Organ With Drawbars & Free Vital Preset

My Vital Synth sound design steps to create an organ including tips for additional voicings, achieving a Leslie effect and use of advanced macros to emphasise different drawbars. Keep on reading and then for further discussion read a new article on Organ Sound design here or buy the Vital Organ Preset pack here


Vital Organ and Drawbars

Drawbar Basics

Each Drawbar position has a different pitch and I had to choose which positions / tactics to go for in my design blueprint since there are not 9 oscillators available. I needed to consider how to potentially double up sounds to get the sound I wanted and I drew my inspiration form the legendary Yamaha CS1x Bluebook – Advanced User Guide which was the first keyboard I ever owned. There are a number of ways to create the organ sound I used a combination of additive synthesis and frequency modulation.

Draw Bar Position (pipe length)Pitch Adjustment
25 1/3′+7
52 2/3′+19
71 3/5′+ 28
81 1/3′+31

Drawbar design

Initially I decided to set the pitches of the 3 Vital Synth oscillators as follows to give drawbars 3 , 1 and 5 respectively:

  • Osc 1 Pitch 0 (drawbar 3)
  • Osc 2 Pitch minus 12 (drawbar 4)
  • Osc 3 Pitch + 19 (drawbar 5)

Using the Oct Note key on Osc 1 and Osc 3 will give the additional Pitches + 12 and + 31 being drawbars 4 and 8 so in total this will create drawbar sounds for 1, 3, 5, 4 and 8. You could choose other voicings to suit your taste.

Oscillator Design

Use basic sine waves to replicate the organ and single voices to replicate individual pipes. Leave the Unison to 1v (i.e. 1 voice) since each pipe is a single voice.

  • OSC 1
    • Basic Shape. Leave the Pitch at 0.
  • OSC 2
    • Basic Shape. Adjust Pitch to minus 12 (-12).
  • OSC 3
    • Basic Shape. Adjust Pitch to +19.
  • ENV 1
    • Leave the Envelope in its pre-set mode with a fast Attack (0 ) to help get a clicky organ sound.

The basic organ has now been set up.

Initial Organ LFO Matrix

Let the Fun Begin

The fun part is now adding various adjustments to the basic oscillators to create the organ and Leslie speaker effects. I wanted to use the LFOs to do this rather than the in-built effects where possible to try out the Vital Synth’s capabilities. Other possibilities could be using the Pan or spread functions.

  1. LFO 1
    – Choose the random pulses as a starting block then even them out as shown below

    – Assign these to OSC 2 & OSC 3 Pitch Cents adjustment control (either drag and drop or use the matrix to assign the LFO to each oscillators ‘tune’ value) to get some pitch modulation to create the basis of the Leslie speaker effect. Ensure the 2 adjustments offset each other e.g. set one to minus 0.3 and the other to + 0.3
    – Smooth LFO 1 taste by adjusting the pulses and the LFO amount in the matrix (small values are good values otherwise the organ will warble too much).
  2. LFO 2
    – Use a simple Sine wave or Triangle wave to adjust the Level of OSC 1, OSC 2 and OSC 3 to further give the impression of the doppler effect of a rotating speaker using Amplitude modulation.
    – Assign LFO 2 to OSC 1, OSC 2 and OSC 3 level knobs by drag and dropping it on the Level Knobs (or use the Matrix) and adjust the value to 1.00 in the matrix or circular control.

So now you have a basic Vital Synth organ with a Leslie effect but here are suggestions to explore some other advanced features of the Vital Wavetable Synth.

  1. Adding two additional drawbars to the voicings
  2. Emphasising the Leslie rotary effect
  3. Incorporating the modulation Wheel
  4. Simulate pulling out the drawbars
  1. Adding two additional drawbars to the voicings

You can re-pitch the exiting Oscillators to represent different drawbar pitches. But I have tried to add 2 additional drawbars (positions 4 and 8) to give 5 drawbars in total. Although this isn’t perfect it kind of works…

  • drag and drop the Oct Note located in the bottom right hand corner of the Vital Synth to OSC 1 Waveframe and OSC 3 Waveframe (or assign it via the Matrix tab). This creates additional drawbar pitches of +12 and +31 (i.e. positions 4 & 8).
  • for different drawbar voices consider changing the original oscillator voicings e.g. change OSC 2 to a Pitch of +24 so the Oct Note will also give a pitch of +36. There are more details below about assigning a macro to increase the volume of these 2 new drawbars separately.
  • In the matrix adjust the Mod Remap for these two items to a complete full rectangle (screenshot below)

    Oct Note Mod Matrix

You will hear the additional Octaves play on all notes other than each value of C. I will be interested in reading up on the manual when it comes out on this!

2. Emphasising the Leslie rotary effect

To recreate the effect of a Leslie speaker speeding up or slowing down while you are playing in realtime add macros to adjust the speeds of LFO 1 and 2.

  • Macro 1
    Assign to LFO1 Tempo
    Rename the label Vibrato 1
  • Macro 2
    Assign to LFO2 Tempo
    Rename the label Vibrato 2

Remember to adjust the max and min parameters to taste. See my final touches below to create a mechanical whirr. I set Macro 1 Tempo to about +1 and Macro 2 Tempo about +2.25

3. Incorporating the Modulation Wheel

Assign the modulation wheel to Macros 1 and 2 by dropping it on the 2 macros that have just been created so the LFO 1 and LFO 2 vibrato can be changed together using the modulation wheel

4. Simulate pulling out the drawbars for Hammond effect

I decided to emphasise the 2 2/3 layer (OSC 3 pitch 19) by assigning Macro 3 to adjust the modulation amount of OSC 1 , 2 and 3. However the key to this is that the Macro must have a positive effect on the value of OSC 3 but a negative impact on OSC 1 and OSC 2.

To achieve this either turn the amount knob (circle) in the Vital Synth Matrix counter-clockwise for the Modulation of OSC 1 & 2 and clockwise for OSC 3 or easier still just edit directly in the Matrix as below. Now when the macro is turned in the matrix view 2 green bars should move from left to right for the OSC 1 and OSC 2 Levels and the OSC3 Level should move from left to right. You should audibly hear the higher pitched OSC 3 come through the mix. I re-named Macro 3 “Hammond”.

Remember I created 2 additional drawbars above. Well to increase their level the same principle can be applied to the 2 additional drawbars. Rather than doing it directly in the matrix use Vital Synth’s drag and drop capability;

  • Drag and drop the Macro 4 selector onto the Vital Synth OCT NOTE knobs that were created earlier.
  • Rename Macro 4 ‘Drawbars’
  • Turn the ‘Drawbars’ macro and it will increase the modulation amount i.e. volume level of OSCs 1 and 3
Macros 3 and 4

Final Touches and Summary

There are other ways to create these sounds but I wanted to explore some of the main features of the Vital Synthesizer to get under its bonnet, so here are some other ideas and suggestions.

  • Add a Box Fan in the sampler to add a bit of mechanical sound that the old organ and speaker would make as it whirred around
  • Turn on the VEL TRK keyboard velocity tracking to register those palm slapping glissandos!
  • Consider automating the stereo spread key as another away of getting a Leslie effect
  • Add the Reverb or Chorus effect to give an additional timbre; you could even assign them to a macro. I recorded my sample with the Chorus Cutoff being modulated by LFO2
  • Consider adding distortion for a dirtier sound
  • Play with panning and spread to get similar Leslie tremolo effects
  • Use EQ in your DAW to take off the high and low ends

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please let me know and subscribe to get future updates!

Buy Vital Organ Preset Pack
Buy Vital Organ Preset Pack

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