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PREAMBLE

WHAT IS jORGAN?

WHAT DO I NEED TO START?

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

INTRODUCTION TO  DOWNLOADING

DOWNLOADING AND INSTALLING

          Java

          jOrgan

DOWNLOADING VPO'S

          Paul Stratman's American Classic Organ

          Rick Whatson's CHRISTIE Theatre Organ    

          Paul Stratman's AEOLIAN-SKINNER Church Organ   

          John Reimer's BALMAIN Church Organ

WHAT IF THEY DON'T WORK?

          My INSTRUCTIONS pdf

          Rick Whatson's jOrgan v.3.20 Install Instructions

          Bill Skees’ (encyclopaedic) Beginner's Guide to jOrgan

          jOrgan Forum

OTHER VPO’S

WHAT IF I FIND THE SOUND DISAPPOINTING?           


PREAMBLE

This is not an official jOrgan website. It is one I have created at my own initiative, in order to share the good things which jOrgan provides with more people than seems to be happening, and to make it easier for them to discover these good things for themselves.

Throughout this website, I shall be assuming the use of Windows (unless I actually mention Linux or Mac), and users of those other systems will need to make their own appropriate changes to what is being said. I am also assuming that you remain connected to the internet while using this website.

One further matter. Some people will find my instructions too wordy, and will get very impatient. But I am being as inclusive as possible. I know from bitter experience that lots of computer instructions assumed a greater knowledge than I had at the time. There have been countless occasions when I have encountered ambiguity or inadequate instructions, and it has been very frustrating. I am very serious about covering all bases.

What follows is a carefully-worded guide to getting started with jOrgan, avoiding some of the things that can trap the unwary or the confused. However, there is the well-known statement, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and so I have included mention of two other attempts aimed at doing much the same thing, but with an abundance of pictures. You may prefer to use them as alternatives or in addition.

I describe them HERE and HERE.

WHAT IS jORGAN?


jOrgan is a highly-developed computer program written by Sven Meier, designed to enable users to create or to play Virtual Pipe Organs of high quality. It is Open Source software, which  means that it is free of cost to the user, and accessible to any programmer who may wish to develop it for their own particular purposes, and who has the ability to do so. In strictly technical terms, it is a specialized MIDI processor without actual sound generation capabilities, and so needs to be used along with some appropriate “sound engine”. For reasons of convenience, the Open Source software synthesizer “Fluidsynth”, designed to play standard (.sf2) soundfont files, is bundled along with the jOrgan download. It is probably the case that most jOrgan users choose to use Fluidsynth, but they are in fact free to use any alternative sound engines if they so choose.


The Java Realtime Environment program needs to be installed on any computer intended to be used with jOrgan. One outcome is that this allows jOrgan to have a very attractive and flexible Graphical User Interface, making its visual presentation ideal for users and developers of VPO's alike.


WHAT DO I NEED TO START?

As a bare minimum, you need a computer capable of running the program. This normally means a Personal Computer, although I believe that some enthusiasts may have jOrgan running on various tablets and so on. It can be run successfully even on a Raspberry Pi. jOrgan can be used on Windows computers (probably better to use nothing older than XP), on most Linux computers, and on some Mac computers. Regarding Mac, I have some doubts about the suitability of some of the more recent Mac versions, at least until a jOrgan expert looks into this and is able to remedy it with changes to the jOrgan program, if that will make the difference.

Ideally, you also need a MIDI keyboard to enable you actually to play it for yourself. 61 keys is the desirable size, matching modern organ requirements. If the keyboard has only a MIDI OUT socket, you will need a MIDI-to-USB cable or other interface to plug into a USB port on the computer. Many MIDI keyboards have USB output, and so can be plugged straight into the computer, using a standard USB cable. It is also desirable to have a good quality audio system plugged into the headphone socket of the computer or into some other audio output socket. The computer speakers will give a sound, but it will be unworthy of the quality of sound produced by jOrgan and other Virtual Pipe Organ programs.

jOrgan (and the other programs, I believe) have “virtual keyboards” which can be made to appear on the computer screen. You can use them to play one note at a time by clicking on the “keys” with a mouse, but although that is good for testing the program, you will soon tire of it. However, I believe that they all have inbuilt recorders on which you can play appropriate MIDI files, to hear the sound even if you lack the ability to play music for yourself.


WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

You do, of course, need to have a basic knowledge of how to use your computer. If you think you are lacking in that department, swallow your pride and ask family members or friends to show you what you need to know. You also need to know how to download the appropriate files from the internet and install or use them in your computer.

There are two main on-line sources of information about jOrgan: the “jOrgan – User Forum” and the “jOrgan Wiki” (you can click on these to go to them directly). There is a second Forum, called “jOrgan – Sound Forum”, which has never caught on, and which is now largely ignored. It may contain information which some people may find helpful, but unless you are driven by curiosity, you can probably afford to give it no further thought. The basis lying behind these two Forums is actually two standard Mailing Lists, but Nabble makes them available as Forums and Archives, which is very convenient. You can read the posts on those Forums without registering, but you cannot send a post unless you register on the Mailing Lists, which are hosted by the SourceForge people. To register, click on “more options” at the top of the Forum main page, and follow the instructions. The Forums (or Mailing Lists, if you prefer) are your main source of help if you have problems running jOrgan to your satisfaction. If you do post with a problem, make sure that as well as outlining the problem, you give some basic details of what computer you are using, and what Operating System, and anything else you feel may be relevant. A bare complaint that you have no sound cannot be expected to get a reply from the number of users who are keen to help others have success.

The jOrgan Wiki is another thing again. It is actually a repository for “everything that needs to be known about jOrgan”. It was written in the first instance by Sven Meier, the creator of jOrgan (a genius, in my estimation), who has retired from the project, after years of hard and very productive work, but leaving it in excellent shape. I am writing this Preamble at the beginning of 2018, and his place is yet to be taken by someone else who has the knowledge and ability to promote the ongoing development of jOrgan. You need to be warned that the jOrgan Wiki is not easy to read in some places, so don't be put off. I find parts of it to be impenetrable, myself. But if you are someone just starting out, rather than an enthusiast wanting to create your own VPO or to push the boundaries of jOrgan in some direction or other, you need to read very little in the jOrgan Wiki, except for the download instructions and the list of available jOrgan VPO's. And I will now guide you through that material.


INTRODUCTION TO  DOWNLOADING

There are three things you have to download: a version of jOrgan suitable for your computer, and likewise, a suitable version of the Java Realtime Environment program (“Java” explains the “j” in jOrgan). jOrgan will not work without it. The third thing is one or more actual VPO's which can be played using jOrgan.  A VPO suitable for jOrgan is actually a group of files, kept within a single folder, and that folder is often called the disposition. The download is usually in the form of a “.zip” file, which needs to be unzipped before it can be used.

There is one other thing that needs to be explained in this introduction, and it is very important. Not only does jOrgan require the Java program to be installed on your computer, but it requires a version of Java (32-bit or 64-bit) which agrees with the version of jOrgan you are using (32-bit or 64-bit). There is no harm usually, it seems, to have both versions of Java installed. I find that to be the case with my old Windows 7 computer. Some people like to exercise caution in this matter and have only the one version of Java installed, but I don't think we yet find that to be necessary. But I do think that you should have only the one version of jOrgan installed, unless you are very confident that you will not get into trouble.

In any event, if you are starting to use jOrgan with a Windows computer, it is fairly likely that you will not yet have any version of Java on it. So you have to download both Java and jOrgan, and the versions have to agree. So which version should you use?

jOrgan seems to work equally well with either. The only factor, really, is whether you plan to use some “additional” soundcard for your audio instead of simply the headphone socket of your computer, or whether you plan to use some other peripheral device for some other purpose, and those things REQUIRE either 32-bit or 64-bit operation.

My recommendation for those only moderately experienced in computer use is to choose 32-bit. It may be that eventually you will wish to use the program Jack for Windows in order to improve the reverberation by means of a third-party program. Jack for Windows is easier to install in 32-bit than in 64-bit.

