The software that runs this instrument, jOrgan, is amazing.  Here are a few of the special features of jOrgan which I find especially creative and ingenious.

 

The organ can be tuned, that is to say, using the pitch control, you can move the entire organ microtonally up or down. In the software you can set the outer boundaries of how far the pitch will move. My main use for this feature is to tune the digital organ to the pipe organ when the two organs are going to be used together.  It's also useful when playing with another instrument; for example, it's a lot easier to tune the organ to the harp than to re-tune all 47 harp strings to match the organ.

 

There is a robust recording feature in jOrgan which allows you to record and play back every aspect of a performance. It is important to remember that this feature records midi signals, not sounds. Since jOrgan is simply a giant midi controller, every apsect of the organ is captured by the recorder, including expression pedals, changes of memory level, ... absolutely everything. The recording feature has many uses. First of all, it's great to be able to record a piece and then play it back while you walk around the church; you can get a sense of how the organ sounds in the room -- there can sometimes be surprising differences between the sound at the console and the sound in other parts of the church.

 

I have found the recorder particularly useful in making audio recordings of the organ. Shortly after the organ was installed, I decided to create a short CD of Christmas music. I made a list of the repertoire I wanted, and then during the day I would record each piece over and over until I got it right. It didn't matter if the custodian was running the vacuum cleaner or if a bevy of fire engines went screaming past the church – the recorder is not recording sound, it's recording midi impulses. When I had jOrgan files of every piece prepared, I set up an appointment with my recording technician. He came to the church late one evening when everything was quiet, and set up his microphones. Once we were happy with the recorded sound level, I simply pressed PLAY over and over as each piece played itself. It was the most stress-free recording session imaginable.

 

Another fun use of the recorder function is playing duets with yourself. One Sunday just for kicks I decided to play for a postlude the first movement of the Soler G-major concerto for two organs. This piece begins with a four-measure theme on organ one, echoed by organ two. I recorded organ one on the jOrgan with some very strict counting during silent measures. In performance, I started at the jOrgan console; when I pushed PLAY I had four measures to run over to the tracker console, ready to chime in with Organ Two. This kind of thing is particularly effective now that we have added antiphonal speakers for the jOrgan. Of course it's a party trick, but it's the kind of thing that people love and that makes them pay attention to the organ music and relate to the instrument.