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My First Time On Organ!


Jazzwee

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First of all I'm a pianist. I know NOTHING about organ other than reading a few things lately, watching some videos, and looking at organs at the store.

 

I got my Nord Electro 4 HP just a couple of hours before my first gig on Thursday so I haven't had a chance to figure it out much yet. I just worried about piano samples and just set it up with 888000000 on one split and 888888888 on the other. I was just going to play the Oye Como Va comp so no big deal. I don't consider this a real organ trial since I did very little.

 

But yesterday was the first time I actually had to play organ. It was quite funny trying to understand the drawbars. I had a late night cramming to understand which were fundamental, which were not (ahhh...those colors finally made sense!). Then I had to figure out how to make the sustain a rotor slow/fast.

 

What to do with the swell pedal? Left/right foot? Darn it was difficult to control with the left foot.

 

I basically managed to practice with it for about an hour.

 

So armed with extremely basic knowledge, I took the plunge and played some tunes on organ. I recall using organ for West Coast Blues, Route 66, and Cantaloupe Island.

 

It was pretty funny! I felt like an octopus trying to figure out all these things while I try to solo. Couldn't keep the swell pedal in time (no left foot chops at all). One time, the organ screamed because I had the swell down and forgot to adjust the volume. Figured out on the fly how to make a point on the solo by holding one note down while stomping on the fast leslie.

 

I had no idea how the organ sounded in the mix. And it was quite difficult playing anything fast on weighted keys (I guess I have to learn not to dig in like piano).

 

I even experimented with some palm smears and my bass player gave me the eye. I even managed to change drawbar settings in the peak of the solo. Wow. Too many details after only one hour of practice!

 

Well apparently it wasn't as bad as I thought. My sax player started calling me "Papa"! LOL.

 

So everyone's vote in the band was MORE organ. I have some quiet time for a couple of weeks so I can actually PRACTICE!

 

Anybody have any "first time" experience to share so I don't feel so bad?

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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I came from the Piano too, but I used to play Hammond emulation for almost 15 years in a DX7II. When I got my Hammond SK2 (two years ago) I realize that I should use left foot on damper and right one on swell, making room for future bass foot technique. Other thing is to loose a little the screw of yours swell for more immediate dynamics response. To me, to change the rotary velocity and use the damper with (the same) foot is yet a nightmare. I prefer the hand switch (half-moon) but I should love much more those little switches fixed to the swell that Hammond Suzuki did for XK3 in the EXP100, but didn't in EXP50 of SK series. :(

I don't want to deplore the LED drawbars of yours NE4HP. I think you did the right choice priorizing pianos. Besides, even if you use a N4D, probably you'll organize your drawbars setting in yours favorites by repertoire because of many other settings (oercussion, key click, C/V, distortion and effects). The real time drawbars are for performances like John Medeski does, IMHO.

More on this transition depends on you studying the organ repertoire. And it's take time!!

Good luck and enjoy!!

Leo Dutra

______

Hammond SK2, Roland SH-201, Yamaha DX7IIDE!

Motion Sound KT-80, Groove Tubes SFX 100 MkII

Hammond EXP50, CU-1, FS9H; Roland DP-10

König & Meyer 18950 & 14065

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Anybody have any "first time" experience to share so I don't feel so bad?
I had never played organ per say but had always used organ patches on synthesizers until about 4 years ago. I bought a NE 3 for use in a guitar centric group . I used an unlatched foot pedal for the leslie speed, just leaning on it for fast speed. I was thus hooked. I found I was not using anything else on the Nord, so traded it in on a C2. My organ chops aren't particularly stellar, but I have great fun, and seem to be able to stand my ground in guitar based blues/rock. Using a half moon switch now, and learning the joys of stop-fast! :laugh:
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Thanks Leo. As I was writing the above, I realize that's the next thing to try. Move swell to the right and sustain/rotor to the left. There's not much action required on the rotor since it's only a switch.

