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The MIDI Forum

  Saturday, 26 May 2018
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I have this broken MIDI which sounds broken a different way on every platform I try it and w/every soundfont. Most of it sounds fine, until about 3:55. At that point is sometimes sounds scratchy then dies, or becomes cacophonous, one guy actually reported it sounds fine until the end when it gets quiet. I tried using software called Rosegarden in Ubuntu to analyze it, but it doesn't seem to have any kind of repair feature and I couldn't even get the sound to work anyway. What's the proper way of going about this?
Of course, if you just want to give a man a fish, that's fine too. Here it is.
1 year ago
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#4503
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Angus,
I saw Rosegarden was used so wanted to look at this the same way.
I use a new Roland GO:KEYS 61k which has 16 channel enabled by default.

I see at bar 104 there is a switch from track 2 alone to track 2 plus track 5 then track 10, 12 , 19 and 21 are added at bar 108
but track 2 is not dropped.

This looks
2 years ago
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#3955
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It would be a MASSIVE help if you could remove this query from this thread, and start a new thread. This query clearly has NOTHING to do with the the thread it is added to.

The two files attached are named as .MID, but looking inside them they are NOT MIDI/SMF files, although they MIGHT contain some midi-like data.

The files could be QUICKTIME audio format, as you say that QT would play them. I have a version of QT (I think) from about 1995 which is supposed to play QT videos, and MAY do something with QT Audio (but I'm guessing). I'll try to dig it out.

In any event, the files may be non-midi, and therefore outside the remit of this forum?

Geoff
2 years ago
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#3953
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Hello,
I used to be able to play these files in Quicktime, but that app is defunct and I can't find any way to get them to play. Can anyone provide assistance?

Thanks,
J
3 years ago
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#1728
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Hi John,

Looks like I got the dates of a few of these things mixed up. The bottom line is that the Wing Commander II came out before the SB16, so the latest SB card it could have supported was the Pro? In any case, I don't think the Pro is GM.

Figuring out what all those instruments are supposed to be seems like a lot of shots in a lot of dark--above my pay grade. If that's the explanation as to why the MIDI sounds fine until about 3:55 when it becomes a train wreck, then I don't see a way forward.

On the other hand, since WC2-45.MID sounds a lot like it should (on every platform I've played it), wouldn't it be easier to use that one as a guide?
3 years ago
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#1725
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Hi Angus,

What is not generally appreciated is that the MIDI specification was initially created way back in, was it '83?
At that time there was no definition of what particular voice would be invoked by any Program Change message.
So Program Change #1 on one device might invoke Piano, but on another one might hear a saxophone, for example.
However, it might be that a manufacturer, in order to fulfil a specific market requirement, might make their set of voices very simialr to another device.
So an SB16 might have very similar voices to an MT32. I can't say for sure, I never checked it out although, way back, I started with an SB16 card (ISA version).

The later creation of the General MIDI (GM) standard changed all that by, amongst a few other things, creating a map of voices and what Program Change number invoked them.
GM didn't arrive until, as I recall, the early nineties. Maybe initially '91 with amendments in '94. --- I think.
If you read the Standards you'll see there's no mention of any mapping of voices to numbers in the original documents.
That only occurs in the separate GM standard specification ('91/'94), and a further mapping in the GM2 spec.('99?)
But, even today, MIDI devices don't have to be GM compatible. If they are they'll have a GM label visible somewhere.
But a pure synthesiser manufacturer, for instance, may decide not to try to emulate all the GM voices.

As GM, as a standard, was not created until some years later, no hardware that was created before this was exactly compatible, although a few may have come close.
It's for this reason that attempting to emulate old, pre-GM hardware, is fraught with pitfalls.

Especially so since both the SB16 and the MT32 used synthesis for sound creation as did most hardware at that time.
Holding samples in tiny amounts of memory or on floppies or diminutive hard disks was out of the question.
We are so spoilt today with our GigaBytes of memory and TerraBytes of disk space.
The first mainframe computer I worked on (a long, long time ago) had just 20 kilo-characters of memory. A character was six bits (plus parity), a word was 24 bits!

