Drawbar organ still one octave too low?

• Nov 13, 2021 - 20:27

I commented on an old post from 2017.
Please forgive me for double-posting, but I noted it was suggested to comment in Soundfonts, and it never happened.

I would like to add my vote to this old complaint.
I just downloaded the most recent soundfont for MuseScore 2.3,
I agree the drawbar organ is one octave too low.
Grab any other GM soundfont; the problem is not there (or should not be - I obviously cannot check them all).
Grab any GM keyboard; the problem is not there.
Yet in MuseScore it is.

It is expected that 'drawbar', 'rock' and 'percussive' organs sound one octave lower than piano pitch.
This occurs due to the use of the 16' drawbar for these sounds, This is what Hammond referred to as the sub-fundamental.
but the MuseScore drawbar organ is an additional one octave lower still,


You've been told there that MuseScore 2.3.2 is outdated.
Not sure how up-to-date that soundfont is, maybe it is the same as the one that comes with 3.6.2.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I have tried 3, but do not have it installed currently.
That is why I added the location of the file I downloaded.
Maybe someone else could possibly investigate,
It seems more up-to-date as it has the additional dynamic expressive presets which only work in higher versions.

To me it does sound only one octave lower than standard pitch. Are you listening through headphones / speakers capable of reproducing a full frequency range?

I'm not an expert, but I have played organ professionally - just not a lot. Enough to be familiar with he idea that some settings will result in an apparent pitch one octave lower, which is what I am pretty sure I'm hearing.

Maybe the best thing would be for someone to record a video from an actual Hammmond organ showing the same note played with different sounds, for comparison purposes?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

As I mentioned in that issue somewhere; I do not expect it to sound an octave lower than standard pitch, as the base register for a Hammond organ (to my knowledge) is a plain regular 8' pipe.

Unfortunately I have no access to one (mainly Johannus and "real" church organs around me) to see whether their default preset tones include a 16' register.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

What do you hear in the following example?
To my ears, with good headphones, it sounds 0 -1 -1 -2 but should be 0 -1 -1 -1.
The -1 note is there, but -2 is there as well; it's an organ after all.
I have no actual Hammond on hand, but have played several and am very familiar with many vst/emulation.
More importantly, I'll repeat my earlier point:
Load up another GM soundfont or play a GM keyboard.
The three organ presets should sound the same and in MuseScore they don't.

Attachment Size
organ octaves.mscz 2.94 KB

In reply to by mkjnovak

I hear 0, -1, 0, -1, although the first -1 is somewhat ambiguous due to the specifics of the overtones. The last one seems pretty clearly -1 to me, and it's that much more clear if you raise it one octave, as the pitch then matches. Again, though, our perceptions are formed as much by the overtones as the fundamental.

Anyhow, to me, how some other soundfont behaves seems not as important as how an actual Hammon organ behaves. After all, we weren't trying to emulate a soundfont, we are trying to emulate an actual Hammond B-3 (or similar). So to me comparison against an actual B-3 is still the relevant deciding factor. I assume it comes down to which specific stops are being used, though. My assumption is this is meant to mimic the sound of the B-3 as played on classic jazz recordings of the 1960's, which to my understanding usually do use the 16' setting as well as others. But again, it's not really my area of expertise.

But for the record, I just checked GeneralUser GS and I hear that example as 0, 0, 0, -1. Timbres of Heaven on the other hand seems to be 0, 0, 0, 0. TimeGM6mb seems to be 0, -1, -1, 0. Arachno seems to be 0, -1, -0, -1. Again, though, it's really hard to say because all clearly use multiple stops to produce multiple octave overtones.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The lowest a Hammond-type sound should be is 1 octave below.
This is due to the fundamental being 8' and the most common '60s jazz sounds being 16' 5 1/3' 8'.
Again I clearly hear what I heard, and GeneralUser sounds perfectly correct at 0 -1 -1 -1. I don't know what to say except to focus on the lowest pitch.
Hearing the overtones is fine; they are almost louder in some cases, but the lower octave remains.
It doesn't make the pitch suddenly higher to me. Spectral analysis might show what I am talking about if we could use some impartial analysis.