You will need to make a choice: 32-bit or 64-bit. Don't get anxious about this: if for some reason you later find that the other would have been more suitable, it is a simple matter to uninstall programs and to install other versions, without any sort of harm. In general use, one has to do this at times anyway. If one suspects that a download has resulted in the file being corrupted (it does happen!) it is the only alternative one has.


DOWNLOADING AND INSTALLING

Java

I suggest that you do that first. But you probably should check to see if it is already on your computer. A simple way is to bring up the “Uninstall List” and see if it is there. (For Windows versions up to Windows 7, click on the Windows Start icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen, then click on “Control Panel”. Click on “Uninstall”. For later versions, click on the Search icon and type in, “Control Panel”, and then click on “Uninstall”, or it may be possible simply to type in “Uninstall”.) Wait for all the programs to be listed, and look for Java or “jre”. If it is there, but it doesn't indicate whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit, you will need to look in the Program Files folder and the Program Files(x86)” folder, which are both on the C: drive. (Windows XP usually has only the first folder). 64-bit programs are kept in the first of those two folders, and 32-bit programs in the second. Make sure that you close the “Uninstall” window without uninstalling anything (unless, of course, you actually wish to).

If you need to download Java, after clicking on “jOrgan Wiki”, click on “Installation” in the navigation list at the left, and scroll down until you see “Java”. Find the words, “This is the best link to use” and click on the [1] which immediately follows it. This takes you to a Java download webpage. You will see three options for Windows. Numbers 2 and 3 are for a manual download, and you should choose one of those, so that Java does not automatically download a version you do not want.

If you want 32-bit Java, you should click on “Windows Offline”.

If you want 64-bit Java, you should click on “Windows Offline (64-bit)”.

After the download is finished, you will need to choose whether to Run or Save. I think it is a good idea usually to save it, so that it ends up in the Downloads folder. This means that if you want to install it a second time for some reason later on, it is easy to do so.

If after Windows has downloaded the file and saved it, it offers you the option of examining the file in the Downloads folder, you should do that. You then don't have to find it.

How do you find it (if you have to)? I am typing these instructions on a computer which has Windows 7, and in Windows 7 (and possibly in other Windows versions) there are actually two separate Downloads folders! If the file is not in the first you examine, then you will have to look for it in the other. To find these folders, click on the Start icon in the bottom-left-hand corner of the screen). Then click on “Computer” (or it may be “My Computer”). At the top left of the screen you now see, there is a list under the heading, “Favourites”. Click on “Downloads” there, and in the file list look for the file you have just downloaded. If it is not there and so you have to find the other folder, click once more on the Start icon, and then click on “Computer” (or it may be “My Computer”). Double-click on “C:”.  Then double-click on the “Downloads” folder.

The file you are looking for starts with “jre”. It then indicates the version, and finishes with the file extension “.exe”. You normally have to scroll down past any folders in the list until you get to the files.

To install Java on your computer, double-click on the file. Before doing this, you should first close your browser (Internet Explorer usually), and also any other programs which happen to be running. To finish the install, simply follow all the instructions.

For Mac or Linux users, I suggest that you use the [1] link mentioned above, and then read the various “Instructions”, including all four in the case of Linux, before choosing which download. Note that if you have an old version of Ubuntu, it may still be 32-bit. So you need to establish what version of Ubuntu you have:  32 or 64-bit.

jOrgan

The download and installation of jOrgan can follow:

After clicking on “jOrgan Wiki”, you will see the Home page, where you will find the heading, “Download”. You should click on “Latest installer for Windows”. What you see there is immediately confusing. You should ignore the green and blue links at the top. Below you will see 3.21 and 3.20. My advice is to choose the 3.20 (i.e. jOrgan version 3.20 for Windows), which I think is still officially the latest version, with 3.21 properly called a “beta” version, even if it does seem to work 100%. Next you will be presented with two files. The choice is easy. For 32-bit jOrgan, click on the one that ends with “-x86.exe”, and for 64-bit, click on the other one (ending with “-amd64.exe”, which you could have guessed). By the way, if you are a careful internet user who likes to do a CHECKSUM on your downloads, click on the appropriate “i”  symbol for the information you need.