 

The LED drawbars weren't so problematic in real time use. It responds fine and is usable. However, you can only pull 4 drawbars (buttons) down at a time because I only have 4 fingertips to spare. With real drawbars, it's easier to pull down a handful. Also there's the tactile element that's missing I suppose.

 

But yes, with the current budget, I'm forced to prioritize with piano sounds which is still my bread and butter.

 

It's fun learning a new instrument! Easier than picking up a sax I suppose :)

 

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Mike, I learned something new. I didn't know what a half moon switch was and had to google that. Too many surprises with this!

 

You didn't mention using a swell pedal.

 

And how do you fit/arrange all these pedals? I already had an incident having to go under the keyboard in the middle of the gig because the sustain got pushed too far back and the swell pedal kept me from easily reaching it.

 

I would also be interested to hear how to handle playing this with weighted keys. I know I can add a midi keyboard in.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Why are are you using a sustain pedal when playing organ? Swell is usually done with right foot.

 

And 888888888? Are you playing rock?

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Hey Jazzwee. I only have the two pedals under my stand, the swell on the right, and use my right foot. My problem is when I am playing the organ and piano at the same time pedaling the piano with my left foot, really screws me up. While I am playing organ, my foot is always on the swell pedal. As far as the half moon switch goes, I got it to free up my left foot for bass pedals, which I don't play out, and just stayed with it. I kept knocking the plastic tip off of the switch by slapping it with my left hand! I super glued it on. :laugh: and I chase the sustain pedal around sometimes!
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I can't offer a good comparison about "going organ" because I was a teenager with keyboard experience, and I felt right at home on a home organ I learned to play, but that was other type of music.

 

I think it isn't easy to make a good rock/blues organ work, but you appear to get it going, that should be fun, if you're experienced enough to judge your own output, at least on the monitoring, why not enjoy it if you feel good.

 

I don't think I've heard much about it on the Nord (from examples and so on), but some of the fun of going "full speed" Leslie effect, and drawing either a nice dark or a wide frequency range registration on the drawbars, is to make the tube simulation close to sort of an overload feel. That might be fun persuing. I suppose playing organ on weighed keys if you're strong enough (used to piano like I suppose you are) is to hit very short, and let the keys bounce to right note-length.

 

T.

 

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Don't have any more tips for you just keep practicing and listening, it'll come. You'll find that lots of folks really dig the B3 sound. Years ago I deliberately got away from it (burned out I guess) but after I bought my Kurz PC2X that has a decent KB3 mode I started doing some organ again at jazz gigs and I got so many comments about it I started using organ on maybe a third of the tunes.

 

The PC2X is a fully weighted 88 key workstation and while it's difficult to play organ on one it can be done. You can't do palm smears very well but you can do fingernail smears by curling your fingers and sliding up on all four nails.

 

Your comments about where to put the pedals shows you the reason for all the keyboard stand posts. If you're doing both piano and organ stuff you have to have the correct stand plus pay attention to how you secure the pedals so they don't move around. And yes, the way to do it is left foot on the sustain pedal for either piano or to switch the leslie on and off and right foot on the volume/expression pedal. A pure pianist will want to change position to use the sustain pedal with their right foot but if you're constantly switching back and forth between piano and organ most including me just learn how to use the left foot for that so then your right is either on or next to the expression pedal. Otherwise you're constantly moving your seat and/or moving the sustain pedal back and forth. That's the reason for the half moon switch if a keyboard supports it, you want to keep the sustain pedal for piano only.

 

Bob

Hammond SK1, Mojo 61, Kurzweil PC3, Korg Pa3x, Roland FA06, Band in a Box, Real Band, Studio One, too much stuff...
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Why are are you using a sustain pedal when playing organ? Swell is usually done with right foot.

 

And 888888888? Are you playing rock?

 

On an NE4, the sustain pedal can be switched to rotor speed when playing organ.

