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Writing pitch for Hammond Organ


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Often when I'm transcribing Hammond organ solos, I wonder about the correct octave to write them in, and also the easiest octave to read them in.


Given that the note C3 on the Hammond console, with only the 8' drawbar out, produces Middle C, I could use that as a reference point. However the standard upper manual sound of 888000000, adding the sub-octave pitch, sounds an octave lower.


Often the problem is right-hand melodies inhabiting the bass clef. Perhaps if I was strict to the 8' drawbar this wouldn't be an issue, but my ears tell me something different.


Perhaps the Hammond organ, in a jazz context, just sounds an octave lower than written.


Any other thoughts?


PhD in Jazz Organ Improvisation.

BMus (Hons) Jazz Piano.

1961 A100.Leslie 45 & 122. MAG P-2 Organ. Kawai K300J. Yamaha CP4. Moog Matriarch. KIWI-8P.


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Write the pitch of the 8' drawbar, then it will match pipe organ notation. A 16' registration sounds an octave below the played notation - that's the standard.



"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker


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I always just write the notes at the pitch they sound at, regardless of the drawbar configuration that gets them there. That is, if I play an A whose fundamental frequency is 440 Hz, I write it as the A above middle C, no matter which A on the keyboard I'm pressing to get it. If the melody gets too low, I deal with it the same way I do for piano music; switch to bass clef, or drop it down to the bass staff of a grand staff, or use 8vb.


I'm not versed in pipe organ notation, but from a piano-centric perspective, notating the key rather than the pitch seems very odd to me.

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Writing at the 8' makes more sense IMHO. It makes it a bit easier when sight reading - there is a direct correspondence between what line of the staff you are on and what key you press.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800


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Great information here - something I hadn't considered, although I've played enough prelude and anthems written in church to be familiar with organ notation.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.


HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.



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