The beautiful GrandOrgue + SaveVirtualOrgans

So I ran GrandOrgue and a program window appeared, looking like one of those things I get when I compile the “empty project” in one of my real programmer IDEs. Much like jOrgan. But GrandOrgue has help. And the help has a much more interesting screen in the “user interface” section. Doesn’t look anything like my screen!

Oh wait look here, in the help: “Getting Started”, “Sample Sets”, the third sentence says “you won’t be able to do anything at all with GrandOrgue without at least one sample set”. ... Now everything’s clear! No example sample set supplied, of course; that would be too simple....

Google-up!

But all you home organists would know now’s the time to saddle-up and google for “GrandOrgue sample set”. ... Oh I get it; they’re huge! Of course! That’s why there’s no demo! ... Well, really, only a gig or so. ... So I decided these SaveVirtualOrgans fellows seemed fairly plausible. ... Well at least back in those ancient days a year or so ago; sadly everything’s dust and ashes now, and they only have Hauptwerk and the inscrutable jOrgan versions....

I used to chastise GrandOrgue as one of the be-working-any-year-now crowd, but then I got the Barton — and now I don’t; although my version still works more-or-less here but always with definite crochets. ... But if SaveVirtualOrgans thinks jOrgan is more likely ... well there’s that long hard lonesome road the virtual organist must travel. ... My advice is get the Hauptwerk free thing; it’s appalling-enough....

... Oh wait, speaking of googling, here’s GrandOrgue, again! And here! ... They resurrected! And they’re German! ... There seems to be a bunch of stuff over there, presumably a new improved version....



The Inscrutable jOrgan

All the virtual organs are apparently part of a kind of zen discipline to try the would-be organist’s patience in new and astounding ways. ... But even by that standard jOrgan is excessively obscure; I suspect without the slightest basis that an early-in-life infatuation with Sound Blaster™ cards, so wildly popular in our Windows systems in those dark days, and with which jOrgan was almost always used, led to later fervent assertions by the usual forum experts in reply to pitiful “no sound” complaints, that of course Jorgan made no sound, because it was such a “pure” front end. ... And for me at least, the purity was blinding. ... I suppose I should try it again someday and the new improved SaveOurOrgans’ versions; but since no one ever admits it doesn’t work in the first place, it’s probably still a waste....

My 64 Bits

Anyway, I have been guilty of assuming these virtual organs would go with my ultra-new practically-tomorrow 64-bit Windows 7 systems. This delusion might’ve had something to do with “jOrgan-3.17-installer-amd64.exe”, where the “64” is apparently just persiflage; it, and jorgan.exe itself, were in fact 32-bit programs. ... I was fooled I guess because I figured these people are always so hot for more virtual ranks, and the obvious place to put them is the giant new memory spaces of 64-bit windows. I was wrong....

And indeed it came to pass that I did install the hidden jOrgan-3.17-installer-x86.exe, which may only be found by the most faithful and humble googling — it’ll help if you know Italian — and turned-away in bitter spite from the dark easily-located — and utterly silent — amd64 deceiver. ... And then I loaded the secret jOrgan disposition from j3.15_St._Stephens_1.03_FS.7z which probably isn’t at this link but must not be found by any googling, so elusive and secret. ... And Behold! — the hermetic jOrgan instantly made noise!

Bringer of Fire ...

But it would only make the crummy Windows noises; I had not worshiped enough at the Holy Tech, ignorant unclean user that I am. ... But, I would not! ... I am an apostate geek, I will steal the fire and bring it to the dank organ caves! ... And totally guessed that I had to set the “Audio driver” to the drop-down value “dsound”, whereupon the “Audio device” would drop-down to display my attic audio menagerie, and ol’ St. Stephen’s there played in my speakers at last. ... And it wasn’t bad; and completely free — so long as your time is utterly worthless. ... As is mine obviously because I took another look after a few months, having learned that “dsound” is a typical sobriquet for “direct sound”, a Windows technology that guarantees bad latency. But I found no way to invoke the sacred ASIO in jorgan, although I’m sure the gnostic masters are quivering with this hermetic knowledge. ... I also noticed I never managed to get the great and the pedal to play — oh it’s so simple you dummy; just use MIDI channels 1, 2, and 3, as I discovered after some effort, mostly devoted to making my MPKmini achieve this desirable capability. ... I should also mention that on the properties page shown above, if you want to hear anything, there’s a “gain” setting which you probably want to change from whatever ridiculous default value it is to 1.0....