 

I was playing Santana and didn't know what to do yet. So I started off with 888888888 on the right split (which I now know is wrong for the tune -- even though it's rock).

 

Anyway like I said, I don't count that experience as I just basically brought it to the first gig without even playing with it.

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Hey Jazzwee. I only have the two pedals under my stand, the swell on the right, and use my right foot. My problem is when I am playing the organ and piano at the same time pedaling the piano with my left foot, really screws me up. While I am playing organ, my foot is always on the swell pedal. As far as the half moon switch goes, I got it to free up my left foot for bass pedals, which I don't play out, and just stayed with it. I kept knocking the plastic tip off of the switch by slapping it with my left hand! I super glued it on. :laugh: and I chase the sustain pedal around sometimes!

 

LOL. The chasing pedals business is more complex now because the feet of my music stand are in the way too. Fortunately my stand has good room underneath (Quiklock WS550). I don't want to spend money on the expensive Nord music stand but may have to to clear the bottom for pedals.

 

This organ business requires a lot of rethinking!

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Here are some lists of classical drawbar setting:

 

http://keyboardservice.com/Drawbars.asp

 

http://www.dairiki.org/HammondWiki/PopularDrawbarRegistrations

 

Most jazz organ recordings:

 

Registration: 88 8000 000

Percussion: FourUp (On,Soft,Fast,3rd)

Vibrato: V-3/C-3 on or off to taste.

 

OR:

 

Registration: 88 8000 00x--- adjust 1' to taste for whistle

Percussion: Off

Vibrato: On/Off

 

 

Lower Preset:

Registration: 80 8000 000 (or 83 8000 000)

Vibrato: C-3 on or off to taste.

Comment: Left hand bass, right hand comp.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Don't have any more tips for you just keep practicing and listening, it'll come. You'll find that lots of folks really dig the B3 sound. Years ago I deliberately got away from it (burned out I guess) but after I bought my Kurz PC2X that has a decent KB3 mode I started doing some organ again at jazz gigs and I got so many comments about it I started using organ on maybe a third of the tunes.

 

The PC2X is a fully weighted 88 key workstation and while it's difficult to play organ on one it can be done. You can't do palm smears very well but you can do fingernail smears by curling your fingers and sliding up on all four nails.

 

Your comments about where to put the pedals shows you the reason for all the keyboard stand posts. If you're doing both piano and organ stuff you have to have the correct stand plus pay attention to how you secure the pedals so they don't move around. And yes, the way to do it is left foot on the sustain pedal for either piano or to switch the leslie on and off and right foot on the volume/expression pedal. A pure pianist will want to change position to use the sustain pedal with their right foot but if you're constantly switching back and forth between piano and organ most including me just learn how to use the left foot for that so then your right is either on or next to the expression pedal. Otherwise you're constantly moving your seat and/or moving the sustain pedal back and forth. That's the reason for the half moon switch if a keyboard supports it, you want to keep the sustain pedal for piano only.

 

Bob

 

Just basing it on immediate responses, I'd say you're right. The people are digging that B3 sound. Perhaps it's because we're not a quiet band so playing delicate piano isn't as appreciated (audience is too loud).

 

So as much as I'd like to stick to piano mostly, the gigs will likely do better with a B3 sound.

 

I forget our configuration when you came by to see us. Usually we have a guitar player. But I've cut it down to a trio now + singer so the piano doesn't offer enough ability to cut through the mix for certain tunes. So it becomes more important to vary the sound.

 

Love this. I never really read much of the organ posts on this forum and am shocked at the number of people that do organ. Perhaps all, except for Dave Ferris? (and I --before) LOL.

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Jazz+, I've read some really contentious threads about not doing it from standard presets. So I'm trying to learn it the right way (learning about fundamentals and overtones).

 

I have it defaulted to 808000000 on Left split and 888000000 on right split for jazz. Then I tweak it as I play. Now mind you it was bit to think about on the first try but I actually managed to pull down some of the right drawbars to peak my solo. Saw Tony Monaco do that :)

 

And I stepped on Rotor Fast at the same time.

