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Organ midi file translation

By David Back, January 2019, updated May and July 2019 and March 2020

How to translate organ MIDI files to play on another organ

Nearly all organs have their own unique midi format. There is no standardisation for midi channels, stops or expression controls. Thus an organ midi file will seldom if ever play properly on another organ and there is never any chance of it playing properly on any normal midi player.

Version 3 and later of eplayOrgan has solved this problem by enabling you to automatically and in real time translate and play an organ midi file on another organ. No other organ can do this.

See below to translate midi files to play on GrandOrgue.

Translation is a two stage process, first the file is translated to an intermediate, Universal organ format and then translated again to play on the target organ. You can either record the intermediate file and play it later on the target organ or you can route it to the target organ via a real or virtual midi cable for immediate playing.

Translation Method using eplayOrgan

The midi file for translation must be playable on eplayOrgan by choosing the correct organ. Use Options/Setup.. to select the correct organ and tick the translate output box. This will make eplayOrgan translate the Current file format to the Universal file format when the file is played. This Universal format may be routed to another instance of eplayOrgan, by selecting the midi output port, and connecting a midi cable for immediate playing or recorded for playing later.

To perform the second stage of translation start up a second instance of eplayOrgan and use Options/Setup.. to select the target organ and tick the translate input box. If connected by midi cable, select the midi input port or if not play the Universal midi file recorded above. This instance of eplayOrgan will then translate the incoming midi from the Universal file format to the Current organ's file format, play it and allow you to record the resulting midi in the format of the Current organ.

A "Virtual Organist" will select the best alternative stops when the target organ does not have the exact stops required. This works well and is very versatile. You can make manual adjustments to the stops and swell while recording is taking place. All adjustments will be faithfully recorded.

If you want to silence one of the organs, tick the mute box.

Possible Problems

There is no claim that the translation will be perfect. The Universal organ will be able to play the translated midi from almost any one, two or three manual organ. However the target organ must be selected so that it has at least as many manuals as the source organ and has a similar selection of stops. For example, translating a theatre organ file to a church organ file will likely lose all percussion stops.

Also when translating a two manual organ to three manuals it is sometimes better to move the swell manual to great and the great manual to accomp. This is now an option. The organ's stops will still be correctly translated when the file is played. A bit of experimentation will quickly find the best option for any situation.

Another problem may be loss of volume balance between the manuals. Some organs have particularly overpowering Pedal volume and the Swell manual can sometimes get drowned out. Closing the offending pedal stops can improve this situation.


The original midi file below was intended to play on HW Armley Schulze, Leeds organ.

It was converted to universal organ midi format by playing it with eplayOrgan set to be 'Armley Schulze' and with 'Translate Output' selected. The file was recorded using the 'Record' button.

The resulting file, which is downloadable below, was named march_of_the_bowmen_uni.mid

eplayOrgan can play this recorded file correctly on any three manual organ by loading the required organ and selecting 'Translate Input'.

If this playing is recorded then the resulting file will play correctly on the appropriate "Real" organ. See 'Typical final midi file', below.

Alternatively if you connect eplayOrgan's output to the "Real" organ using a virtual (or real) midi cable then eplayOrgan will play the "Real" organ directly.

Original midi file: march_of_the_bowmen.mid
Translated Universal midi file: march_of_the_bowmen_uni.mid
Typical final midi file: march_of_the_bowmen_salisbury.mid

If you set up a string of two eplayOrgans followed by the "Real" organ then the whole translation and playing process can be done simultaneoulsy in real time.

Translating Midi Files to play on GrandOrgue

GrandOrgue is a special case. Although GrandOrgue and Hauptwerk share the same original source code ("MyOrgan"), behave very similarly and can both produce equally good sound quality their midi file formats are incompatible. The Hauptwerk midi file format is fully documented and (using eplayOrgan) can be easily translated, as above, to play on another organ. The GrandOrgue midi file format normally uses undefined sysex events to set up the organ for playing midi. eplayOrgan can now read, write and play GO midi files but to play these files using the GO midi player you must now use a settings file to set up the organ for playing midi.

GrandOrgue and a selection of samplesets (organs) can be downloaded from Sourceforge. Many other samplesets (organs) are available from other websites. GrandOrgue is free and so are most of the samplesets (organs). It will play on Windows, Mac and many Linux systems.

Making a GrandOrgue settings file.

Taking the Barton 3-7 as an example, set it up to look like a Miditzer 216.
  1. Start up Barton 3-7 and eplayOrgan, on eplayOrgan select Miditzer 216.
  2. Connect the midi output of eplayOrgan to GrandOrgue "Audio/Midi-Midi & Audio Settings-MIDI Devices-MIDI input device" using a virtual or real midi cable.
  3. If you need to save your existing Barton settings then save them using "File-Export Settings/Combinations" to a file you can later reload to recover your existing settings.
  4. Using eplayOrgan as a midi source, set up the Barton's manuals and stops so that it can be played from eplayOrgan. Be sure to select midi source as "Any device".
  5. Export and save the settings file from GrandOrgue so that it will be immediately available for next time you need it.
  6. Set eplayOrgan to mute and use it to play a Miditzer 216 midi file. The Barton will play the file and it should sound correct.
  7. If you want to record midi files for later playing on the Barton then use the Barton to record a midi file while it is playing.
A settings file can be made for any GrandOrgue organ in the above manner and the organ can be made to look like any appropriate organ that eplayOrgan can play. If you set up GrandOrgue as a Universal organ then it will be able to play midi files in real time from almost any organ, using eplayOrgan to translate them.


