Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organs in churches?
  • JKWJKW
    Posts: 27
    Does anyone have experience with using a Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ as the primary instrument at a church? I am curious about the practical application of the instruments given the cost is so much lower and the versatility seemingly much wider than even a brand new electronic organ. I recently constructed a Haputwerk organ for a home practice instrument using old Rodgers parts, and it is fantastic! I'm considering building another and donating it to a very small local church.
  • I do believe that St. Thomas Church (Episcopal), 5th Avenue, NYC, used a Hauptwerk setup during the many months that the A/S-Adams organ was being removed in preparation for the new Dobson organ.
  • hilluminar
    Posts: 108
    Out here on the West Coast, Portland area, there are two parishes who exclusively use Hauptwerk. They are St. Wenceslaus in Scappoose Oregon, and Our Lady of Sorrows in Portland Oregon. You could talk to Robert Harker at St. Wenceslaus, or James Bartell at Our Lady of Sorrows. Robert Harker installed both organ works. There is also an excellent newspaper article at The Catholic Sentinel in it's Jan. 24-Feb.6, 2014 edition which is all about Hauptwerk. Log on to CatholicSentinel.org.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    I think Hauptwerk could be a great interim solution for any church (if they are geekish enough to handle it), but I would move toward the real thing (pipe organ) asap. Don't let the HW keep you from moving toward a real instrument.

    People don't understand the need for the acoustic properties of a real instrument. The harmonics of a real instrument will NEVER happen with a digital instrument.

    I play jazz piano out and about town and I insist on a REAL piano for the event. I move it, tune it, play it and then remove it. It's a ton of work, but the difference is playing a fake vrs. a real axe. I really can't stand digital counterfeits. (MJO will probably post a yellow square here too.)
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,370
    We have one, as they could not be bothered to fix the real organ. It is awful mainly because the speakers are not up to the job.
  • There are definitely some successful installations out there. Pop over to the Hauptwerk forum to read about them directly. You’ll find much more info there. It ultimately depends on 1-the scope of your tech savvy, 2-budget. With up to 512 channels of discreet audio, the sky is the limit. If you get decent monitors and have, say, 24+ channels of audio, the effect can be tremendous. But if you skimp on the project, you’ll regret it.
  • ...a great interim solution...
    (Emphasis added.)
    Amen, and amen!
    Real is always real,
    and a simulation is always a simuulation.
    - 'virtual' is not 'actual', it isn't 'is'.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 86
    Real is always real,
    and a simulation is always a simulation.
    - 'virtual' is not 'actual', it isn't 'is'.

    So the question arises: Is an organ piece played on a simulacrum 'real' music, or is it merely simulated music? Or a simulated performance of real music?
    Or, as the piece is played by a real organist, do listeners merely have the simulated perception of a real performance of real music?

    Is virtual music 'being' music at all? Can anything be being something without being the real something? ...
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    Elmar

    A comparison that might help you understand what we’re trying to talk about is comparing the real something to its counterfeit.

    The plastic flower arrangement is one good example. Did you ever try to watch one bloom? Did you ever pick them up and take in the aroma? Did you ever gaze and wonder at the delicacy of each petal? Did you ever try giving one to your girlfriend or wife? I think they would be offended or think it was a joke, and you might be in the doghouse for a few days or longer. Well, my aesthetic sense is offended (deprived?) and I consider it a joke when someone tries to create “real” music with a fake instrument.

    The next time you go to any concert Hall to hear a world-class pianist do you think they will be playing a digital piano? Would you be offended if you showed up and that’s all you heard? Would you even bother to go if you knew before hand that they would be playing a digital piano? Why do we think it’s acceptable in the church?

    I know this is a far fetched dream, but if every musician refused to play a simulacrum and walked away to find a church with a real instrument, perhaps the church would consider not buying them in the first place.

    As much as I don’t believe the piano should be in a church (This will probably be a controversial statement) I would almost prefer to have a real piano then a fake organ.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,726
    I know this is a far fetched dream, but if every musician refused to play a simulacrum and walked away to find a church with a real instrument, perhaps the church would consider not buying them in the first place.


    In reality, all but the largest and wealthiest churches would probably use guitars. They are portable, low maintenance, and the same often goes for the musicians who play them.


    So the question arises: Is an organ piece played on a simulacrum 'real' music, or is it merely simulated music? Or a simulated performance of real music?


    It's real. Maybe not played on pipes which may or may not be suited to playing that particular music. Many pipe organs, particularly some originating in the sixties and seventies, can sound really bad and the electronic might be an improvement, assuming it doesn't grate and clank, too.

    For the record, I prefer pipes to digital. But I realize both can sound good or bad based on design, skill of the builder, the room, and the ability of the performer.

    And then there is money. Some simply don't have it. Would you prefer the guitars?

    As I sometimes say to those who complain too much, when did God promise you a perfect world to work and live in?
    Thanked by 132ContraBombarde
  • JKWJKW
    Posts: 27
    With all ideals aimed at the Glory of God, I believe it is always worthy to pursue those things that deepen our connection with Reality (of course this ultimately being God Himself!). Our American culture is saturated with "artificial" everything. One can easily come up with many, many examples.

    I agree that the best ideal to strive towards in music and in the Liturgy is real-time acoustic sound and instruments. However, electronic organs and "pianos" are not the only artificial sounds heard during the liturgy. Most of the sounds we hear at Mass in fact, we hear through microphones and sound systems. "Artificial" is the name of the game (So to speak). Consider even that modern-day architects rarely design churches with natural acoustics friendly to oration because microphones and sound systems do that job for them.

