Forum Top Banner Ad

Collapse

Ebay Classic organs

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Pipe Organ to Self Playing Conversion..... Need any info on companies who do them.

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Pipe Organ to Self Playing Conversion..... Need any info on companies who do them.

    Hello, My name is Danny and I'm the Buildings and grounds supervisor for Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks ND
    Our organist who just turned 80, officially retired. I just started researching the idea of having the organ converted to Midi or have a system installed so the organ can play itself, via Midi or other software. Replay Organs out of Europe is the only company Ive found online that does these conversions however both their website and facebook have not been updated since 2016. would anyone here both heard of these self playing conversions and have any leads on companies or people that do them?

  • #2
    Welcome to the Organ Forum Danny. We need more information about your pipe organ to be helpful. Which company built it, what year was it built, is the console mechanical action (tracker) or electric action, how big is it - number of keyboards and number of ranks (sets) of pipes - all would be good to know before any suggestions can be made.

    Two potential sources of information that come to mind are the company that built the organ, if they are still in business, and the company that tunes and maintains the organ.

    And then there is the issue of who would create the MIDI recordings for your organ once you have a self-playing system installed? A generic MIDI file of a hymn downloaded off of the Internet would probably not work because more information than just the notes is needed to operate an organ. The selection of stops and the expression (volume) data is also needed and is very specific for a given record/playback system.
    Last edited by AllenAnalog; 02-05-2022, 01:13 PM.
    Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

    Comment


    • #3
      Try contacting the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Surely they would be able to provide names for substitute organists and/or assist in finding a new organist to replace your recent retiree!!

      You are also going to need an organist to create those MIDI recordings if you go that route.

      Comment


      • #4
        Welcome to the forum! I see you've only made one post so may not be familiar with how the site works. Be sure to check your private messages, I've reached out to you there.

        Comment


        • #5
          Possibly doable, but likely expensive.

          I'm wondering why your church would not simply recruit a replacement organist.

          Is this the subject organ? https://pipeorgandatabase.org/organ/44281
          -------

          Hammond M-102 #21000.
          Leslie 147 #F7453.
          Hammond S-6 #72421

          Comment


          • Sonicbassman
            Sonicbassman commented
            Editing a comment
            That is it! 1976 Casavant. There are no organists to recruit within 200 miles of our church. The ones that are here both are either at or past retirement age AND play for 2-3 churches already and have declined any offers we have put forth. We do not have the population up here. Also we've been looking
            For over 2 years.

            However if anyone here knows of an organist looking for full time Sunday work in the Grand Forks ND area we are more then eager to help make a connection!

            -Danny

        • #6
          Hi Danny. Your question brings back memories of the self-playing organ I, with the help of a brilliant young electrical-engineering student, who was boarding with us at the time, assembled in the mid 1970s. You'll find the story here:

          https://www.organworks.com/index.php...before-classic

          What you wish to achieve is not outside the realm of possibility, but the stars have to align. First of all, who was the builder and what kind of switching system was used? If it is a tracker organ or it dates back to the phosphor-bronze era, the job is well nigh impossible or very expensive. But if it has a solid state system that simply switches organ voltage with one switch per key, it may be possible to do something. In fact, I'm about to add a MIDI interface to the Great keyboard of a Casavant pipe organ that uses a Devtronix switching system.

          It allows the organist to play the Great organ from any MIDI keyboard at some distance from the console. e.g., directly in front of the choir. Top B and C are reserved for advancing or reversing the sequencer allowing stop changes to be made. I actually have an old Roland E-10 synthesizer that has some modest record and playback capability. That should be fun!

          Click image for larger version

Name:	MIDI Interface.jpg
Views:	659
Size:	429.8 KB
ID:	792837

          An Arduino Mega, hiding under its MIDI shield, accepts MIDI input, decodes it, and activates the outputs on a spare Devtronix driver board connected to the Great keyboard. In a minimal setup, a second decoder/driver could operate the pedal. You would then have all the hardware needed to do basic hymn playing, given a computer that can source and playback MIDI files.

