OrganAssist Version 3.2
OrganAssist is designed specifically for use by classical organists to avoid the need to understand MIDI and to make the recording, editing, translating and playing organ music as easy as possible.
It is important to know that it is maintained as a personal project when time allows. Some parts are very easy to use. Some aspects are more challenging and so it may not be suitable for everyone.
The main priorities are:
1) It must be able to record multiple pieces performed on an organ console with NO user action on the computer (i.e. during an entire church service)
2) All recordings must be easily playable on the same instrument and all current or future organs regardless of specification and MIDI implementation.
3) It must provide editing of recordings to add/delete/amend/move notes, stops and expression and to alter the pitch and tempo. All of this must be in a graphical interface with no reference to MIDI.
Other features such as Playlists and the Library are secondary and may not be as easy to use. This is because OrganAssist was developed more than 20 years ago, and so some of the user interface is "dated" and not consistent with modern practice.
To install OrganAssist on Windows, download the Full Installer from the website downloads page. This is a standard Windows installer and will work on all versions of Windows from XP SP3 through to Windows 10
Windows SmartScreen Warning
As an independent developer I do not have the resources to certify the OrganAssist program installer. If you are using a recent version of Windows you may see a warning message “Windows Protected your PC” when you try to run the installer. If you click on “More Info” and then click on “Run Anyway”, OrganAssist should install correctly.
If you wish to restore an earlier version, using Control Panel, Add/Remove Program (or Programs and Features) to see the list of installed software and click to remove the OrganAssist Update. You will then need to either Repair the OrganAssist Full Install using the options in this window.
NOTE – OrganAssist will only run on High Sierra and Mojave
To install OrganAssist on macOS, you will need to download and install TWO applications. Both are available on the website download page.
IMPORTANT – You should move both apps out of the Downloads folder to another location (Desktop, Applications etc.) BEFORE you attempt to run them for the first time. To run the first time you will need to Command + Click or Secondary Click to allow you to authorise the installation.
In addition to the OrganAssist application you will need to install the OrganAssist MIDI Helper program. This is required due to a limitation in the software that wraps OrganAssist so it can run on macOS. This Helper application handles all incoming MIDI data to ensure that nothing is lost.
OrganAssist has been packaged so that the application only has access to your Documents folder. All the working OrganAssist files will be created in an OrganAssist folder within Documents.
When you run OrganAssist for the first time, if the organ you have is not listed, select any organ to get started.
Follow the steps detailed below to set up the MIDI connections. Note that this process is different for Windows and macOS.
Before proceeding any further it is important to test the equipment, as described below, to ensure the MIDI hardware and software configuration is working. You do this by using the PC MIDI Setup window Record and Play buttons (not the control buttons at the bottom of other windows).
If this record and playback function works correctly you can then proceed to using the organ, if it is included or available from the website download page, or begin editing a similar existing layout to match your instrument.
When you first start OrganAssist you will be presented with a list of available organ configurations.
Choose an organ and click on Select to load it.
You can tick a box to automatically use this organ as the default next time.
You can also tick a box to prevent prompts when loading the organ (for example reminding you that all stops must be off when loading).
Refer to the relevant section below to set up the MIDI on your configuration.
When you first run OrganAssist, the second screen you see is required to configure the MIDI connections.
It can also be accessed via the menu – Tools, PC MIDI Setup.
More than one MIDI input can be ticked but only one output is used.
You can clear the checkbox to stop this window appearing next time you start OrganAssist.
IMPORTANT – Before continuing you should test your hardware using the built in MIDI recorder on this screen. See the section below on Testing the Equipment
Configuring OrganAssist on macOS involves 2 steps.
First you need to create a virtual MIDI cable to connect the OA MIDI Helper app to OrganAssist. On macOS this feature is provided as standard and can be configured via the Audio Midi Setup application (which is found in the Applications, Utilities folder).
Select Window, Show MIDI Studio and then click on IAC Driver (macOS refers to Virtual Midi Cables as IAC Bus).
Ensure that the checkbox is ticked to ensure the Device is online. You just click on the + plus sign at the bottom left to add more devices. For connecting to an external console you only require one IAC Bus/Virtual Cable.
Once you have added / enabled this you can run the OrganAssist Helper program. You should select the output from the console on the left and an IAC Bus on the right (to send the MIDI data to OrganAssist).
Click on the Connect button – the program will wait for OrganAssist to be started. Once a connection is established the program will minimize as no further action is required. The program will connect automatically the next time you run it.
Now you should run OrganAssist and set the MIDI Input to be the IAC Bus you selected on the right in the Helper program. (Note that, on macOS, the MidiMate connector is just identified as Port 1, Port 2)
When using OrganAssist with Hauptwerk, it is best to use the loopMIDI utility, kindly written by Tobias Erichsen. All you need to do is create several virtual MIDI cables by typing in a new name and clicking on the + button. For clarity, name the cables. For example “Hauptwerk to OrganAssist” and “OrganAssist to Hauptwerk”.
In Hauptwerk, go to the General Settings menu and click on MIDI Ports.
In the MIDI IN ports tab, in the right hand column, click on a loopMIDI port (i.e. “OrganAssist to Hauptwerk”)
Note that the title of the right hand column has changed in Hauptwerk V5
Hauptwerk V4 - this column is titled Sequencer
Hauptwerk V5 - this column is titled Hauptwerk MIDI Recorder/Player
The functionality is identical
Now select the MIDI OUT ports tab at the top. In the right hand column, click on a loopMIDI port (i.e. “Hauptwerk to OrganAssist”)
Click on OK to save these settings and run OrganAssist and choose the organ layout. The second screen is required to configure the MIDI connections.
In OrganAssist you must connect the Hauptwerk output i.e. “Hauptwerk to OrganAssist” as the Organ IN.
The Organ OUT from OrganAssist must connect to the Hauptwerk input
i.e. “OrganAssist to Hauptwerk”
To connect to Hauptwerk you will need 3 Virtual Midi Cables. This feature is provided as standard in macOS and can be configured via the Audio Midi Setup application (which is found in the Applications, Utilities folder).
Select Window, Show MIDI Studio and then click on IAC Driver (macOS refers to Virtual Midi Cables as IAC Bus).
Ensure that the checkbox is ticked to ensure the Device is online. You just click on the + plus sign at the bottom left to add more devices. For connecting to Hauptwerk you will require three IAC Bus / Virtual Cables.
In Hauptwerk, go to the General Settings menu and click on MIDI Ports.
In the MIDI IN ports tab, in the right hand column, click on an IAC Bus – in this example No 1.
Note that the title of the right hand column has changed in Hauptwerk V5
Hauptwerk V4 - this column is titled Sequencer
Hauptwerk V5 - this column is titled Hauptwerk MIDI Recorder/Player
The functionality is identical
Now select the MIDI OUT ports tab at the top. In the right hand column, click on an IAC Bus – in this example No 2
Click on OK to save these settings. Now run the OA Midi Helper application to route the output from Hauptwerk into OrganAssist using the third IAC Bus like this. Click on the Connect button. Once the connection to OrganAssist is established this window will automatically minimize as no further action is required. The program will automatically connect the next time you run it.