So the latency doesn’t seem so bad with my wretched little test keyboard but then I became immune to the stuff somewhere in the magic and mystery. ... It’s Fluidsynth-based, which admirable software has or has not learned to ASIO depending on web authorities’ secret certainties. ... So did I mention the “j” probably stands for Java, the beloved portable language?


Annoying Technical Know-it-alls

It sometimes seems as if they’re everywhere. Are they entirely motivated by ignorance & spite? ... I mean, recommending to poor suppliants trying to get Hauptwerk going that “oh jOrgan is so much easier” is just wrong; but I’ve seen it more than once. ... Is it just a kind of insecure boasting, “oh it’s so simple for me if you can’t do it you must be such an idiot”? ... Well naturally that’s been my provisional conclusion. But I remember a formative experience, when I was 28 or 47 or something, when some earnest fellow tried to explain something to a secretary, and I remember reflecting that he was genuinely amazed at the incomprehension....


The Magic and Mystery of the Virtual Organs ...

Ok, I took the music box apart and gazed upon a few little wheels and tines. Fortunately the metaphor goes no further ’cause I don’t have to put it back together again. ... I feel like the virtual secret police, feretting out obscure paths, hidden for unknown cause and by inept means, to produce this almost-certainly delusional timeline. ... With which my delving is probably done....

  1. In 1982, MIDI got going, and made a huge amount of money for the musical instrument business, and still does. (I cavorted in blissful ignorance as the innocent days pased at Burroughs/Redactron.)

  2. In 1996, SoundFont version 2.0 was brought into the world by E-mu Systems and Creative Labs, basically to support their Sound Blaster PC cards, which at that time were the reasonably-priced way to get nice music out of a PC. As a milestone, note that Windows 95 was astride the PC world around then. Soundfont version 2.0 is embodied in .SF2 files, which contain actual audio. The standard was promoted and the specs published so everyone could use it, although I assume it’s still entangled in the usual licensing swamp, but nobody cares ’cause the music biz wandered-off to the beeps and squawks of today’s dance music and DAWs, and the SF2 thing is basically designed to imitate boring musical instruments. It has some kind of facilities for re-using samples for different notes, so the thing can be relatively compact or huge, and still play complete scales. Or something like that.

  3. Hauptwerk began in 2002; it was acquired by Milan Digital Audio, the current organization, @ 2008. It appears to be another one of these pesky Java programs, or at least uses Java, although I never noticed until I looked in the directory....

  4. FluidSynth converts MIDI note data into audio — aka “music”. ... Oh I get it; as Wikipedia says in its short article, it does it “without need for a SoundFont-compatible soundcard”. And the dates at the sourcerforge site suggest 2007. ... It’s an innocent FOSS Linuxy command-line kind of thing; the “Fluidsynth” screens in Miditzer, which uses the technology to make beautiful music, are all Miditzer’s. As are those in the cranky jOrgan and presumably elsewhere....

  5. I thought for some reason the beloved Miditzer showed-up around 2006 or so but the earliest date on the download page is 12/3/07; but then again my “Miditzer Style 216” shows a likely suspect “Miditzer.dll” dated 9/23/05. ... And further extravagantly pointless theatre-sf forum trolling suggests 2003 or so....

  6. The estimable Bruce Miles, the creator of Miditzer’s beautiful virtual ranks, has notes for version 3.4 of jOrgan dated 12/08, where he mentions the inclusion of the FluidSynth jOrgan extension (before which, presumably, soundblaster cards were used). ... However, in a “Wed Sep 5, 2012” posting to the VTPO he wrote “I originally created the soundset ... used by Miditzer about 13 years ago”, which puts us back about 1999 I believe; a comfortable few years after SF2; and before jOrgan, whose “about” box says 2003-2011.

  7. The GrandOrgue “overview” page used to say it was “based on the MyOrgan project that was discontinued early in 2009. The original MyOrgan project name and copyright have been given to Milan Digial Audio (http://www.milandigitalaudio.com/).” And I did get a vague impression somewhere that GrandOrgue and Hauptwerk used to pal around in the old days....

The Glory that was Soundfont

After laboriously spelunking this stuff from the web with my bare hands and pitons, I found the (all-but-defunct) Virtual Organ/Sound Font yahoo forum where I could’ve read the whole thing, with notes from Jim Henry and Bruce Miles and even jOrgan’s Sven Meier, just for the looking. ... I probably have a better tolerance for such material than most, but I gave up @ 2006. ... But what a time they had!

— the virtual programmer
Thursday 7/10/14 5:59 pm