The Computer Pipe Organ

Hi! Welcome to the Computer Pipe Organ Page. This page describes my computer pipe organ, pictured below, that I built, piece by piece, over a period of time. This organ, in various stages of development, was used to record my musical performances which are available on the O. P. Martin Home Page. I have links to all the suppliers I used. Also available from this page are the soundfonts I use, in order to help you if you want to build one of your own.

The computer pipe organ consists of two 61-note keyboards, a keyboard stand, a piece of plywood, keyboard accessories, midi cables, a music stand, a 32-note ago pedalboard with midi, an organ bench, a midi merger, my home personal computer, my organ software, custom soundfonts, assorted audio cables, and two headphones.

I will not provide an introductory tutorial of organ or computer terminology, nor all the step-by-step instructions you would need to assemble your own variant of what I did, but here are some highlights and pointers:

Each manual on my computer pipe organ is an ordinary electronic keyboard / synthesizer which was/is readily available. The first one I originally purchased because I wanted a fine professional instrument with good sound. And, for a while, I used it to produce sounds. But, now it could just as well be a cheaper model since it is only being used as an input device for the computer. I chose the Roland XP-60. The Roland keyboards have one feature I like where the program-select buttons are laid out in two rows of eight buttons each. Each button in the top row selects a menu of eight programs which are selected in the bottom row, for a total of 64 programs that can be instantly accessed with the press of two buttons. I take advantage of almost all of these combinations in my software program, described below. I do not know what the least-expensive Roland model is that has this feature.

For the upper manual I purchased a far less expensive keyboard from Casio. The Casio keyboards have the feature of being able to easily change the keyboard channel that they send midi data out on. I got the least expensive model that had velocity sensitivity, the CTK-593. It is ugly, but that is the price you pay. If your keyboard has built-in speakers, make sure the volume is all the way down.

The keyboard stand had to be carefully chosen since most of the modern models are not compatible with a full pedalboard. I got a wide, Z-type stand by QuikLok, the Z-726L. Because it was necessary to get the wide version so the legs would fit under the curved pedalboard, it was also necessary to get a 44x16x1/2" piece of plywood to support the 61-note lower manual.

I also got an expression pedal and a sustain pedal to hook to the Roland keyboard, a power adapter for the Casio keyboard, and several midi cables.

The music stand is a good old classic church-style model from Manhasset. They have been around since the 1930's. It just fits when fully extended and sitting on top of a small cardboard box.

All of the above (keyboards through music stand) I purchased from my local Sam Ash music store.

Because my organ technician friend had an extra pedalboard that he gave me, we were able to fix it up and midi-ize it for about half the cost of buying a new one. The midi circuit board or a complete midi pedalboard are available from: Classic Organ Works. Bear in mind that prices on this site are listed in Canadian dollars and the U.S. price is somewhat less.

The most difficult piece to acquire may actually be the organ bench. The bench must be wide enough to accommodate the full pedalboard. The Lord blessed me to pay only a fraction of what a new bench would cost by allowing me to locate a rare, used theatre-style bench, which has the narrow seat and the wide legs, which I needed because of limited space. You may be able to get by with a straight classical style. Either way, three resources to help you track down used organ pieces are: 1., 2., 3. If you must get a new bench, two suppliers are: Allen Organ and Organ Supply , but they are very expensive.

One thing Sam Ash did not carry was a midi merger. You need to merge three midi streams into one input port on the computer's sound card. Understand that each of the three midi devices must be set to transmit on a different midi channel. The pedalboard midi circuit card already boasted one merge input, so I was able to get by with a two-input merger from Midi Solutions, although a four-input model is available. I was able to get this at a substantial discount from: Musician's Friend .com .

The previously available software has been removed because of presumably false-positive malware detection. Most of the soundfonts are still available.

Now also in .SFZ format:

Filename and size Runs under Release Date [42M] SFZ Version May 20, 2024 A.D. [37M] SFZ Version December 31, 2018 A.D. [9M] Win XP, or
Wine (in XP mode) on Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS
April 7, 2009 A.D. [5.2M] Win 98 * March 5, 2005 A.D.

The Organ software makes use of the following:

sound samples:
    'Jeux d'orgues' (c) Joseph Basquin,
    'Cinema Organ' (c) Bruce Miles,
    'GeneralUser' (c) S. Christian Collins,
    (c) John McCoy
    (c) Thomas Hammer
    'Flobakks Choir' (c) Rune Flobakk
    'Puro' (c) Matias Rockas

The pd-samples soundfont contains the following public domain sounds:
A list of sources is included.

If you find the program useful, consider a small donation. The suggested donation amount is $5.

I used Polyphone to convert the soundfonts to SFZ.

Another free organ software, that in some respects is better than mine, is GrandOrgue. I just wish that it would suppress the screen saver only if not minimized under Windows; but, maybe they will fix that in a subsequent release. The software will need samples; I recommend to use the sample set from Jeux d'orgues. More samples can be found here.

I also use the free MidiYoke program to route the midi output of one program (such as Organ14) to the midi input of others (such as a DAW). It too is an old program but it works under Win 7: just right click on the .msi file and select "troubleshoot compatibility" to install.

If you do not have a midi keyboard hooked up to your computer but would like to hear the sound, the free "Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard" software provides an on-screen keyboard which can be used in conjunction with MidiYoke. An excellent discussion of how these available softwares can work together is found on the Vmpk page.

Here is my Music Software Wish List.

An 1/8" stereo audio extension cable and an 1/8" stereo Y-adapter were bought from my local Radio Shack . These are used to connect the output of the sound card to the two headphones. The main pair are the ones I use most of the time. I recommend them: Sennheiser HD 570 Symphony headphones. These we got at Crutchfield. I just cut the bass by -3 dB and they sound perfect. They also feature a detachable cord and are extremely comfortable. When I am playing for someone else, I let them use the good phones, while I listen with the second pair, which I got when Sam Ash threw them in for free for buying the second keyboard.

If you would like to hear some music I made partially but not entirely with this computer pipe organ, my MP3 album, "Jesus, O Jesus II" is available on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon, among others. A YouTube video which features one of the songs is here.

© copyright 2005-2024, O. P. Martin