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 595 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Giovanni. And he asks,
How much is the price of an organ for a home, and where can I buy one?
V: Well, this is very diverse question, I would say, right, Ausra? There is no one answer.
A: Yes, there is no one answer. Because we ourselves have two organs in our home now. And one is tracker organ, which has only two stops, and it cost us a fortune at the time we got it. And now we have this Hauptwerk three manual and pedal Hauptwerk set (Update - 4 manuals now), which cost us much less money.
V: Mm hm.
A: Comparing to that other one.
V: Because this was when we just returned from our studies in the US, and we were looking for an organ, and we were discussing various possibilities: electronic, pipe organs. We decided to go with the pipe organ even though it was very small, because we valued the mechanical touch, right?
A: Well, and I still value mechanical touch. I don’t know about you, but I have strong feelings about this, and I still prefer tracker. And anyway, I think that this old electronic thing is still a piece of, well, you know what I mean, I won’t say tell this word aloud. But really, if you have already very good technique, outstanding technique, then yes, play the electronic, it won’t ruin your technique. But if you are a beginner, I strongly advise you to play tracker.
V: Have you ever, Ausra, played electronic organ with tracker touch?
A: Well no, I didn’t, but that’s...
V: There are keyboards like that.
A: I believe that this also would cost much more.
V: Of course. Good things always cost a lot. And there are options, you know. You have to decide what kind of organ would you like to have: pipe organ, electronic organ, or even virtual organ? Those are not the same thing - virtual and electronic organ. Sometimes people comment on Facebook on my videos. They see both organs in our room and say, “It seems that you have a pipe organ in your house. Why are you playing on the synthesizer?” And I just pity those people, because they don’t have a clue what virtual organ is.
A: Well, but I still understand why they are asking that. But it depends on what your goal in life is. I mean, if you only want to learn new music at home, yes, and you will be performing somewhere else all the time, and you are not going to record and to publish your recording, then yes, the tracker, as we have two stop, two manuals and pedals, it’s ideal for learning new music and keeping in good shape. But on such an organ, of course you will not be able to make public recordings because you will have only two stops. Of course, we could sort of add the MIDI keyboard to our tracker.
V: Mm hm.
A: It’s a possibility. But I sort of don’t want to mess up with it, because it might ruin the original instrument.
V: Yes. It’s better to have a second virtual pipe organ, virtual, yes, pipe organ.
A: Pipe organ.
V: It’s called like that, you know.
A: Yes, yes.
V: Virtual pipe organ standing next to the real thing. Because you never know, you might need the real pipe organ for other things. And those virtual organs sound really virtually indistinguishable from real organs. It’s not the same with electronic organs, when the sound is synthesized, and comes not from the sampled, real pipes, right? But from synthesized sources. That’s the big difference nowadays.
A: Well, I still hate playing the Hauptwerk.
V: It’s because we have plastic keyboards.
V: That’s all. If you had...
A: I like to listen to it, but I hate playing it.
V: If you had tracker action keyboards like my friends have shown me, like there are on the market, you wouldn’t feel the difference, actually. It’s the same feeling like mechanical action, tracker action organs. Those are much more expensive, of course. One keyboard could cost, I think, around $1,500. And we bought one keyboard for a little more than $100. Imagine the difference. But if you want real touch and still have the possibility to record on amazing sample sets from all over the world: smallest, largest, historical, modern organs, symphonic organs - whatever you want...
A: Not all of them actually made an impression on me.
A: So far, I found only two sample sets that I really liked. One is Velosovo…
V: Mm hm.
A: And another is Rotterdam.
V: Oh yeah.
A: So. But others haven’t made impression on me so far.
V: It depends on many different factors, of course. If the samples that we’re playing on is surround or dry version, you know, with artificial reverberation, or if it’s recorded in surround sound with multiple microphones, that’s the difference. Rotterdam and Velosovo are surround. Therefore, we heard the acoustics of the room in our setting, too.
A: But you know what is the danger of playing the Hauptwerk all the time - I think it really became your passion, and I’m afraid that when quarantine will be over, you will never go back to the real pipe organ. Because yes, it’s so convenient: you sit down on organ bench at home and you can play any type of organ you want. Any type of repertoire you want. And no tracker organ in reality will provide you such a possibility.
V: And of course, you know, tracker organs are not entirely in tune, not entirely in good shape. You have to adjust your own expectations in many cases. But right now, we cannot really go to the church, right? Even with Unda Maris organ studio, we have to go once a week, but not to the church, but to the chapel of the University, on the small one manual organ. So when it’s over, of course I will go back to the church.
V: Don’t doubt my intentions. I of course will record from there too, and I will divide my time, both from the home Hauptwerk organ and the church organ.
A: Well, we will see.
