SOPP596: I notice you’ve gotten into Hauptwerk as well, which is cool. What’s the sample set you’re using?
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 596 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Dan, and he writes:
“Hi Vidas, I hope you and Ausra are doing well in your part of the world. Things are going well here. I’ve had to stop getting instruction for the time being from the local organist that’s working with me, due to how things are with this world-wide pandemic. I’m still working away here though, on my hauptwerk VPO, and it’s good I’ve got that here to still work on stuff. I’m working on Buxtehude’s prelude, fugue and chaconne in c, BuxWV137, and as well as Carson Cooman’s tuba tune. I think you’ve had Carson on the podcast a couple times. I was going to participate in an organ recital with other organ students from the area I’m in, on the 28th of March, and play the Grand Choeur in B-flat major by Dubois, but that got postponed as well. I notice you’ve gotten into Hauptwerk as well, which is cool. What’s the sample set you’re using? it sounds like a nice one, that I might be interested in getting a hold of. A link to it would be appreciated. Take care, and stay safe.”
V: So, Ausra, what sample sets are we using?
A: Well, to rephrase Dan’s question, I would say tell me which set you are not using, because now we are using so many of them.
V: But there are a few that you like more than others, right?
A: Yes, actually I like only two of them so far.
V: But you haven’t tried all of them that we have, yet.
A: Well, but I tried many out of them, so…
V: So, before we expanded our Hauptwerk into three manuals and later four manuals, we used a lot, “Velesovo” sample set by Sonus Paradisi.
A: Yeah, it’s actually really well done, I think.
V: It could be said about most of the sample sets by Sonus Paradisi. This is the leading sample set maker on the market today, I think. I mean, there are others that are very good as well, but I haven’t been disappointed with any of his stuff that I tried. But Velesovo, yes, we have the surround version of it. “Surround”, meaning in the church where this organ stands, there are more than two microphones. Two microphones are set near the organ, then two microphones are somewhere in the middle of the church, and maybe two more are at the back of the church. Larger organs have six microphones’ or eight microphones’ surround version. It’s called 8-channel surround or 6-channel surround like this. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, true.
V: Do you like surround more than let’s say “semi-dry” or “dry” or “wet” version where you add artificial reverberation on your Hauptwerk software but don’t use the church environment.
A: Well, of course surround sounds much better.
V: Of course, surround version takes up more RAM on your computer.
A: True, and if you don’t have enough space in your computer, you might get the sound delay, which is very, very annoying.
V: And space in your computer is different from RAM. RAM is the memory that you’re using to operate the program right now. On our MacBook Pro, we have 16GB of RAM. And this is enough to run Velesovo and other medium sized sample sets. Of course, if you want to use larger sample sets, at least 32GB of RAM are recommended if you’re getting a new computer specifically for Hauptwerk. And we have actually bought a new Dell computer and expanded it from 8GB of RAM, which was the default version, into an additional 64GB of RAM, which makes it total to 72GB of RAM.
A: Well, Vidas is so excited about all this, his Hauptwerk project, but I’m not, because I don’t think this investment will ever pay off.
V: It will pay off in 500 years.
A: No, because all this stuff like computers and all these midi keyboards, they will get old pretty soon.
V: That’s true.
A: It’s not like our tracker, two-stop tracker.
V: But this software will remain, the Hauptwerk version, you can use it for years! If you need to change the processor, you can, you know, just buy a new part of it, not necessarily the whole thing. You know?
A: You know, there’s only one benefit of it, I think—during Quarantine. Otherwise I would never have started to use it.
V: For people who don’t record their playing and don’t share it with the world, having 30 stop samples, which is in the surround version Velesovo, very nice two manual organ—medium sized organ—but very colorful stops and could be used for a variety of Baroque music, as well as Romantic music apparently, too, because it has a lot of foundational stops, 8’ stops, too. This is especially nice. But for people who don’t put their work online, then what’s the point? Right, Ausra?
V: Unless they want to hear that organ in their practice room, which is also nice.
A: In general, I think if you have a previously well built organ technique, then it’s okay for some times practice on the midi keyboard, especially on ours because it doesn’t have any resistance, so otherwise, if you are just a beginner or you have poor technique, you might ruin it on playing such a keyboard.
V: Yeah. Hauptwerk is like an ongoing project, and we’ve been just chatting with James Flores, our friend from Australia. And he also started with just midi keyboards custom assembled, not necessarily the thing that he has today from Johannus—three manual organ setup. I don’t think he has tracker-action manuals on his Johannus, but some organs have. You can imitate this resistance, which is much more expensive, I think, than what we have. Right, Ausra?
A: True. In general, I think that this Hauptwerk thing is sort of like a contagious disease.
