17. Other Organs! Around the time I became hopelessly infatuated with the Nord C2, Hammond/Suzuki was concocting the SK2 @ $2,900 (amazon). And searching the “musical instrument” category at Amazon for “Hammond pedal” brought-up midst the fuzz and reverb at least three Hammond pedal boards, the octave $885 XPK-100, the octave-and-a-half $1,049 XPK-200, and the grand 2-octave $2,085 XK-Pedal Board.

Hammond’s previous offering XK3C never excited my primitive organ lust because it did nothing but tone wheel; the SK2, however, not only has a selection of pianos and marimbas and what-not along with the Hammond sounds, but pipe organ stuff! ... I have only a vague idea what the SK2 pipe organ sounds like, but it’s probably not the highbrow sampled baroque organ of my beloved Nord; which competitive situation explains that a little. ... On the other hand, it’s more likely the thing will actually appear at planet Earth retail locations, so one could go listen to it, or at least its little brother the single-manual SK1, which has the same sounds and was no-doubt originally contrived to compete with Nord’s popular stage pianos. ... And then there’s a not-so-impressive youtube example — the video’s been copied all across the starry web when I googled for “hammond sk2 pipe stops”....

But regardless, I am heartened by Hammond/Suzuki’s desperate attempt to gather filthy lucre, which obviously inspires Nord. The SK2, according to the forums and preset names like “Glory Pipes”, is popular with the religious, and no doubt my precious Nord baroque stops are an outcome of that happy market. Moreover, in this commercial ferment the home organ seems prepared for a rebound or at least not total morbidity, and perhaps its time has come again, at last....

18. 6/23/13:The Nord Regroups. Or so I sincerely hoped. It was headed for a better land, but in the meantime it felt poorly. ... @ Monday, November 18, 2013, the resurrection began; I incorporated a nice piece of aluminum from sliding door wreckage into the Nord 3rd keyboard positioning mechanism — a shining moment.

... And the agonizing struggle at last was done, the Nord Imperium lives again, and The Great Move is truly over, Fri 12/6/13.

Sun 3/2/14. But the fun never stops, and my not-so-beloved HP middle-level laptop, the digital mastermind of the virtual organs, got balky about its ventilating fan, complained and refused to start, shutting down within 10 seconds, and indeed the fan on the bottom whirred not and turned no more. But not forever when I poked it a little with a resistor lead. But after this happened twice I knew its time, if not up, was definitely not a betting proposition. ... Although now that I’ve replaced it with a cheaper laptop — more memory, better CPU, smaller screen, since I got my beloved 21’’ touch screen — the limping fan will doubtless stagger on for years. ... Fri 8/8/14. Well, months anyway, as long as I have a resistor at hand to poke at the fan; I have become the fan whisperer, and every morning coax the pitiful thing to life like Orpheus, with occult manipulations. ... Inspiring HP quality. ... 1/2/17. In the end times, I just let the thing roast; it still provides my precious renaissance acapella muzak in the music room, and I connected a USB keyboard, since it roasted the built-in to oblivion. But it still works, kind-of. That good ol’ HP quality. ... 2/27/17. At last it keeled-over for good.

... Astonishingly, my laptopectomy only took a few hours of a beautiful Florida afternoon. ... I could even restore my Hauptwerk combination settings from a backup (!) although I had to redo a lot of MIDI/audio stuff. Which the Miditzer 260sp also required, but otherwise just copied over, no backup restore necessary; even the last registration I used on the tottering-fan laptop reappeared! ... Well, after the treacherous elevated UAC registration. ... And I lie: my “idyllic afternoon” didn’t include the typical arduous configuration / software install/uninstall for the new machine, in this case with a few music things including the monstrous and endless Hauptwerk ordeal — which, however, did work; recognized its copy protection dongle without fuss and everything, and that with my dangerous “alternate drive” special secret sauce....

... I did cheat with the laptop purchase and forgo the brave new Windows 8 for the actually-functional 7 which for some reason was still readily available in the computer emporiums. ... Whatever, I’m back in business with revivified virtual organs + a functioning laptop fan, and all is well in the computer & musical duck reserve....


19. Among the Hauptwerk St. Anne’s demo organ’s lovable eccentricities are the three unknown couplers underneath the right side of the swell manual, all of which are “lit” indicating an on state. As is explained in a manual somewhere, these are the “crescendo” couplers, indicating that the swell, great, and pedal will be affected by the crescendo pedal (“CR TO SW” etc.). Which I didn’t know for years, and of course didn’t care.


20. Bome MIDI translator (and the beautiful $0 replacements). On the topic of wasting time and/or money, Bome’s Midi Translator ~$82 or so got my Nord buttons pushing the Miditzer combination pistons, which I found quite satisfying and strangely amusing, and essential for button hegemony. ... But be sure to see the new new new $zero MIDIox + LoopBe1/LoopMIDI solution below (and ignore this intervening indented Bome tale of travail).