Run OrganAssist and configure the MIDI Input to be the IAC driver on the right in the Helper Program. Configure the MIDI Output from OrganAssist to connect to the Input in Hauptwerk – in this example No 1
Sometimes you may want to edit a recording but do not have access to the organ. To allow you to edit tracks without an instrument connected there is an option in the PC MIDI Setup window to use a soundcard to produce a VERY BASIC sound. This should be sufficient to identify and correct any obvious wrong notes. Click on the radio button to the right of the Sound Card drop-down list to select this option.
Note – To avoid any potential for error in a live church service, the choice to use the Sound Card is NOT saved and so must be selected each time it is required.
It is important that, before you configure OrganAssist, you test that the equipment you are using is working correctly. On the PC Midi Setup window is a Record button. Press this button to try setting some stops and recording a few notes and then click on Stop and then click Play.
This recorder bypasses ALL logic in OrganAssist and only plays back exactly the MIDI data it receives.
If Playback does not work correctly you will need to resolve this problem before configuring OrganAssist as there is a problem with either the organ, the MIDI cables or the way you have selected the MIDI inputs and outputs.
The main organ window can be resized and the stops and keyboards change dynamically.
You can operate any stop or note by clicking on it.
At the bottom of the windows is the standard playback control.
You can easily change the Font Size of the stops by using the + and – keys. Also, via the Font Menu you can change the Typeface and select Bold.
Note that OrganAssist automatically abbreviates stop names to fit when the font or window size is changed.
Using this menu you can Clear all stops (either sending MIDI or not) which is useful if the organ and OA lose synchronisation. Reset the Default Expression Values is provided so that the current settings can be used either when the organ is loaded or at the start of a track if it does not include any expression settings.
OrganAssist provides the easiest possible way of recording, since it intelligently starts and stops tracks – including storing information about the current registration. Once it has been installed and configured for a particular instrument, the only action required is to click on single button.
At the bottom of most windows is a recording and playback control that works in the same way as a tape recorder.
Just click on the button to start recording.
OrganAssist monitors all activity on the console and, once the first note is played, it starts recording a new track. It automatically includes at the start of this track any stops that are currently on.
Once a piece is finished (that is, OrganAssist detects no notes are playing for a few seconds) it then saves the track and continues monitoring. You can then take time to change stops etc. and then, when you start playing again, OrganAssist automatically starts recording another track (again including the current stops).
It is possible to record every individual piece over long periods of time, for instance an entire service. Each track is saved individually with the date/time as the filename.
When you have finished playing all the pieces you want to record, click on the button to Stop.
The new pieces will appear in the drop down
box in the bottom left corner of the screen.
You can easily select one and click on
the button to hear your recording.
Also, if you look at the Library you will find the track listed in more detail.
If, in a recording session, you wish to also playback tracks you can use the Background Recording option on the Tools menu. This will only record what is played at the console. This will automatically stop if you edit a track.
You can select a track to play in two ways. In the Library screen you can click to highlight a track. Double click will start playing it.
Or on any screen, in the bottom left corner, use the drop-down list to select a track.
Using the playback control at the bottom centre of the screen, you can click on the play button to hear the track. You can use the fast-forward and fast-rewind buttons move through the track (while still hearing the music). You can press to pause. The buttons and move you to the start of the Previous or Next track in the list.
TIP – When paused - to restart playback you must click on the Pause button again to “release” it. This works in the same way as an old tape recorder.
Pieces recorded using OrganAssist will play back exactly as recorded if played on the same instrument. However, when playing on a different organ, OrganAssist will automatically select the most appropriate stops.
Tip – You can Reset the organ from the menu if there is any problem
Using the sliders at the right side of the playback control you can adjust the tempo of playback and, if it is configured, the overall volume
OrganAssist can be configured to fade playback to silence and stop the track. This feature is enable via the User Options form (see below). There is a Fade Duration textbox which defaults to 0.
If you change this value to 5, for example, a new square button labelled > will appear at the right side of the playback control. If you click this during playback, OrganAssist will reduce the volume down to minimum over 5 seconds, stop the track and then slide the volume back to its previous position.
With this ability to fade out, the noise of resetting of stops at the end of a track can more obvious and so a new feature, called Silent Mode, has been added to the Playlist window as described below.
All the recorded tracks are stored in the library.
The Title, Composer, Performer, Publication, Copyright and Meloday are text fields that you can edit to annotate each track.
TIP - On closing this window, the library is exported as a .csv file for use in other software. The file is saved in the Documents/OrganAssist folder.
The Volume field can be set from 1 to 100. When the track is played, the Master Volume will be set to this value. When playback finishes, the Master Volume will be reset to its previous value. If this is blank then the Master Volume is unaffected.
The Duration, Verses and Organ Type cannot be edited here.
You can use the Search text box, in the top margin, to look for specific words using the two buttons to go forwards and backwards.
To change the sort order, click on the Title of any column. Click on the same Title again to sort in the opposite order.
If you double-click on any line, it will start playing the selected track.
If you right-click on a track, or use the top Edit menu, the following menu appears.
Edit Track will open the Edit Track window.
Delete track deletes the file.
Copy track inserts a duplicate copy of the highlighted track into the library.
Split track will divide a long track with gaps of silence into shorter individual tracks, complete with the necessary stop and expression settings at the start of each one.
Note – Split Track is only enabled if the current organ is the same as the organ used to record or last edit the track.
To Split a track recorded/edited on a different instrument, load the correct instrument, export the track and then reload the current organ and import the track.
Edit Field allows you to type/edit one of the text fields.
You can also Edit a field by clicking a second time on a field in the highlighted track.
TIP – OrganAssist saves your work every 30 seconds. In the rare event that the program crashes, on restart you will be prompted to restore the last backup.
The editor allows you to correct, insert or delete notes. You can move or delete stop changes. You can insert stop changes by playing the piece and then changing the stops.
To edit a track, go to the Library form, Right Click on the track and select “Edit Track” from the menu.
This will display the track in a scrolling window with a “Piano Roll” format.
TIP – You can begin playback at any point in the track using the scroll bar and then either pressing the Play button or double-clicking exactly where you want to start.
You can use the File menu to Save the current track as edited
You can use the File menu to Save As a copy of this track as a new name.
The Edit Menu has many features. Those that affect the ENTIRE track are:
Undo – you can perform multiple Undoes of any edits
Smooth Volumes –The Smooth logic removes surplus expression changes which can impact playback while maintaining the general movement.
Insert Default Expression Settings – added at the start of the track if they are set.
Include Tempo Changes Changes to tempo are not normally recorded as part of the track. Include Tempo Changes ensures you can adjust the Tempo and, when playback ends, these tempo changes will be saved as part of the track.
Transpose Track – You can transpose the entire track up or down 1 semitone.
