Replicating organ stops in MuseScore

• Jan 14, 2020 - 12:04

I'm transcribing some music for a pipe organ in MuseScore (3) and would like to handle multiple organ stops for a single part (manual) in the simplest way. I'm using the jeux14.sf2 SoundFont for my organ sounds. My approach below works fine, but is a bit unwieldy as a typical organ score might end up with 10-15 parts, of which only 3 would be displayed. Can someone comment on my approach, or perhaps suggest another way to handle this situation?

In my original score, the Swell manual uses two ranks (Diapason 8' and Spitzfloete 4'). On a real pipe organ you'd simply pull out the two relevant stops, but in MuseScore, each part or staff can have (AFAIK) a single SoundFont patch setting e.g. Diapason 8' or Spitzfloete 4' but not both at once.

Currently in MuseScore, I'm doing the following steps to approximate using multiple stops:

  1. Write my notes etc. for the stave/part (organ manual eg. Swell)
  2. Apply the first patch I need (Diapason 8') to this part
  3. Duplicate the part and set its patch to the next pipe rank I need (Spitzfloete 4')
  4. Hide this second part.
  5. Keep duplicating the part and set the next patch for any further organ stops required.

This works fine - the music plays the staff using both patches simultaneously, just as if you'd pulled out two stops on a pipe organ. The downside is managing so many parts - for example an edit to a note would require that same edit be done in all duplicated staves. I did notice the 'Add linked stave' button in the Instruments window, though I'm not exactly sure this would do what I'm looking for.

(I know I can edit the SoundFont itself in PolyPhone and create a new preset that contains the two ranks, but this is a bit inflexible as you could end up creating 100s of presets containing any possible combination of ranks that you might want to use. In fact, the jeux14.sf2 SoundFont already makes extensive use of multiple instruments in a single preset (patch). For example patch number 4 Prin(g.o.)+4+2 is in fact made up of 3 instruments: Montre 8, Prestant 4 and Principal 2 )

Thanks guys - any comments much appreciated.



This is the "general MuseScore organ problem". I'm an organist, and was really unable to use MuseScore to present organ repertoire convincingly until I acquired the Hauptwerk virtual pipe organ (VPO) system, which is not inexpensive (either to acquire or house and feed). Soundfonts do this by mixing these stops before making the recordings. Or you can mix them afterwards, if you have your own sound font. You will indeed need presets for every combination you might use in a work, and one sound font per work. Midi sound fonts are not the right way to do organs with computer technology --- VPO's are. See all the posts in from oldest to newest.

MuseScore could help your current technology, 1 staff per stop, with a colla parte feature, saying "this staff means more than one channel and patch, varying during the work", but it doesn't now have one and one is not planned.

The best way to present organ music if you do not have VPO and a YouTube account is to use the wheezy old "one plenum fits all" "Pipe Organ" for repertoire that it fits, and "instruments" such as pan flutes, recorders, etc., often at unnatural octave transpositions, or even "quint" transpositions, for chorale preludes and the like, and gangs of hidden parallel staves if one is not enough.

As I say in the posts I cited, "organ" is a many-centuries-older synthesizer technology than MIDI, and is not fully compatible. Scores with YouTube backing can present VPO output synced with a score on the site, but not in the app (there is another thread now where I am failing to convince this forum that optional supplied-MP3-backing for the app would be desirable). See my "Hauptwerk" set for finished posted scores with Hauptwerk backing mediated via YouTube.

There is also the "GrandOrgue" VPO system, which is free, but not of the same product quality as Hauptwerk, and the virtual instruments available for it are not as grand and famous as the for-money ones available only with Hauptwerk.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

Thanks BSG - a tonne of information in there, I'll go through it all.
I've got a (free) copy of Hauptwerk and even with the basic St. Anne's Mosley, they give you a great organ.
I looked into the Hauptwerk organ configuration files a couple of years ago: very impressive, and like all good design, properly informed by real pipe organs. But...complex as befits the physical organ model they base it on.

I've also looked into GrandOrgue too, but as you say, the sound quality has nothing on Hauptwerk. Some of the Hauptwerk set ups people have created are truly impressive, and watching them in action on YouTube is quite exciting (for me anyway!).

My dream one day is to have a 2 and 1/2 octave rounded MIDI pedalboard - I'm always on the lookout in EBay and Gumtree for the wooden pedalboards themselves, salvaged from old church organs. The MIDI conversion is not too difficult, and the are a few decent instructional videos on YouTube too.