V: It’s the future, I think. It’s a natural technological development. And since I’ve been involved with technologies, since I’ve got back from the United States, or I should say we got back from the United States, in 2007 I started writing a blog in Lithuanian, in 2010 I started my YouTube channel, in 2011 I started the organduo.lt website, then later Ausra joined… you know, I was very interested as to how organ art can be incorporated with technology. So, it’s just a natural extension of my activities, I think, Hauptwerk. It’s basically… eventually I would have traveled this road, I think, sooner or later. I think it’s joined Hauptwerk movement sooner than rather later, this way, right?
A: Well, you can hear that Vidas is addicted already. What else can I say.
V: You know, what can I say? There are good addictions and there are bad addictions. I think it’s better to become addicted to good addictions than to bad, right?
A: Well, yes, but you consider that, that yesterday, when I realised, we added a fourth keyboard, I might have gotten a heart attack.
V: No, it was just a nice surprise for you.
A: For me, yes? Anyway, with my height, I cannot reach that fourth manual, so...
V: That’s why I ordered a new music stand on the table, and not on the floor, which will be very convenient. I promise.
A: Somehow I doubt it, but anyway (UPDATE: by the time we have published this podcast episode, our new music stand arrived and it's quite nice).
V: It was supposed to be a surprise for you. I invited Ausra to play a duet, and she was very busy with other stuff, and when she sat down on the organ bench, she didn’t notice a difference from three manuals to four, because three is a lot already. Right? And I agree. It’s really not that big of a difference. When you have two, and then suddenly three, the difference is very obvious. But from three to four, or from four to five, it’s not that big of a difference. Don’t worry, I won’t get the fifth.
A: Yes. I hope so.
V: No, no.. it’s…
A: I want to be able to sleep at night. Not worrying about wasting our money.
V: You can play any type of repertoire on four keyboards comfortably. The fifth manual is only for echo, for fanfares, for those things. And none of our sample sets have five keyboards... so far.
A: Anyway guys, I don’t think you need to have four keyboards, or even three keyboards.
A: Unless you are extremely well known concert—international concert organist.
V: What if you wanted to, let’s say, play Franck, or Widor, or let’s say German Romantic.
A: You can mange on a two manual instrument.
V: You can…
A: Well enough…
V: Yes. But think about the future. If a person gets hooked on Hauptwerk, and he or she invests in a two manual organ setup, wouldn’t it be wise to get a three manual right away?
A: Well, I don’t think this quarantine will last forever, and I think people can go back to practice on a real organ.
V: In churches, right?
A: In churches, yes.
V: True. I will definitely go to St. John’s Church to play our three manual church organ…
A: I already doubt it.
A: Because you’re so much used to playing Hauptwerk.
V: I will play Hauptwerk, too. I will play both organs! They don’t… that actually… they work very well with each other.
A: Will you find time for anything else, then?
V: Like what?
A: Anything. If you will practice on Hauptwerk, you will practice at St. John’s…
V: I will have to go practice on the tracker organ, because my job is university organist! I will have to go to church and play and perform there and maintain that instrument. It’s just not today. Not right now. So there is no problem with that. Just like you will go to school to teach physically, right? I will go to church, maybe at the same time as you.
A: I’m not so sure if I will go back to teach at the school.
V: Yes, you are very… you like teaching on line?
A: Well, I like not teaching at all.
V: You don’t miss teaching?
A: No, not at all.
V: If you had to choose to teach at school or to play Hauptwerk, what would be your choice?
A: Well, I would play Hauptwerk.
V: Listen guys, we have a convert now to Hauptwerk! You just have to feel the pressure point, the pain point. Ausra is really having a hard time teaching at school sometimes, and she also doesn’t like playing Hauptwerk plastic keyboards, like we have today. But what does she not like more, teaching or plastic keyboards? It’s a good question. So, but for Dan, I think, to have an organ at home doesn’t hurt. Right? And Velesovo sample set is very nice. Depending on if you have a larger computer with larger RAM, we also recommend very much other larger sample sets by Sonus Paradisi, such as Rotterdam Laurenskerk church, the Main organ. There are two sample sets. The Transept Organ and the Main Organ. The Transept organ is a Baroque organ, a little bit smaller—not very small but I think a three manual organ. But the main organ in the gallery that we use is a one-of-a-kind Marcussen organ from 1973, four manuals, and that’s why we got the fourth manual, too.
V: There are some other sample sets we could recommend, but not right now, because we haven’t tried them just yet. I should say that I like, kind of, the German one, Billerbeck Dom, it’s called, also by Sonus Paradisi. Billerbeck Dom is a town in Germany, and it has this wonderful cathedral, St. Ludger’s Cathedral, which also has a four-manual organ, and I like it very much for the French Romantic Symphonic music.
A: Yes, it’s not bad.
V: Remember how I played Franck’s Prelude Fugue and Variation.
A: That’s right.
V: Very convincing. So guys, we hope this was useful to you. Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Our Hauptwerk Setup:
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.