The “Digital Concert Organ” (DCO) – a project full of heart and soul. In the following I want to tell you everything about it:
… about the motivation
… about the general problems of the classical organ
… about the requirements for digital organs in private and concert use
… and about the manufacture of the DCO
At this point I would like to say thanks to all volunteers who have supported me achieving this life’s dream – either through thoughts, words or actions!
My goal is to make the organ more appealing and open, especially for younger people. For me, the organ is not an instrument that is only to be played in churches and big concert halls – quite the contrary – also in music schools and smaller concert halls this magnificent and versatile instrument has to gain new strength. However, the instrument itself has to go through a profound transition and take full advantage of the opportunities digitalization brings along.
The “Digital Concert Organ” has arised from an identical motivation that has also impelled Cameron Carpenter to build his “International Touring Organ”. In my opinion, Cameron Carpenter ist the most brilliant organist of modern times. He is not just a virtuoso on keys and pedals, no, he is a visionary and revolutionist and renders a huge service for the organ. He has recognized the key problems of this instrument and pushes the transition of the classical organ into the digital age like noone else:
My vision is to keep the best of the classical organ – its emotional magnitude, its sonic range, its coloristic drama – but to liberate these from the pipe organ’s immobility, its moving parts, its cost, its institutionality.
It has to have the cathedral organ’s expansiveness, and the Wurlitzer´s clarity, rapidity and audacity. It will be ethereal and rhythmless at times – and at other times more rhythmically intense than any pipe organ in the world.
The Organ – A monster in chains
The organ is frequently referred to as the “Queen of Instruments”. And this can be demonstrated by multiple points. The organ is not only the biggest instrument in the world. By means of its diverse registers it also boasts a dynamic variability as well as an unrivalled sound spectrum. Thus, the organist can produce various sounds – starting from faint, spheric sounds up to a monstrous, space-filling thunder which has the whole body trembling.
It is precisely the physical magnitude and the firm installation into a building causes some problems. The organ is immovable, bound to a room, to huge costs – and to the church.
The Organ – A loyal churchgoer
The organ has an almost exclusive reference to the church and it is an elementary component for accompanying lithurgical procedures – and that is a good thing. But what is left of the instrument when separated from religion? Apart from the church, the organ is not perceived as a stand-alone instrument. But it is much more than an instrument – its sounds can imitate single instruments or even a whole orchestra.
This poses one question: Why does this versatile instrument have only little access to small concert halls, music schools or even the own living room? Right here the problems mentioned above come to light: immobility, costs, institutionalisation. Under these circumstances it is hard, to exercise an a regular or even daily basis which is indispensible for learning any instrument and for developing the acquires skills. Every musician wants to build up a connection to his or her, mark you, own instrument.
When planning an organ concert further challenges come along. Due to the insufficient availability of organs in “neutral” rooms one is mostly reliant on churches, which often allows just a limited concert programme. Pop and rock at the church organ? That does not receive unanimous consent everywhere. In the end, this is how even the artistic freedom suffers which is so important for every musician and which is the reason for making music in some ways.
In short: As organist one has to take on a number of burdens when practicing or planning a concert. These barriers do not render the instrument more appealing apart from the already limited access to it.
The Organ – An individual
And now back to the instrument itself. Every organ is tailored to the respective (church) room by the organ builders. This makes every organ unique and interesting but also overly complicated for every organist. Let us imagine being an organist. He or she has to invest multiple hours in preparation to chose the appropriate registers for pieces that have already been practiced until perfection. And time is limited – the organist is in a constant rush in order to glean the best result from the organ in given time. Is this the initial goal of making music?
Thus, the requirements are clear. There is a lack of a transportable concert organ, but with the sonic power of a “real” organ. Understandably enough, it was very hard so solve this problem up to now. However, there are far more options in the age of digitalisation. Cameron Carpenter has not only recognized the problems of the classical organ, but he has also developed a solution: The “International Touring Organ” – which he has developed in collaboration with the american company Marshall & Ogletree.
Even though many subproblems are solved with this organ, two severe problems still remain for the “organ-middle-class”. The costs of this masterpiece go beyond 1 million euro and also the transport can only be managed with the aid of a truck and a large team.
I want to promote these ideas for amateur organists. This is what the “Digital Concert Organ” stands for.
Digital Concert Organ (DCO)
A digital, flexible, modular, transportable and affordable concert organ – coupled with sound volume and the functionalities of classical organs.