... The towering Bome-versus-Miditzer struggle was ridiculously technical even for me — the exact opposite of Hauptwerk’s EZ “learn” mechanism. ... Eventually I also tried to fix the shoddy MIDI output of the Nord volume pedal, the softest bytes of which are 0, 9, 18, 22 (as per MIDIox) — i.e. a little non-linear. ... Further spelunking revealed only 86 unique volume levels for the supposed range of 128! ... Miditzer helps, too, with jumpy volume below about 5 or six. But I can “tune” the thing however I want with Bome + endless drudgery; although not, as it turned-out, enough. ... But my grand triumph was accessing the “toy counter” — gong, ooh-gah horn, bird tweet, etc. — with the upper pedals.

... Sadly, I can’t report that Bome was ever really ready for prime time despite endless update teases/promises. Personally I will avoid it all costs in the future, certainly with the free with infinitely-preferable $0 solution below available. ... One of the most infuriating Bome things I had to spelunk: when it started-up and said Failed to open MIDI IN device "3- Fast Track Pro MIDI In" or some such drivel, that was probably because Windows had playfully changed the name of my MIDI device after I moved the machine, rebooted, sneezed, or just every 15 minutes whether it needs it or not, and Bome of course remembered the wrong name until the end of eternity and failed trying to open it unless I eradicated it from the Windows registry. Like the “3- Fast Track” in the following beautiful example. ... Windows had already gotten-up to “5- Fast Track Pro” as it attempted to destroy all human life & works in the endless dance of Shiva....

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Bome Software\Bome’s Midi Translator Pro\MidiTranslator\MIDI.in]
"Options0"="FTF"
"Name0"="5- Fast Track Pro MIDI In"
"Name1"="3- Fast Track Pro MIDI In"
"Options1"="FFF"

Note that the space after the “5-” and “3-” — that’s just Windows’ way of making it a little harder to find it in the registry.

... Note also that I exchanged emails with “Mr. Bome” just a few years ago where he explained that fixing this

is as easy as unchecking (Windows) or double-clicking (OS X) the port in the MIDI port list so that it’s not “open” or “pending” anymore. Then MT will not try to open it upon next restart.
— “Florian” in Bome email, Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:14 am

Which was untrue; but I believed him, so desperate and sad was I, and I had already expurgated it with regedit, but when it happened again I checked and there was no “3 -Fast Track” anything in any of his MIDI menus, lists, conjurations I could find anywhere in his program, and I assume it’s just one of those things that’s might be true, at least sometimes, and maybe once, long ago, and what more could I want!?!? ... So Bome wasn’t really a working MIDI translation program....

... All my Bome angst was with version 1.72. At 6/23/15 — long after I departed the Dark Vales of Bome and switched to the $0 solution — I received the glorious news of a version 1.8, which I’m sure will right the wrongs and protect the weak. ... I mean really, the Bome guy doubtless means well; in his way....

THE GLORIOUS $0 ALTERNATIVES: MIDIOX + LOOPBE1 or LOOPMIDI

The jungle telegraph — actually a “grumpygary” at the VTPO forum — says a free working replacement might be loopbe1 + TransMIDIfier. But actually it turns-out loopbe1 + the old reliable MIDIox is almost certainly better, see below. ... I read about two minutes of the TransMIDIfier manual — and it’s not clear how it’d do what I did with Bome, which is translate my Nord’s MIDI messages to Miditzer’s desired program changes. ... When I inquired, the TransMIDIfier guy says I can do what I desire, which is probably good-enough since you can get TransMIDIfier without cost and try it out — after all, nothing is simple. ... Oh and look, TransMIDIfier recommends another loop product the free loopMIDI....

KINDER GENTLER

Perhaps I’ve been overly harsh about Bome, but I still got rid of it and salted the earth where it was in favor of the obviously superior talents of MIDIox + LoopBe1 — even ’though I could’ve fixed that stupid registry thing but scorned to try because it was so annoying, but probably some little BomeFixIt.Reg file would’ve done the trick. And the hostile syntax of the translation language could’ve been fought with text manipulation; indeed I already made a renumberer program for it. ... But Bome is now receding in the rear view mirror of owenlabs’ MIDI technology, thank goodness, as I’ve switched to the $zero option. and the MIDIox monitor windows decorate my Miditzer laptop screen, spewing beautiful MIDI data & translations as I challenge the heavens & good taste with theater organ magic and mystery and incompetence....

GUIING IT UP

I hasten to add that both Bome and TransMIDIfier — and of course the beloved MIDIox — provide lovely GUIs with which to mutilate your translations. Although I routinely abused Bome with an ASCII text editor, all the GUI programs make an effort to persuade me to do otherwise (except the decent kindly MIDIox). But I must point-out that if you’re planning on translating 18 or thirty-six buttons as I did with my beloved Nord, it gets real tedious real fast (aka error-prone), and I at any rate find it so much easier to use copy/paste etc. in my real programmer’s text editor.

IT’S ALL STILL APPALLING

... But do please note that the beautiful MIDIox alternative is still a technical nightmare for normal people....

MIDIOX + LOOPBE1 (& LoopMIDI) == $0 MIDI TRANSLATION FOR THE MASSES!

