Making Music with Organ Drawbars in the 21st Century

The VR-09’s iPad Editor Enhances Playability

V-COMBO VR-09 Organ Drawbars

V-COMBO VR-09 Organ Drawbars

Roland’s renowned SuperNATURAL® technology powers the V-Combo VR-09’s classic tone wheel organs, while nine harmonic bars provide authentic, instantaneous performance control.

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Because of the almost infinite range of tone provided via the drawbars, the organ can greatly enhance the flavor of your music. You can find a sound that sets your playing or music apart from other bands with a little experimentation, and with the help of the VR-09 Editor for iPad, the job of finding just the right tone becomes easy.

Creating New Tones with Organ Drawbars…

As organ players already know, drawbars are the heart and soul of that instrument. Each organ “manual” (or keyboard) has an average of nine drawbars, sometimes referred to as tone bars. Pulling a drawbar out (towards you) will increase the volume in incremental steps and pushing the drawbar in (away from you) decreases that volume. There are literally tens of thousands of possible sound combinations that can be produced with drawbars; this is why the organ is one of the most expressive instruments. Each drawbar consists of sine waves of different pitches (which means tone depth). Another way to look at the drawbars is as a sort of mixer, adding or subtracting different tones.

Using the iPad Editor…

vr-09_ipad_app_organ_galThe VR-09 not only has physical drawbars, it also has virtual drawbars via the VR-09 Editor App for iPad. The editor provides two sets of drawbars. Each group of drawbars corresponds to a virtual manual, as many combo organs have two keyboards. (The VR-09 can have an additional keyboard connected to it that will behave as a second manual. We will cover that in a separate blog post.)

Each drawbar on the VR-09 and iPad app are marked with a number followed by a footage mark. For example, the drawbar farthest to the left on the VR-09 (the one brown in color) is labeled “16′” and represents an organ pipe sixteen feet in length. (The longer the organ pipe, the lower the tone.) The numbers from “1” to “8” on each drawbar represent degrees of loudness, with number 1 being the softest, and number 8 being the loudest.

The drawbars are divided into three groups of sound by three groups of color. You can think of these sound groups in terms of the three levels – the “Sub” (brown) being the deep pitches, the “Foundation” (white) being the mid range of pitches and the “Brilliance” (red) being the high pitches. Most of the time these levels are colored coded.

On most Roland products with drawbars, the position of the drawbars can be saved to a “registration” much like “patch memory” on a synthesizer. Keep in mind: There are no right or wrong ways to set the drawbars, and listening and experimenting will help you achieve the organ sounds of your favorite songs.