V: Real thing is real thing of course. It’s just the convenience of having those sounds in your own practice room that’s very very beneficial right now. All right, so guys, you have to pick and choose whatever your needs are: how much you can spend, what kind of organ, what kind of touch you want to have. Possibilities are endless. If you are just dipping your toes, I think it’s not wise to invest thousands and thousands - I think actually tens of thousands of dollars into this, right Ausra?
V: If you’re just starting and you don’t know if you will be playing the organ, let’s say, five years from now.
A: Maybe you should acquire one keyboard and see how it goes. If you like it a lot…
V: Yes! Just…
A: ...and then you can expand little by little, you know, if such a need will...
V: Remember what we did at first, we had just one MIDI keyboard which is made by Nektar - 61 keys. I was using this for my compositions with Sibelius software at first. And then my friend James Flores suggested, “Why don’t you download a free trial of Hauptwerk software, and you can hook up this MIDI keyboard, and try it out and see if you like it. And that’s how we started our Hauptwerk journey, with one keyboard at hand, no pedals at all.
A: Yes, but keep in mind, that if you have, if you want to have Hauptwerk at home, you have to consider what kind of computer do you have. Because probably what you have right now home, won’t work very well with the Hauptwerk and you will get all kind of troubles. Like you know, can play only in a very slow tempo.
V: Oh, this is sound delay.
A: Yes, sound delay - it bothers me a lot. Then you might need a new computer, better computer, and so on and so forth. Basically, you know as we started all this Hauptwerk crazy journey, basically every day to our house new things arrived: new wires, new amplifiers, new all kinds of things that I don’t even know we need.
A: Boxes upon boxes upon boxes.
V: Ausra is talking about the expansion of the Hauptwerk that we have. That’s right - if you have just regular laptop at your home, like we did before, we could use basic version of Hauptwerk very well, but if we needed this advanced version or larger sample sets, it wouldn’t work. You have to have more RAM; you have to have 64-bit computer for Hauptwerk. Check if you have an old one with 32-bit processor, then the software won’t work. But nowadays, all the computers are 64-bit.
A: Well, but another thing to consider, if you want to get the virtual stuff…
V: Mm hm.
A: ...you need to be quite advanced in computers in general. Because otherwise…
V: Yes, yes definitely.
A: ...look at that Facebook Hauptwerk organist group…
V: Mm hm.
A: Each of them are asking, “Oh help, help, help - I bought this one and now I cannot do that one! Help, how do I plug this one, how I do this one?”
V: But that’s good, because it’s a forum, it’s a group for help, for providing help to each other. If more experienced members know more, they help out. Like Andrew Grahame in our Total Organist community - he’s by the way our supporter on Patreon, too - and he wrote about his Hauptwerk journey. Did you read his post on Basecamp?
A: Yes, I read it.
V: He has, like maybe 100 sample sets, 100 organs in his disposal. Of course, he collected those sample sets not in one year, not in five years, but since, I don’t know, since he started back in the last decade. His journey is very extensive. And he was one of the first Beta testers of Hauptwerk, too. Where developers would send him Hauptwerk software and he would try it out and find bugs in the system, and they would correct those bugs and eliminate those for future users. So I would ask questions from Andrew, and he would gladly help out. The same is with Facebook group and Hauptwerk forum, from hundreds of people who are more knowledgeable and you’re not alone.
A: So, but if you don’t want the trouble, then just get a tracker. You will just plug it in and you can practice whatever you want with no trouble. Because if I would have a virtual organ by myself…
V: Mm hm.
A: ...I don’t know how much time I would have to spend just to figure out how it works. Now even when you showed me how the things work, it’s still not so easy for me. Of course I can already do a lot, comparing to what I could do at the beginning, but still it’s a long journey.
V: But you’re progressing, right?
V: I can see you managing Hauptwerk with your mind only in the future, yes?
A: Ha ha.
V: Because your IQ is greater than mine, there is no reason you cannot figure this stuff out.
A: Well, let’s don’t go in there.
V: Okay. But if you guys want a tracker organ, pipe organ I mean, then be prepared to invest a sum of money that is comparable to the price of a car.
V: A good new car, I mean. Okay. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
V: This podcast is supported by Total Organist - the most comprehensive organ training program online.
A: It has hundreds of courses, coaching and practice materials for every area of organ playing, thousands of instructional videos and PDF's. You will NOT find more value anywhere else online...
V: Total Organist helps you to master any piece, perfect your technique, develop your sight-reading skills, and improvise or compose your own music and much much more…
A: Sign up and begin your training today at organduo.lt and click on Total Organist. And of course, you will get the 1st month free too. You can cancel anytime.
V: If you like our organ music, you can also support us on Patreon and get free CD’s.
A: Find out more at patreon.com/secretsoforganplaying
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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.