To make the display clearer a fixed colour scheme is used for notes, stop changes and expression levels. Regardless of the actual name used for the division on a specific organ (Great, Hauptwerk, GO etc.) the following colours are used:
Purple = Pedal Cyan = Choir
Blue = Great Red = Solo
Green = Swell Gold = 5th Manual
Where two notes or expression levels overlap this may result in other colours.
The top area of the window displays registration and expression changes.
The bottom area displays notes.
Immediately below the dividing line are the Left Margin and a Verse Marker
At the bottom of the window are the playback controls.
In the Edit Track window, when NOT playing, the Fast Backward and Fast Forward buttons move the view to the start and end of the track.
The Mute and Solo option buttons allow you to Mute specific divisions during playback or, using Solo, so you can listen to just one division.
The drop-down showing “01 Min” sets the width of the display in minutes/seconds.
Smooth Scrolling – this ensures the music scrolls smoothly with the playback “cursor” in the middle of the window. This is set OFF by default for macOS since the graphics processing can lock up the program. With this off, the cursor moves to the right side of the window before the dispay pages forward with the cursor moved to the left side (as with other progams). This setting requires less graphic processing.
Solid Colours – If this is Off then the notes are displayed as hatched areas rather than solid colours.
Stop Colour – If this is selected then the text that appears when the mouse pointer is over a Stop Change is the same colour (both text and background) as the stop is displayed in the Organ window. If not it is black text on a white background.
The Margin allows you to adjust the amount of silence between the start of the track (when the stops are set) and the first note. In the same way you can also adjust the amount of silence after the last note. This feature is provided so that if you are making an audio recording, the noise of the stops being set/cleared is separated from the piece.
You can adjust the length of a margin by click and dragging one end, in the same way as adjusting the left s
You can set the default margins for an organ from the Library, Edit menu. These values will be used for any recording for this organ or the first time a track is edited if from an earlier version of OrganAssist.
You can set margins to be between 1 and 15 seconds long.
Changing Single Notes
Individual notes can be editing by dragging them to a new position.
To change the pitch of a note click in the middle and drag it vertically, the start time of the note will remain fixed.
To change the start time of a note, click in the middle drag it horizontally, it will remain at the same pitch.
To change length of a note click and drag either the left or right end of the note.
To move the note to another keyboard, right-click and select “Move Note” from the menu and you will be given a list of keyboards to choose from.
Adding New Notes
New notes can be created by holding down the left mouse button and dragging. When you release the button you will be prompted to choose the keyboard/division this note should be played on.
Changing Multiple Notes
You can click and drag to highlight a section of the display.
Right-click to see the options. You can Delete the highlighted notes or Copy them so that you can Paste them at a different point in the track. You will be prompted to select either a single divison/keyboard or All.
Your can also Move notes from one keyboard to another or Swap notes with another keyboard. This feature is particularly useful when importing General MIDI files.
Changing a section (including registration and expression)
If you click and drag in the top area of the window it will highlight an entire section.
By clicking on the Edit menu you can Undo edits. OrganAssist allows you to undo multiple edits if required.
Stop Changes during a track are displayed as markers at the top of the window. The colour of the marker matches the division it belongs to. If you place the mouse pointer over any marker, it will display the full stop name.
The marker will be solid if the stop is being added and marked with a white X if the stop is being removed. The text displayed also confirms if the change is On or Off
When multiple stop changes occur at the same moment they are stacked in one or more vertical columns (for example as triggered by a combination).
To Delete a Stop Change, right-click on it and choose Delete
To Move a Stop Change to a new position, click and drag it to a new position.
To Amend a Stop, right-click and select Edit Stop. A list of other stops for the same division/keyboard will display. Click on the stop of your choice.
Note – for large organs with more than 30 stops per division, before displaying a list, you must select <8 , 8 or >8 to list stops above, at or below 8 foot pitch.
To Add a Stop Change, right-click on the background, choose Add Stop Change.
You will be given a choice of division/keyboard followed by a choice of stops.
If you Add a Stop Change, it will reflect the state of the stop at THIS POINT in the track. Therefore is will automatically be On if it is off and Off if it is currently on.
To make more extensive changes to the registration in the Edit window, you can also click on the Play button in the Playback control.
While the track is playing you can change the stops using the OrganAssist organ window.
When you press Stop or Pause the new stops you have used are displayed in the top area of the edit window.
In the top area of the Edit window, in addition to the stop markers, is a line indicating the position and movement of the expression pedals.
If you right-click in this area you can choose Adjust Volume. You can then choose which keyboard and then a slider is displayed to adjust this value.
As an alternative, during playback you can move the slider next to the keyboard on the Organ window to modify its position. These movements are relative to the value currently in the recorded track.
By clicking and dragging in the top area of the Edit window you can highlight and select part of the track.
By right-clicking on this selection you can take a number of actions.
If you Copy a selection, you can then right-click to Insert this elsewhere in the track.
TIP - If you edit a different track, the copied selection is saved which allows you to create a single track from several different recordings.
Edit Selected Notes displays the menu with options to move notes (see above).
You can delete either notes, stops changes or volume (expression) changes.
You can remove this section entirely (Delete all events).
You can remove this section but retain registration and expression. This may be needed as removing everything will affect the remainder of the track.
You can also choose insert a blank time span of this duration into the track.
There are three new options on the menu if you Right-Click in the top area of the Edit Track window. These allow you to select either the Entire Track or from the Start of the track to the current cursor position or from here to the End of the track.
To make it easy to navigate within a track, you can fast forward or change the tempo. Normally these actions do NOT affect the saved track.
By clicking on the Edit menu at the top of the window you can choose to Include Tempo Changes.
You can change the Tempo using the slider at the bottom of the window. Press the Play button to start playback.
If this is the only change you require (for example to make the entire track 10% slower) you can then press the Stop button and the whole track will be processed to reflect the new tempo. This is because when you press Stop, OrganAssist assumes that you want the Tempo to stay the same as the current setting for the rest of the track.
If required, during playback, you can move the slider to vary the tempo during the track. All these changes will be saved when you press Stop.
You can add Verse markers to a track which makes it possible to change the number of verses during playback.
In the Edit window, if you right-click in the top area of the window, at the start of the first verse (after the introduction), you can add a verse marker. Repeat this to add a Verse marker at the start of each verse. The vertical cursor line helps you to place the marker in the short silence between verses.
Verse markers, coloured Yellow, can be moved in the same way as Stop markers. They should be placed at a point where no notes are sounding.
Now, at the bottom of the window, next to the duration, there is a verse counter. By clicking on the up and down arrows you can select a different number of verses. During playback, OrganAssist will start with the introduction and first verse, it will then omit or repeat verses as required and finish with the last verse. As it progresses it will display the current verse and the total selected (i.e. 2/4)
Note that, by using the Playlist, you can specify which verses in more detail for example 1257 will play the first, second, fifth and seventh verses. You can also repeat verses in this way.
OrganAssist has a number of options for importing/exporting various forms of MIDI file which can be found in the Library File menu.
For organs that are already configured in OrganAssist, you can import / export MIDI files preserving all registration and expression. This can be used, for instance, to import files recorded in other software such as Hauptwerk.
