"MIDI in waiting" with the Allen Expander II

Organists that own an Allen Expander II or MIDI Division quickly become aware of its ease of use and minimal complexities. Players can always clearly view the MIDI sounds that have been pre-set in the window of the Expander "waiting" to be brought on with the flick of the divisional MIDI stop, even in the "heat of performance".

This feature provides for the organist an opportunity for enjoyable, spontaneous creativity during a worship service, besides the usual advanced planning and registration of MIDI sounds for the organ voluntaries. Most church organists retain a combination memory level devoted to "service playing" (hymns, liturgy responses and accompaniment settings) that remains necessarily unchanged from week to week.

Examine each of your personal piston registrations for worship functions and consider which MIDI sounds might be added "on a whim" for a special "inspired" effect. This technique of "MIDI in waiting" is quite uncomplicated since the Allen Expander allows the organist to PRE-SET the MIDI sound on a piston (General or Divisional), but not have it play until switched "on" with the MIDI STOP.

For example, on a piston used for accompanying a soloist or cantor, pre-set the harp, lute, piano or harpsichord in the event that a more percussive effect would be desired for an Alberti-type accompaniment, and can be brought on or off at your discretion. Also, the TYMPANI on the Pedal, BRASS CHOIR on the Great and SPANISH TRUMPET or BUGLE on the Swell set in readiness on your strongest hymn combinations, ready to bring on "if and when the Spirit moves you". During the Christmas and Epiphany seasons, set the HANDBELLS on the Great and the CAST BELLS on the Pedal so that they can be used along with a full organ sound for certain stanzas of carols.

When you begin to use your MIDI Expander in this way, many more ideas will come to mind to make your service playing even more effective and interesting.

We hope you enjoy this little performance tip. We'd also be interested in learning other ways in which you've found the features of your Allen Organ make life easier for church musicians. If you have an idea you'd like to share, send us an e-mail at: Allen Organ Company and we'll consider including your tips in future issues of this newsletter. Happy conducting, playing and registering! And, remember, smile while you're at it!