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  1. Nelson
  2. MIDI Software
  3. Monday, 13 May 2019
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What is it that makes 'MIDI sounds' (as in General MIDI) MIDI? I love them and the terminology is fine with me since it's so established, but is it actually correct?

IOW, what's 'MIDI' about sound patches since MIDI is a means of recording and controlling sound, etc? Church organs are built with internal 'MIDI sound modules' but this simply means banks of orchestral sounds not accessed with stop controls assigned to organ sounds per se, and now of course the GM sounds are a department of a 'keyboard's' sound library.

Just wondering.
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Hi,

I'm not sure to understand your question, but maybe you can find an answer among this collection of tutorials:
https://www.midi.org/articles-old/tutorials

Regards,
Pedro
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  1. one week ago
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I think from your comments that you do understand that there is actually no such thing as 'midi sounds'. Midi is simply instructions to tell other devices what sounds to play, and to make certain modifications to those sounds. The actual sound is totally the responsibility of the device that receives the midi instruction.

Hence the same set on instructions sent to one device could produce a different result from the same instructions sent to another device. If both devices are GM, then the results could be very similar, but still different.

I think that the new (coming) midi spec could allow some sound data to be sent WITHIN midi (i.e. samples) which MIGHT change this current answer, but I think even the new spec will work mostly i the same way the current spec does.

The above stays the same for virtual devices, and virtual synths, where you should see the soundbank setup as being a software implementation of the old style sound module or keyboard, which receives midi instructions from a midi 'controller' (or software), even though the two devices might be within a single computer and appear to be a single unit - still - the midi data is being generated by one part, and being implemented (and turned into the actual sounds) within the soundbank part.

The 'midi sound module' you refer to is really NOT midi at all. It merely is set up to respond to midi data received, and emit the actual sounds generated.

Geoff
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  1. one week ago
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Since those sounds aren't dependent on MIDI for being heard it seemed to me a misnomer, but to each their own. I'm so grateful for them I don't care if they call them Tunafish Hoagie!

Yes, our organ is (can be) MIDI-controlled -- it has the traditional 3 DIN jacks. You've been kindly advising me on other pages about using it with Sonar. Like I said above, Sonar is unreliable in signaling changes for the organ's (isn't it ironic) MIDI sounds. I can set it to bring on the harpsichord patch but it's just as likely to bring on the MIDI flute instead.
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  1. 6 days ago
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Exactly the answers/confirmations I wanted. But this misnomer has been built into how many million instruments now :D

Suggestions as to what General MIDI should have been called -- Standard Soundbank?

Also, do you folks have any idea how I can get Cakewalk Sonar to register those sounds reliably on my circa 2005 Rodgers church organ, as it does the organ stops per se? IOW, I can set any combo or variant of its organ's sounds -- those reach through tilting stop tabs -- and Sonar will record and recall them perfectly, but the organ's orchestral patches (wrongly called 'MIDI' right on the console) only irregularly. It may recall them fine right after setting them, or not. Ditto when it's time to use them during a church service.

I've been changing them manually as tracks play all these years, but if there's a better solution let's have it. Apparently Cakewalk 7 Studio dates from 2007 -- am open to later things if better, but only if they're as simple for laying and editing tracks. Reaper looks it? I don't have $500 to spend, either -- got Sonar used via Ebay.
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  1. 6 days ago
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Nelson,

I don't think there's any 'misnomer' as you say, that's unfair. Midi is all about the mechanics of the data storage and transmission, not about the actual sounds. I don't think anyone who understands midi will have any problem.

Yes, referring to a 'standard soundbank' might be helpful, but this implies a LOT more than what midi actually implies. The GM list of 128 instrument/sound names is literally no more than that, and the actual sounds could be quite different between different devices, while a 'soundbank' would normally be a very specific set of real (captured, sampled, sounds). Anyway, the GM sounds are merely an option, useful for midi files that need to play on a wide range of different devices and sound reasonably correct (even if not totally identical).