A unique feature of OrganAssist is that it is capable of recording a long session involving a number of individual pieces, and then saving these as separate files complete with all registration and expression.
TIP – You can select MULTIPLE files to import but they will all be imported with the same channel settings.
One of the difficulties of MIDI is that there is no agreed standard for the channels that are used for different keyboards. OrganAssist can import standard MIDI files and, after analysing the use of MIDI channels, it displays a screen to allow you to choose which MIDI channels are assigned to which keyboard on the organ.
To assist you in this choice it analyses the pitch range and polyphony of the MIDI notes. This information indicates which channel might be the Pedal and which the manuals. To aid this process, there are drop-down lists to select the keyboard and it is possible to assign multiple MIDI channels to the same keyboard if required.
General MID files sometimes contain the same notes on multiple channels to playback several sounds for a particular part. These extra channels are not required when importing for an organ as several stops can be selected to achieve the same effect.
Below is an example of the MIDI Import Settings window during the import of a MIDI file of a Bach chorale.
From the information displayed it is clear that channel 1 contains the tune since the pitch is too high for the pedals and the polyphony indicates it is a solo line. Channel 2 has a higher polyphony indicating either chords or multiple parts so this is the accompaniment. Channel 3 contains the pedal line since the range of note pitches fits on the pedalboard and it is a solo line. Channel 4 is an exact duplicate of channel 2. This indicates it is a second voice in the general MIDI file that is not required on the organ.
Using the drop-down lists you can then choose the correct division/keyboard for these notes like this. In this case I have chosen to play the tune on the Swell and accompaniment on the Choir.
If you have Exported this file from OrganAssist to edit using other software, then during the import you can choose to use the Export Settings button so that the file is imported to the original divisions/keyboards.
MuseScore is a very useful, and free, score editing program. However the current version (at March 2020) does not export MIDI files in a format that is easily used on an organ.
If the score uses either Organ or Pipe Organ as the instrument then ALL notes for this instrument are output on the SAME Midi channel. This means that all the notes would go to the same keyboard. An additional problem is that, if the instrument is set to Pipe Organ, the pedal line is stored at 16 foot pitch, with the MIDI notes set to one octave below the pitch on the visible score. This means that these notes would be lost or played one octave too low when played back on a standard organ.
OrganAssist has special logic to deal with these problems.
When you select a MIDI file to be imported there is a checkbox on the form to indicate this is a MuseScore Midi file. If you tick this checkbox then OrganAssist processes the file and assigns the top stave to MIDI channel 1, the middle stave to Midi channel 2 and the bottom stave to Midi channel 3. OrganAssist also analyses the pitch of the pedal line and transposes it up one octave if required. This all happens automatically.
You can choose which keyboards the individual staves are sent to in the same way as for General Midi files.
The settings you use for MuseScore are saved independently from the settings for General Midi so that they are used as the default for future MuseScore imports.
OrganAssist version 3.0 provides a new feature to import / export existing MIDI tracks splitting them into individual pieces. If you import a track for the Current Organ then OrganAssist analyses it to see if there are a number of separate pieces. If it contains more than one piece you are given the option to split the track:
If you reply yes then, before splitting the track you can set the Margins of silence:
After splitting and importing the track you can choose to re-export these individual pieces in the same MIDI format:
Finally, if you do not intend to use these tracks in OrganAssist, you can choose to delete them from the OrganAssist library.
You can export a track as a standard MIDI file. This can be either in the format specified for the current organ or as a General MIDI file, with the option to set the channels.
IF you select the Current Organ format, and it has a General Cancel stop in the configuration, then the MIDI message for this stop will be placed at the start of each exported MIDI file.
This is a new option in Version 3.0 and is located in the Library, File menu.
If you select his item, OrganAssist will go through the ENTIRE library of music and export every track as MIDI for the Current Organ. These MIDI files will be stored in a folder called Backups/Organ-Name in the default Music folder. This process will delete/overwrite any existing files in the backup folder for this organ.
This feature has been provided so that if, at some point in the future, OrganAssist is no longer able to run on the latest version of Windows/macOS, you can transfer all your recordings as standard MIDI files for use with other programs.
It is clear that both Windows and macOS are moving to a new standard and may cease supporting existing 32 bit applications. This has already happened with macOS Catalina. OrganAssist will continue to work on existing/earlier versions of both operating systems but will not be re-written as it contains over 40,000 lines of code!
A number of different makes and models of organs are provided with OrganAssist. You can use one of these as the basis for a new layout.
TIP - It is usually easier to select an existing layout that has a larger specification and delete stops you do not need. For this reason a “thumb-nail” of the organ layout appears when an organ is highlighted in the list for loading.
Configuring an organ can take some time – allow 2 to 3 minutes for every stop you need to configure. (Setting up PAB Gravissimo took nearly 4 hours)
Use the menu to go to Tools, Edit Organ Layout.
Once the Edit Organ Layout panel is visible - change the Organ Name (which is the name that appears in the list of organs). Also choose a different file name. Now select “Save As” from the top menu to create a copy.
Once you have created the copy, it is important to change the Manufacturer (if necessary). This affects the both way OrganAssist processes information and also the options that are available. This setting can be changed later if necessary.
TIP – OrganAssist saves your work every 30 seconds. In the rare event that the program crashes, on restart you will be prompted to restore the last backup.
When you have copied an organ, and before setting it up, you should click on the “Clear ALL MIDI data” button, since the information from the previous organ will not be valid for the new one. This avoids any confusion.
It is best to create the layout of the screen first by creating, moving and deleting stops. Once the layout is correct you can then complete the configuration by selecting the correct Equivalent for each stop and learning the MIDI
Tip – Create any keyboards first as the Stop Equivalent list will only include couplers for existing keyboards.
Hide Keyboards – this is useful for larger instruments as it gives some spare space on the screen to move stops around
Show Grid – displays a regular grid to assist in layout. Pressing the + and – keys changes the size of the grid.
Right-click on the background of the organ and select the item you wish to create.
OrganAssist creates a new stop by copying the nearest one.
You can click on any item to select it. It will be highlighted by a red border.
The Edit Organ Layout floating panel displays the details of the highlighted item.
The top-left corner of any item is used as its position on the screen.
If you point at the top left corner of a selected item, the cursor changes to a four-way arrow. If you click and drag, you can move the item.
If you point at the bottom left corner of a selected item, the cursor changes to a diagonal arrow. If you click and drag you can change the size.
TIP – Don’t spend time on positioning each item exactly – there are features in OrganAssist to automatically position stops in a regular pattern.
If you click on a stop you can change the name that appears on it by typing the name in the text boxes provided on the Edit Organ Layout floating panel. See the Configuring the Stops section of this manual for more details.
TIP – There is an Edit Undo/Redo that can be used multiple times
If you wish to make groups of stops the same size you can use a form of copy and paste to achieve this. Firstly, right-click on a stop of the correct size. You can then Copy Stop Details (which saves the size and the colours of the highlighted stop).