P.S. Further research shows me that many, including Creative, used the gaming card originally made by Ad-Lib, as a model for the voices.
It's quite posiible that Roland followed this voice layout too.

WRT Sekaiju, right click on the name of any track and you should see a pop-up menu.
In the pop-up you should be able to select "Show this track's Event List window".
Only one track's info will be shown initially, but you can select more tracks and what you want to see from the menu boxes on the RHS.
3 years ago
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#1724
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I guess I've got a lot to learn about GM. I played the game on the SoundBlaster 16 and it sounded alright. Maybe it would have sounded better on an MT-32, but doesn't the fact that it worked on an SB16 mean the game had to be able to produce GM? I don't think the SB16 could emulate MT-32.

I'm afraid I wasn't able to get very far w/Sekaiju. I couldn't find anything called List View. I'm running Sekaiju 5.3 on Wine 3.0.1.

It seems this MUNT thing requires DosBox. Does that mean I'd have to find a Dos app to play this MIDI?
3 years ago
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#1720
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Angus, Geoff,

The only way you're going to get the same output is by using the same device as this was written for, as it was clearly NOT written for General MIDI (GM) playback.
Or if you can find a device/program/VSTi that will emulate an MT32.

It can be adapted by using the list of voices I referred to earlier by doing the following.
First, in Sekaiju go into List View and tick all the tracks to be displayed (16).
Then select that only Program Changes are displayed.
See the attached image.

Now, using the Roland MT-32 list of voices, match the voices using GM sounds.
That is, substitute by changing the Program Number for the correct sounding voice.
So, the first entry is on MIDI channel 2, right at the start (00001:01:000) reads "48-Strings", but in the MT-32 list of voices 48 is "Square Wave" not Strings.
So, find the GM Program Number (or whatever sound device your using) and substitute maybe GM 81-Square Lead.
The 2nd entry reads "116-Taiko", but the MT-32 voice for Program Change 116 is "Elec Perc 1".
You need to figure out what GM sound to substitute for that and enter that as the new Program Change number.
And so on.
Finding a suitable substitute may be difficult in some cases, e.g.what is Bellsinger? I haven't a clue.

If you can substitute all the MT-32 Program Change voices for GM ones, you may get a fair approximation of the original.

The file continues playing for some time after all Note On messages have occured, in measure 112, because there are two further Tempo Change messages, one in measure 131 and another in measure 144.

P.S. There is apparently an MT-32 emulator called MUNT. I just Googled "MT-32 emulator".
3 years ago
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#1719
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How about this: since there seems to be a lot of ambiguity over what the MIDI is supposed to sounds like and not sound like, maybe I should upload some samples of what I'm hearing, at the part from where it gets bad, and that might make it easier to decide what to share.

  • WC2-48-cacophony.mp3: no one could mistake this as being correct, unless he though it was supposed to be some hokey psychedelia.
  • WC2-48-removed_sustains.mp3: this is what I got after removing the sustains using Sekaiju, according to above advice. It's not nearly as bad, but trust me, it's not correct, like something's trying to overplay it. Also, notice the long silence at the end. Actually, don't trust me...
  • WC2-45.mp3: this is what it should sound like. It's the original that was used to make the medley. It goes on for well over a minute, which would just about fill the remaining time in WC2-48
3 years ago
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#1714
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Hello again,

I've just played the file both ways, using the LAPC-I card (MT-32 sound set) and to the Yamaha (GM).

Not really THAT much difference, but there ARE certainly differences.

I certainly could NOT say that one is clearly 'right' and one is clearly 'wrong', but then I've not heard the original version. As in, played from the actual game. I don't know that the version in the .MP3 is 'right' - is it?

I'll get the two versions saved as .MP3. Not done yet.

The sound quality (generally) from the Yamaha is clearly better, but then it ought to be, it's later technology. Some of the instruments are clearly the same, i.e. piano, but various other instruments are similar patch ## in both sound sets. Both versions hit a problem about 4:25 - the Roland card just goes to nothing, the Yamaha goes to a drone on Ch 2 & 3 until the end (5:26).