I then lose track of your comments. I know nothing about Sonar, or the organ you refer to (is this a midi controlled device)? I don't understand what you're describing as 'wrong', if a midi device is sent the correct data it whould play what it's supposed to, does it NOT do that? What are you referring to regarding 'recording'? Are you trying to get Sonar to Record (sample) the real organ and then add these sounds to your soundbank, or what? Maybe you're just using the wrong words relative to my experience of such things?

Geoff
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  1. 6 days ago
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Hi Nelson,
What we're talking about here is the difference between MIDI 1.0 spec. and General MIDI (GM) and GM2 specifications.
As part of GM, a definition was made of the 128 Program Change settings and the main percussion notes.
GM2 added a further 128 'voice' settings using a variety of Bank Select messages (all MSB as I recall (don't quote me)) and extended the number of 'drum kits' too.

Both GM and GM2 specs are available to download from the "specs" section of this web site. See the top menu.

In SONAR something called an instrument file (often abbreviated to ".ins file";) can be created to contain the combination of Bank Select and Program Change messages needed for any particular MIDI instrument. It is, in fact, just a text file which can be edited quite easily once you know the rules. There are loads on line for Yamaha and Roland instruments as well as many others. You need the MIDI spec of your organ to set it up though.
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  1. 5 days ago
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Thank you, John! Is it just coincidence that the number's 128 -- an exponent of 2? You'll find I'm incurably curious -- but I try a question in google first whenever feasible :)

Found those specs in the site -- great. I've been working off a list I found online in which the numbering is strangely off by 1! Found this page -- >gulp<
https://www.cakewalk.com/Documentation?product=SONAR%20X2&language=3&help=Instrument_Defs.02.html#1111030
and have emailed Rodgers to ask about this MIDI problem -- as sneaky preliminary to asking about our model's MIDI specs. Googled that and searched the organ's manual PDF -- no luck.

Event List view for this organ shows every minutest change in a track as a line of type but isn't, alas, editable other than deleting.
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  1. 5 days ago
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"What are you referring to regarding 'recording'?" -- Geoff.

I meant recording MIDI signals in a track, of course. In Sonar 7 you hit the R key (for "record";) for this and the term is all through the documentation. It appears to be standard lingo -- googling RECORD MIDI SIGNALS gets 1,500,000 results.
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  1. 5 days ago
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So, you're recording the midi data, not the sound data. OK, I understand that now.

Could be there's a lot of spurious data getting recorded, and this interferes with what you're actually trying to do. Possible including Bank Selects as well as Program Changes, which may add problems.

You seem to have a midi file, which you try to play, but this does not reliably set the correct instrument. Does it sometimes play the correct sound, and sometimes not? Or is it always the wrong sound? If might be a help if you could send the midi file as an attachment, so I could look inside and see what's actually there.

If the data is sometimes OK, and sometimes not, this might indicate a problem in the connections between devices? Or it could be settings in one device or the other, and the midi file being played is not always re-setting things as needed?

Geoff
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  1. 5 days ago
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Thank you, John! Is it just coincidence that the number's 128 -- an exponent of 2? You'll find I'm incurably curious -- but I try a question in google first whenever feasible :)

No, no coinicdence. The MIDI 'instrument number' is held in binary in the last seven bits of a 'data byte' within a MIDI message.
As you say "powers of two", using binary we can count from 0 to 127 in 7 bits.
The structure of MIDI messages is described within the MIDI 1.0 detailed specification under the heading "Data Structure".
(NOT easy reading when you're new to this stuff!)

If you go to "rodgersinstruments.com" you will find in the 'support' and then either 'downloads' or 'owners manuals' sections, pdf's of various modern instruments.
In some (all? I had a quick browsw through a few of them) of those guides there is information about MIDI implementation for the organ concerned.
I suspect they are all very similar and probably any one will act as an initial guide.
They will tell you which channel of the 16 (another power of two - 4 bits) is used for each manual and for the pedals ... I suspect.

If you can let us know the Rodgers organ model number you're using, that might help.