    Aside from the above, I do think that it could be argued there exists a kind of hierarchy moving towards The Real when considering electronic instruments. The church I am considering building a Hauptwerk organ for has a Yamaha keyboard which they call "The Organ." This makes me cringe as I am a classically trained organist and church musician. The church is VERY small - rural farm country - so having an acoustic pipe organ is far from likely. However, I think that using a Hauptwerk organ - using recorded sounds made from an real-time acoustic pipe organ - could demonstrate the beauty available from pipe organs. The organ is the King of Instruments and one preferred by the Church (in my understanding) so in this case I might argue that a Virtual Pipe Organ may in fact be a better option than say, acoustic guitar.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW irishtenor
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    Hauptwerk is interesting yet also challenging.
    Like any other digital sound source, one needs good speakers (e.g. Electro-Voice) and someone with a really good ear to tune them to the space.
    I looked into it at a former parish as an alternative to buying just another Allen or Rogers. There are some tremendous opportunities to design a la carte, so to speak, a nifty set up capable of more than pipe-organ tone generation. I especially like the touch-screens.
    Pipe organ purists will continue to disagree with me, but I don't really care.
    Modern synthesizers/digital keyboards are direct descendants of pipe organs.
    After all, the stops on a pipe organ are not flutes, trumpets, or bassoons, let along strings. So who is fooling whom?
    Your best bet is to have a system which integrates technology suited for either an organist or a pianist. It's hard, though, because the more evolved it is, the more buttons require pushing.

    Thanked by 1Cantus67
  • I would suggest looking to get professional help, so that way you’d get professional support. (I’m speaking here of a manufacturer like Noorlander, Martin Digital Organs, Mixtuur, Westminster Organ works, etc.). You’d get high quality craftsmanship with a warranty and previous knowledge pertaining to professional installations.

    Regarding the fake/real argument: people just need to let it go. It’s not practical or affordable to have pipes all the time (space constraints too). My pastor and I are hashing through this as I type. Get the best of whatever you can when you can. Hw might be the “best” solution for your small church and that is OK.

    IMHO, having played a medium-quality digital installation for two years and many smaller pipe organs for many other years, I’d actually take the digital as they are so versatile and you can still get great sound if they are new enough and installed well. 8 ranks might sound “authentic” but you are going to be so sorely limited.
    Thanked by 1mburrier
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    Servium makes great points, including "what's the point?"
    If it's about making music, then make use of whatever you can. It doesn't make any difference whether it's a pipe organ or piano, congas or trap sets, traditional or contemporary.
    If it's about music, then it's about listening.
    But one certainly needs professional assistance with installing either a pipe organ or digital sound system, unless they are particularly trained.
  • Heath
    Posts: 797
    I recently had one installed out at my rural parish that I play at in addition to my main job. I love it! Sure, it's not ideal in relation to a pipe organ, but it was a FRACTION of the cost. It sounds great, leads the people well, and allows me to use much more solo literature than I was able to before.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 963
    Without getting into value judgments of pipe vs. electronic vs. "virtual"...

    ...we have to be out of the Cathedral for a couple weeks for floor refinishing and pew replacement. The rector has asked that I put together a Hauptwerk-type thing. I'll probably use Grand Orgue or something cheaper, since this is just for a few weeks. I have a good contact for the speaker & amplification concerns, but wondered if anyone here had opinions or suggestions. I'd likely be using a MIDI-capable 61 key Yamaha keyboard. Nothing fancy, but...

    Any ideas/thoughts are gratefully received.
  • Antonio
    Posts: 38
    I belong to a 7-year-old TLM group directed by some priests from the french Good Shepherd Institute. 5 years ago the apostolate has built and moved to a parish-sized chapel, which was initially equipped with a Viscount P31 digital console. Compared to many of its similars, the Viscount sounds above the average. One year later, reading about Hauptwerk, I decided to give it a try. Since then, I had never gone back to the digital console's disposition, using only their manuals, drawknobs, pistons and pedalboard, and its builtin 5 speakers through the console L/R input. Despite of achieving great results with this combination, I would not recommend it to anyone indiscriminately, because I have experienced some difficult moments during the early years while the the Mass celebration, even being a geek-like musician. Better to try an already factory-made Hauptwerk console, like those produced by Mixtuur, or an small and real pipe organ, which might cost near to the best Hauptwerk-based digital consoles. One thing not known or neglected by many Hauptwerk users is the usage of digital domain correction software, like Room EQ Wizard or Dirac Live products. They are not cheap, but are capable of extracting every bit of quality of a given set of speakers, flattening its output frequency curve and mitigate some time-domain problems, which exist on every speaker, even on the most expensive ones. Attaching one of those software to the output chain, the Hauptwerk generated sound gains another level of realism and convincement. Another important thing is to choose samplesets recorded near to the original organ console, so the captured samples and their releases are not (so much) influenced by original room acoustics, which gives more sharpness to the attack/release transients, specially on the softest stops, and do not mix up with the local acoustics, if any. Other improvements relies on better speakers, specially those which stretch the deep bass limit, and more speakers, which might lowers residual audio distortion and improve sound 'spationess' among (virtual) divisions.

    All in all, it continues to be only a simulacrum, much much better than the similar ones, but only a simulacrum. I wish our community and benefactors could afford a real pipe organ, but it's a far dream among so many other current and huge expenses like the construction of a school.