 

Don't know what I was doing but sounded good!

 

I didn't mess with Percussion, Vibrato, etc. yet.

 

Now what I didn't read so far is the best way to handle the swell. I just did it instinctively with the little control I had with the Left foot at the time. Is there some instruction on how to shape a phrase with swell? I still have a pianist thinking hat here. Gotta get rid of that.

 

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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The swell pedal enables the dynamics you might want. Some fine jazz players barely use it. If you are new to organ I would be very conservative with it and take some months to evolve into using it.

 

A lot of discussion on swell pedal in this older thread:

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2510972/1

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Oh dear god, stuff like this utter garbage is why there are tons of awful to mediocre "organists". BLANK you Keyboard ragazine!

 

To the OP:

You are enjoying the organ simulation sound on a keyboard, you are NOT "playing organ". And that's alright, but let's name it what it is first. To play organ is to be playing on organs - to handle multiple manuals, tones (whether drawbars, pull-stops, tab, etc), playing bass pedals, and handling expression via the swell pedal and tremulants).

 

And studying Jimmy (or anyone) is NOT found in a neat bullet-point list (especially by kybd rag!). Same applies to all the great organists.

 

If you're studying Jimmy Smith...you got somewhere around 77 albums running the gamut of playing style to go through. It isn't "just do this" (and to anyone that thinks it is - they probably sound like it too). And you've now opened the door to Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, Groove Holmes, Don Patterson, Joey DeFrancesco, on and on (IOW: best turn off the tv, kiss yer free time goodbye, and get started).

 

And that's just some of the hammond jazz artistry. You also have a (very cool) realm of classical organ, theater organ, rock organ, lounge, etc...etc to learn about.

 

I won't go on. Anyway, you aren't "playing organ" if you aren't on an organ. But you can be a keyboardist adding organ sound as you're setup for here. I suggest you dig (much) deeper than the "just do this" kind of approach and first play a while with it and get to know "how to make it sing". The instrument is an extension of the voice - not the voice.

 

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Hi JoJoB3, every piano player adding organ goes through exactly the same set of "what the heck am I doing?" stuff. I did. I've seen hundreds of pianists in this whirlpool.

 

Hold their hands until they have some satisfaction in controlling a few things. It might take a few months.

 

But then, the real musician in these pianists on organ comes through, and the value of your insights is apparent to every one of us.

 

It takes a while to understand that, at first, we pianists play organ badly. We have to learn to be organists.

 

The first thing an organist learns is not that they'll be learning organ until they die, but we hope they will get this learning pretty soon, and we know they will enjoy the journey.

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Oh dear god, stuff like this utter garbage is why there are tons of awful to mediocre "organists". BLANK you Keyboard ragazine!

 

I truly am amazed at the strong feelings expressed about this. I've seen other threads where a discussion of drawbar presets turned into contentious arguments.

 

I get the "purists" point of view that this is not an "eye" exercise but an "ear" exercise. So this is why I've spent some time (not much yet), at least to understand the purpose of each drawbar. Quite illuminating and exciting to see what the possibilities are. I'm not trying to memorize common drawbar settings at this point.

 

Now I am a pianist so there's at least a basic understanding of dynamics, shaping phrases, legato and so on. I just have to translate that into organ-speak. (Or do i have to say clone-wheel speak :) ). And I don't have to think much things like voicings. A simple statement that says cluster-chords are a cluster-f...k is probably good enough. LOL. :)

 

I know there's a lot of listening to accomplish as well.

 

It's just a little different for me since i have a bass player. Thus LH bass is not high on the list of priorities.

 

Funny that this will take a lifetime. I already know that learning jazz piano will also take a lifetime. Yay! Two lifetimes tied up! LOL.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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The swell pedal enables the dynamics you might want. Some fine jazz players barely use it. If you are new to organ I would be very conservative with it and take some months to evolve into using it.