Follow basically the installation instructions which were given above for Java.

If you need to find the downloaded installation file, the file you are looking for in Downloads starts with “jOrgan”. It then indicates the version, and finishes with the file extension “.exe”. Double-click on the file and follow the instructions. Before doing this, you should first close your browser (Internet Explorer usually), and also any other programs which happen to be running. When you see the page, “Select Components”, leave all the squares ticked, and click on “Next”. The installation should follow without complications.

FOOTNOTE: The installation process will have placed a “jOrgan” folder within either the Program Files folder or the Program Files (x86) folder. It will also have done this for a “Java” folder. As I have already mentioned, this gives you an easy check on what versions you have installed (32-bit or 64-bit), as 32-bit programs end up in the Program Files (x86) folder, and 64-bit programs end up in the Program Files folder.


DOWNLOADING VPO'S

You don't have to do anything about Java, but you will probably now want to run jOrgan. The installation will have placed a shortcut onto your Desktop, and double-clicking on this is the normal way to run jOrgan. But you then need to load it with one of the jOrgan VPO's, of which there are many available, all created by jOrgan enthusiasts, and available for free download online.

One of the files within the VPO zip file possesses the file extension “.disposition”, but the other files are necessary as well. You will need to unzip it all into a single folder before it can be used. During that process, you will need to nominate where on your computer you want to place that single folder. You could, for example, simply put it on the Desktop, but that is not a very tidy thing to do.

With Windows, especially with anything later than XP, you should place that single folder into some computer location OTHER THAN a Program Files folder. This is for normal housekeeping reasons, connected with Microsoft's wish to maintain security/permissions protocols (users of other systems will probably find a similar situation there). In Windows, My Documents is a good place, but it can really go into any “main” folder that you create yourself and place wherever you like (other than the exclusion I have mentioned). I warn you that installing jOrgan will have placed a “jOrgan” folder within  either the Program Files folder or the Program Files (x86) folder. Within that jOrgan folder, there is actually a sub-folder called “dispositions”. That may tempt you to place your dispositions there, but you should not do that, for the reasons I have outlined in this paragraph.

To find the jOrgan VPO's, go to the jOrgan Wiki page called “Shared Dispositions”, where you will find links to a number of websites. For your convenience, below are direct links to four VPO's which you may like to start with, as good examples of various types. I have suggested these four examples, because as far as I can see, they should all work for you first go, with no problems.

I suggest that at least with the first one you try, after you open it, and its console has shown up on the computer screen, you should try a few notes using the on-screen keyboard. If this is not showing at the bottom of the screen, click on View and then on Keyboard. It is likely that it will obscure some of the stops, and you can remedy that by using the scroll panel at the far right (click and drag down).

If you have a MIDI keyboard or a MIDI-equipped console, you will want to try the VPO with it connected. To do that, the simplest way is to use the Customizer (Click File, Customizer). For each department (Great, Swell, etc.) in turn, Open Customizer and select, using the scroll-down arrow at the right of the Device window, the actual MIDI input Device you are using. Click on "Record". Press on the bottom note of that department and then on the top note, and then click on "O.K." After completing this for each organ department, look at the windows at the right-hand side, and note that jOrgan has entered in for you the MIDI Channel numbers your manuals and pedals are sending messages on (Channel "1" will be indicated here as a "1" etc., and not as MIDI Channel 0), and also the MIDI note ranges for each keyboard. After clicking on "Next" twice, you should enter the actual MIDI device you are using into the "Device" window at the top, using the scroll-down arrow to access the correct entry. This should be done for the “Switches” view and also the “Continuous” (which you access by clicking on its Title tab. Click on “Next” and then on “Finish”.


If your physical console outputs MIDI messages when stop switches, pistons and swell pedals are operated, you will probably want jOrgan to respond to those messages . The steps you should take are covered in a footnote to my INSTRUCTIONS pdf file (click HERE).


