Landmark Organ Sound, Performance, and Luxury
I bet you think you purchased a two-manual organ when you bought your Atelier®. Well, cosmetically you’re correct but in the practical sense, I must disagree. As I’m sure you know, it is easy to convert the AT into a triple-keyboard instrument by establishing a split point on the lower manual. That way, you literally have two completely different sounds available on the lower, plus of course, the upper manual registration.
However, the practicality of all this becomes more doable when taking advantage of adjusting the octave level of most sounds. When playing on the extreme upper portion of the lower manual, one doesn't necessarily have to regard these keys as being in a high range. As a musician, you can preset any member of the orchestra to be played in virtually any octave range…quite an effective way to conveniently spice up your performance technique. For example, you may decide to delegate keys to the right of the lower keyboard split to the bassoon, use the Octave Shift to lower it two octaves and then use the instrument for a bit of comedic holiday flare when playing a popular Christmas song.
Being originally a pianist, I also enjoy taking advantage of the expanded lower keyboard that appears on every Roland Atelier. By placing both hands on the lower manual while manipulating the sustain pedal, I can simulate the tone and feel of a classic Grand piano. But, here's my personal preference: I first set the lower keyboard to be one octave down by adjusting the notes with Octave Shift. This allows me to make use of dramatic base tones on the extreme left section of the keyboard. This works terrifically for your exciting dynamic effects.
But the Octave Shift control is probably the most useful when it is applied to a lush, comprehensive arrangement creating a truly symphonic aura on the Atelier. Try utilizing all four sound categories on the upper manual...each set at various appropriate octave levels. This technique works especially well for the strings section (violin, viola, cello, contra bass) with each registered an octave apart, from highest to lowest. The same idea can be applied to the brass/reed instruments to achieve an authentic Big Band sound (trumpet, sax, clarinet, trombone). Just be certain to tonally separate them using Octave Shift just as they would be in an actual band.
The Octave Shift is a crucial component of the professional organist's repertoire. Try sitting at the organ, close your eyes, play a few notes of your registration, and concentrate on the true realism of the instrumentation. If everything sounds musically logical, great! On the other hand, if you hear an instrument being played out of its natural range, check for an inappropriate Octave Shift setting. It may seem to be a small detail, but in reality, Octave Shift is a powerful but beautiful thing.