Want To Be Happy
I'm Sitting On Top Of The World
Blue Bayou1
Blue Hawaii
Show Me The Way To Go Home
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Dance With Me
Once in a While
Shine On Medley
Alabama Bound
Around the World
Bow Wow Blues
Cielito Lindo
Cow Cow Boogie
Dancing in the Dark
Darktown Strutters Ball
Medley 8
Onion Stew
Way Down Upon a Swanee River
Somebody Loves You
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Mexican Medley
South of the Border
Shangri La
If You Were The Only Girl In The World1 Summer Wind
Oh You Beautiful Doll

Moonlight and Roses
Red Roses For a Blue Lady
Baby Face
Ginger Snap
Just Because
Girl Of My Dreams
Musicbox Dancer
Everywhere I Look
Irish Eyes
There Will Never Be Another You
It's Been a Long Long Time
You'll Never Walk Alone
If You Only Knew
Ain't She Sweet
Happy Days Are Here Again
Melancholy Baby
That Old Feeling
I Love Paris
Aba Daba Honeymoon
I'll Fly Away
The Old Train
Singin' in the Rain
Beyond The Blue Horizon
Back to Sorento
Dream a Little Dream Of Me
There's a Star Spangled Banner
Kitten on the Keys
The More I See You
Tzena Tzena Tzena
Ol' Black Joe
Lisbon Antiqua
Glow Worm
Tie a Yellow Ribbon
3rd Medley
The Rose
Won't You Be My Teddybear
How Deep is the Ocean
Que Sera Sera
Because Of You
September Song
Put Another Nickle In
Only You1
All I Have To Do Is Dream
For The Beauty of The Earth
Pink Panther
The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else
San Fransisco
My Wild Irish Rose
Indian Summer
The Twelfth of Never
Song of India
Lara's Theme
Makin' Whoopy
Quando men vo Sweet Sue
Pretend you're happy when you're blue
Forgotten Dreams
Autumn Leaves
In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree
Joy To The World When Johnie Comes Marching Home

                                          New !!

         These tunes use all 5 organs. They utilize selected ranks from each.

The new 3/17 Morton and 3/10 Barton developed by Graham Goode are used here where ranks are selected with ranks of three other sampled Theatre Pipe organs. The resulting rank manifest total is 64 ranks to choose from. The hybrid sound  reminds us of a large resident organ. This is a sound not often heard since original samples were taken from Aeolian, Wurlitzer, Morton, Barton and a few from a Kimball. It is possible to play any one of the organs solely. Since many of the 64 ranks have like names of others in the manifest, they are carefully used as celeste ranks.
If You Were The Only Girl
Buttons and Bows
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
I Can't Believe That You'r in Love With Me
Louise Improv
I Really Don't Want to Know

Other Organ Music

Band Organs, Carousel Organs, Street Organs, Fair Organs, Military Organs, Monkey Organs, Crank Organs, Caliope's, Orchestrions, and organs built for the playing of classical and church music are all related to Theatre organs if they utilize wind blown pipes to produce sounds. Below are a few attempts at emulating some of these other organ types with my VTPO.

Adagio for Orchestra and Organ American Patrol Barbara Polka Cafe 4
Colonel Bogey Drinking Song Paint The Town Jesusita en Chihuahua
Snow Waltz Whiter Shade of Pale Orange Blossom Special Tulips from Amsterdam
Slovenia Cuckoo Waltz Puppets
Small World
Music, Music, Music Tango
Bisuanian Military March What a Friend We Have In Jesus
Wm. Tell
The Lord's Prayer
Danny Boy
Boo Hoo
Green Door
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Funiculi Funicula
Spanish March
All Or Nothing At All
Dill Pickle Rag
Broadway Rag
Till I Waltz Again With You
MZ2000 Lament


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