If with the computer audio turned up as high as possible, you still find the volume inadequate, it is possible to increase it by adjusting the Fluidsynth Gain. This and other settings can be adjusted in the last window of the Customizer.  Here is some guidance:


You may need to increase the Gain setting if the sound is too soft, or to reduce the Gain setting if you find that the sound is distorted (the maximum allowed is “1”). Also, you may find that you can improve the operation of this VPO in your particular computer by adjusting the Fluidsynth buffer size settings. Try increasing or decreasing the settings for buffer size or the number of buffers. Such changes to the buffer size should be made only by a factor of 2. Thus you may change “512” to “256” or “1024” etc. Click on Finish to enter the new settings, and Save the disposition (File, Save). Increasing the settings may improve the sound by eliminating unwanted crackles etc., but it may be at the expense of latency, where there is a noticeable delay between pressing the playing key and hearing the sound. Try to find a setting which satisfies you.


(Most of the above detail is taken from the body or the Footnotes of my INSTRUCTIONS pdf file.)


Paul Stratman's  American Classic Organ

Paul is by far the most productive of the jOrgan VPO creators, and his large ACO is very popular amongst jOrgan users. It uses synthesized samples, but although it has a large number of stops, it still presents as a very small download. You may have only two manuals (or even only one), but you can still access all its manual stops by appropriate use of the couplers. However, this download gives you a choice of versions, and there is even a two-manual one!

















   Click HERE for download.         To enlarge the image, click HERE.


Rick Whatson's Christie Theatre Organ


Rick has based this VPO on a three-manual theatre organ in Brisbane, Australia. He has made use of the excellent synthesized samples created by the late Bruce Miles. So it also is a very small download.  














           Click HERE for download.         To enlarge the image, click HERE.



Paul Stratman's AEOLIAN-SKINNER Church Organ


This VPO uses recordings (3 per octave) made by Paul of an Aeolian-Skinner two-manual pipe organ in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, U.S.A., built in 1953 and restored and enlarged by Letourneau in 2013.



















            Click HERE for download.         To enlarge the image, click HERE.



John Reimer's BALMAIN Church Organ


This is the first of my VPO's using recorded samples (6 per octave), created from recordings I made of a small two-manual pipe organ in a church in Sydney, Australia. The organ was built in 1871-1872 by the well-known U.K. firm of Hill, and was possibly the second of their instruments to be exported to N.S.W. The VPO gives a good demonstration of the high quality sounds which such programs can produce.














           Click HERE for download.         To enlarge the image, click HERE.



WHAT IF THEY DON'T WORK?


As already noted, I have selected these four VPO's because they should work. If you have followed all the download and installation instructions correctly, then that is what I expect.


If you strike problems, there are three sources of help on-line, before you feel the need to ask for help at the jOrgan Forum.


1. My INSTRUCTIONS pdf

This is a carefully-worded, very detailed and comprehensive document which gives trouble-shooting procedures along with lots of detail about using some of the jOrgan features, such as the Recorder and setting up Combination Piston details. There is also guidance on adjusting various settings. The document is indexed and bookmarked, making it easier to read and to access particular details. Although written for the BALMAIN VPO, it is applicable to any jOrgan disposition.

(Sorry, there are no graphics!).


Click HERE.


2. Rick Whatson's jOrgan v.3.20 Install Instructions

This is actually a free Google ebook. As with my INSTRUCTIONS.pdf, it is very detailed, and even better, it is full of pictures!


It covers a lot of the ground my document covers, and probably mentions some points I didn't, so it is certainly worth consulting even if you have already worked through what I have advised. However, it assumes that you need to do it all in 64-bit. Also, it actually goes beyond what I cover. That is, it is intended for a bit more than merely starting with jOrgan. It covers, for example, the installation of the Fluidsynth backends, which I don't deal with until the ADDING page. And it even envisages the use of third party soundcards and multi-channel audio.


Click HERE, from which it can be downloaded as a pdf file. (Find the Tools icon at the top right, click on its Option arrow, and click on “Download PDF”).

