Perhaps the greatest revolutionary innovation virtual organ building allows for is the control of acoustics, and this is something to get very excited about!
A pipe organ in a dry room is like a violin without a body. Every instrument needs a resonance chamber in order to develop the sound and produce beautiful, rich tone. In addition to a resonance chamber or soundboard, the piano even has a sustain pedal to let the tones ring into each other. For the pipe organ the room itself is its soundboard/resonance chamber. Resonance is where the magic happens! It makes all the difference in the world.
This innovation finally allows the pipe organ to thrive in any kind of room. When acoustic pipe organs are recorded pipe-by-pipe to create sample sets for the Hauptwerk software engine, the natural reverb of the room in which the organ lives is also recorded. This reverb can be truncated (shortened) to create a variety of ‘wet’ (reverberant) and ‘dry’ acoustics. At Meta Organworks, we have evolved an approach in which you can have the best of both worlds. After the organ is installed in your space we voice in several reverb settings that are permanently programmed into the organ. Then, based on the knowledge obtained from our two decades of traditional acoustic pipe organ building, we make written recommendations about what is right for your circumstances. Every Meta Organ comes with a custom Quick Start Guide that has a page detailing this aspect of your organ and the programing for your church. If people are singing, you most likely will use the setting that matches your natural acoustics, or a setting that provides a subtle enhancement. For organ literature or concerts, you may enjoy the full natural acoustics of the organ sample set's original room. Even if one organ and one acoustic preference becomes your “go-to”, all this content guarantees a Meta Organ will never be outgrown and will sound good in any building.
“That organ is just incredible. Sounds like I’m in St. Sulpice. Incredible is right.”
– Fr. Bill Campbell
St. Rita’s, Marion, MA.
Some sets that come with a Meta organ, such as the eclectic American organs (i.e. Rosales and Aeolian-Skinner), already match the dryer acoustics normally found in many American churches. It is important to have a variety of organs and acoustic options, as peoples’ taste vary, as well as what is best for your particular situation (i.e. your building and musical needs/style).
We have found that having the ability to control the reverb opens up an incredible new facet of any given pipe organ's potential, and hence an organist's own potential. You're no longer beholden to the acoustics of your space and you can hear your performances in a variety of acoustics (from wet to dry). Organists that have worked with a Meta Organ have made comments such as:
“I have been given the keys to the kingdom!”
“My musicianship has grown so much - hearing these side-by-side”
“Playing these rooms is SO fun!”