Found those specs in the site -- great. I've been working off a list I found online in which the numbering is strangely off by 1! Found this page -- >gulp<
https://www.cakewalk.com/Documentation?product=SONAR%20X2&language=3&help=Instrument_Defs.02.html#1111030
and have emailed Rodgers to ask about this MIDI problem -- as sneaky preliminary to asking about our model's MIDI specs. Googled that and searched the organ's manual PDF -- no luck.


I would suggest you don't try creating one from scratch, but use an already existing .ins file (proper name "instrument definition file";) and edit it to match your needs.
But we need the detailed Rodgers MIDI information from the manual.

Event List view for this organ shows every minutest change in a track as a line of type but isn't, alas, editable other than deleting.


It may be easier to use a very simple sequencer program, like Sekaiju (a freebie), to edit the MIDI files. SONAR is perhaps too complex for this.
I always use a very old (circa '99) sequencer for this sort of work, even though I own Sonar 7 PE and the latest Cakewalk by Bandlab.

Lastly, about the numbering being off by one. Yes, quite right.
Back in '83 when the MIDI spec was first published, people weren't as computer literate as they now are.
So Program numbers were described as being from 1 to 128. A programmer knew that they are encoded as 0 to 127 in the data byte within the MIDI message concerned.
Likewise, MIDI channels are described as being from 1 to 16, but encoded as 0 to 15.
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Thank you thank you, John. Like I said, I did all the research I could think of including checking Rodgers i548's manual online. Here 'tis
https://frogmusic.com/owners-manuals/538i548.pdf

It shows the channels as
1 Manual I
2 Manual II
3 Pedal

But they've shown as 12, 13 and 14 in Sonar tracks since I started. They've wandered oddly since I tried doing some sequencing for this organ at home on Casio and Korg keyboards, but hopefully that won't affect the present discussion.
Sekaiju could edit Sonar files -- I could crack into them at last? Have downloaded the installer but don't see an .exe to click (except for a "MAINFIEST File";), possibly because my free trial of Winrar expired long ago. It give sme popup reminders at times like this.
So you're a Sonar 7 person -- boffo! What do you mainly do with it? Any idea how PE is different from the SE?
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You seem to have a midi file, which you try to play, but this does not reliably set the correct instrument. Does it sometimes play the correct sound, and sometimes not? Or is it always the wrong sound? If might be a help if you could send the midi file as an attachment, so I could look inside and see what's actually there.
If the data is sometimes OK, and sometimes not, this might indicate a problem in the connections between devices? Or it could be settings in one device or the other, and the midi file being played is not always re-setting things as needed?
Geoff


Like I said, yes it sometimes does right and sometimes not -- on the organ's 'MIDI' voices. It may be that it works properly when the track is just created and soon after I've turned on the puter, in other words it might be failing after the organ, computer and Sonar have been on and working together for awhile -- will have to study it and create such a track containing those cues to send you. (Read my stuff again for why there aren't any at present.) The connections are fine -- everything else works 100% reliably.
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I would suggest you don't try creating one from scratch, but use an already existing .ins file (proper name "instrument definition file";) and edit it to match your needs.
But we need the detailed Rodgers MIDI information from the manual.


Oh yes -- I did a hard drive search for '.ins', John. It found a bunch in Sonar but they're not mostly brands, not instruments, for which there are two each (Master.ins, Alesis.ins, Yamaha.ins, etc.) and several others are just default.ins. Maybe there are more buried inside Sonar, but I clicked for 'Search subfolders' in the wonderful Agent Ransack.

Also, Manual I's channels actually show in the manual as "1, 4~11, 15 & 16".
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Many midi instruments are structured so that they receive midi data on certain channels, and not on others. This is somewhat arbitrary, there is no rule that says that it should be any specific channel(s). This is usually helpful where instruments that cannot be programmed are to be used together, so data can be distributed between the instruments.

