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Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

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  • Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

    Hey All!

    A little background on me. I've been involved in music since I was 7 (am 29 now) and I studied Music Ed at the University of Arizona, with my main instrument as Pipe Organ (Studied under Dr. Roy Johnson, Dr. David Burton Brown, and finaly Dr. Pamela Decker). I changed degrees my senior year just before graduation after a disagreement with the University Dean (long story), changed universities and went into the computer bis. Just finished my Bachelors in IT. Moving on to my Masters.

    So - since I have computer skills, and musical skills, and since I bought my first home, I've decided I'd like to build a MIDI Organ. I live in an old mining town in southern AZ and my house is 75 stairs off of the street - hauling up a real pipe organ or even an organ console is a daunting, if not impossible task. So I'd like to build one. In otherwords, I'd like to assemble some MIDI keybaords (Classic Organ Works 15-CMK-2M 2 manual 61 note stack), an AGO MIDI Pedal Board (also from Classic Organ Works), and hook these into a computer running Hauptwork with a nice sound system. Has anyone had any experience doing this? How are the Classic Organ Works products? What's feel of the keyboards they produce?

    My plan is to either buy, or build a stand to house the keyboards and swell pedals, hook this whole conglomeration into a computer built especialy for this purpose, and enjoy the skills I worked so hard to attain and not let them rust away.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences? Concerns?

    Ryan J. Price
    Bisbee AZ

  • #2
    Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

    Sounds like a very cool project! Keep us posted on how things turn out.


    • #3
      Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

      Ryan - I'm in Tucson and friends with Pamela's Husband the Allen dealer. I don't think you will be happy with the feel, etc of MIDI/digital keyboards. Do you not have any vehicular access to your home at all? Email me direct at "Story61@aol.com". Don


      • #4
        Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

        Why not hire a moving company and have them help you move a console into the house, The smaller two manual instruments are less than 30 inches deep. I measured a Baldwin two manual instrument and it was only 28 inches deep. Also if you take the door of the hinges you can squeeze a but more room. Although you sound like a practical kind of individual to me, I like to have as many organs as I can,, electronic and pipes. Though being in a chamber for hours tuning to me sounds like dread, and all that maintainence.


        • #5
          Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

          Hi Ryan,

          I know you said that there are 75 steps to the house, but I have a friend Tom in Phoenix, who has 2 classical consoles with roll tops covers for sale. One is 2 manual and I believe the other one is 3. These were originally installed on pipe organs but would be perfect for adding MIDI to.

          I don't know about the depth of the consoles. We would have to measure them.

          To put midi on the keyboards, you could use one of the MIDI decoders found at:


          I believe these are made by Vern and the boards are configurable and easy to install.


          • #6
            Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

            Hi Ryan,

            I think i may have a solution for you. I have 3 maual console that is controlled solely by midi using the Opus 2 control system. Contact me for more info. I took a 2 manual stop tab and turned into a 3 manual draw knob with expression control on every divison.



            • #7
              Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

              Hey Chris!

              Thanks for the sugestion - but I really must emphasise how much work would have to go into getting an organ console up 75 stairs, and into a 100 year old house - no matter how strong you are or how you go about it. I had to abandon a new couch (sold it) because I couldn't get it up to where it needed to go.

              So - now that I have all my nickles and dimes saved up - here is what I'm going to do;

              Classical Organ Works Dual Keybaord
              Classical Organ Works Dual Expression Pedal
              Classical Organ Works Pedal Board

              Use current computer;
              P4 2.4Ghz
              1GB Ram (upgrade to 2gb)
              Windows 2000 Pro
              240GB HD Space
              5.1 Dolby Sound Card (forget manufacturer).

              Use current Stereo Setup - will upgrade later.

              Build a shelving unit to house keyboards and pedalboard.
              Get a used Organ Bench.

              Now ---

              Any sugestion on what sound samples for Hauptwerk I should get? I want something in stereo - if I can manage it -- but dont nessicarily need something "huge" either - (St Annes is nice - but a big big LOL). I tend to stick to more Baroque and Classical organ rather than romantic - though sometimes I do venture into the Romantic music.

              Also - does this setup sound good? It will cost about 3250 or so (without counting the computer) which to me is a good deal. Might I need to bump the memory on the computer up to 3 or 4gb?



              • #8
                Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

                Whoo Hoo!!!

                Just placed the order for the 15-CMK-2M (Dual Manual Keyboard) and the dual swell shoes (will be set as Swell and Creschendo).

                I just cant take it anymore - I HAVE to have an organ =)

                Will be ordering the pedalboard tomorrow - then all I have to do is put it all together.




                • #9
                  Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

                  Hey folks!

                  Well - almost an entire month later - my order has arived from Classic Organ Works. Fed Ex was the delivery method - and i would have had the stuff sooner had they not screwed up royaly (for some reason once it got to Sierra Vista - the place it would go out for delivery from - it was then sent to North Carolina by ground)/

                  My impression -- the manuals look nice. It would have been nice to know that there is no "case" to the dual manual (the top is open as is the back). I understand that these are made to be installed into a normal console - but it would have been nice to know what to expect for a table top.

                  I will need to take some time to unpack the pedalboard and swell pedals as the box is HUGE. Lol --- but I'm excited. I also purchased a pretty good sound card for my PC which will run Hauptwerk 1.23.

                  More to come.

                  Ryan Price


                  • #10
                    Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

                    Well folks -

                    After much heming and hawing and a great gnashing of the teeth - the parts all arrived almost one month after purchase. Then a trip out of town for work, and a mini vacation stalled the possibility of getting things going.

                    So last week I finished up the computer - using a MU0404 sound card, a MOTU midi usb box, and 1.5gb of ram. I then installed the eval version of Haupterk 1.23 and loaded some of the organs I have.

                    Then I hooked up the dual manual (great only at this point) and tried it out.

                    WOW - I am impressed at the sound. I need to drag my amps and speakers upstairs but WOW. This is going to be one kick-but system!

                    BTW - anyone thinking of getting the pedal board - DO. It is BEAUTIFUL --- the wood work is amazing - as is the quality and craftsmanship. I was VERY VERY VERY pleased with it. The swell pedals could have come with some type of case around them - but I understand that these are made to be replacements in a console. Still WOW - they are beautiful too!!!

                    I bought a new type of desk avail from IKEA that should be wide enough to accept the pedal board and it has an adjustable highth top --- it is not the Jerker desk everyone talks about using - it's another brand altogether. Not as deep - which is what I want. Will post how that goes.

                    More to come!


                    • #11
                      Re: Building a MIDI Organ - From Scratch

                      Hope you got the new free offering from Jonathan Orwig. And there's a new free harpsichord, too.