 

3. Bill Skees’ (encyclopaedic) Beginner's Guide to jOrgan

This is a set of four pdf files which although a bit out of date (last revision 2009, dealing with jOrgan 3.7), are extremely detailed and helpful, if a little daunting. Also, the pdf files are full of pictures. I find this huge work very inspiring, not only because Bill Skees was provoked by his experience with jOrgan to commit himself to the work of creating this huge source of information about jOrgan and about setting it up, adjusting it and using it; but also because it opens the eyes of the discerning reader to the almost unlimited world of musical creativity and enjoyment which jOrgan makes possible, and all at minimal cost!


Click HERE for Volume 1.

Click HERE for Volume 2.

Click HERE for Volume 3.

Click HERE for Volume 4.



jOrgan Forum


If you have not been able to solve your problems on your own by consulting the helps just mentioned, then you can consult the jOrgan – User Forum. To send posts, you will need firstly to register. What you are actually doing is registering with the jOrgan – User Mailing List, which is hosted by SourceForge. It operates by means of an emailing system. In fact, the emails are all archived, and can be be searched by entering some keyword via the jOrgan – User website. You have the choice of basically using the email system, or the Forum, which is a service provided by Nabble, and conveniently presents the emails as posts collected into threads, and also provides a good archiving and searching function. Some users prefer the convenience of the Nabble Forum, but others prefer simply to use the Mailing List.


You can also email individual jOrgan users for help, and most can be expected to respond positively if they are able to do so. The Forum (but not the Mailing List archive) provides a convenient way to ascertain their email addresses, if they have at some time sent a Forum post/List email. You need to find one of their posts, look across to the left and click on their Username (located immediately above their Avatar image). You should soon locate their address, but also the opportunity is given there to send an email “via jOrgan”. In this case your email (as received by them) will probably indicate that it is related to jOrgan, but it would probably be a good idea to include in the email Subject line the word,“jOrgan”.


For the Nabble jOrgan – User Forum, click HERE. To register (i.e. “Subscribe”), use the link immediately below.

For the SourceForge jOrgan – User Mailing List website, click HERE, in order to register or to change your options. (Uncheck the Newsletter options, if that is what you prefer.)



OTHER VPO’S


Many other VPO’s have been created by jOrgan users and are available for free download. Most of them have been developed using Windows, and like the four above, should work immediately “out of the box”. However, this will not be the case if you are using Linux or Mac computers, for you then have to change the audio driver entry in the Fluidsynth soundfont properties to match your system. And occasionally the creator may have inadvertently left some other setting which needs adjustment for your system (see Question 3 on F.A.Q. page).


Those VPO’s can usually be downloaded from the websites of the creators. Links to those website are provided on the “Shared Dispositions” page of the jOrgan Wiki. Click HERE.




WHAT IF I FIND THE SOUND DISAPPOINTING?


It will not surprise me if you find at least two aspects disappointing in your initial experience of jOrgan: the latency and the quality of the reverberation.


If you are using Windows, and especially if the CPU of your computer is not very fast, you may find a slight delay between playing the keys and hearing the sound. This is called “latency”. Good (or “low”) latency means a small or unnoticeable delay. In Windows versions after XP, the audio (dsound) has normally been handled in a less than ideal way, leading to a definite increase in latency. Microsoft has provided a work-around for this problem, which can be implemented by the user if desired. It is easy to implement this with jOrgan when using Fluidsynth as the sound engine, by adding a particular file (called a “Fluidsynth backend”) to a particular folder within the main jOrgan folder located in one of the Program Files folders. This process is described in the ADDING page of this website.


Organs usually need at least some noticeable reverberation to be heard to full advantage. The reverberation effect provided by Fluidsynth, although very adjustable by the jOrgan user, is regarded by many users as of unacceptable quality, unless adjusted to be of quite a low level compared to the main VPO sound. One solution is to use external reverberation devices. But also, there are third-party computer programs which can be used along with jOrgan to provide alternative reverberation, some of which are both excellent and free. In most cases they require jOrgan to make use of the Fluidsynth backends mentioned in the previous paragraph. This matter also is addressed in the ADDING section.



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