Universal Organ Definition

The Universal Organ is intended to be an organ which can be used as an intermediary when translating from one organ format to another. This Universal organ will be able to play the translated midi from almost any one, two or three manual organ. For example when translating a Paramount 310 organ to a Miditzer 260 organ the Paramount is first converted to Universal format and then the Universal is converted to Miditzer 260. This enables any organ format to be converted to any other.

A 1.0 Midi Channels

Swell = Channel 1
Great = Channel 2
Pedal = Channel 3
Accomp. = Channel 4
Standard Midi Percussion = Channel 10

A 2.0 Swell and Volume Pedals

Swell Pedal controls the Swell Division volume. Midi Code (right pedal) = 176;7 (0xb0;0x07)
Volume Pedal controls all other divisions volume. Midi Code (left pedal) = 177;7 (0xb1;0x07)

A 3.0 Stops

All stops use Universal NRPN's

Following are the Universal NRPN's used in the Universal Organ. They can be used in any channel and are based on Allen's Universal NRPN's.

For split manuals use the same number for both ends of the split. Otherwise it is good practice not to use the same number more than once for each manual.

A 3.1 Foundation, Flutes & Strings

 2   = Contra Violone 32
 9   = Diaphone 16
12   = Tibia Clausa 16
15   = Bourdon 16
17   = Violone 16
31   = Open Diapason 8
34   = Cello 8
35   = Celeste 8
37   = Violin 8
40   = Tibia Clausa 8
41   = Tibia II 8
43   = Flute 8
53   = Fifth 5-1/3
56   = Octave 4
59   = Violin 4
63   = Flute 4
76   = Twelfth 2-2/3
80   = Fifteenth 2
84   = Piccolo 2
91   = Tierce 1-3/5
95   = Larigot 1-1/3

A 3.2 Mixtures

100  = Mixture lV

A 3.3 Reeds

108  = Contra Bombarde 32
114  = Brass Trumpet 16
115  = Tuba 16
116  = Bombarde 16
118  = Clarinet 16
121  = Vox Humana 16
124  = Saxophone 16
127  = Horn 8
128  = Tuba 8
131  = Trumpet 8
132  = Clarinet 8
133  = Oboe Horn 8
139  = Vox Humana 8
141  = Saxophone 8
144  = Clarion 4

A 3.4 Tuned Percussion

154  = Piano 8
157  = Harp 8
161  = Cathedral Chimes
162  = Glockenspiel
163  = Xylophone
166  = Chrysoglott
167  = Bells

A 3.5 Tremolo

176  = Tremolo (corrected: was 500)

A 3.6 Untuned Percussion

198  = Standard Midi Percussion (use in pedal channel only)
202  = Bass Drum 
203  = Cymbal 
205  = Snare Drum 
207  = Tambourine 
208  = Castanets 
209  = Tom-Tom 
210  = Wood Block 

A 3.7 Couplers (must be defined and used in the pedal channel)

266  = Swell Octave
265  = Swell Sub-octave
271  = Swell Unison Off
247  = Swell to Great
268  = Great Octave
247  = Swell to Accomp
270  = Accomp Octave
247  = Swell to Pedal
248  = Great to Pedal
250  = Accomp to Pedal

A 3.8 General Purpose

(500  = Tremolo, the old value, now changed to 176)
510  = Anche
511  = G.O.Unison
512  = Afsluiter

Sound Fonts, eorg104a900.sf2

A 4.0 Good quality general purpose Church Organ samples

These samples can be used to make almost any church organ. It will sound OK even if not exactly like the original.
000 Op Diapn 16
002 Op Diap 8
003 St Diap 8
004 Dulciana 8
005 Octave 4
006 St Diap 4
007 Nazard 2 2/3
008 Suproct 2
009 Mixture II
010 Acuta III
011 Trumpet 16
013 Trumpet 8
014 Clarion 4
016 Dulciana 16
017 Geigen 8
018 St Flute 8
019 Salicional 8
020 Celeste 8
021 Gemshn 4
022 St Flute 4
023 Piccolo 2
024 Sesquialtera II
025 Contra Fagotto 16
026 Cornopean 8
027 OboeS 8
030 Salicional 16
031 Diapason 8
032 Flute 8
033 Unda Maris 8
035 Principal 4
036 Flute 4
037 Fifteenth 2
039 Vox Humana 8
041 Cornet V
043 Orch Flute 8
044 Quintaton 8
045 Op Flute 4
046 Tuba 8
047 Fanfare Trumpet 8
048 Orch Oboe 8
049 Clarinet 8
050 Krummet 8
052 Sub-bass 32
053 Op Diap 16
055 Bourdon 16
056 Octave 8
057 Flute 8
058 Flute 4
059 Mixture II 2
060 Contra Trombone 32
061 Trombone 16
062 Trombone 8
113 Tubular Bells
123 Silence