Aeolian-Skinner Virtual Organ
Aeolian-Skinner, opus 1301
The Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, opus 1301 was manufactured in 1956-1957, when the company tonal director was Joseph S. Whiteford who was the successor of the deceased G. Donald Harrison. The organ is still rooted in the Harrison's "American Classic" style, although Opus 1301 bears witness to the tonal philosophy of Harrison's later interests, when he experimented with modern versions of old German solo reeds (Krummhorn, Fagott, Rohr-Schalmei) and moved somewhat towards the (neo-)baroque design (principal choruses crowned with mixtures on all manuals, unenclosed pipework). Joseph S. Whiteford's tonal principles were similar to the late Harrison visions, perhaps putting even more emphasis on the baroque organbuilding principles (unnicked flues with expressive articulation, lower wind pressures, intense reeds).
The Opus 1301 is a rather universal instrument, upon which many schools of organ compositions will sound clear and plausible. Aeolian-Skinner organs are famous for the delicate and even voicing, decisive speech, and good blending of choruses, allowing clarity in polyphonic textures as well as graceful (even sublime) solo melodic lines.
It was built for St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, later sold and moved to the First Covenant Church, Oakland, California. After the transfer, the organ was reassembled and overhault by Schoenstein & Co. organbuilders in 1983. On that occasion, adjustments were made to the tonal layout, some stops were revoiced, several stops were cleverly added, emphasizing the traditional "Werkprinzip" and individuality of each division in the design.
The organ is split into two chambers at the front of the room, there are no visible pipes. The stop and key action is electric. It has 3 manuals (Choir, Great, Swell) and a pedal. Alltogether 45 speaking stops. The pedal has 13 souding stops of which 6 are borrowings from manuals. Swell has 12 sounding stops, enclosed. Great offers 8 sounding stops. Choir has 12 sounding stops, enclosed. Numerous straight, octave and sub-octave couplers available. Many stops of the Choir and Swell divisions have inner extensions (the upper 6th octave) for the use of the super-octave couplers.
Swell and Choir divisions have tremulants, all stops were recorded twice, with the tremulant enganged and disengaged. Thus, authentic tremmed ranks are available in the Hauptwerk model of the instrument. Crescendo pedal available.
Special thanks to the staff of the First Covenant Church, who were maximally helpful and enthusiastically welcoming the Sonus Paradisi team for recording their instrument.
OHS Organ Database (online),
The Organ. An Encyclopedia. Second Edition, (D. E. Bush - R. Kassel, eds.), 2015.
The samples are offered in 48kHz/24bit resolution. The multiple releases have three levels: short, mid and long. Hauptwerk v.5 and higher supported. The sample set is encrypted and dongle protected, for use with the Hauptwerk software exclusively. Hauptwerk Advanced version is strongly recommended, the Lite version is not suitable to run the Surround variant of the sample set (memory limitations, audio channels limitations). There is no use of the sample set possible in any other software.
The reverb time is ca. 2 seconds.
The original compass of the keyboards is 61 keys (full 5 octaves). Many stops of Choir and Swell divisions have inner extensions (top 6th octave, up to g4) for the use of the super-octave couplers. The original compass of the pedal division is 32 keys.
All ranks of the Choir and Swell divisions were recorded with and without tremulants for the most convincing tremulant behavior. However, loading the authentic tremmed ranks consumes large amount of RAM. It is possible to select to use the artificial tremulant instead to save RAM (the switch is located on the mixer tab).
RAM consumption: 6-channel surround
16-bit, other settings default: 15.3 GB
20-bit, other settings default: 24.8 GB (recommended)
24-bit, other settings default: 28.2 GB
RAM consumption: 2-channel wet
16-bit, other settings default: 5.8 GB
20-bit, other settings default: 9.1 GB
24-bit, other settings default: 10.2 GB
Screen resolution 1280x1024 px or more.
Polyphony of 6000 voices recommended for the full suround (3000 pipes minimum).
Polyphony of 1800 simultaneous pipes recommended for use of the wet sample set.
Stops denoted by an asterix * were added by Schoenstein in 1983.
** The Choir Bombard is originally shared with the Great. For the sample set, another Choir Bombard is available. This stand-alone Choir Bombard can be activated via a dedicated switch on the Mixer tab of the sample set. Its purpose is soloistic performance, it should never be used as a part of tutti (full organ).
