Virtual Organ Research

In recent years, the trend to decouple organ from the physical spaces in which they were originally constructed has given rise to a professional sub-discipline of sound engineers and programmers specialized in archiving historical instruments around the world through highly-nuanced, multichannel digital sampling technology. In recent years, these virtual reproductions of acoustic instruments have achieved astonishing acoustic sophistication and artistic value in their own right, and are of immense pedagogic value and creative interest/potential. Moreover, many of the systemic, geographic, economic, and physical barriers that previously challenged access to acoustic organs have been resolved through the advent of this technology.

Digital instruments differ considerably from mechanical ones, and thus require significant performance-practice and technical adaptations from the performer in order to meet the standard of interpretive expressivity, detail, and substance expected from professional performers. Beyond my current work to construct a digital organ studio at the University of Toronto, my research develops pedagogic strategies, materials, and curriculum for artists performing in the digital environment.

The versatility of virtual organ technology promotes musical experimentation and innovation, facilitating a variety of collaborations within the field of music including piano studies, composition, technology/digital media, and conducting. It allows for significant musical experimentation through manipulation of many acoustic variables and provides opportunities to more deeply explore the history of keyboard repertoire. Virtual platforms allow the experience of many different organ styles and specifications including very large symphonic instruments which uniquely facilitate the skills of sensitivity to melodic lines/shapes/gestures in polyphonic textures, deepened awareness of imitative and contrapuntal devices, holistic views of orchestration, and the ability to perceive harmonic rhythm and rhythmic architecture.

If you are a researcher or prospective student interested in this area of performance study, I invite you to contact me.