One glad day I verified that the revered MIDIox works with looopbe1 on a 64 bit windows 7 test system: I got a keyboard playing into MIDIox, out to loopbe1, and then to Miditzer 216 with “loopbe1” selected as its input device. However, just like TransMIDIfier I had no idea how to do anything, although the cute MIDIox “translation map” icon seemed to be a likely suspect. ... And so it was, and I finally concocted TEST.TXM which in its entirety contains:

MOXMAP Version 5

[Map]
1,NoteOn,0,0,*,127,N,0,*,ProgChg,0,0,0,*
3,NoteOn,48,48,*,127,N,0,1,ProgChg,1,1,0,*

[Options]
WaitForFullNRPN=0
MapNRPNDataIncr=0
SendFullNRPN=0
ReverseDataEntry=0

which within MIDIox looks like the beautiful illustration over there =>, after loading into MIDIox using the “Load...” button — which of course was where I originally created it by using this dialog and saving with the “Save” button, but first specifying the “Save as type” as “MIDI-OX ASCII Map”. ... Oh and note the checked “Turn Map On (after OK)” at the top right; if you don’t check it, the translation won’t happen....

So TEST.TXM translates two buttons on an Akai “MPKmini” keyboard at a Win 7 PC to two Miditzer 216 combo codes — which you will no doubt recognize from having memorized the appropriate Miditzer “settings” screen as the Solo P and MF buttons. ... And in fact those combo buttons did appear to change when I poked the MPK key or button, their registrations bravely taking effect....

Note that I didn’t have to load this stuff again; MIDIox remembers and starts-up with the last-loaded translation in place the next time.

Here <= we see (in special owenlabs grotesqocolor® translation) the two test events being flawlessly-translated in MIDIox’s beautiful monitor windows. You might want to right-click on the window and select “Display Decimal” (the option changes to “Display Hex” after you’ve done that).

The top is the input, with two different MIDI “Note On”s, the first created by one of the MPK’s big square buttons, and the 2nd by the lowest key on the keyboard. Also the accompanying “Note Off”s appear.

The bottom window shows the translated output, with two “Program Change” events — Miditzer’s desired combo button code appearing in place of the Note Ons. The Note-Offs are passed through without change, which probably won’t hurt anything but is left as an exercise for the presumably by-now infuriated reader, if he’s trying to get something like this working.


And here => is the beautiful “MIDIox Devices” setup screen (menu “Options” “MIDI Devices” or the icon). “Port Mapping” seems to show “MIDI-OX Events” selected/high-lighted and “LoopBe Internal MIDI” would be the single selected output — but I just kept clicking stuff until it worked like shown above. Index/search in MIDIox’s extensive help for “device” might help. ... Of course you’d’ve set all Miditzer’s input screen “MIDI input device”s to “LoopBe Internal MIDI” to accomplish all this ravishing magic. ... And you’d figure out all this nonsense by pressing the various buttons on your equipment and seeing what MIDI they emit in MIDIox!

MY FUTURE IS MIDIOX

I’ve at last abandoned with geeky ecstasy the infuriating Bome for the obviously superior MIDIox + Loopbe1, even ’though it required work which of all things I most dread — unlike the higher virtual organistas, I want to play my home organ, not worship it. ... But I was vaguely yearning for some translation modification anyway, and while I was experimenting it was really so much easier to just type this stuff into a Midiox TXM file, as compared to the awful Bome — a little secret of us software developers: we make the GUI thing so EZ-fun and the file-based stuff so awful so that you’re stuck with us and can’t leave — presumably the MIDIox guy gave that up long ago, and his text files are eminently composable, the general procedure being (1.) use the GUI to do an example thing, like one of my Nord buttons to a Mitz combo, and (2.) edit a saved TXM file where I can just copy the example repeatedly, changing some of the numbers to get the rest of the things. ... And in my real programmer editor, I have things like column move/copy which greatly facilitate such arcane manipulations....

THE TOWERING INFERNO: NORD C2 → MIDIOX → LOOPBE1 → MIDITZER

And here is 260GONG.TXM which is a Midiox MIDI translation file which I am actually using to make my Nord C2 talk to my Miditzer 260SP running on my silly laptop within the Grand Nord Imperium. ... The “TOWERING INFERNO” title is supposed to frighten you: USING 260GONG.TXM with or without Midiox will surely cause your entire world to become dead and dust and dark and empty; IT WON’T WORK and it WILL BE DANGEROUS! And I am innocent....

Actually, it really won’t work, unless you happen to have a Nord C2 hooked-up to your Miditzer just like mine is.

+ LOOPMIDI WORKS GOOD!

Apparently they know all about this stuff over at the Miditzer forum, although not with my beautiful pictures and staggeringly clueless insights, and maybe without an example translation file. Although who knows? With such rigorous disorganization, anything could be in there. ... Hint: search the forum for “loopbe1”; for that matter, “loopmidi”, which someone says works good....

And so I checked it out, and indeed the also-free loopMIDI worked here, too, after tinkering-up both MIDIox and Miditzer (i.e. the input screens) appropriately. I thought for a while loopMIDI and loopbe1 wouldn’t work simultaneously, but actually they did both seem to work at the same time, at least they did just now, and there’s an excellent chance for cockpit error in these ridiculously intricate set-ups. ... But even if only one’d work at a time, it wouldn’t be a problem since you only need one of ’em. ... And another free working virtual MIDI cable is another vital blow for Miditzer freedom. ... And in the long virtual days, I switched to loopMIDI, mostly because LoopBe1 had a harmless disagreement with the Miditzer-hosting PC, and would always start-up with a TBIA (“Task Bar Icon Application”) error window.

