Space, Sound, and the Digital Organ
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The digital organ is a unique instrument. The acoustic pipe organ is fixed in one location with a limited number of of stops available to the organist. In contrast, the digital organ is mobile and, when used in combination with a computer, offers the organist an infinite array of different sounds. Unfortunately, composers and performers have hitherto ignored the unique capabilities of the digital organ. This paper explores the history of the pipe organ leading to the development of the digital organ. In addition, this paper presents a new composition created specifically for digital organ, entitled Spatia. In my composition, I explore the possibilities of composing specifically for digital organ. I have designed a unique set of nine organ stops for each specific performance venue and date. Six of these stops feature sounds that are recorded from the performance space and its surrounding locale. The three other stops feature the sound of the full organ altered to varying degrees by the resonant frequencies of the performance space (i.e. those pitches which sound clearest in a particular room). One stop features the unaltered full organ sound, one stop features the full organ sound distorted by the resonant frequencies, and the final stop features the resonant frequencies without the full organ sound. These basic materials are formed into a musical composition through the use of two motives and two musical transformations. Spalia represents a wholly new form of composition with profound implications for the future of digital organ music.