New! This page has some interesting info, but I've made a new frame for the keyboards that is presented on it's own page that I encourage you to have a look at!
As manuals for the virtual pipe organ one must have MIDI capable keyboards. There are a few different options available.
- Purchase a pre-manufactured organ console already equipped with MIDI (or be prepared to MIDI-fy it) or use stackable keyboards made for vpo's (can be very expensive to aquire)
- Buy any suitable MIDI keyboard with either standard MIDI connection or the more modern USB type (quick, pretty cheap, but maybe not so organ-like…)
- Build the keyboards either from scratch or using various pre-manufactured parts (can be exactly custom made to suite your needs, but requires more skill)
As a start I choose to buy three M-Audio Keystation 61Es keyboards. They have 61 keys, a minimum of controls, can be stacked on top of each other in a way that's close to how real organ manuals look like. They also have USB-MIDI and can draw it's current need from the USB connection, eliminating the need for external power. (If you use a USB hub to connect the keyboards it's recommended that you use a hub with external power to ensure that there will be enough for every keyboard)
My solution was to build a keyboard frame that held the keyboards in position. Just a very quick and easy path to take to almoast immediately be able to play.
Make the keycheeks with proper slope downwards towards the player to make reach of higher keyboards easier. Make supports for the back of the keyboards. (the front part stand on the manual below) Screw and glue together, drill holes for pegs to stop the keyboards from going too far forwards. For the lowest manual I used a strip of wood just high enough to fit under the edge of the keyboard.
Make a music stand… The most time was spent waiting for the paint to dry between layers.
That being said, there are much more aestetic ways of using the M-Audio keyboards. Check for instance Vidar Fagerjords "Keyboard stack" on www.fagerjord.org to see a fantastic example. In the future, when time permits, it's a road that I'm going to take also, but more on that when time comes. This setup allows me to play a three manual virtual pipe organ with a minimum of building effort.
Now that time is already past! Be sure to have a look at my new manual setup on it's own page!