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    Frederik Magle


Norden Schnitger VPO Emulation


Hi all,

When I was about 15 years of age, my local church was rebuilt, larger and grander, and in it was installed a small tracker 2-manuals pipe organ. I “learnt” to play it, to the point that I could play occasionally for church services, and spent the next 65 years hoping that I would hear from a pipe organ substitute sounds which really did remind me of playing that instrument. I was always disappointed. Now, much older at 81 years, I have become reconciled to the conclusion that the expectation was unrealistic – if or no other reason than that loudspeakers project sound in a very different way to how real pipes do it. But that doesn’t mean that Virtual Pipe Organs, for example, cannot deliver a musically satisfying result, if we are able to readjust our goals slightly.

My VPO program of choice is jOrgan, and I briefly state my reasons in the website I created for jOrgan, called jOrgan Discovery (https://jorgan.info). Over the past ten years I have learnt how to use jOrgan and how to create my own VPO’s for it (called “dispositions”). I began using synthesized samples, but moved on to using recorded samples, most of which I made myself of organs I recorded in the Sydney N.S.W. area.

About 18 months ago, I came upon a YouTube video where the organist at the Arp Schnitger organ in the German city of Norden demonstrated its main sounds. I knew that it was possible to gain enough information from that video to enable me to “impose” the Norden sound upon recorded samples I had made of a neo-baroque organ installed in a Sydney church in the 1980’s, as I had already done the same sort of thing with the recordings made of a well-known Sydney pipe organ. They were made a few months before that organ and its church were destroyed in a terrible fire. A jOrgan VPO based upon my work on the lost Sydney organ now graces the church where my organ journey started all those years ago.

In this post I am sharing with you an MP3 recording of the first variation of BWV 767 (O Gott, du frommer Gott), using the HW Rohrfloit 8 and the RP Principal 8 of my Norden Schnitger VPO. You do of course need a better audio system than what comes with the computer, to do it justice. Secondly, there is a very short MP3 playing the first few notes of the video’s HW Principal 8 demonstration, followed by the same notes being played on my VPO and using the same stop, but without the reverberation of the building. I could have used excellent somputer-generated reverb for this, but did not do so. I think you will be surprised at how successful my method has been. (Yes, one of the “real” notes has a chiff, but I did not try to reproduce it with this stop.)

Here are the links:


If there is interest, I can share with you other examples of the sound of this VPO.