Fraser Gartshore

Organist | Pianist | Conductor | YouTuber

Posted by: Fraser

Fraser Gartshore is a Scottish/German organist, conductor and YouTuber. But you already knew that.
Hauptwerk Part 2

What is Hauptwerk?

Basically, it’s rather snazzy software used to control sampled pipe organs via Midi hardware. If you’ve ever used a VST instrument in Logic or Pro Tools, you’ll know what I mean. Hauptwerk is a very sophisticated piece of software that has been developed and improved over the years, taking advantages of ever-faster computing power and increased RAM possibilities.

To enjoy Hauptwerk (HW) to its fullest extent, you need some form of midi-controlled organ console. This is just like the organ console you would see attached to a church or concert or theatre organ: 2-4 keyboards, a pedalboard and a plethora of further controls for stops, dynamic effects, registration combinations and so on.

The console is the control center of Hauptwerk. Using MIDI commands, it sends signals to the software to trigger sampled organ sounds. Sounds easy. It’s not!

An organ is a complicated piece of kit. Some pipe organs contain many thousands of pipes, ranging from 32′ to well under 1″ in length. It’s frequency range spans the entire human hearing capabilities with notes sounding as low as 16 Hz or, thanks to overtones, nearing 20,000 Hz…

These individual pipes have been painstakingly sampled using the highest quality microphones. A number of specialists around the world have become most sophisticated in capturing organs’ sounds, not forgetting the acoustic spaces in which they speak.

Before I get too technical, I hope you can see where this is going. HW allows users to purchase different sampled organs from around the world, some large, some small, some free of charge, some bloody expensive…

I shall be featuring the world of HW in a number of upcoming videos – both the software and my own console build will be presented and I hope to show non-organ folks how amazing this digital world can be…

Now over to you: I need your help. I already have a pedalboard. What about the other bits and pieces? 3 manuals? 4 manuals? Touchscreens? How many pistons? Swell pedals? There’s a long long to-do list and I could do with a few pointers along the way.

Do leave your comments and let me know what you think.

Maybe you’d like to support the project?



  1. Ryan

    I’m very curious on what you’re thinking about doing with your sound system. Most of us started out with headphones, which can be exciting for a while, but the effect wears off quite soon. The advanced edition of HW V let’s you do some absolutely incredible things with audio configuration, although I can’t say I understand all of it myself! A good general rule of thumb is: Buy the same exact model of speaker in stereo pairs for the best results. Depending on how many channels of direct and surround you want (More channels incurs more cost; my 4-channel setup is dwarfed by a friends 22-channel rig) you’ll want to look at some 8” studio monitors. I’d recommend looking at the Behringer Truth B2031As and the Monoprice SV28s. There’s all sorts of algorithms you can play with to see which distribution of ranks and pitches sounds the best with your setup. Lastly, I would recommend getting a subwoofer, even if only a small one. You’re really going to want a little bit of beef on your 16’s, (I also recommend getting a sealed subwoofer=>cleaner sound) but if you want something that can handle 32 foot samples, I would check out the 12-15” subs on Rhytmik audio’s website. Controlled by servos, they’re some of the most effective and efficient subs I’ve ever heard. None of this is cheap at all, but the fun is in slowly piecing it together over time. My best wishes and support in your Hauptwerk Journey, I can’t wait to see the videos you’ll come up with. 😉

    • Fraser

      The sound system will be added at a later date, as funds allow. I’m concentrating on getting a decent console together first. As I’ll be mainly using it for home and YouTube use, I’m not too worried about the perfect surround sound for now! As and when I can start adding speakers and so on, I already have a source for some rather amazing sounding infrasonic subs and more! All shall be revealed!

  2. Alan Baker

    Good luck with the project Fraser. I remember from a long time ago that Hauptwerk was a sort of PC „game“. A halfway decent PC and you could play 3 UK organs, one was a Cinema Organ I think. I started on it but then other things ‚got in the way‘ 😢
    Now it appears to be very sofisticated, and ideal if you for expert or learner Organists. Have fun constructing it. This old lodger will be a keen follower. Alles gute für Weihnachten und Neujahr.

    • Fraser

      Thanks Alan! I’m really looking forward to getting the console up and running. All shall be revealed in videos planned for the New Year, so fingers crossed that this Corona Lockdown actually works this time!

  3. Alan Baker

    Grrr. That should be old Codger. Stupid corrector system 😠

  4. Hartmut

    Made the same experience as Alan: my long text, which took me some time as non-native speaker, disapeared, when I tried to correct my e-mail address.


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