To select a group of stops, click and drag to draw a rectangle surrounding them. If you then right-click on the background you can choose to Paste Size to Selected which makes all stops inside the rectangle the same size.
TIP - the rectangle only needs to include the top-left corner of a stop in the highlighted area to include it in the process.
Having made the stops the same size as below left, you can right-click again and select Auto-Align stops (Diagonal) which re-arranges the stops as on the right.
There are 3 choices of alignment.
Diagonal – if the stops are arranged as in this example.
Grid or Terraced – if the stops are round and placed in horizontal row or columns. Tab – if the stops are rectangular and in rows.
You can move all stops in a rectangle by dragging the top-left corner of the rectangle.
You can “zoom” the selected stops by dragging the bottom-right corner. This only affects the position but not the size of the stops.
If you hold down the SHIFT key and drag the bottom-right corner, the stops will resize as you move.
Using the Edit Organ Layout panel you can set the Text and Background colour of a stop. In the example on the left I have changed the colour of just one stop to White text, Blue Background and Invert Colour is checked.
On the right is the result of using Copy Stop Details on the Trumpet stop and then right-clicking on the Vox Humana and selecting Paste Colour to Similar.
The Contra Trumpet is switched on to show the effect of the Invert Colour option.
You can configure organs with up to 5 manuals. The order they are created reflects the English convention. Pedal, Great, Swell, Choir, Solo and Echo/Bombarde. These represent the role of the manual regardless of its location in relation to the other keyboards. So in an English configuration, the Choir is located under the Great. In a French configuration the Great will be located at the bottom.
You can re-position and rename manuals. The names you choose will automatically update the names of all couplers listed in the Equivalent stop list that identifies the role of each stop.
The Equivalent stop list will only contain couplers relevant to the current configuration. If you add another manual, additional couplers will appear in the list.
When editing the organ layout, the Lowest and Highest text boxes that appear for each manual, represent the MIDI number of the bottom and top notes. You can change these as required.
It is necessary to configure each stop correctly. Click on a stop and look at the Edit Organ Layout floating panel.
TIP- You can move sequentially through all the items on the screen using the Page Down and Page Up keys.
To set the visible name of the stop, type this into the 3 name fields. The Full Name field is the “tooltip” text that is display when you place the mouse pointer over a stop.
TIP - If you delete the Full Name field, it will automatically be created using the information in the 3 Name fields above.
Not only is it necessary to set the Name of the stop – it is important to correctly configure the Division and the Equivalent.
The only information OrganAssist stores in a recorded track, is the Division and Equivalent of each stop change. These must be unique within this organ. If these are set incorrectly a track will still play correctly on THIS organ. However, the registration will be incorrect if played on a different instrument.
The equivalent includes a long list of Stops (arranged by pitch) and includes all couplers relevant to this instrument. You can move through this list using the Up and Down cursor keys. You can move directly to a stop by typing the pitch and the first few letters. “16b” takes you to the first 16 foot stop starting with B. “CG” takes you to the first Coupler starting with G. You can then browse this area of the list.
TIP - Only select Tracker couplers if your instrument actually moves coupled notes OR requires / sends MIDI messages for coupled notes. These enable OrganAssist to automatically generate the additional notes required during playback. Most instruments (and Hauptwerk) do NOT require this option. Always try using standard couplers first.
You can set the Text Colour and set the shape to Round or Rectangle. You can invert the colours so that the stop has white text on you selected colour background.
There are two other fields on this panel. “Repeat ms” and “Delay ms”.
The Repeat ms value (thousandths of a second) is used to prevent OrganAssist from sending conflicting messages too quickly to a moving draw-stop. If a Stop ON and Stop OFF message are sent together then some moving draw-stops will ignore the second message. OrganAssist will wait for this amount of time before sending the second message. This only affects 2 conflicting messages to the SAME stop. It has almost no impact on normal playback. A value of 120 should work if required.
The Delay ms (thousandths of a second) adds a delay AFTER this stop has been changed. This is useful if a particular feature takes some time to activate. This delay is always added after the stop change before OrganAssist continues playback.
This should normally be set to 0.
These two features were included since some early digital organs did not buffer MIDI correctly and so OrganAssist had to pause slightly to avoid data being lost.
TIP – All Repeat and Delay values should be zero unless you find a specific problem that needs correcting. Non-zero Delay values can adversely affect playback.
If you click on the Record/Set ALL MIDI button on the Edit Organ Layout panel, OrganAssist will prompt you so it can learn the MIDI data for each item.
First it will prompt you to play some notes on each keyboard.
Next it will prompt you to move each expression pedal fully open and closed several times.
If you do not have expression for a division (for example – Pedal) then click on the Cancel button and then click Yes to continue with the next item.
It will then prompt you for to switch ON and OFF every stop in sequence:
Once this process is complete, save the configuration. Any potential problems will be listed (a common example that is NOT a problem – No MIDI data for Pedal Expression).
If you wish to re-configure the MIDI for a single item, just right-click on it and choose Set Midi.
If OrganAssist is unable to “learn” the data automatically, if you are familiar with MIDI codes, you can use the PC MIDI Setup window to view what codes are sent by the console and then using the Edit Organ Layout panel (after ticking the “Edit MIDI” box) you can type the codes in manually.
For information on Configuring Hauptwerk organs, please see the next section of the manual.
For more information about entering MIDI codes by hand, please refer to Advanced MIDI Configuration in the Technical Details section of this manual.
There is no learn function for the Master Volume and so this must be set up by hand. Before editing the organ, go to the PC MIDI Setup window and operate the Master Volume on the console. A number of MIDI messages will appear.
Using Hauptwerk as an example the MIDI messages may look like this.
Now go to Edit Organ Layout. To see the configuration of the Master Volume for this instrument, use the top menu Edit and select Edit Master Volume. The Edit Organ Layout panel will display the current settings.
In the example above the B7 07 is a fixed value and the final pair of numbers change. In this case the MIDI 1 text field should be set to B7 07 FF
The FF indicates the part of the MIDI message that contains the changing value.
The Lowest and Highest textboxes just above indicate the range of this value.
In this case the Lowest is 0. The Highest is represented in the textbox as a DECIMAL number. The 7F in the MIDI display is a HEXIDECIMAL number that is equal to 127. This would be the figure to enter in the Highest textbox as below
Other systems may be more complex. If you are unable to configure
this value, please contact me via the website contact page and I will do what I
can to help.
OrganAssist comes with many organs pre-configured for Hauptwerk 4.2
If new organs are contributed then these will be made available on the Download page of the OrganAssist website.
Creating new organ layouts for Hauptwerk is only for more advanced users.
The process to configure a new organ is identical to that described in the previous section with some minor additions.
Hauptwerk organs often have multiple screen views (Console, Left Jamb, Right Jamb, Stops/Pistons etc.) The way in which the organ has been created in Hauptwerk can mean that the stops on these different screens use different MIDI messages. When using the MIDI set process (either for a single stop or for the entire organ) in Hauptwerk, OrganAssist does NOT delete the previous data but adds it into the next free field. OrganAssist can cope with up to 5 different MIDI messages to set a specific stop. These can be a mixture of different types (NRPN and SYSEX) and OrganAssist learns them in the usual way.