Miditzer + Midox in action.
EXAMPLE
260GONG.TXM FILE

To maunder on relentlessly, 260GONG.TXM is a MIDIox text file I wrote with some comments of its own within, and if you can’t read them you are truly doomed. It really won’t work on your crate; the idea is it’s an example which, if you believe my unimpeachable testimony, has actually worked on at least one system, mine — so you’d edit it with Notepad or Wordpad or whatever it is this week and make it work perfectly on yours. Using the beautiful MIDIox monitor screens to see what your keyboards are actually sending. ... And 260GONG.TXM probably has errors which I might fix if I feel like it.

The “gong” incidentally refers to the Miditzer 260SP “toy” beautiful T8 gong. ... And actually the same MIDIox file with minimal tinkering seems to work OK with my average workaday Miditzer 216 and the other little Mitzsif, as I never do, at least the first time, I remember to specify the “input device” on the Miditzer input screen as “LoopBe Internal MIDI” (or “LoopMIDI” of course, depending on which is being used)....

ARCHIVE!!!

I will now note that if you go on this perilous but thrilling path, you must save everything! ... Save your MIDIox and LoopBe1/LoopMIDI installation files, on several SDs or whatever. Because this kind of software isn’t from the hugely-reliable organizations we virtual organists are so used to, like Miditzer and Hauptwerk/Paramount, which won’t ever evaporate without warning. ... So archive the Miditzers and Hauptwerk/Paramounts too, although the H/Ps are a challenge because they’re so huge. But it’s pretty easy to archive the entire Mitz + MIDIox + LoopBe1/LoopMIDI gang — and for that matter, any MIDIox TXM file you manage to concoct. The SDs have gotten so big it’s cheap-enough to fit hwerk and paramount — it just takes forever!

And under the likely-viability heading, I must note that LoopBe1 at least has an unedifying scammy apparently-broken optional/actually-mandatory “backup” CD in the $34 pay-for LoopBe30 product. Which I bought anyway ’cause I’m so virtuous. ... But that’s nothing like our high-minded VTPO firms. ... So backup those softwares, kids!

PAY THEM!!

Finally, while I know all the virtual organists are poverty-stricken wretches, forced to use electronic imitations so they can get food on the table, nevertheless one should spare a pittance from the endless speaker-buying and hauptwerk upgrades for the diligent toilers who produce MidiOX, LoopBe1, and LoopMIDI. I certainly did, at least out of heartfelt gratitude for my liberation from the costly ghastly annoying Bome alternative...

WINDOWS 8™?

To my considerable surprise, both loopbe1 and loopMIDI worked in Windows 8. They both were “recognized” developers (i.e. by Microsoft code enforcement). ... Well, both programs installed and appeared to work: Microsoft didn’t get all snitty. And MidiOX runs! And Miditzer and Mitz260SP! — which I just copied over. I even registered the latter in temporary administrative mode! And they both saw loopbe1 as the available MIDI input. So everything should work perfectly. ... I don’t have an extra day or two so I didn’t try installing Hauptwerk; I’d guesstimate an 80% chance?

PC KEYBOARD => MITZ MIDI: NOT LIKELY

I thought the $0 glorious alternatives wouldn’t take a PC keypress and translate it to MIDI; and Bome of course will. ... But nonsense! Just check MidiOX’s “Actions / keyboard” or click the icon and MidiOX does emit a fixed set of MIDI notes for an assortment of keyboard keys! Which And the keypad’s +/- change the channel! Which probably wouldn’t be translatable by MidiOX. ... But of course neither Bome nor MidiOX’d work real good unless one could somehow persuade Miditzer not to “see” the PC keys, which it has “wired” into various functions, including a useful assortment of combination buttons. ... So I’ll stick to my adorable Korg nanoKontrols for the odd extra button/control. ... And of course the Nord C2 buttons....

21. Hauptwerk warts and pipe organ voicing. I’ve wondered for a while, after my horrible wolf note experiences, what the organ samplers do about such things. I’m reasonably certain at least some actual organs get “voiced”, as part of the original installation, to correct particular pipes that sound too loud or too soft (along with all the other characteristics that, when voiced properly, will produce a uniform effect from a rank of pipes, as different notes are played). Does the sampler, as part of his holy discipline, preserve these relative volume/tone discrepancies? The only way I can imagine is following a crude procedure and adjusting every sample in a rank to a uniform volume — which even then, in a well-voiced instrument and/or a particularly troublesome hall, is likely to preserve unmusical artifacts, at least when, as if often the case, the pipes are closely-miked by the sampler.