- Gt/Ped 8', Gt/Ped 4', Sw/Ped 8', Sw/Ped 4', Ch/Ped 8', Ch/Ped 4';
- Sw/Gt 16', Sw/Gt 8', Sw/Gt 4', Ch/Gt 16', Ch/Gt 8', Ch/Gt 4';
- Sw/Ch 16', Sw/Ch 8', Sw/Ch 4'.
- Full organ switch (Tutti), crescendo pedal, swell pedals for swell and choir divisions;
- Divisional and general combinations.
- See the updates tab for the third-party extensions (4 manuals, 75 speaking stops).
this is the general console view. It serves to define the keyboard MIDI inputs for all the divisions. The only active part of this view are the manuals and the pedal. Specifying the MIDI inputs is done by right-clicking on the desired manual or pedal.
The MIDI continous controlles for the pedals (swells and crescendo) can be specified by right-clicking the movable pedals on the screen.
All the other screen components are image-only.
The virtual listening position is adjusted here. Dragging the sliders downwards means to come closer to pipes (more direct sound), dragging them up means going away from the organ into the church nave.
The mixer settings can be stored, retrieved, reset. 3 different mixer settings can be stored/recalled any time.
The switch in the right makes the selection for the tremulant between the sampled tremulant and artificial (Hauptwerk model) tremulant. The switch in the upper right corner makes the selection of the Choir Bombarde possible. Either it is shared with the Great Bombarde - which is the original mode on the real instrument - or it is a stand alone rank (virtual extension).
Left+Right Jambs view:
for dual touch screens, split jambs were created. They allow for portrait or landscape orientation, according to the orientation of the touch screens.
Left + Right Jambs Vertical view:
the dual stop jambs offer vertical (portrait) orientation as an alternative.
All the stops and other controls of the organ can be found here.
Physical pistons or draw stops can be assigned to a virtual button on screen by right-clicking on the button.
Note to the right click: The Single jamb, the Split Jambs and the Simple jamb, all allow for right-click to attach a specific MIDI hardware button to any of the software switch. This is done so that several different MIDI hardware buttons can operate one single software switch, so that the user can operate one stop or one and the same coupler with more than one hardware pistons.
simplified version of a single jamb to allow for more readable version of the stop names on small LCD touch screens.
the crescendo sequence can be adjusted here. By clicking the gray/white box, the stop is enabled/disabled in the given screscendo stage. The crescendo settings is remembered by Hauptwerk via Hauptwerk dedicated combination system (each stage of the crescendo is a memory for the combination system).
Third party add-on (extension)
Jake from Custom Hauptwerk Organs has prepared an extension for the Oakland sample-set matching the style of Aeolian-Skinner. It features an extra 30 stops in addition to the stops offered in the original sample-set (4 manuals, 75 speaking stops in total). The extension includes a Solo division which can be assigned to a keyboard on four manual consoles, or used as a floating division on smaller consoles. It is still possible to use the original organ when the extension is loaded.
This extension is not a part of the sample set of Sonus Paradisi and it must be purchased separately from its creator. Please contact Jake at customhworgans[at]gmail[dot]com to order the extension.
The full specification of the extended instrument (extensions marked in orange):
Twelfth 2 2/3'
Zauber Flöte 4'
Terz 1 3/5'
Koppel Flöte 8'
Spitzflöte Coelestis 8'
Echo Viole 8'
Echo Viole Coelestis 8'
Spitz Principal 4'
Rohr Nasat 2 2/3'
Klein Prinzipal 2'
Block Flöte 2'
Terz 1 3/5'
Bombard 8' (Great)
Rohr Schalmei 4'
Singend Gedackt 8'
Flöte Coelestis 8'
Viola Pomposa 8'
Viola Coelestis 8'
Geigen Prinzipal 4'
Rohr Flöte 4'
Nasat 2 2/3'
Terz 1 3/5'
Spitz Quint 1 1/3'
Vox Humana 8'
Harmonic Flute 8'
Violon Coelestis 8'
Trompete Harmonique 8'
All the extra couplers, sub-couplers and super-couplers were added as well.