Lastly I agree with you on getting MP3 into MuseScore. I think there used to be (still is?) a licensing issue with providing MP3 exports (the Frauenhofer Institute controlled the format), but I'm not sure how rigorously its enforced these days.

In reply to by Lofo

Hi. There's some misinformation here. MuseScore ALREADY exports to MP3 -- choose it from the file type in the export menu. And there is no issue with patent -- the MP3 patent is expired. My need is about simultaneous playback, as on the site.

MIDI conversion of pedalboards is not trivial; making reed switches or Hall effect detectors work reliably for a couple of dozen pedals is no small task (been there). YouTubes can teach you how to play Jimi Hendrix solos, tackle football, or dance ballet, but the reality is usually more difficult.

Hauptwerk version 4, which you have, which supports a "free" version, is now obsolete. Version 5 doesn't have a free version, and Milan doesn't offer or support Version 4 any more, so don't delete your installer. If you're serious about this business, you'll pay the price for the real deal ($600). is my best MuseScore/Hauptwerk integrated production. Take a listen.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

It's a shame about Hauptwerk discontinuing the trial version, so thanks for the tip: I'll hang on to my old installer files. Still, even at $600 the software is reasonably priced IMHO given its sophistication and accurate modelling of organ physics. What was the issue with getting the reed switches to work reliably? The YouTube videos do make it look much easier than I imagine it would be.

In reply to by Lofo

I started with the pedalboard of an extant (dying) electronic organ with its own (perfectly good) magnets. I did not follow any YouTubes (3 years ago almost exactly), but crafted my own solution. I encountered significant difficulty positioning each reed switch "exactly right" for each pedal so that it responded reliably, as well as securing it in that position once I found it; finding reed switches of the proper sensitivity (and that, of course, will vary with the power and geometry of the magnets you may have) and mounting/connection usability was a bit of a challenge. Once it all worked, over the last three years some have lost their finicky position and notes occasionally stick or go dead, as expected, whereupon I tinker with it or replace it with a Hall Effect sensor. I've found that Hall Effect sensors are considerably more workable and robust and almost substitutable in place (an extra Vcc wire is needed), and, again finding a model that matches my exact magnet geometry and strength -- well, again I was lucky. although the move of the electronics industry to "SMT" (surface-mount, or "so miniature that it's trouble"), away from single-inline packaging (SIP), suggests that this solution may not be usable on new work in 5 years (working with SMT components without industrial technology seems hugely challenging).

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

Great info on this complex task, thanks BSG. I expereminted with Hall Sensors in my MIDI pedal-board prototype: a bit more complex than a simple reed switch, but they seemed the right way to go with this task. Yes, SMT is difficult to work with, and you really do need 'professional' equipment to work with these circuits unfortunately. Glad to hear I wasn't alone having difficulties working with SMT chips/technology!

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

I'd also like to say that my solution "exploits white poster board". Although I dreamed of a wood solution (I'm not a woodworker, but perhaps with help), the finickyness of the reed-switch positioning makes me glad I didn't try that. The Allen organ whose pedalboard I appropriated hosted its reed switch globules in a covered wooden-slotted structure on the console itself designed and debugged by a lot of time and money until it could be mass-produced reliably (no, I didn't want to sever and appropriate it, too). On the other hand, the "mounting" by twisty leads in the poster-board is ... "not robust", although most of the 32 notes have been solidly reliable for 3 years now (but I would never want to move the structure, say, out of the house).

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

I used the Honeywell SS460s Hall Sensor. It's one of the 'cheaper' kinds and uses old-skool non-SMT soldering , but it does the job. The third VCC wire was a bit of a pain though. My prototype was only 4 keys, but I wanted to learn how to do this properly before I invested in a full 2 and 1/2 octave pedalboard. I used an Arduino circuit board to test everything first....if the sensor (reed or Hall) worked reliably then I tried it on the small pedalboard. The Hall Effect sensors were definitelty better than reed switches.

In reply to by Lofo

I used the Allegro Micro A1120LUA-T, 3-wire SIP. I built my own circuit-board tester, too, home design. How I found them in a Chinese robot accessory product (2, pre-soldered to leads for $7,… ) will make a good movie some day, but these worked flawlessly. It does seem, though, that they are scheduled for phase-out because they are not SMT. I bought some from Digi-Key . I had to run new Vcc wires, but their open-collector outputs worked perfectly with my reed-switch-expecting third-party pedal controller.…

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