So, when you say that 'Manual 1' uses Channels 1, 4 - 11 and 15 & 16, I assume this means that these are the channels that this device can receive data on. Meaning that it will NOT receive data on Channels 2, 3, 12, 13 and 14. I assume the other devices (Manual 2 and pedal) are set differently. So your earlier reference to 1 = Manual 1, 2 = Manual 2 and 3 = Pedal is consistent with this, So data sent on Channel 1 will be received by Manual 1, but may NOT be received by manual 2 and pedal? But if Sonar is changing the channels used to 12, 13 and 14, what is 'listening' to these channels, Manual 1 would appear NOT to be?

More sophisticated instruments can be programmed in various ways. For example, you can set the device (maybe even via SYSEX) so that it will receive data on certain channel(s) ONLY.

As is being discussed, there could well be a problem with something in an .INS file. Maybe something has been set, and this may or may not be correct. Also, sometimes the .INS file is being activated, and sometimes it's not (or is being superceeded with manual settings) and this may be confusing the issue. You need to find the .INS files - if any - and make sure they contain the correct data. NB - I don't know which OS you're using, but the files may NOT be in the main software directory path, they may have been saved in another place being 'personal' data, so you might need to do a search of the complete HD.

Geoff
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Thank you thank you, John.

Nelson, you're most welcome.
Like I said, I did all the research I could think of including checking Rodgers i548's manual online. Here 'tis
https://frogmusic.com/owners-manuals/538i548.pdf

It shows the channels as
1 Manual I
2 Manual II
3 Pedal

But they've shown as 12, 13 and 14 in Sonar tracks since I started. They've wandered oddly since I tried doing some sequencing for this organ at home on Casio and Korg keyboards, but hopefully that won't affect the present discussion.
Sekaiju could edit Sonar files -- I could crack into them at last? Have downloaded the installer but don't see an .exe to click (except for a "MAINFIEST File";), possibly because my free trial of Winrar expired long ago. It give sme popup reminders at times like this.
So you're a Sonar 7 person -- boffo! What do you mainly do with it? Any idea how PE is different from the SE?


Thanks, I downloaded the manual. (Quite a nice piece of kit you have there.) ;-)

No, you didn't READ the manual. It says it transmits on 1,2 and 3 but can be set to transmit on various other MIDI channels.
This is if you have an external MIDI sound module providing orchestral voices, for example.

But it records on 12, 13 and 14 (see Global MIDI settings) and responds to incoming MIDI messages on those channels. (Makes sense.)
(This from one very quick scan through, so I'm not sure if it's completely accurate, but it seems to be how Rodgers implement most of their organs, from having a quick glance at other manuals.)
So stick with channels 12, 13 and 14 (upper manual, lower, pedal) for all the MIDI files you prepare.

Sekaiju is a very straightforward sequencer, it just deals with MIDI files. To unpack Sekaiju try using 7-zip file manager.

The other very good sequencer is Anvil Studio. The basic program is another freebie. There are several, paid for, packages that add functionality.

I still use an antique program called XGworks, from Yamaha, to do most of the MIDI sequencing on, only migrating to Sonar for rendering to audio.
I make orchestral backing tracks for my wife, an operatic soprano, to rehearse or sometimes to use in recital.
Sonar PE just adds a whole raft of add ons (as far as I know) to the standard Sonar 7 program.

Regards,
JohnG.
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Thanks, I downloaded the manual. (Quite a nice piece of kit you have there.) ;-)

No, you didn't READ the manual. It says it transmits on 1,2 and 3 but can be set to transmit on various other MIDI channels.
This is if you have an external MIDI sound module providing orchestral voices, for example.


You're most kind to do all that research. Interesting! Glad you like our toy -- my final/current assessment and the whole saga here
https://organforum.com/forums/forum/electronic-organs-midi/classic-church-electronic-organs/9555-help-urgent-my-church-s-dilemma?9226-Help!-Urgent!-My-church-s-dilemma=

You have a musical wife to collaborate with -- how marvelous! Could you explain rendering a MIDI track to audio within Sonar? Supposed to be easy but another total failure for me. (As ever, tried the Help section in addition to googling.)
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