In reply to by mkjnovak

As mentioned, I'm not an expert in organs, or in acoustics, I'm just reporting what I hear as well - sounds an octave lower, just as real Hammonds do when I play them with similar settings. Spectral analysis may be useful indeed, and as mentioned, comparison to an actual Hammon B-3 with the settings that are ostensibly being used.

Here are the harmonic analyses for the notes.
Here is how to replicate my process:
Open in MS, export as .wav, open in audacity (free), highlight each note, analyze/plot spectrum, printscreen
I think I can now say more firmly that I don't know how you're not hearing this.
A brief tutorial: note the peaks, note the massive peak at A2 only on drawbar while on the others they start at A3 and A4.
Drawbar is clearly two octaves below A440.

Attachment Size
piano.png 71.61 KB
percussive.png 72.54 KB
rock.png 72.54 KB
drawbar.png 72.02 KB

In reply to by mkjnovak

Brilliant! Thanks, I think we can now safely say that objectively speaking, it is indeed the case. Makes me suspect that this was perhaps done on purpose to allow a sample that was recorded with too little of the lower stops in comparison to the higher stops (not sure I'm using the terminology correctly) to subjectively sound an octave lower when otherwise the overtones would have defeated that sense?

Anyhow, I think then we are in agreement that the goal is a sound that subjectively seems an octave lower, but that achieves this through appropriate use the of lower (16') stop, rather than by literally lowering the fundamental. Does that make sense?

@jeetee - I believe you've stated that you don't necessarily think the 16' stop is appropriate, but from my (slowly increasing) understanding, it really is typical in the style that I think this sound is trying to emulate. Interested to hear if you have further comment on that, though.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry, I read it a couple times, but I may still be unclear on what your middle paragraph means.
The first paragraph makes me think we agree :)

I can sort of hear why you and others might have heard the various presets at different octaves.
They are all organ presets and have multiple octaves audible at the same time.
My ear has learned to always default to the lowest pitch, not the loudest.

So, will you be involved in future soundfont choices?

If I may offer my further input:
The default Hammond sound to me is 16' 5 1/3' and 8' all pulled out fully, again where 8 is concert pitch and 16 is the sub-fundamental (-1 octave).
Percussion has two choices, but the most common (?) pitch for that chirp is 2 2/3'.
Rock organ seems most arbitrary to me, as either previous setting could be used for it.
Often it is just one of them, slightly louder with fast leslie speaker (?) LOL - up to the whim of the soundfont I suppose.

In reply to by mkjnovak

My second paragraph is meant to clarify the first, sorry if it failed! Reiterating that indeed we want it to sound (subjectively) an octave lower than written, but the way this should be achieved is by sampling a note played with appropriate drawbar settings, not by sampling a note an octave below.

And no, I have nothing to do with soundfonts, I'm just trying to get clarification here and consensus on the correct solution, to save some trouble for those who actually would be doing the work.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I took a slightly deeper dive into the subject of typical Hammond Drawbar Registrations and after listening to some very nostalgic renders I ended up at the Hammond wiki which has a nice set of entries about the Drawbar Registrations; including some documentation about the Presets and Common usages.

Key points I took away from there:
(1) The 8' is the Fundamental and reference bar; to me this means the instrument should be regarded as a non-transposing instrument within MuseScore (the notational part properties)

(2) The factory preset sounds are mostly 8' based; with only a handful of presets including the 16'

(3) If we look at the most used registrations the 16' is used in an overwhelmingly amount of examples, and often completely (strength 8). We're talking over 85% of them here, and in the Jazz genre over 90%.
This to me says that the sampled sound in the soundfont should be recorded including the 16' register present (and likely the 5 1/3 at half presence as well).

So in summary, the instrument itself should be regarded as non-transposing, but the sound in the default soundfont should include the 16' drawbar and thus include the sub-octave into its samples.

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