Note that Thumb and Foot pistons, Crescendos and Tutti pistons may also use different messages. It is important that OrganAssist is configured so that it recognises ALL the different ways in which a stop can be set in Hauptwerk.
To teach OrganAssist the codes used by a Crescendo it is necessary to clear the first few levels of the Crescendo and then select a single stop. Right-click on the stop in OrganAssist to Set the Midi. Now slightly open and close the Crescendo to switch the stop on and off. This process must be repeated for each stop in the Crescendo.
For Tutti (or other non-standard pistons) a similar approach is required to activate each stop in turn so that OrganAssist can learn the correct MIDI message.
Below is the configuration for the Great to Pedal coupler of the St Anne’s Moseley organ that is provided with Hauptwerk.
This stop requires 5 different messages.
MIDI 1 is the message when moving the stop
MIDI 2 is the message when activated by the Crescendo
MIDI 3 is the message when moved by the Thumb Piston
MIDI 4 is the message when moved by the Foot Piston
MIDI 5 is the message when moved by the FF Thumb Piston
The 5 MIDI fields each have 2 sections.
The first section contains the MIDI message with a special “marker” (FF) that shows which position in the message changes to indicate On or Off.
The second section shows the information that is found in this position when a stop is switched On or Off. OrganAssist recognises and generates the correct MIDI messages based on these two pieces of information.
MIDI 1 shows a single set of NPRN messages that are received to switch the stop On or Off. MIDI 2 shows the single SYSEX message that switches the stop On or Off.
MIDI 3 and MIDI 4 are different as the pistons send 2 messages each time they are pressed. These do not indicate On OR Off but that the stop reverses position. To indicate that this is a “Double” message, OrganAssist puts “FD” to mark the position of the data that changes (instead of FF). It will then respond to the first message of each pair, reversing the position of the stop.
OrganAssist 3.2 contains new features to allow it to be used as a customisable interface for Hauptwerk. This includes editing the layout and adding additional items including Master Couplers and Divisional Combinations not present on the original instrument. You can also create two different layouts to act as Left and Right windows on a dual screen computer even if the original Hauptwerk organ does not have this as standard.
To set up Master Couplers you just select the relevant normal coupler from the list of Equivalents. At the bottom of the Edit Organ Layout panel is a new button – Set Default MIDI for HW. If you click this, it will automatically fill the first empty MIDI textbox with the correct MIDI sequence to trigger this specific Master Coupler in Hauptwerk. (Note that this is different than using a coupler that is part of the existing instrument).
To set up Master Combinations select either Master General or Master Scoped from the Equivalent List. If Master Scoped, you need to select the division it applies to.
To make it easy – if you add a new stop as Combination 0, if you right-click nearby to add another stop it will create Combination 1, 2, 3 etc. including naming the stop and completing the default MIDI for Hauptwerk. In this way you can add an entire array of combinations to a layout in just a few minutes.
NOTE – These combinations are provided to trigger the Hauptwerk built in combinations which then change the stops. The combination buttons are NOT recorded by OrganAssist directly but the resulting stop changes triggered by Hauptwerk are.
OrganAssist can be customised as a Dual Monitor setup in an easy way.
First create a single layout that includes EVERYTHING that you require and ensure the configuration is working correctly. This is important.
Once you have a working configuration, using Edit Organ Layout, save this as a second named organ without changing anything.
Now take one of the configurations and edit the layout to be the left monitor. You achieve this by drawing a rectangle to highlight those items that are NOT required and, using the SHIFT key, drag the bottom-right corner inwards to make these items as small as possible. These than then be placed in a spare space on the window and you can enlarge the items that are required. Repeat this process for the second layout to minimize those items that are not required. This creates two layouts that are different in appearance but functionally identical.
Now, when you open the second organ you do not need to configure the MIDI. The first copy will both send and receive MIDI and the second window acts as a second interface to the same organ.
Playlists are provided to enable anyone to run a complete service just by pressing the space bar. Click on Playlist and then create a new file.
After choosing the default template (Blank) you then can edit this new playlist.
Tracks are inserted from the Library into the Playlist. You can right click to insert the selected track from the library. This feature is available in both the Library and the Playlist. Therefore you can select and insert a number of tracks from the Library and they will be inserted in order into the playlist starting a the selected position.
You can edit the first 2 columns to add descriptions to the playlist if required.
By default, if the Delay field is blank then OrganAssist will wait for the Space Bar (or Play Button) to be pressed before playing a track.
If you enter any number into the Delay field, it will wait for that number of seconds and then start playing this track automatically.
The Verses field can be used to pre-select the number of verses in a hymn. This can be done in two ways. A number less than 20 indicates the required number of verses and OrganAssist will manage this automatically. However, you can also define which verses are used for example 12357.
The example playlist below will play 2 preludes with a 5 second gap and then wait for the play button before playing the opening hymn. After the play button is pressed a second time it will play 4 out of 3 verses of the hymn (by automatically repeating the second verse). It will then wait 10 seconds before playing the final track.
If a track is edited after being included in a playlist, then it must be re-inserted as the playlist will not recognise the amended track. This is a safety feature to prevent you accidentally playing an edited track in a service without knowing it.
You can tick the boxes to either Repeat or Shuffle the tracks in the playlist. This may be useful if you create a playlist of background music.
There is a checkbox in the Playlist window titled Silent Mode. This is useful if the organ being used has moving draw stops.
At the end of a track OrganAssist resets the stops. If this was a quiet piece of music, or it was faded out, the noise of the draw stops moving may be obvious.
If Silent Mode is ticked, OrganAssist does not reset the stops at the end of a track. When the next track starts, it will re-adjust the stops as necessary before beginning playback.
This means that between tracks the organ window will not accurately reflect the state of the console (since the stops will be reset on the screen). This is by design and the console will re-synchronise with the screen as soon as playback starts.
Here you can change the default Folders for music, organs and playlists. You can also set the background image for an organ and also set this as the default.
You can Select the interface Language. All the text required for each language is stored in a text file in the \My Documents\OrganAssist folder. These Language text files contain instructions on how to amend them to provide new languages.
Delay between pieces sets the number of seconds that OrganAssist, while recording, will wait for a note before starting a new track.
Fade Duration – If this is not zero, a button appears on the right side of the playback control marked > . If pressed during playback it will fade the volume to zero and stop the track. This value sets the time taken, in seconds, to fade to zero.
Reverse Scroll Direction – This controls the movement in the Library and Playlist windows if a Mouse Wheel or Trackpad are used to scroll. If the direction is not what you would expect, checking this box will reverse the direction of scroll.
Since OrganAssist sets the stops immediately before (and after) playing, this can cause noise when trying to save an audio recording. If this option is ticked, OrganAssist will always pause before the first note of a piece and again after the last note. Pressing the PAUSE button again resumes/finishes the playback.
