Organ - Different Channels per staff?

So, I’ve trawled through the manual as well as searched here… didn’t find what I was looking for, so…

Is there a way to specify different channels on different staves for organ? I’m accessing Hauptwerk over the network via ipMIDI, and need to be able to have different channels for the pedals… from what I can tell, Dorico assigns the same channel to all 3 staves in an organ “player”. There are also times when I need to have a different channel in each hand (e.g. when one hand is playing a solo stop, another accompaniment)

I’m sure I’ve simply not searched for the correct terms - anyone can point me in the right direction?

Thanks in advance,

Instead of thinking of staves, think of voices. If different staves use different voices (which you can highlight be asking to View the voices in different colors in Write mode), you can assign different sounds to each voice in Play mode.

You can achieve this by enabling independent playback of voices in the Play tab (click the switch next under the Organ instrument).

If you want to change manuals for each staff in the middle of the piece, do the following:

  1. In Write mode, create playing techniques with the manual change notation you’d like in the score (e.g. I, II, III; or Gt., Sw., Ch.; or G.O., Pos., Réc.)
  2. For each playing technique, create a new Playback Playing Technique (e.g. Manual I, Manual II, Manual III) with the Direction articulation type.
  3. In Play mode, create an expression map with the following base techniques:
  • Natural (empty)
    • Manual I (Absolute channel switch, 1)
    • Manual II (Absolute channel switch, 2)
    • Manual III (Absolute channel switch, 3)
    • (etc.)
  1. In the VST instruments panel, click Endpoint Setup (the gear) and make sure there are at least as many channels as voices in the score. Set each channel to use your new organ expression map.
  2. Expand the Organ piano roll and after enabling independent playback of voices, go through each voice and set each to a different channel. Make sure the pedal voice is set to the pedal channel in your VST.
  3. In the score, add manual changes where desired. This will cause that voice to be played back on that manual. You’ll probably need one at the beginning and at each voice entrance to define which manual it should play on. (They can be hidden where redundant.)


  • You can have multiple voices on the same staff playing different manuals by simply adding the manual changes where desired.
  • Voices that are set to channels that do not map to a manual will be silent unless you add a manual change.
  • You should not have two voices sharing a channel, or else the manual changes on the different voices will interfere with each other.
    For example, if you have an up-stem and down-stem part for each manual staff, as well as a pedal staff, I’d recommend setting five unique channels, even if your organ VST only has three destination channels.

Jester, thanks for this.

You folks are awesome. Thanks.

I was thinking about playback of organ scores the other day. One kludge I’ve not tried yet: have three players with multiple instruments instead of a grand staff. Then change instruments to change stops.

Sometimes voice/endpoint handling can feel like a can of worms. :slight_smile: Personally, I’ve just added (and renamed) a Grand Staff instrument for each division (and a single staff instrument for the pedals) and set staff hiding accordingly in setup. Couplers and registration is easily handled with Expression Map entries triggering presets in HW …

Ok, I’ve got this part working, but now I can’t seem to figure out how to do the Expression Map entries - in Finale its a snap, you just assign a program change to some text…

I get that a new technique needs to be created, but then I can’t seem to access it in the expression map to define what it should do…

The missing ingredient is the creation of the playback playing technique in Engrave > Playing Techniques to correspond to the text instruction you created, then map that same playback playing technique in your expression map.

Thanks, Daniel…

I tried that, and it still didn’t show up when trying to make an expression map.

Is there a particular order in which it should be done?

I’ll try it on a new file, too… just to see if I can get it to work a second time.


Sometimes a custom playback playing technique can (temporarily) end up at the bottom of the list rather than at the expected alphabetical position…

I checked out HW5 this weekend and successfully made some expression maps. I can upload a demo project here when i’m back at the computer on wednesday should anyone find it useful…

If you’re having problems, Jonathan, please feel free to zip up and attach your project together with the salient details I would need to investigate, such as the name of the playback playing technique you’re expecting to see, and I will gladly take a look.

Thanks, Daniel…

I’ll have another go at it this weekend - if any other issues arise, I’ll indeed .zip up a file. Appreciate the support!

I would be interested. I’m a big HW user and run it side-by-side with Dorico every day at my office and frequently at home as well. (We are in the process of moving to a new house and this past week my father, a friend, and I managed to heave-ho my 3m organ down into the basement of the new house. The stairwell has a turn at the bottom and we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle when the organ couldn’t quite make the turn and we had to flip the organ up on its side to get it around the bend… it was a hairy situation but we did it! We did have a little run-in with the law, however… (the wall). Alas, it turned out fine in the end and miraculously the organ doesn’t have a mark on it. Good thing I shrink-wrapped it first!

