If you haven’t tried Second Touch on Miditzer yet you should.  This feature is easy to overlook if you are not familiar with it.  So what is it and why is it important to playing the Theatre Organ? 

Second touch on the keyboardSecond Touch was an invention by Theatre Organ inventor Robert Hope-Jones.  It was standard equipment on Theatre Pipe Organs.  Today only the most expensive electronic theatre organs have it.  Keyboards with Second Touch have two sets of contacts.  The first contacts or “touch” is actuated during normal playing.  The second set of contacts is actuated when the key is press to a second deeper position.  There is a second spring under the key.  The key will physically goes down further when more pressure is applied.    

The design allows the keyboard to play normally, but it can add many new sounds to your arraignments when the Second Touch is used.  Even a small Wurlitzer would have it on both keyboards and on the pedals too.  By allowing the organist to add counter melodies, rhythm, accents, and effects the organ is much more dynamic.  It’s like adding keyboards to the console, and hands and fingers to the organist. 

Theatre Organists have made an art of using Second Touch.  It provides an outlet of expression that would be impossible to play if were not for the Second Touch keyboards.  If you’ve ever listened to a Theatre Organist and wondered how it was possible to play all those notes with just two hands and ten fingers you were probably hearing the Second Touch. 

It is one of those historic features that helps make the Miditzer realistic.  You can still get keyboards with Second Touch however they are hand made and quite expensive.  Fortunately today we have MIDI keyboards with Aftertouch.  This is an cheap imitation of the original but with a little practice you can apply many of the same techniques.  Look for MIDI keyboards with Aftertouch; they may have Channel or Polyphonic Aftertouch.  The Miditzer settings panel will support both types.  And if you have a real Theatre Organ console with genuine Second Touch keyboards you can use it too. 

The demonstration below  uses a Roland A-70 with Aftertouch on the accompaniment.  Holding the chords while playing rhythm on the Aftertouch to add Second Touch voices.  In this case the Vibraphone and 4' Tibia Clausa.  Just hold the chord and press down in rhythm to add the extra notes.  You’ll be surprised how easy it is. 

It’s Been A Long Long Time  2MB