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The Virtual Pipe Organ Project

by Martin Dyde



Hauptwerk is a generic computer simulation of a pipe organ. It is a computer program into which you can load different pipe organs and play them using a MIDI keyboard or keyboards. In place of, or in addition to MIDI keyboards, you can use a sequencer to control the organ. It is a specialised form of 'virtual sampler', some other examples of which have recently become available with the rapid increase in computer processing power. It receives MIDI data and produces pipe organ sounds using recordings that have been made of a real pipe organ, hence giving very realistic results.

Unlike many home keyboards and professional synthesizers, which are often sample-based, Hauptwerk has been designed to take advantage of the high processing power and relatively low cost of computer memory to give a far more accurate rendition of an organ than is possible on most keyboards, synthesizers or samplers. Whereas synthesizers and samplers usually use a few small samples, recorded at intervals across the keyboard and time-stretched to provide the remaining notes, Hauptwerk uses a large (three to five second) recording for every pipe in the organ. For a small parish church organ, this may amount to well over a thousand individual samples. All of these must be stored in memory at once so that they may be recalled instantly when a key is pressed.

You will need a fairly modern and powerful computer to use organs of any size, although I have attempted to provide cut-down versions for those with lesser systems. Hauptwerk will currently only work on a PC and does not use any of the audio plug-in architectures (VST instrument, DirectX sound effect etc.).

The design philosophy has been to make the interface and functional detail of the program as close to a real pipe organ as possible, whilst being general enough to allow many diverse organs to be accurately simulated. This has been a difficult goal, and although most common mechanical details are accurately reproduced, it is by no means perfect and I have yet to simulate some of the more obscure features.

Unfortunately Hauptwerk is not a free program. It is shareware, which means that you can try it for free but if you like it and want to use it, you are obliged to pay a registration fee. I had hoped to make this software completely free, but it has cost me a substantial amount of money to create and over a year and a half of very hard work to produce. I am not aiming to make any significant profit from the project.


Site Map


The following are the pages from the help manual, which covers most of the basic information:

  1. Welcome
  2. Introduction: What is Hauptwerk?
  3. The Meaning of 'Hauptwerk'
  4. Applications
  5. Licensing and Registration
  6. Hardware and Software Requirements
  7. Installation
  8. Quick Start - Getting a Sound out of Hauptwerk
  9. A Brief Tour of a Pipe Organ
  10. Connecting External MIDI Keyboards and Controllers
  11. Connecting Hauptwerk to a Software MIDI Sequencer
  12. Running Hauptwerk for the First Time
  13. The Hauptwerk System Setup Window
  14. Loading and Activating an Organ in Hauptwerk
  15. Verifying that Hauptwerk is Working
  16. Hauptwerk Organs and Organ Definition Files
  17. Operating an Organ in Hauptwerk
  18. Recording the Sound Output from Hauptwerk
  19. Troubleshooting
  20. Finally...

Please click on one of the links below for further information:

Buying and Registering Hauptwerk

Downloading Hauptwerk

Building or Obtaining MIDI Organ Pedalboards

Frequently-Asked Questions


Useful Links



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