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ep. 39: “Adventures in Sound!”

“Adventures In Sound!” – Ben tracks his own journey to find the digital devices that best re-create or at least evoke the classic theater pipe organ experience under modern screening conditions.


Ben discusses the “temporary” theme for the podcast, “Those Keystone Comedy Cops”

Ben’s instrumental evolution 
  • Learning to play the organ
  • Lee Erwin, theater organist, as a mentor
  • Difference in technique between piano and organ
  • Expanding colors and instrumentation
  • Developing the Synth-Org (Sample sounds included)
  • Synth(esized) sounds vs. Digital samples
  • Limited availability of real theater organs
  • Deploying the Kurzweil PC-2 system with a MIDI pedal unit
  • Examples from two scores for Edison: Invention of the Movies

Underwriting announcement: The Alice Howell Collection on DVD from Undercrank Productions

Ben’s musical journey continued
  • Jim Henry introduces Ben to the Miditzer
  • An excerpt from a Miditzer score Ben created for The Penalty
  • The difficulty of recording and reproducing a real theater organ for home video
  • Introducing the sound of the theater organ to the modern audience, the authentic sound of silent film
  • Orchestration is fun in theory, but…
  • Graduating to Hauptwerk, courtesy Paramount Organ Works, and adapting it to a single 88-note keyboard
  • Please rename the system! And suggest how to talk about silent film without using the word “silent”!
  • Scoring for home video as contrasted with a live appearance
  • The piano is more suitable for the intimacy of The Silent Comedy Watch Party
  • The Eye Film Museum
  • The National Film Preservation Board

Links from the episode:


5 thoughts on “ep. 39: “Adventures in Sound!””

  1. Thanks so much for finally getting this podcast out there! I look forward to listening, hopefully they will be more frequent, I really enjoy them. I’m one of those dinosaurs that still download and listen on my mp3 player.
    Also, I can’t say it enough, thank you Ben for all you and Steve have done with the Watch Parties. It has been so nice to have something to look forward to each week when pretty much all activities have been shut down during this pandemic. Hopefully not too far in the distant future, my wife and I will be hopping the train to NYC to attend the Silent Clowns film series as soon as it resumes.

    1. Alan, I’m so glad you’re pleased with the podcast. The magic to getting the podcast happening regularly mid-2020 was Kerr’s coming on board as co-producer. And now that he’s got time to work on the show again, it’ll resume having episodes produced and posted without the usually 6-month gaps when I was doing the show solo.

  2. Great fun to hear the story of how you came to be a theatre organist and the part the Miditzer played in that evolution Ben. A large part of the impetus for creating the Miditzer and making it a free and easy download is to create interest in theatre organs. I thought about how a piano has an attraction for passerby to “plink the keys.” Obviously theatre organs don’t lend themselves to being made available to key plinkers. The Miditzer is intended to remedy that. Anyone who is curious about what all the colorful tabs and buttons on a Wurlitzer theatre organ console do can download the Miditzer and plink the keys in the privacy of their own home, with headphones if you really want to keep it private. Head over to to find the free under 5Mb download.

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