 

A lot of discussion on swell pedal in this older thread:

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2510972/1

 

Helpful! Someone mentioned pulsing the swell to the beat before and I didn't like it when I tried it. Good thing I didn't make a habit of it.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Oh dear god, stuff like this utter garbage is why there are tons of awful to mediocre "organists". BLANK you Keyboard ragazine!
From the article, "The topics explored here only scratch the surface of Smiths playing, but theyre a great place to begin investigating why he was the firstand is still the biggestreason anyone uses jazz and organ in the same sentence."

 

Anyway,

Funny that this will take a lifetime. I already know that learning jazz piano will also take a lifetime. Yay! Two lifetimes tied up! LOL.
Yep! They are just different enough. Enjoy the journey, my friend. Or should I say, journeys. :D

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I play both piano and organ sounds, sometimes at the same time, for my country band and also a Bob Seger tribute. My solution was to learn to use the swell pedal on the left foot. Didn't take very long to get used to it, and much easier for me than getting used to piano damping on the left foot. Leslie speed switch is also used on the left foot (yes, that means I can't change Leslie speed at the same time as using the swell pedal, but that's a compromise I'm willing to live with).
Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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Jazzwee, a pianist who is travelling the same route as yourself, in some senses, is Brian Hamby, and I encourage you to listen to his control of the swell pedal here:

 

Brian brings his clear pianistic articulation, and great musicianship, to his adventure on organ, and in the next few years I expect him to become better accomplished than most. But listen for yourself.

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I was practicing Organ and Piano today and I was so afraid to lose the little piano chops I have that I chose to keep switching from piano and organ constantly. Like on every tune. Is this weird? What does everyone else do? Prioritize on one and let the other suffer?

 

It's such a different feel that I'm afraid I might start banging on the piano.

 

At least playing legato is helpful to both. But switching thinking between digging in vs. playing just the tops of the keys is disconcerting.

 

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Jazzwee, a pianist who is travelling the same route as yourself, in some senses, is Brian Hamby, and I encourage you to listen to his control of the swell pedal here:

 

Brian brings his clear pianistic articulation, and great musicianship, to his adventure on organ, and in the next few years I expect him to become better accomplished than most. But listen for yourself.

 

Hey Trap, this guy is much more conservative on the use of swell. I've heard others be more extreme with the range. Thanks for passing it on. Helpful to compare.

 

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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I was practicing Organ and Piano today and I was so afraid to lose the little piano chops I have that I chose to keep switching from piano and organ constantly. Like on every tune. Is this weird? What does everyone else do? Prioritize on one and let the other suffer?

 

It's such a different feel that I'm afraid I might start banging on the piano.

 

At least playing legato is helpful to both. But switching thinking between digging in vs. playing just the tops of the keys is disconcerting.

 

 

Just be aware of your concerns and how they develop. I agree completely that it's difficult to play piano and Hammond and not let one impact the other. I play loads of gigs with just piano/ep and organ - at the same time. It can be quite a mindbender.

 

Regarding pedals, I've learned to use the piano sustain pedal with my left foot, so that when I play a B3 I can put the piano to the left an not need to use my left foot with my right arm (and the other way around). If I tilt my head, I may drool.

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Thanks Analogaddict.

 

I've set up my pedals so that the swell is angled to the right of center. The sustain/rotor is in the middle like a normal piano. So when I'm using organ, I seem to be ok with my right foot angled to the right on swell and then I use the left to do rotor.

 

Then when I play piano, I can ignore the swell since the pedal is in the center.

 

I don't like to carry another piece of wood with velcro because it's another large object to bring to the gig but it seems like some sort of way to organize the pedals is important here.

 

The "mind bending" is already occurring from just figuring out which foot does what. I did forget one time that I was playing piano with the swell. LOL. Made me play more legato that's for sure :)

 

 

 

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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