Sep. 13, 2020

Virtual Pipe Organ (VPO), Part III

(con't from Part II)
The versatile Duet virtual theatre pipe organ unit by MIDI Concepts LLC uses the host instrument's speaker system and its keys and relay to provide MIDI information about which notes are to sound; the unit consists of 1) a sound generator box, 2) a memory stick (thumb drive) which stores all voices, couplers, and other controls, and 3) a lighted control panel.
These three components communicate with the host instrument via a MIDI cable and with the external speaker system by means of an audio cable.
Since 2011 this unit has been available to use with any MIDI-fied host instrument including electronic organs, pipe organs, and rack system of keyboards; it may also be connected to any MIDI capable digital stage piano, in which case the Accompaniment and Pedal stops play below the split point and the Great and Solo stops (depending on how the S/G switch on the control panel is positioned) play above the split point.
Adding or subtracting a single stop, coupler, modifier, or changing the memory level with this unit may be done "on the fly" by depressing the proper place on the control panel with the hand; major registration changes are made by depressing a thumb on a piston button while the index finger of the same hand is placed above the piston row to brace the thumb movement against the piston button being depressed.
Duet's piston buttons may be used for activating effects (toys) and presetting either general combinations or combinations affecting any combination of single or multiple keyboards.
NOTE: In common parlance the keyboards of theatre organs are talked about as "divisions" (Solo, Accompaniment, Great, Pedal, Bombarde, etc.) but they are not true divisions in the usual sense because of unification; in their design the voices playable on each keyboard are electrically wired to ranks and percussions installed in any of the chambers, share-and-share-alike; typically however, certain voices are only available on the Accompaniment manual or Bombarde manual because that's where they're most likely to be used.
The usual couplers found in unit theatre organs are generally limited to intramanual (Sub, Super, Unison Off) and manual to pedal (Accompaniment to Pedal, Solo to Pedal, Great to Pedal, etc.); three-manual instruments sometimes are also supplied with a Solo Pizzicato coupler for the bottom 2 manuals which, as its name implies, sounds any stop drawn on the Solo for a brief instant as a key on the Great or Accompaniment is depressed, creating an accent.
Special Great to Solo ("Blackpool") couplers at 16', 8', 5-1/3', 4', and 3-1/5' pitches for the production of special color in playing single note melodies on the Solo manual also are sometimes found in unit theatre organs; these are so-named after the Wurlitzer instrument installed in the Tower Ballroom, a common tourist attraction located in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK, which was supplied with these couplers.
Duet supplies ALL of these usual and special couplers.
A very brief moment of time is required for Duet's control panel changes to initialize, thus, for best results, the hands and feet are lifted from the keys for a small split of a second when making registration or memory level changes with it.
Special controls built into Duet's control panel allows the organist to switch the sound of the Vox Humana and Tibia Minor ranks from Barton to Wurlitzer, thus providing 2 bonus ranks; another control switches the Chrysoglott to Vibraharp with or without a damper; the Piano stop is also available at 16'-8'-4' and may be switched to Rinky Tink mode.
Special color stops aboard the Duet include a very realistic Kinura, Clarinet, Orchestral Oboe, Oboe Horn, Brass Saxophone, Harmonic Tuba, Brass Trumpet, Post Horn, Quintadena, Tibia Clausa, Tibia Minor, Salicional, 4-rank Viol Celeste, plus a smooth Open Diapason, a bright Horn Diapason, a full-voiced 32' Diaphone, and a tremmed Vox Humana to die for.
Just about all of Duet's voices are playable either tremmed or untremmed -- a perpetually tremmed Vox Humana and Tibia Minor and a perpetually untremmed Post Horn being the only exceptions; this means, among other things, that Duet's 2 Diapasons can be played untremmed opposite or blended with certain untemmed flute, string, or reed ranks to make a very passable church organ for the worship service.
Adjustable Volume and Reverb/Ambience controls are also built into this unit to set the room size and its sound.
These are just some of Duet's features at the command of the artist organist.
This unit IS NOT a sound module -- Duet is an engaging, fun-to-operate, cost-effective, ready-to-use, stand-alone virtual theatre organ of 3 manuals and pedals, 24 ranks, 2 more bonus ranks, and over 200 possible stops including pitched percussions, traps, and special effects (minus the console shell, keys, and relay) which requires no soldering, no programming, no retrofitting; it comes turn-key and completely MIDI-equipped to entertain audiences, accompany any silent motion picture, or even support a worship service, and it blends with any existing instrument to vastly enlarge its tonal spread for coloration of sounds and its dynamic palette for dramatizing and nuancing the music.
Depending upon the host instrument, Duet can provide what it may not have, tonally or dynamically, or enhance what it does have.
Duet's 32-foot Diaphone, for example, available only to the Pedal, has been found to blend perfectly with a large classic-voiced electronic 32-foot Contra Bombarde stop played through a large powered subwoofer, leaving the characteristic tone of the latter unaffected while providing additional power and an uncanny realism to this big Pedal reed, especially in its bottom octave.
Duet isn't perfect -- no pipe or electronic organ ever is -- but it opens up a whole new universe of study when joined with an existing electronic or pipe console, keyboard rack system, or digital stage piano without having to disable the host instrument's speaker system, voices, and controls.