          If the organ has a combination action programmed with suitable combinations, the organ could then be "played" by someone who, after minimal training, just needs to operate the pistons and the swell pedals. That's a better scenario than having the organ fall silent.

          If you can locate an enthusiastic person with some background in electrical engineering and computers, this could become an "in house" project. It is not that difficult to build a simple driver board and I can share the necessary code for the Arduino.

          Comment


          • Sonicbassman
            Sonicbassman commented
            Editing a comment
            I posted pics of the model farther down in the thread. It was built in 1976 and it is a Casavant

        • #7
          At the risk of gross over-generalization, the Lutheran congregations I have known, although few, have all been HIGHLY musical. A Casavant, even a smallish one, represents an outlier commitment to musical excellence. It would be a shame to make it into a music box. I was part of a rotation of four musicians (all were not organists!) that provided accompaniment for the early (8:00am) service at a Lutheran Church on the West Coast. A couple of the organists didn't use the pedals (at all) but they were all lifelong Lutherans (except me) and knew their way around any Divine Service the Priest wanted to use. The organ was a Brombaugh tracker and wasn't going to be retired for any reason.

          I cannot imagine anything short of a Level III AI being able to keep up with that Liturgy anyway. The position I have now was held by an organist that was retirement age when they took the position. They possibly would still be there had their family not intervened and forced them to retire. They were 90. It is still tough after four years, following that kind of legacy. I'm sure some still wish 'P' was still up there on the organ, but, although they are still alive and well, that just isn't possible. And it must be possible to replace an organist for much less up front money than it would take to retrofit MIDI into that Casavant and provide a Sequencer Module with Hymn Accompaniments. But what about the Chants and Canticles ... Preludes ... Postludes ... Offertories ... Are Hymns the only music that will be kept alive at this church? I don't know. I hope after the initial flood of sorrow at what is simply the inevitable progress of life, that this church will realize that this might be the time for a different kind of transition. That's what I will pray for.

          Comment


          • Sonicbassman
            Sonicbassman commented
            Editing a comment
            Lesisestrum,

            Try me I agree with you whole heartedly however, though we are in the heart of Lutheran territory for the upper Midwest we have tirelessly been on the hunt for a replacement organist, or even a pianist who would be willing to give it a shot for over 2 years. We just don't have the population pool up here.

            No luck whatever. I fear the future may find the chances even less as the clock of life ticks on. We all in our council have prayed long and hard on this topic and our former organist is willing to come in for a month sometime this summer to record “her legacy” on the organ she played for 48 yrs and we'd rather see it alive, even “replaying” her recordings then to let such a beautiful instrument lay dormant and unused.

        • #8
          I use Syndyne company's relay that has the midi feature built into it. Their system will allow you to record and playback from a thumb drive and has a digital display to display what file to choose from much like a vcr. Look on the web and you can see all the features available. I have several churches in my area that are going this way whenever they don't have their organist available.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by AllenAnalog View Post
            Welcome to the Organ Forum Danny. We need more information about your pipe organ to be helpful. Which company built it, what year was it built, is the console mechanical action (tracker) or electric action, how big is it - number of keyboards and number of ranks (sets) of pipes - all would be good to know before any suggestions can be made.

            Two potential sources of information that come to mind are the company that built the organ, if they are still in business, and the company that tunes and maintains the organ.

            And then there is the issue of who would create the MIDI recordings for your organ once you have a self-playing system installed? A generic MIDI file of a hymn downloaded off of the Internet would probably not work because more information than just the notes is needed to operate an organ. The selection of stops and the expression (volume) data is also needed and is very specific for a given record/playback system.
            Hey Allen here are some pics, including the maker and year built.

            Also to everyone who has replied, Thank you!!

            We have tried to find organists around a 200 mile radius and there are no full time ones available however I will pass along the info to the Sr Pastor about the RRV organist guild . We would be able to have access to an organist to come in and record hymns for MIDI files. Just not one available Sundays. I attached pics of the organ in my reply. She's one of the largest in out area and a real beauty as well.



            Danny

            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #10
              Pity about the lack of full time organists in ND.