Hmm - for what it's worth, the Yamaha MU90r supports a C/M sound set, which is basically MT32. Never tried this. I suppose it'll be MT32 with the later level of sound quality. It's somewhat 'enhanced' over the normal MT32, as there's the standard MT soundset for Ch 1-9, and various extra sounds for Ch 11 to 16. I suppose there was never much point in my trying this as I have the 'Real Thing' readily to hand!!

Just tried the C/M version. It works. Not really sure how it compares to the other two versions. When I do the MP3s, I'll do all three versions?

Geoff
3 years ago
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#1706
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I've still got my Roland LAPC-I card active on my old system. That is in effect a MT32. I'd not tried playing through that, as I'd interpreted early comments to relate the SB16 card to GM, and the GM playback seemed OK.

I'll get to try the playback of the original file via the Yamaha MU90r, and via the Roland card (as per MT32) and record both, and post the result.

Geoff
3 years ago
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#1704
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Geoff,

Maybe you didn't use the word "right", but from the way you were talking, it sounded like you weren't hearing any of the problems I was. Anyone who heard what I've heard would know something was wrong, even if unfamiliar w/the original score.

I've listed a few ways in which I've experienced or heard of the failure on the various platforms, but the most up-to-date list is, at 3:55 to the end:

  • Cacophony, like multiple renderings of the same piece or left and right out of sync. (Improved w/the removal of the sustains, but not eliminated)
  • Scratchiness, like a fading AM radio station
  • Silence
  • A minute and a half of droning (eliminated by the removal of the sustains).
  • Sekaiju's playback was also unique, in that there was utter silence after 3:55, with the brief exception of these drums, which I'd never heard on other platforms.
3 years ago
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#1703
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A useful comment, Eddie.
I think you've hit the nail on the head.

I've done some further research and it would appear that Wing Commander was written to take advantage of the "older" version of the MT32.
This also explains why the MIDI file sounds odd played on a GM module/VST.
I found a list of the voices the MT32 supported and which MIDI program number they were invoked by.
The original document can be found by following the links on the MT32 page in Wikipedia.
The details can be found at the URL below.

JohnG.
3 years ago
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#1701
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Listening to some of those MP3 files, it sounds like a Roland MT-32. That would explain why only MIDI channels 2 through 10 are used in the MIDI files.

Cheers
Eddie
3 years ago
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#1698
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Angus,

Did I say it sounded 'right'? That was stupid of me. I very much doubt even my best version sounded 'right' (I assume - in comparison to the original game).

You also say that none of the versions You've been able to play sound 'right' either. But you don't say what was wrong with them, maybe a lot of little things which might be expected that you're NOT using an original SB16 card.

Oh, I can record the Yamaha MU90r version, I'll try and do that.

Geoff
3 years ago
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#1693
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Geoff,

The file came from the zip at the bottom of that list I posted ("51 MIDIs" ). In it you'll find WC2-45.MID, which approximates what the end of WC2-48.MID is supposed to sound like. As you can see, it goes on for well over a minute, which would fit neatly into the quiet part of WC2-48.MID at the end.

I don't know exactly where those mp3s came from, but they are either fan creations or something that the game company released separately from the game. I can promise you that the game did not ship w/mp3s (remember, it was around 1990. Floppy disks. Sometimes 5.25" ).

Can you do me the favour of uploading an mp3 of the rendering that you said sounds right? I'm curious to hear what it sounds like when it's good.
3 years ago
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#1692
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Angus,

Another thing should be clarified.

Where did this midi file come from?

Looking at the history of WC2, specifically regarding the music, it seems that the original music MIGHT have been midi, but there also seem to have been mp3 variants (on the CD versions of the game ?). There is also reference to the music being 're-mastered'? At least once??

Is it possible that at some time a mp3 version has been converted back into midi? This is technically possible, but it IS somewhat problematic. If such a thing WAS done, then this could well explain some of the problems with the midi file you have. It might also explain your 'complaint' that the midi file is NOT sounding like it should (are you comparing the sound with the original game?).

