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Registration Sequencer Question

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  • Registration Sequencer Question

    I am familiar with piston sequencers, either the European style that steps through the generals in order (also called a stepper) or the American system which allows the programming of a sequence of any pistons in any order.
    However, as soon as one changes any of the underlying combinations, then any sequences that use these combinations will no longer be valid.

    So my question is, does anyone make a true registration sequencer that operates independently of the combination action? For example, one could push a general piston and ask that this be added to the sequence, but instead of storing the piston number, the actual registration associated with that piston would be stored at that location in the sequence. In fact, it could store any arbitrary combination that one might set up without involving the combination action at all. Is there a reason why I can't seem to find any builder using such a system? It can't be cost; memory is essentially free.

  • #2
    None of the combination sequencers I'm familiar with are tied to the combinations set by the general or divisional pistons. They are all tied to stop selection and the combinations are completely independent from the general and divisional combinations. Hauptwerk implements this. To a set a combination for a sequence step, you draw the stops for your desired combination, as you would when setting a general piston, use the stepper controls to navigate to the step in the sequence for the combination and then hit a Set piston to store the combination. There are + and - pistons and studs to advance or retard the sequence position during the performance

    Hauptwerk's sequencer is 1000 steps per combination bank (memory level).

    If today's pipe organ builders are implementing a more limited system, it would seem they are stuck in a technological past.

    Allen 965
    Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
    Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
    Hauptwerk 4.2


    • #3
      Checked with Classic Organ and am told that since the 1980s, all Classic control systems have had the option of a true registration sequencer. In fact, their system provides three options.

      1. A "Piston Sequencer" which just steps through the generals. (European stepper)

      2. The "Any Piston Sequencer" which stores piston presses and is the one I'm most familiar with.

      3. A true "Registration Sequencer" that is fully editable and independent of Generals/Divisionals.

      Sounds thoroughly up-to-date to me.


      • #4
        In light of post #3 I am not understanding why this thread exists at all. Sounds like the o.p. has answered their own question to their satisfaction. For most of us there was never any question in the first place. Piston sequencers are simple affairs, they sequence pistons that you have set in the usual way like our Admin explained. Hauptwerk takes it to a different level by offering a higher level of programming ability. Classic Organ Works may have succeeded in achieving Hauptwerk level programmability in a standalone system but I wonder if they were queried as to the cost. A reasonable question in light of the fact that in 99% of cases where it matters Hauptwerk will already be installed.


        • Coenraads
          Coenraads commented
          Editing a comment
          I posted this question under Church Pipe Organs because I was uncertain about the state of affairs in the world of pipe organ switching systems. Of course, such a system has no relevance to the world of of VPOs. Visit the SSOS website for example to see how confusing this can be.

      • #5
        I have played far more pipe organs than I have played VPO's (none) and most pipe organs do not have piston sequencers at all. The vast majority have less than 8 levels of memory for the Combination Action. Some legacy $500K instruments have been retrofitted with 256 and 512 level combination actions and some kind of stepper to move through the stored pistons. Newer instruments will have them OEM. Maybe at the $1M level you start to see some alternatives appearing, and yes, I could be very wrong but I have to assume that they will still mainly sequence through the pistons that are programmed the way pistons have been programmed for generations. How many organists will really take the time to fully utilize something that works so outside of the status quo? Maybe the confusion is being caused by calling what is more accurately described as a Registration Sequencer, a 'Piston Sequencer'. I don't know of any Registration Sequencers being used on any notable pipe organs in the United States.


        • #6
          Thank you for taking the time to answer the question I had in mind all along but perhaps hadn't expressed very clearly.
          The three largest (4 manual) organs in our city all have sequencers of one form or another, but they are all "piston pushers."
          Visiting organists make good use of them. I remember in particular a memorable recital given by Peter Richard Conte on our century old Casavant (British Romantic) where his use of the sequencer was absolutely brilliant. Considering what he normally plays, this should not be surprising. I had upgraded that organ with a piston sequencer (Peterson) just a month earlier and was very pleased with how well it worked.
          Lately, this set me to wondering why I had never heard of any pipe organ with a true Registration Sequencer of the type we take for granted in HW. Why the reluctance in the pipe-organ industry to adopt something that seems clearly superior in my judgement. Is it just a lack of demand for the unfamiliar? In fact, until I contacted Classic Organ, I assumed that such systems were simply not available.
          Your experience confirms my feeling that if there are pipe organs with true Registration Sequencers, they must be rare.
          Anyone know of one? Perhaps the organ in Boston Symphony Hall? This uses the Classic Organ system.