For instance, if a note is too soft (i.e. from a room effect), the original organ voicer might somehow increase the relative volume, but also at the same time adjust the tone of the pipe, perhaps decreasing the harmonics somehow, so it’ll sound “good” played in company with the other, non-room-effected pipes. The pipe organ manufacturers insist they spend ages doing these things; so how does the sampler compensate? Some percentage of pipe organ voicing is doubtless correcting manufacturing inconsistencies, I believe what is called “pre-installation” voicing. But in the pipe organ’s final installation setting, the voicing is bound to the room, so that the sampler’s microphones, when placed close to the pipes, will hear the voicing adjustments, rather than the effect of the voicing adjustments plus room effects. Which is, I suspect, one reason why some samples are deliberately taken from further away, getting room reverberation and room effects. ... This kind of thing is why I am skeptical of sampling the pipes “just as they are”, “warts and all”, with minimum subsequent audio trickery — it just seems like a defective plan, like a pipe organ manufacturer insisting that his special super pipes should not be voiced, because they sound so good originally.

One terrible unholy thing a pipe-organ sampler could do would be to discard a pipe sample which is bad for whatever reason — the pipe is actually bad in the antique organ, and/or room effects make it bad — and substitute an adjacent note, after carefully adjusting pitch and tone. You can do that with modern digital magic, and I doubt anyone could tell the difference. Indeed I suspect even the holy samplers do do it now and then, even if they pretend otherwise, ’cause it’s so much easier than, for instance, throwing away all the samples ... or fabricating a new pipe....

The Sound On Sound magazine review of my beloved Nord baroque sampled organ apparently had reservations about some notes, but I’ve never been able to figure-out which ones; to my ears, the instrument sounds clean and pure, although it’s true I haven’t made an exhaustive search for “clunkers”. But it sounds so clean and pure, I assume Nord exerted some effort in editing the samples to make it that way. ... And that’s the way I think it should be....

LOOPING + TREMOLO

But there’s more! ... All “continuous” samples — samples of things like pipe organs or other wind instruments that are intended to sound as long as a key is held down (as opposed to piano notes or other percussive or plucked sounds) — must be edited to pick a loop point (see here?) which point can have a drastic effect on the sound and always requires careful work, and is yet another inevitable interference in the supposedly noli tangere approach....

The Paramounts and other modern theater organs are, it is said, sampled twice, two samples for each pipe, “straight” and “tremoloed”. I’ve already whined about how this inherently produces an aggregate tremolo effect quite different from that of an actual theater organ, but it also complicates this loop thing immensely, since the loop point’s got to be a spot where both the sound waveform and the tremolo — essentially a different, slower waveform — match! ... My goodness, what tangled webs they weave. ... But I don’t hear anything, listening carefully with headphones; I suppose they just stare/listen at the waveform until they find a spot. ... But after that, no wonder they leave in the odd wart! ... Of course there’s probably some trick I don’t know. Googling for “loop point finding software” it wasn’t until the second page that I discovered the free Audacity has a “Z” command somewhere which’ll at least find the zero-crossing point for you — often an appropriate loop point, at least ignoring the tremolo. Other sound software apparently has comparable built-ins....

TREMOLO ATTACK?

Sampled tremolo has at least one additional accompanying puzzle, comparable to the looping problem: the attack of the pipe, which is supposed to be a major feature of sampled instruments. In my Nord sampled baroque organ, for instance, I can hear my beloved “chiff” at the beginning of notes in some ranks. ... For classical organs, tremolo tends to be subtle and, until recently, despised by many organists anyway, and for whatever reason Nord appears to have adopted route #2 for their selection of baroque tremolo effects.

But if one is sampling theater organ tremolo, which isn’t subtle, the pipe attack will sound different at different parts of the tremolo: at the loud/sharp peak, or the soft/flat trough, and everywhere in-between. ... I mean, does the theater organ samplist contrive to get the attack at the same point in the tremolo for all pipes in a rank? — which would be annoyingly difficult in itself? Or what? ... Inquiring organists want to know.

When I listen to some of Miles’ Miditzer reeds, there’s definitely a “bite” at the start of the note; and if I listen harder, there’s also something in the Paramounts’. I suppose Paramount could “graft” an attack from the non-tremolo note onto the front of the tremoloed sample, which wouldn’t be easy but still not as hard as “catching” the tremoloed note at the right moment; but would go against the sacred cinéma vérité warts-and-all principles of the P.O.W....

TREMOLO: MIDITZER’S CHOICE

Anyway, Miditzer uses tremolo strategy #1. ... Miles apparently concocted two sound font notes for every stop note, one tremoloed and one not, and so presumably he could deal any way he wanted with the tremolo attack/loop problems. Miditzer appears to offer #2 as an option but when I tried it, there was no tremolo, and it’s apparently something to do with Soundblaster cards of yore which responded to MIDI vibrato messages. ... The Hauptwerk Paramount 310 also uses #1, and doesn’t offer #2, which I think was used by some non-POW previous Hauptwerk theater organs in the dim mists of antiquity.

HISTORY

I’m loathe to google any of these virtual organ topics, because infallibly not only do I encounter endless streams of postings stretching back into the distant past, but many of the players are suspects on the current stage who obviously have been pondering these deep issues for years, instead of singing in the sunshine like moi. One obviosity I missed is that the better samples are longer — “typically ten seconds” says Joe Hardy (POW principal and VTPO forum administrator) in an interesting “Aug 06, 2009; 12:29pm” post covering many sampling issues — although not tremolo — and which generally seems out of consonance with the dubious latter-day “warts and all” theory. ... But no wonder I don’t hear anything! I probably don’t listen long-enough....