This option should be used during Audio Recording only.
By default OrganAssist attempts to ignore MIDI feedback. If you find that there are problems with OrganAssist ignoring MIDI input – try disabling this feature.
Disabling this option can cause unexpected results or even program freezes.
You can default the Master Volume to a specific value if this is supported on your model of organ. This is used at start-up and does not affect the volumes as set in the Library window.
Since there are so many different models and configurations I cannot guarantee that OrganAssist will work with every instrument. However, if you find any problems, please contact me and I will do what I can to help. It is only as a result of the co-operation of other people that I have been able to provide support for so many different systems.
If there are any manufacturers that I have missed, and you would like to help add them, please contact me. OrganAssist continues (in 2020) to be a work in progress.
This option uses general purpose logic that is not customised for any specific manufacturer. If your organ manufacturer is not among those listed below, you should first try choosing Generic Organ to see if this works.
It is possible to configure Allen instruments as OrganAssist can “learn” individual stops correctly.
Playback of existing recordings should work correctly.
There is only limited support for recording music as the combination pistons do not transmit information about the stop changes. Recording of performances using stops registered “by hand” should work correctly.
Alternative voices may produce unpredictable results.
It is possible to configure instruments using Classic Organ Works systems by learning the stops in the usual way.
However, to get Combination Pistons to work you must carry out the following additional steps as they use a different MIDI system than the stops. Unfortunately there is no shortcut – this needs to be done individually for each stop.
1) Set up a General Combination with just ONE stop
2) Set up a second General Combination with NO STOPS
3) Right click on the stop and select Learn MIDI
4) Press the first piston to set the stop
5) Press the second piston to clear the stop
6) Repeat this process for each individual stop
OrganAssist has been tested with several Content organs and so should work correctly.
Hauptwerk Versions 4.2 and greater are fully supported. Please refer to the earlier section on Configuring Hauptwerk in the Creating new organs section.
Instruments by Johannus and Makin are fully supported.
Earlier instruments use a different system - so there are 2 options in the list.
If you are unsure – try configuring an instrument using the second option and if you encounter any problems, switch to the first one. If the wrong option is chosen, you will often find a problem that the General Cancel button does not clear stops correctly within OrganAssist.
OrganAssist supports organs using the Peterson system. Versions prior to 3.2.26 did not support Peterson System Exclusive swell expression messages. Now this format is chosen in preference to standard MIDI messages even if both are detected.
Rodgers organs are fully supported in OrganAssist. This is the current system.
This was an early type of MIDI that was used on some instruments in the 1990s
Organs using Solid State Systems are supported by OrganAssist.
There are 2 MIDI systems. Type 2 is for the newer system introduced in 2010
Type 1 uses MIDI codes starting : F0 2B 01 01
Type 2 uses longer MIDI codes starting: F0 2B 01 02
Viscount instruments should work correctly.
There can be issues with Tremulants due to the fact that some models include the speed/depth settings in the MIDI data. If the Equivalent of a stop is set to Tremulant, OrganAssist should cope with this complexity. If you never change the tremulant settings then, since the MIDI data is constant, there should be no problem.
OrganAssist has been tested on organs using Walker Technical systems and so should work correctly.
OrganAssist has been tested with several Wyvern organs and so should work correctly.
There are some advanced features that can only be controlled by editing the OrganAssist.ini configuration text file located in the Documents/OrganAssist folder.
NOTE - Editing this file incorrectly may cause the program to crash. Take a copy of the file before editing so you have a valid configuration file to restore if necessary.
If you are unable to start OrganAssist due to it reporting that there are no files in the default folders, you can check (and edit) the file locations via the OrganAssist.ini file. The [FileLocation] section is at the start of the file
By default OrganAssist now transmits controller 38 of NRPN MIDI messages.
On INPUT it recognises NRPN messages whether or not this controller is included. Should you need to disable this controller on OUTPUT for any reason, edit the OrganAssist .ini file and update the following line located in the section for the specific organ involved. Each section will start with the relevant [OrganName]
I have had isolated reports that, when running OrganAssist at unusual screen resolutions, the edit field in the Library and Playlist windows displays in the wrong location. You can adjust the location by editing the OrganAssist.ini configuration and changing the values of the following lines in the [UI] section.
These adjust the Top/Left offset and Bottom/Right limit of the textbox offset.
By default OrganAssist checks that, when a window opened, it is visible on the screen by checking the screen co-ordinates. On computers with multiple monitors the location of the windows may be outside the dimension of the primary monitor. In this situation OrganAssist will move the window to be visible on the primary display. You can disable this by adding a line to the [UI] section:
Note – with this set it, is possible for a window to be opened and yet not be visible. If this happens set this value to False and restart OrganAssist.
You can set the default delay, when you Insert a Track, by including a line in the [Playlist] section of the ini file. For example:
Normally OrganAssist will not start while an existing copy is running. You can override this action by adding the following line in the [UI] section of the file.
Note 1 - both copies will use the same MIDI settings unless you change them.
Note 2 – on Windows this works with a single link/icon on the desktop.
On macOS you also need to copy the app and run once from each icon.
Also in the [UI] section of the configuration file is the STACKHEIGHT parameter. This sets the number of stops that are stacked in one column in the Edit Track window. This can be set from 8 (the default in previous versions) to 50.
The default height, starting with version 3.2.02, is 15 stops.
Some instruments can have an issue with an expression pedal that causes it to randomly transmit MIDI messages even when it is not being moved by the organist. This can affect playback by OrganAssist (and other software) as it changes the volume compared with the recorded track.
To correct this problem, add the following line into the relevant [OrganName] section of the OrganAssist.ini file
During playback OrganAssist will immediately force the volume/expression pedal back to the current playback value every time it receives a change from the console.
The feature to play very basic sound using a hardware/software sound card can be configured via the OrganAssist.ini file. The MIDI voices that are used for different types of stops are held in the [SoundCard] section. The default MIDI voices are shown below. You may choose to change these if you have a suitable sound font.
By default, all files are stored in the \Documents\OrganAssist folder. Backups of editing tracks and organs are moved to a Backup folder within the default Music or Organs folder. These can be renamed with the correct file extension (.oae for tracks and .oao for organs) and moved back to the relevant folder if required.
This folder contains the OrganAssist.ini file that stores all the settings you choose (MIDI Ports, Organ Details etc.).
As stated above, this folder also contains some text files. These text file provide all the wording within OrganAssist (on buttons, menus, message boxes). There is one text file for each Language. These are listed on the User Configuration form.
The language text files contain instructions for anyone to easily create different languages. Please share any new languages to help others.
Recorded tracks are stored in the \Documents\OrganAssist\Music folder. Every time you make an edit a backup file is saved with the Date and Time in the filename and stored with a .bak file extension.
To restore the backup of a track, locate the backup file and change the file extension to .oae and return it to the original location. When you restart OrganAssist, the track will appear in the Library.
Organ layouts are stored in the OrganAssist\Organs folder. As with recorded tracks, a backup is saved before every edit and stored with a .bak file extension.