I’ve never futzed around with expression maps as I’ve never really had the need; most of what I compose I can play myself directly into HW and more complicated things are rendered using NP. That said, I’d love to know how to get D to control HWV directly.

Gee, if you had used more shrink wrap, perhaps you could have shrunk the organ enough to get it around the turn in the staircase more easily. :confused:

…and if you’d used less you might have made the turn :wink:

That’s not quite as bad as a colleague with a nice 6’6" grand piano who moved house, and discovered the only way to get the piano into the new house where he wanted it was to hire a crane operator to lift it over the roof of the house and lower it onto a first-floor balcony, operating completely “blind” except for an assistant with a cell phone giving the driver instructions.

Amusingly, the crane operators originally thought the job was impossible, because none of them knew you could take the legs and pedals off the piano. Once they had learned that, they thought that having a £50,000 piano swinging around 30 feet in the air was no big deal - just a normal “day at the office”.

If only… the shrink wrap is the only thing that saved my woodwork from getting a facial. lol.

At one point I had to exclaim to my compatriots that “we need to move the organ back from the wall to turn!” they didn’t seem to understand at the time that what I meant was that the corner of the organ was about 1.5" INSIDE a baseball-sized hole in the wall at the time I made the comment, hence no matter how hard they tried, it wouldn’t turn. It was only after we were walking back upstairs that my friend started laughing upon noticing the hole and only then realizing what I meant and why I was so insistent at the time. Unfortunately, that was the best phrase I could think of at the time whilst pinned between the organ and the wall holding well over 100lbs on my corner. Two days on and my peck was still sore from taking a sharp corner of the instrument to the chest. I only weigh $1.55 so my words were a little breathless at the time. :laughing:

At any rate, all’s well that ends well, and I look forward to getting back to business in my new study in about two weeks time.

I used to own a stunning 6’6" Chickering parlor grand from 1903 with ivories; the whole bit. It was a massive piano and one set of movers told me it was the heaviest piano they had ever moved. It was a fascinating piece of piano history. The treble keycheek was over 4" thick and the bass cheek was over 8" thick; the result was it was a full foot wider than most pianos of equal length (and 6’+ pianos are rare enough to begin with—at least in private residences) so its sound was enormous.

The first home we had it in required us to roll it around the back of the house and go in through the master bedroom door which opened up to the back patio. It was good fun trying to roll it around the house. The second set of movers—decidedly less professional, despite their promotional materials—ended up breaking one of the legs off and then nearly dropping it off the side of the ramp up to the big truck. I watched in horror as someone jumped 5’ down off of the ramp whilst grabbing one of the straps wrapped around it to oppose the force as it began to tip. (Coincidently this also broke one of the wooden levers that makes the pedaling system function…) These same fools only brought one skid board to move the piano and organ and then tried to wheel my organ around the house the same way without a skid board. I threw a royal fit and ended up on the phone with the company’s CEO after a rather insistent call with the secretary. I told her if she knew what was good for her she’d get the poor sap on the phone post haste.

They rather wisely offered to not charge me for the move and pay for a piano technician to make the appropriate repairs and also upright the piano (which had to remain on it’s side in it’s new home for a good two weeks while the leg was being repaired…). I’ll never forget that day. It is seared into my memory. It is one of only two times in my entire life that I have cried out of overwhelming anger. That poor CEO got a mouthful from me that day :laughing: . You can’t damage a (then) 113yo piano (which had been previously professionally restored complete with having the original soundboard recrowned!) and just replace it. Ohhh no you don’t! 4 years on and my blood pressure still rises just thinking of it.

Edit: sadly I had to sell the piano when we moved cross country. I didn’t have all the proper paperwork to prove provenance to cross state borders with ivory. Besides, cross country moves are expensive enough without paying an additional 4k to have a huge piano and an organ moved by dedicated instrument movers. One day, in my forever home I’ll get another historic grand. One day…

The crane guys weren’t bothered about the risk of breaking the legs, but the balcony (with a safety railing of course) was only wide enough to put the piano down on its side, and they couldn’t think of a way to lower it onto two out of three legs and then get it inside the house while still supported by the crane.

The actual lifting was uneventful compared with the first step, which was driving the crane into position in a narrow London street and getting its safety legs extended with literally about an inch of clearance from the parked cars on both sides of the road. They had arranged to get the road officially closed for half a day, but decided it was going to be too much hassle to get all the residents’ cars moved as well!