BAKER WALKS BACK WARTS

This just in! @ 11/10/15 Alan Baker, noted warts enthusiast, wrote in an email response to a pilgrim seeking to “voice” his Paramount that the “Paramount 341 notes across the manuals are not generally very different in level”, but that misuse of “the Ranks/Octaves Cycled algorithm” might create that effect. ... So now, only the cheap seats are uneven, in the way Baker explained in his original warts comment? Since I don’t plan any additional Paramount upgrades, I’ll probably never know, but after all it’s not unlikely — $$ == less warts? ... Although it is contradicted by his original dubious assertion, that “realistic” warts occurred in “all of the [Paramount Organ Works] VTPO iterations” (my emphasis).


22. Hauptwerk 4.1 Free Version Annoyanceware. On Sat 9/27/14 the evil described in this note may have been excised with version 4.1.1, but I will heroically preserve these historic info here, and continue to inform the virtual organ-consuming public that a VTPO forum post dated 8/12/14 from “Joe Hardy / VTPO Administrator” announced “Hauptwerk has officially released version 4.1. This is a free upgrade and includes numerous improvements” — which is all that was said about the new annoyanceware feature for the free version, but did include a link which eventually led me to the HauptwerkReleaseNotice.pdf (since replaced with the non-annoyanceware 4.1.1 release note) where I read about the then-new 4.1 free version. So I conscientiously posted a short addendum:

Note that users of the Paramount 310 free edition probably should *not* upgrade, at least according to “Evaluation/Free Edition” at http://www.hauptwerk.com/clientuploads/documentation/ReleaseNotices/Current/HauptwerkReleaseNotice.pdf. It appears to add a 90-day renewal annoyance feature to the software.

Whereupon “Alan Baker” responded by denying there were any re-registration requirements on the supposedly-free Paramount 310 now or forever, and repeating this ridiculous claim over the next day or so. ... I told him what for, a diatribe the thundering clarity of which was somewhat diminished by Yahoo Groups’ crushing every line-ending. ... Apparently I was guilty of lèse majesté in attacking the POW, a holy and revered object. Others quietly noted that of course it didn’t make any difference which software was imposing the annoyanceware requirement, since the Paramounts only work with Hauptwerk. ... So it was just a typical internet forum troll denunciation. ... Which’ll teach me to post there. ... And no doubt he was just lying for company and cause, with various excuses and obscure explanations to preserve deniability....

So pay no attention to these crazed forum posts and instead clarify your deep anxieties about 90-day free version Hauptwerk license renewals by reading the PDF (which has been silently replaced by a revised 4.1.1 version rescinding the annoyanceware; I of course have saved the original somewhere probably). Specifically @ page 1, it said Hauptwerk 4.1.0 Release Notice” and then page 5 used to say

Important: If you are evaluating Hauptwerk, or using the Free Edition, and are upgrading from version 4.0.0 or earlier, then please see the Evaluation/Free Edition 90-day license key section of this release notice for important information on the expiring 90-day license keys, and the need to refresh them periodically (at no cost, and with no limit).

and finally on the offensive page 12:

Evaluation/Free Edition 90-day license key

In order for Hauptwerk v4.1.0 and later to be able to launch at all, some form of non-expired license key must be present on the computer. If you have purchased a license for the Advanced or Basic Edition, then the Hauptwerk USB key fulfills that role. Provided that the key is attached to the computer then Hauptwerk will be able to launch. However, if you haven’t purchased a license, and thus don’t have a Hauptwerk USB key, then you need to have a valid, non-expired ’90-day trial/Free Edition license key’ installed on the computer. When you install Hauptwerk v4.1.0 or later for the first time, such a key will be installed automatically. It allows Hauptwerk to be used in evaluation or Free Edition modes for a period of up to 90 days (starting from whenever Hauptwerk is launched without a Hauptwerk USB key attached).

And thus concludeth the lesson. ... But I lie; the lesson is never concluded, and indeed the PDF was entirely replaced by a wonderful new age of good will and amity version (below).

HAUPTWERK’S OK ANYWAY

I must conscientiously note that as far as I know Hauptwerk, in terms of general software practice, still offers an exemplary 30-day full version “try-out” feature. And even the annoyanceware free version crippling is hardly unusual. It is a change, and not welcome, but that’s show business....

Since I want to continue running the beautiful Paramount 310 without annoyanceware surprises on the far-flung machines strewn around my paradisiacal abode, I probably won’t be upgrading to Hauptwerk 4.1 — even ’though I bought the “basic” version + dongle, and the non-free ($100) Paramount 320. But aside from running Hauptwerk on random machines without tears, it is my experience that this kind of software mis-feature rarely goes without other mysteries and annoyances; and as I keep reminding the minuscule audience of these pages, I’m an expert.

And after all, the Hauptwerk upgrade’d take a long time to download and install anyway, and any improvements are mostly for the insane millionaires — although I notice they’re picking up the probably-dubious-but-amusing “toggling combos” of Miditzer! — and finally, and most importantly, I have the 4.0 version including archived copies of the vast installation files; somewhere, probably. ... So I will be content & serene and quietly enjoy the sufferings of those who follow....

