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  • Using expression pedals

    My Johannus Opus 1100 has three controls that affect volume:
    -- General volume control knob, under the on/off switch;
    -- Great/Pedal expression pedal;
    -- Swell expression pedal.

    I'm not sure how to use them in the best way for the kind of music I generally play (late Renaissance, Baroque and hymn tunes). Since the general volume control sets the volume for all three divisions (great, swell, pedal), I suppose this is the control to set the volume to the level required for the place where the organ is located. Since mine is in my home, this control is set rather low because of the size and acoustics of the room

    The music I play is from periods when adjustable swell enclosures were not used and expression pedals were not needed. So I don't need to know how to use the expression pedals but what position to permanently leave them in. Should I follow pipe organ practice for Renaissance and Baroque music and set both pedals wide open ("pedal to the metal" as it were)? The expression pedals seem to affect volume without noticeably affecting timbre (although they may have some slight effect on timbre). The alternatives would be to set them at the minimum and increase the general volume control or set them somewhere between maximum and minimum and adjust the general volume to suit the room.

    Does it really make any difference how I balance the divisions and set the general volume?
    -----------------
    Johannus Opus 1100 (ca. 1990)

  • #2
    I'm not an expert, but no experts have responded, so I'll throw in my .02. My feeling is that the expression pedals act to put limits on the sound and that the sound is cleanest (least affected) when the pedals are fully open. With that in mind, I'd probably set the pedals all the way open (or nearly so) and use the general volume control to set the level such that full organ is just barely tolerable (very loud). Leave the volume control at that setting all the time, and use registration and/or the expression pedals to obtain lesser sound levels. That's just my take on it, of course, and I've already admitted I'm not an expert.

    David

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    • #3
      Originally posted by davidecasteel View Post
      I'm not an expert, but no experts have responded, so I'll throw in my .02. My feeling is that the expression pedals act to put limits on the sound and that the sound is cleanest (least affected) when the pedals are fully open. With that in mind, I'd probably set the pedals all the way open (or nearly so) and use the general volume control to set the level such that full organ is just barely tolerable (very loud). Leave the volume control at that setting all the time, and use registration and/or the expression pedals to obtain lesser sound levels. That's just my take on it, of course, and I've already admitted I'm not an expert.

      David
      That's more or less what I have been doing, except I have been leaving the expression pedals at the midpoint of their range. The user manual for my Johannus Opus only talks about volume control (and not timbre control also) for the expression pedals. However, the manual for a "near ancestor" to my model does say that the expression pedals also influence timbre. I haven't really noticed that with my organ, but I'm going to make some tests to see.
      -----------------
      Johannus Opus 1100 (ca. 1990)

      Comment


      • #4
        David is right, in that the expression pedals affect timbre as well as volume. At mid-point, the effect upon timbre will not be very obvious, but certainly it is obvious at fully closed position.

        Bear in mind that the average pipe organ probably would not have the Great and Pedal enclosed, and that the Swell is set to match the Great at fully open Swell pedal. This is what you should duplicate with your organ. Do as David suggests, and set the master volume at a comfortably loud volume with both pedals fully open. You should not need to use the Great-Pedal very much in normal use.
        Mike

        My home organ is a Theatre III with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

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        • #5
          Hi,

          Just to say that the early digitals from Johannus (from the early 90s), basically had volume control at the expression shoe. They did not put harmonic compensation into their expression shoes until maybe 10 or 12 years ago.

          As for setting up the volume level, depress the expression shoes to max (or shades wide open, if you will), figure what you are comfortable with the way you play. In other words, if you play mostly with few stops, set the volume using the 8' Gt. Principal as your guide. If you play using moderate registrations, you may want to turn it down a bit, and if you play full organ, turn it down somewhat more. Don't get in the habit of playing with the organ sounding too softly (unless you are forced to by others in the house), as then the individual stops do not have much realism then. If you play everything with max. volume, you may end up with aural fatigue in a hurry. I suppose you could just re-set the volume everytime you change what you play, since it is an easy to get to control.

          One other thing about volume. Volume changes in the electronic domain, do not sound linear to the ear. In other words, if an expression shoe puts out volume change, it may sound like there is some change in timber. This has to do with signal level changes that speakers react to, and likely our hearing as well.

          Main thing is, play the organ so you don't tire of it too quickly.

          AV

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          • #6
            Originally posted by arie v View Post
            Hi,

            Just to say that the early digitals from Johannus (from the early 90s), basically had volume control at the expression shoe. They did not put harmonic compensation into their expression shoes until maybe 10 or 12 years ago.
            AV
            Wasn't sure about that, thought that might be the case.
            Mike

            My home organ is a Theatre III with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

            Comment


            • #7
              Expression shades generally roll off high frequencies more than lower ones. I understand that this may not be accurately modeled on all organs but that was the general idea. Hence, on a pipe organ playing baroque music, you would certainly want the shades (volume) fully open so as to get all of the high frequencies and brilliance that this type of music expects. Romantic music is entirely different and has to be toned down (shaded) at times.

              Electronic organs do this usually by controlling a combination high pass filter and volume attenuator with the pedal. As you soften the volume, the highs are reduced at a diminished rate. Digital pianos used a similar technique to synthesize the effect of playing softer. They would roll off the high frequencies so as to produce the effect of having hammers hit the strings more softly. Just as later model organs do a better job of modeling swell shades, so do the newer pianos. They give you different sample sets recorded at softer volumes. For organ pipes, they probably use some type of filter modeling instead, but the greatest and latest may have "enclosed" sample sets and something in between too. They cross fade between the sample sets in order to model the various available volumes. Electric piano samples do something similar to reduce the "tine" sound when the keys are stuck softly. At least that's my take on it.
              Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
              Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
              Moved on:
              Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
              Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

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              • #8
                Originally posted by arie v View Post
                As for setting up the volume level, depress the expression shoes to max (or shades wide open, if you will), figure what you are comfortable with the way you play. In other words, if you play mostly with few stops, set the volume using the 8' Gt. Principal as your guide.
                Arie,

                I agree about keeping the boxes wide open, however, I thought the volume was set using the 4' Gt. Octave? Or is that just for voicing?

                Michael
                Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

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                • #9
                  Michael,

                  For tuning, the 4' Octave is usually the starting point. At least when tuning pipe organs.

                  For scaling, winding, voicing, the foundation stop is considered to be the 8' Principal (or Diapason, Montre, etc.).

                  Since with electronic organs, things are slightly different, still the above makes sense. If you believe you live in a free country, you can do as you please, and only break the law of common sense.

                  AV

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