Monday, July 04, 2011

Project KOW : Console design

The jOrgan software uses "dispositions" as configurations for how a virtual organ will look and sound. When these dispositions are very complex, the control scheme is also complex. Generally, the player will choose combinations of stops and apply them to "pistons" which are basically presets. These pistons are physical controls and are generally located below the manuals, though pistons can be displayed on the computer screen and selected with the mouse, or via a touch screen.

During the performance, the pistons allow rapid changes of stop combinations that could not be achieved by manually changing the stop tabs. My first "proof of concept" organ used a ELO touchscreen, which allowed me to tap the screen to make changes.

So, now to console design. A touchscreen allows access to many stop tabs and pistons, but lacks the tactile feel of real switches. One can glance at physical switches to check and change configurations, but this is much more difficult with touchscreens.

I did extensive research online to help me decide on a design for my console. I have narrowed this down to Schlicker and Holtkamp consoles, as they often used a very minimalist design (some call it ugly) The console that most approximates what I am planning is this Schlicker practice organ :

Reducing the number of controls allows all controls to be "real" and eliminates the need for a computer display. This will allow me to concentrate more on playing, and less time fiddling. There will be likely fewer than 30 physical control elements, which also makes the console project much more "doable". The thought of wiring even 100 different controls is daunting.