HAUPTWERK vs. MIDITZER, REDUX

If you didn’t already have Hauptwerk + the Paramount 310 and wanted it, the annoyanceware version was your only choice, until the reprieve, which changed the Miditzer/Hauptwerk balance, at least for the amateur organist in the street:

You pay no money, you takes your choice. ... But that too is really fiction....

MILAN DIGITAL AUDIO/HAUPTWERK vs. PARAMOUNT ORGAN WORKS

They’re two different organizations. The VTPO forum, flaky Yahoo group that it may be, is definitely POW-inclined, and administrator Joe Hardy is a POW principal. Neither POW or Hauptwerk have sinned egregiously in my omniscient judgment; the kerfuffle here, which has so alienated my VTPO forum affections and no doubt others’, is mostly the work of the irrationally-excitable Alan Baker, who is also responsible for the ridiculous “Warts and All” official (?) excuse, and should probably have his medication adjusted. However, a POW site lists “Alan Baker, Joseph Hardy, and Iain McGlinchey,” as “Partners”, to my poignant regret. ... So perhaps I’ll expand my pointless lurking to the organforum or something....

Milan Digital Audio, which is responsible for the Hauptwerk program, its maintenance, and upgrades, and who is (presumably) solely at fault for “annoyanceizeing” the free edition (and for the subsequent glorious retraction) has the problem common to many software companies: unlike air conditioners or automobiles, software doesn’t really wear-out, so usually, in their march to oblivion, they try to help it along. It’s called “planned obsolescence” and was a hideous sin when the American automobile companies did it back in the day, before having their lunch handed to them by those sneaky Japanese....

THE INCIVILITY OF THE INTERNET?

I realized my forum thrashing is what they call the “incivility of the internet” — usually as in “the problem of”, an occasional “thumb-sucker” over at slashdot.org. ... “Incivility” is a non-judgmental un-hurtful way of saying “stupid rude” and all it takes is one rude moron, and who wants to say nay? It’s like arguing with a lunatic on the street in a modern progressive city — like Nueva York, my natal stomping grounds, where it’s illegal to terrorize the bums instead of visa versa. I suppose it’s kind-of unusual that a principal in a sponsoring company is a forum troll, but hardly unique, and a variation of what the “incivility” problem really is: not good men doing nothing, but irresponsible authority neglecting appropriate restrictions. Who will no doubt later wonder why their project, in this case the VTPO and the POW, wasn’t more popular....

AFTER FORUM-WIDE UPROAR, HAUPTWERK RESCINDS ANNOYANCEWARE IN VERSION 4.1.1

Around 9/27/14, someone at the VTPO forum advised that all is forgiven and Hauptwerk 4.1.1 won’t do that no more; someone else, one of the POWians I believe, posted a link to a release notice which on page 7 indeed seemed to explicitly say that. ... Naturally I don’t trust ’em anymore, after so cruelly abusing me when the lunatic Baker denied everything. But I will forgive ’n’ forget and I graciously accept the effusive unstated apologies....

CREDULITY

I must admit, I never expected Milan Digital/Hauptwerk to “give-up”, and I’m pleasantly-surprised, but I will not bother to strain my credulity by trying to imagine a moral conversion. I assume the copy-protection gimmick was originally added-on because there were too many freeloaders, and this kind of gradual screw-tightening would help convert such to paying customers, always a desirable goal. In furtherance of this simple scheme, they hoped they could pull it off without much notice, not counting on the fervor of the free-software fanatics, not to mention genuine cranks like myself. ... Whatever; Hauptwerk is a small organization and apparently couldn’t afford the negative publicity and may even have detected a fall-off in free version downloads; or perhaps there were other forums where the information got more excitement — annoyingly, since I would’ve so enjoyed the spectacle if I could’ve! ... Whatever; the wrong is righted, the wound is healed ... Until their next attempt.

... And then I realized even as I typed these important historical notes that the lunatic Baker’s egregious attack (with, to be sure, my pitiful line-endless responses) was doubtless a key feature in alerting the tiny VTPO community to the free version perfidy which Hauptwerk/Paramount so obviously would’ve preferred to keep quiet! Conceivably my original polite note would’ve gone over without friction, if it weren’t for the idiot Baker attacking it with wacko hostility! ... See how the rhythms change?!?!

... @ 10/15, a VTPO posting revealed Baker’s a PC nerd — one of these guys who hot-rods motherboards with super solid state drives and fancy memory, or whatever it is they do. No wonder he’s so mendacious....



23. Three or More Virtual Organ Manuals. The Hauptwerk/Paramount 310 is supplied with three virtual manuals, which seems to many innocents out there (including me) to be superior to the free Mitz 216’s two. Other ever-ascending releases of the Paramount organs have reached a manual maximum of four!

  1. If you actually have three or more physical manuals, such virtual manuals are appropriately-functional and, hence, desirable.

  2. If, like the vast majority of virtual theater organists, you have two or fewer manuals, it hardly makes a difference: just assign two or more of the virtual manuals to one of your physical MIDI keyboards, which usage both the Miditzer and Hauptwerk software support.

