Organ Sound Design

Vital Synth Organ Sound Design

I have built a pack of Organ presets which you can purchase on this website or at https://gumroad.com/vitalexp. The pack features 35 Organ Presets for Vital Synth including 37 organ wavetables. All Royalty Free for just £5! Follow the links for more details.

If you want to build your own, here are some tips for getting an authentic organ sound. Watch the video or continue reading….

You can also read my previous article on organ sound design here.

Tip 1 Understand what you are trying to build

There are many types of organs; e.g. Hammond, Farfisa, Rhodes, Vox and other electric pianos or tonewheel organs so do your research to understand what you need to build if you are aiming for an authentic sound e.g.

  • what harmonics does the original use?
  • how many voices does it have or can be played at once?
  • how is it constructed? e.g. if it uses a mechanical hammer hitting a string you may choose to build this percussive effect into your sound.
  • does it have any special features e.g. hammond organs are synonymous with the use of a rotating Leslie speaker, church organs may have bellows.
  • will its location have an effect on its tone for instance e.g. long deep reverb of a cathedral organ or wobbly sound of a fairground organ?

On top of this think about any custom effects you may wish to add (keep reading for some ideas)?

Tip 2 Understand harmonics and additive synthesis

Organ sound design is perfect for additive synthesis, think of each pipe in an organ as generating a different harmonic so if you understand the harmonics of a particular organ and know the Vital Synth wavetable editor you can individually draw the harmonics in the editor. Here’s a hint…organs such as the Hammond, Vox and Farfisa are based on the same principles as church organs.

If you want to understand the wavetable editor in more detail read my article Crash Course In Harmonics and Wavetable Editor.

Drawbar and harmonics
Harmonics and Drawbars

Tip 3 Create a strategy to replicate the use of drawbars

Drawbars adjust the volume of each pipe (or tonewheel if you think about a Hammond), so create tactics in your sound design strategy to replicate how different combinations of tone wheel drawbar positions could be created by building more complex wavetables. You are not going to be able to create perfect replicas since there are literally millions of combinations and you only have 3 Oscillators!

Tip 4 Add effects

Consider adding effects (watch the video to see some techniques in more detail) either using Vital’s effects or create your own using the LFOs:-

Tremelo effects; modulate the volume

Vibrato effects; modulate the pitch

Rotating speakers; think about how to recreate a doppler effect

Wah wah; use the EQ or filter effects

Use the Vital Synth sample feature to add additional realism (or surrealism if it takes your fancy) e.g. replicate the mechanic sounds of a church organ bellows by building a custom sample.

Tip 5 Use inbuilt Vital features

Take advantage of the rotary feature to get a rotating stereo sound (see image above)

Click on the Unison box in the advance settings and create your own voicings

Tip 6 Experiment and use your imagination to create you own custom organs

  • Try building an organ using FM synthesis
  • Think about other percussive sounds that a church organ may create and build them into your wavetable
  • Add bells to get a great modern sound (watch the video to hear some)
  • Combine an organ wavetable with something completely different
  • Use an arpeggiator to create some cool house sounds!

Tip 7 Remember your Organ will only sound good if you play it with the right technique

Listen to your favourite organ players or watch videos on organ technique to improve your own. The way the organ is played is just as important as the sound it makes!

Hear are a selection of some of my favourite players and bands-

  • Georgie Fame, Booker T, The Doors, Procol Harum, Brian Auger, Jimmy Smith, Jackie Mittoo, The Specials, ? & The Mysterians, Fuzztones…there’s too many to mention!!

In Summary

Do your homework, and get an insight about how other organs are built to get a better understanding of the history of sound design. Recreating these instruments is a great way to improve your own sound design techniques as well as really getting to understand your Vital Synth in depth.

If you haven’t got the time or inclination, then please feel free to purchase my organ preset pack with ready made wavetables and effects!

Buy Vital Organ Preset Pack
Buy Vital Organ Preset Pack