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Pipe organs and MIDI

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About MIDI and Pipe Organs

In this age of computers, microprocessor-controlled musical instruments can communicate with other microprocessor-controlled machines. Peterson Electro-Musical Products, Inc. was a pioneer in bringing MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) to pipe organs beginning with experimental systems in 1987. A highly sophisticated MIDI control system for pipe organs has been available from Peterson since 1993. (See ABOUT PETERSON AND PIPE ORGANS)

What is MIDI?

MIDI is the computer 'language' used to send and receive information between two electronic devices which create or record music. Bytes of information are conveyed from one MIDI-equipped machine to another such that what is played on one instrument can be performed on another, or stored for use in repeating the performance at other times. Pipe organ MIDI messages convey not only which notes have been sounded when but also the vast nuances of style that comprise a performance. An exact recording of this performance information can be made such that MIDI-equipped pipe organs become the computer-age equivalent of player pianos. An organist can then play his pipe organ with a computer disk as well as at the console.

MIDI Multiplies Musical Possibilities

Since MIDI was introduced to pipe organs, organists in churches and elsewhere have rapidly created musical innovations with MIDI. Some ways MIDI is commonly used by church organists include:


By prerecording parts of more complex compositions and then playing the other part live, organists have expanded their repertoire of songs.


Virtually all modern electronic musical instruments can be played from a pipe organ console equipped with MIDI. Instead of having to master many instruments, organists can create these diverse sounds using controls with which they are entirely familiar.


With MIDI, the sounds of other instruments can be used alone or in combination with the pipes of the organ. In this way, gospel songs, rock, and other contemporary music can be played by the pipe organ. (See Pipe Organs and Contemporary Church Music)


By prerecording selected songs for weddings, funerals, and other occasions, organists can offer fellow congregants important musical choices without necessarily sitting through time-consuming rehearsals.


Recordings of performances can be made and listened to from an audience vantage point to facilitate study and critique of the performances.


Software programs allow organists to transcribe, edit, and print out music after it is played. This speeds preparation time for worship services and performances.


Computers can be used to write or edit music that is later played on the organ in player piano fashion.

For more information on MIDI ---
"The MIDI Companion", by Jeffrey Rona, l994 Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, WI.

see also Pipe Organs and Contemporary Church Music

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