The reason #2 is more-or-less so is the “unitary” nature of the theater organ: the stop tabs on all the different manuals are supposed to be all the same voices! That’s why the real theater organ was cheaper than the real classical pipe organ, and why your two manuals will happily access all the available stop tabs, by “doubling” them up. ... I actually caught a technical reassurance from the POW on the topic, to an anxious potential customer who had a three-manual console and was concerned about how the new improved Paramount super 4-manual software would play! Not only was he assured it’d play wonderfully, but also that the 4-manual software had been specially designed to play good on three-manual units!

24. Compared to the polyphone program, I know even less about the free soundfont editor Viena (single “n”), but it is recommended around and about and probably is better than the really obsolete and costly Cakewalk “Vienna” program. I had some ignorant objections to it, but one thing it can do that polyphone apparently can’t is copy things from one SF2 font to another....

25. I stold a jorgan Christie sound font and added some the voices I liked to the Mitz260, without too-ridiculous delvings. ... You can only replace one of the existing 260SP sounds with something from the added font; I replaced the 260’s “Tuba” aka “Harmonic Tuba” on the output screen, with the Christie “Tuba”, because I was smitten with the smoother horn sound when I first played the Christie jOrgan. ... Some bullet points:

You unload the original font first, I think, so it’ll be on the “top” of the fluidsynth “stack” when you load it back, where it gets searched first. When I did it the other way and just added the Christie font, the percussion, including my beloved Chinese gong, disappeared! Doing it in the way described seems to leave the 260SP in the out-of-box condition, until you right-click on one of the bank + patch1 + patch2 columns in the output screen and change them. One of the reasons to keep an original 260SP is so you can go back and see what the original is after you wreck something. ... I mutilated the Harmonic Tuba on the output screen so that it does the christie Tuba sound by altering the bank to 30, patch 1 to 59, and patch 2 to to 9.

You use a soundfont editor to see what’s in the christie_single_10.sf2 font and what the patch numbers are. Finding-out which soundfont “preset” is activated by which jOrgan stop tab, in this case “Tuba Horn”, is probably not possible in our limited mortal lives, and actually it’s not as if the stop tabs in the Miditzer 260SP are so rigorously related to the names on the output page. So I use polyphone to play notes on a preset and will mutilate by ear....

jORGAN VS. MITZ

The results won’t sound just like jOrgan — when jOrgan isn’t crashing — because panning in jOrgan (as far as my non-telepathic perceptions have discovered) relies on the soundfont, and varies within each rank in the Christie soundfont, perhaps giving it a more “moving” sound. In the pedestrian Mitz it’s set in the output screen ... Oops wait advanced research indicates some of the christie_single_10.sf2 soundfont pan settings do affect the mitz sound — which, after all, makes sense: I can set the volume in the mitz output screen, but the font volume settings are definitely still detectable, as they would have to be since that’s pretty-much required to “voice” each soundfont “instrument” aka rank. Presumably also the pan. A test rank panned to maximum-left in the soundfont wound-up showing-up as “centered” (on crude LED VU meters) when I set the rank in the mitz output to “R 4”. So who knows? It’s not a perfect translation, but I play with speakers close anyway, so a little extra centering probably won’t hurt....

And jOrgan has a more recent Fluidsynth which might well make it sound different/better. ... And it turns-out the generous work put into the voicing and stop complement of the Christie jOrgan, which is inspired by the “Christie Unit Orchestra” at Kelvin Grove State High, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia — is, gasp, not easily transferrable to a Mitz 260, presumably inspired by a Wurly 260, and might require work! ... And oh yeah the jOrgan Fluidsynth has a far superior reverb built-in — at least superior to the Mitz Fluidsynth version, although I use neither, preferring my dubious hardware. Finally, after all my ridiculous contrivances, some of the ranks in Mileschristie_single_10.sf2 soundfont sound the same as Mitz’s rendition. ... So it’s not all beer and skittles....

But jOrgan’s not the most stable or featureful virtual instrument, if still charming after its own menacing fashion, but perhaps not enough for my humble tastes. ... So eventually I went forward with the Christie-to-Miditzer260 graft and had a wonderful time, using my elaborated-for-the-occasion Mitzhack to engage in ever-more-perilous musical experiments and, to be sure, failures. ... But then again, I go back to the Christie jOrgan, and the sound is nice; and I play with my usual incompetent joy. Until it crashes. Which Miditzer almost never does....

26. Jim Henry and others in the endless forum postings allude to how virtual organ software is basically a “switch box” which translates incoming MIDI into outgoing MIDI. An incoming middle C MIDI note, for instance, if the user has selected tibia 8’ and flute 4’, might be translated into two outgoing notes, one an octave higher, to the two different voices. In the dark dreaded days of multiple MIDI sound cards, this translation would also take into account the specified “MIDI output device” but in our glorious latter-day software-only times, it’s always the Fluidsynth. ... But the point is, all the graphics are window-dressing, and indeed the ur-console tinkerers apparently worked with crude software and even hardware to accomplish the same task, no GUI needed apply....

27. Subsequent research into noise involving various other music room incidents suggests that both the Behringer UCA22 and the Zoom R16 — and the FEX800 maybe and perhaps other innocents — may have been sensitive to a random USB hub’s power supply. Although such susceptibility is not a quality feature.

Thursday 6/8/17 2:03 pm

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