              So this is the specification: https://pipeorgandatabase.org/organ/44281
              -------

              Hammond M-102 #21000.
              Leslie 147 #F7453.
              Hammond S-6 #72421

              Comment


              • #11
                What a lovely instrument. It probably still uses Casavant's "roller relay," a very clever and reliable system but short of replacing it with a new switching system (e.g. Syndyne mentioned earlier) there is no way to MIDIfy this.

                What is needed is a vorsetzer.

                Comment


                • #12
                  That is a nice little organ you guys have. It's from a good period in Casavant's history. I'm actually only 400 km away from you in Manitoba. Still too far to travel for every Sunday!

                  You should probably get in contact with Casavant. They can modernize your console and the action, and will probably be able to do the self playing conversion. It's not going to be fast, and it's not going to be cheap!

                  Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
                  Former: Yamaha E3R
                  https://www.exercisesincatholicmythology.com

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    It is unlikely that Casavant would offer to do a conversion. When consoles approach 50 years in age, they are usually replaced and I'm sure Casavant would be happy to build you a new one. But last I heard, the cost can approach a quarter of a million dollars.

                    An actual conversion to a Syndyne system, for example, would require a local organ builder to do it for you. Having just converted a 4 manual Casavant console to solid state, on a limited budget using mostly salvaged parts,I am well aware of the pitfalls. The keyboards can be salvaged by parallel wiring the multiple contacts together giving lots of redundancy. There is probably a pneumatic wind line running to the console so the stop action may be pneumatic meaning the stop tabs will have to be replaced. But on a small organ like this the cost won't be excessive. The cost of a Syndyne relay and combination action for an organ this size would not be unreasonable. Some years ago we used a Syndyne system in a Lutheran church with an organ of similar size. Installation and programming were straightforward and the console has been trouble free.

                    Wish I lived next door. It would be a fun project and a challenge.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      In an earlier post I mentioned using a Vorsetzer, that machine, popular in the earlier part of the 20th century, which could be wheeled in front of a piano and with its wooden fingers activating the keys, play piano rolls. (Modern versions that play MIDI files are still being built)

                      I dreamt of playing the local Cathedral tracker action organ wirelessly from a MIDI keyboard on the floor of the cathedral. I built a rig of one octave to test my ideas and it played my digital piano keyboard quite nicely, although admittedly it struggled with "Flight of the Bumblebee."

                      But the organist wasn't interested and the solenoids were expensive, so I didn't pursue it any further. But I'll share what I learned.
                      The solenoid magnets I used were strong enough for the job but got hot if turned on for any length of time. So I put together the following setup to test whether operating it with a brief 12V pulse to initiate the action followed by a continuous 6V to hold the key down until released, would work. And yes, that is a chop stick with a rubber tip.

                      Click image for larger version

Name:	Vorsetzer.jpg
Views:	582
Size:	539.2 KB
ID:	792982


                      One ULN2003 chip was used to drive each solenoid. Four drivers were paralleled for the initial pulse and the remaining three were paralleled to provide the steady state current through a 7.5 ohm, 10W wire wound resistor. Two IO pins on the Arduino handle the timing. A dip switch allowed me to select pulse lengths from 0.05 sec to 0.50 sec. It turned out that 0.10 sec was sufficiently long. Although the resistor got hot (but not excessively) when a note was sustained, the coil and chip got only slightly warm.

                      When the little paddle switch on the left was pressed, the action was very prompt and assertive. The weighted digital piano action feels similar to that of the Cathedral organ's positive division and I'm confident it would have played that. However, whether it would operate the Great division (with couplers drawn?) remains an open question. But a Casavant keyboard would present no problem. However, the pedal is an other matter.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Hello, Danny. My name is John, just left you a voice mail at the church. I can help give you information how to do this, and some approximate costs. This is a problem for many churches, and becoming more as time goes on. Peterson Musical Products provides the lion's share of organ control systems (the interior "guts" which carries signals from the keyboard to the organ chambers). We have systems, available through organ technicians, which have the record and play functions of MIDI. And more. It's easiest to talk in person. Please call. Best regards!
                        -John S. (look me up on the web, I'm not hard to find)

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X