To restore the backup of an organ layout, rename it to change the file extension to .oao and move it back to the Organs folder. When OrganAssist is restarted, the organ will appear in the list. Since organs must not have duplicate names, unless you delete the current organ layout, one of the two organ layouts will have a suffix to make them unique.
This was a major upgrade from the previous stable version - 2.5. It includes a change in the file format for both organs and recorded tracks.
Any existing organ or track will be converted when it is loaded into OrganAssist 2.7. Version 2.5 music recorded on a specific instrument should play back unchanged on the same organ. However, due to a change in the list of Equivalents, it is necessary to check whether the stops on the organ are correctly set up for version 2.7
To successfully upgrade existing files - add them into the correct folders. It is important that you add both the organ definition and any tracks recorded using this organ at the same time. If you then edit the organ layout to correct the Equivalents, OrganAssist will automatically edit any existing tracks (recorded on this specific organ) to match. OrganAssist uses the name of the organ (as saved in the track details) to locate any affected files and automatically converts them when you save the updated organ layout. If you add the tracks AFTER changing the organ configuration then they will not be updated correctly.
Using files from OrganAssist 2.7 or later with earlier versions of the program will cause unpredictable results.
Version 3.2 uses an enhanced file format with addional data fields. However, tracks and organ layouts created in 3.2 are compatible with version 3.0 but some features may not be available if used with the earlier version.
Note - editing tracks or organ layouts with version 3.0 will lose some information such as, for example, Copyright and Melody (for tracks) or stop colour data (for organ layouts).
OrganAssist can play any recordings on almost any organ (that has MIDI input) since it has been designed from the ground up to allow full portability of recorded music across all instruments.
Since different manufacturers (and even models) of organ can use different MIDI configurations, it is not possible to record MIDI from one instrument and play this back on a different organ. Therefore, OrganAssist only records three items of data - the change in position of a Stop, an Expression Pedal or a Note. Stops are categorised in a structured way (reflecting the division, pitch, tone etc.) so that a similar stop can be used in future.
When OrganAssist is in playback mode, it is calculating and generating all the MIDI data in real time to match the selected instrument (even when playing on the same instrument as the track was recorded on). It is only by doing this that it can cope with manual changes to registration during playback or rewind tracks while playing them. Rewinding involves completely different MIDI messages since everything is reversed.
OrganAssist uses a similar approach to “printer drivers” used in some operating systems. It has specific code for each manufacturer which, together with the information stored in the Organ Layout, enables it to “talk” to a specific instrument.
When playing a different instrument, you may have to compromise on the selection of stops depending on the specification of the organ. These decisions are made not on an individual basis but reflect both the capabilities of the organ as well as the demands of the performance.
To achieve this OrganAssist contains a "Virtual Organist" which makes all the decisions about how best to replicate the original performance using the available stops. These decisions may involve substituting or ignoring registration changes depending on the scope of the instrument.
These changes are done during playback and in real time. Every time a stop is changed the Virtual Organist considers the required registration as a whole, calculates what might be the best option on the current instrument and then makes any changes as necessary.
To avoid the possibility of not hearing anything at all, OrganAssist will redirect stops and notes for any non-existent manual to one that is part of the current organ.
This system has been developed using the expertise of several experienced organists and has been tested on many instruments. However, as each instrument is individual, there will be times when you wish to change the registration yourself. This can either be done by changing stops on the screen during playback or you can use the editing features of OrganAssist to amend the track and save your preferred registration.
OrganAssist comes configured to support instruments from a number of different manufacturers. However there may be times when it will be unable to understand the MIDI data it receives when you are attempting to “learn” the MIDI.
On the Edit Organ floating panel is an Edit MIDI check-box. If you tick this, it allows you to directly type in the MIDI codes if required. For example “C5 23 1F”.
You can see the codes that your instrument is sending if you use the Tools menu to view the PC MIDI Setup screen. If you leave this open, it will display the MIDI codes as they are sent and received.
If your manufacturer is not specifically listed, you could try setting the Manufacturer to Generic Organ and see if the MIDI learn facility works. If not you could try viewing the codes and typing them in manually. Try a couple of stops to see the results. The fields marked Midi On and Midi Off are used if there are two different codes – one for On and one for Off. The Midi Toggle field is used if the same code is used for both purposes.
Some of the systems supported use very long and variable codes. For these systems OrganAssist only stores the relevant data. For example – The MIDI codes stored for Rodgers instruments are in the format “1A 40”. This information allows OrganAssist to identify the specific location of the relevant bit of information that is required to build a Rodgers SYSEX MIDI message (which is considerably longer and has to be created “live” as it involves the position of all other stops).
OrganAssist supports Hauptwerk 4 and 5 for all normal stop changes. However, when using crescendos that are configured as part of a Hauptwerk instrument, a second type of code is sent. OrganAssist is currently unable to learn these automatically, as moving the crescendo affects many stops simultaneously. The chapter on Hauptwerk contains brief instructions on how to do this manually but it is tedious work.
Windows – RECOMMENDED
Microsoft Windows XP SP3, Vista, 7, 8 and 10
A MIDI Interface - either physical or a Virtual MIDI cable like loopMIDI
Minimum Screen Resolution 1024x768
Apple – NO LONGER FULLY SUPPORTED – IF IT WORKS FOR YOU, GREAT!
There are occasional losses of incoming MIDI data that only occur on some systems. This is why the MIDI Helper program is required. On other systems the OrganAssist plus Helper programs work fine. If possible, I will fix problems that can be replicated on Windows but I am unable to fix macOS specific problems.
macOS High Sierra and Mojave ONLY
A MIDI interface AND the configuration of the built-in IAC Driver
The OA MIDI Helper application is required to route incoming MIDI data
Any PC built within the past 10 years should be able to run OrganAssist since it was originally developed on a Pentium 200Mhz PC with 64MB ram.
Even though playback should be fine, the process of editing tracks or configuring larger instruments (greater than 40 stops) may benefit from a faster processor.
A stress test of OrganAssist on an Intel i3-3220 playing back the famous Widor Toccata at 200% tempo (using a different organ than the recording) produced the following results.
99.9% of notes were sent to the MIDI interface within 9ms of the recorded time.
Maximum delay on any single note 79ms (due to a preceding stop change)
100% of stop changes sent within 90ms of recorded time.
In summary – OrganAssist is capable of playing notes with a accuracy of better than 1/100 of a second and stop changes with an accuracy of 1/10 of a second.
It is clear that both Windows and macOS will be moving to new standards. This has already happened with macOS Catalina which no longer supports 32 bit applications. OrganAssist will continue to work on existing/earlier versions of both operating systems but will NOT be re-written as it contains over 40,000 lines of code!
However, I am hopeful that Windows will maintain backward compatibility for the foreseable future.
Version 3 of OrganAssist contained a new feature (in the Library, File menu) to save the ENTIRE library of music as standard MIDI files for the current organ. This will help you move all your existing music for use with other MIDI software if necessary.
Updated – 08.02.2022