Just wondering.

Geoff
3 years ago
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#1690
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Angus,

The SB16 is described as being GM compliant, so the sounds (instruments) should be OK, although the GM soundset can cover a wide range of differences depending on the exact implementation, i.e. some piano sounds are better than others, some string sounds are better, etc. I don't think that ANY two devices will sound exactly the same, even from the same manufacturer?

This is NOT any fault of the manufacturers.

On top of that, you have the way that the various aspects of the midi standards, for things like controllers, velocity, etc, are implemented. Yes, there IS a stamdard. The standard is fairly detailed, but it leave quite a lot of room for differences in implementation. So, increasing the volume by 10 on one setup may NOT be exactly the same change on another setup (if you had the equipment to measure this scientifically ).

And on top of this, when us humans get to play/create/manipulate the midi data, we usually find ways to take liberties with the midi spec. Prob call it 'being creative'. But the liberties you take on one setup should replicate on another VERY similar setup, but they should not be expected to replicate exactly on another setup, even though BOTH systems ARE compliant with the Midi Spec.

Then, add another level on top, when we get into the virtual systems, where in effect the computer is emulating the midi, but also emulating the hardware (in effect) and that emulation is not really part of the midi spec at all. Were virtual synths even possible when the midi spec was finalised?

The playback on my system sounds pretty good, I think, but I totally doubt it's EXACTLY like the original SB16 version

Geoff
3 years ago
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#1689
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Wing Commander II is circa 1990, and it worked on a SoundBlaster 16. I always assumed that meant it had a GM track, as well as several others (I can confirm it also had an AdLib).

I've got several setups, which is how I know it sounds different (but never correct) on every one of them, but I suppose my first choice for testing is Audacious in Ubuntu 16.04 using the OPL soundfont I pulled off of https://musical-artifacts.com/artifacts/15.

I find it strange that the MIDI sounds "fine" in some setups. Is GM so badly standardized that what might be proper for some setups is not for others?
3 years ago
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#1688
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Hi Angus and Geoff,

An interesting problem which I've just started to take a look at.:)
The first thing was to load it into a program other than Sekaiju, which is a great program, but it doesn't show exactly what's going on.

My preference is an ancient sequencer by Yamaha called XGworks (a sequencing program from the nineties).
This shows the uploaded file to consist of many track (or should that be channel) fragments in what can only be described as a seemingly random order.
See the image WC2-48-01.

If you observe the left of the image you will see that the channel assignment is in no order whatsoever (that I can discover). :o
(I can't get Sekaiju to do this. Can you?)
The first thing I observed was that there's no observable channel 1 usage in XGworks but there is in Sekaiju.
What I read into that is that all the meta events have been inserted into channel one instead of into the header track.
(XGworks has automatically reassigned all these and thus emptied channel one of data.)
These appear as shown in WC2-48-03.

Taking this and aligning all the channels together in the correct order has produced the image in WC2-48-02.
(You'll probably notice that XGworks has done some "tidying" of the lengths of some tracks where there are no MIDI events.) :)
This allows (me at least) to have a clearer overview of what's going on, and then to be able to look at a channel's worth of events more easily.

To be continued.
3 years ago
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#1685
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Angus,

Yes, I sort of wondered if it was from a game, it had the feel of that.

I'm not sure how old Wing Commander is, but the file may have been constructed to work with specific hardware. I'd guess it's been 'converted' to be GM.

Really, it played back fine on my 'antique' setup as described above. This may be more in keeping with the setup it was created on/for.

You have NOT described what setup you're trying to play it back on, which is not helpful.

The data I was looking at shows a LOT of realtime messing with volume settings, fading sections out, fading new sections in. These work fine on my setup. Clearly they do not on (some ?) of your's You need to look at that. I think these are 'master' levels, i.e. not specific to any Channel. But the setting of these will inter-relate with the channel settings as well, and it could be a problem depending on how your setup handles that relationship between the master volume setting, and the indiv 'velocity' (i.e. volume) settings for the channels.

Geoff
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