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  • The MIDI Messages Forum  Ask and you shall receive

    The MIDI Messages Forum
    Ask and you shall receive

  1. Tim
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. Wednesday, 16 August 2017
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A few years ago I purchased a Roland sc d70 sound module.
I think this is a powerful module but I am struggling to "unlock" it's potential.
I'm guessing I need a master keyboard which can send program and bank change multi timbrally.
Does such a keyboard exist ?
Or is there another way to unlock it?
I have a Roland vr09 but trying to use it with this proved very frustrating !
Any advice most gratefully accepted.
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Geoff Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hello,

Yes, you could use this unit with a controller keyboard, but that would NOT really unlock the potential of the unit.

To do that, you really need to connect the unit via midi to a computer, and you'll need some sort of software on the computer to send midi data to the Roland unit.

You can get many midi files to play, but most will be for GM sounds, which may sound fine, but most of the units potential will be over-and-above the GM soundset and you will need to use extra coding to get at those, but this CAN be done within a midi file.

According to a bit I've read, the unit comes with some software, but I'll guess that is mainly for editing/testing the various patches/combinations available. Do you have that software.

What midi inputs does the unit support, many more modern units support both standard midi cable, and USB connection. You'll need the appropriate connector on your computer. Not all software will support the USB connection, you may need special drivers. All midi software should support the older 5 pin DIN connectors.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 1
Tim Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hi Geoff
Thanks very much for your comments.
I have several attempts to interface with it via DAW's.
I have struggled to find any working drivers for Windows 10 , so that is not a great starting point.
This situation seems to rule out the Usb Connection so i am using the Midi connection only.
So to the DAWS...
Sonar LE - Managed to send a program change and bank change by working out the location from the manual.
Reaper - didn't find the midi side very intuitive.
Cubase - not explored yet.

So to summarise - i haven't really made much headway
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 2
Geoff Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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First of all, I should admit that I'm not familiar with this unit, although I have looked it up, and I have looked at the user manual which is available on-line as a .PDF - the manual seems more helpful than some of the other manuals I've got (for a Yamaha MU90r and a Korg NS5R to name but two), and clearly a lot of the operation is very similar. Your unit uses GS, my units referred to use XG, but there are similarities.

The main feature of this unit seems to relate to it's 'digital' facilities, involving something leaning towards a sampler than just a tone module. The tone module facilities seem fairly standard, allowing the unit to emulate a number of other Roland 'Sound Canvas' modules, and matching the sound-set of those units. Certain of the Bank Select commands will swap between these modes.

As I understand it, GS provides similar facilities to GM, with the substantial addition that many of the standard tones have sub-settings giving variations of the basic tone that may be selected with an additional code (MSB, LSB ?). So, if you play a standard midi file, it will play OK, but with just the basic tone for each patch ##, but if you can activate the extra code, then the file could play with a much more subtle variation of tone. Sounds interesting. BUT, how to do it?

I've found some GS midi files, and I've been looking at the midi codes within, and I see only (so far) a normal patch change, so maybe these files are NOT making use of this facility, but I do see various controller activity which is prob over and above normal GM, so they are making some use of GS. I need to find something else?

I know VERY little about DAWs, but I do understand the basic principles. Watch out for channel settings. Your Roland unit may default to receive midi information on certain channels. Usually there is something called OMNI mode which usually sets receive to ALL 16 channels. As you have just the one unit in the system, make sure the unit is in OMNI mode. The software (whichever) may also default to sending data on certain channels. If the DAW sends on channel x, and the unit is set to receive on channel y, then nothing will happen. If the module can be set to OMNI, then however the DAW is set, you should get something.

From what you say, it sounds like you need to spend at least as much effort on understanding the DAW you settle on using as on the Roland unit.

I'd suggest you need to create (or load an existing) midi file. Get that playing correctly (or even tolerably).

Then edit/change/enhance the midi file, to gradually work in more of the facilities of the unit. All of the normal SC facilities should be controllable via midi. I'm not so sure about the digital/sampler aspects, but you may have SOME control there as well???

Work out which aspects of the sounds work best for you, and how to use them most easily.

I'll look some more at the manual (fascinating...??)

I think the unit is aimed more towards playing midi files. Incl midi data from games? The 'digital' stuff seems to be a snazzy extra, I'm not sure any of the other SC units do anything similar.

What are you plans for using the unit?

geoff
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 3
Geoff Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Tim,

I've now found a set of midi files that seem more helpful.

I've just looked at one, they are a set of Roland demo midi files, I think for the SC-88, which were supplied on a disk, not built into the unit.

I've got a midi prog from a set of utilities, the prog is called DECODE. It turns a midi file into a text file, with all the components labelled, explained, etc. This text file can be viewed, edited, and then a companion prog called ENCODE will turn it back into a midi file.

Very useful, very helpful for explaining just what all the midi codes are doing.

It's an old DOS prog, mind you. Prob no good under W10??

Anyway, these do seem to have the midi data in full, while the manual does only a partial job of it.

So, the one I've just looked at, is doing a demo of the acoustic piano.

There is the midi codes for the Bank Change, then the patch select, in full. The example isn't selecting any 'variation' patches, but simple change one of the numbers, and presto.

The data is - in hex:

B0 00 00 B0 20 00 C0 00

which is:

B0 Controller Change channel 1

00 signifies MSB

00 data, 00 signifies variation # zero signifies no variation, i.e. default sound

B0 Controller Change channel 1

20 LSB

00 signifies bank, zero gives INST (default) bank, 1 etc gives emulation of other units, i.e. SC-88, etc

C0 Patch Change channel 1

00 Select patch 0, i.e. = 1 on list, i.e. Acoustic Piano

That's for Channel 1, to do the same for channel 5 it would be B4, B4 and C4.

The example in the manual does NOT bother giving the command bytes (which would include the channel required) .

This set of demo midi files could be useful for you. They're mostly quite small, easy to experiment with. Have you got them?

Geoff
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 4
Geoff Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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In case you've not got the Roland demo files referred to, I attach hereto..

Geoff rol_sc_d.zip
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 5
Tim Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hi Geoff,
Thanks again for all you advice with this issue.
Your midi code explanation is good and i need to work through it as i have found this difficult to comprehend for the last 25 years !
Hopefully the penny will drop.
I will have a go with Cubase to see what i can do, in terms of program change & bank change.
I also use something called midiox which i think has the facility to send "raw" sysex to any synth/sound module.
Gives me a few options to try.
Thanks again
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 6
Geoff Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Tim,

Yes, this does get rather complicated, i.e. getting MSB/LSB the right way around, making (any ?) sense of the midi charts, etc.

I too am still learning. Trying to answer your question help me too!

Regarding your new message, please note that I don't think that for your unit SYSEX has anything to do with program change or bank change. These can be done with normal midi commands.

Also, note that you can embed SYSEX code into any normal midi file. Some of the example midi files I just sent you include sysex code (little blocks that start FF and end F7.

You might use SYSEX for doing things over and above what you can do with normal midi commands. Any prog playing a midi file does not know what any sysex is doing, as it's totally peculiar to a device, so the only way to work out what the sysex is doing is to study the code, study the midi memory map of the device, and see what memory addresses the sysex is changing. Not easy. Not with my ancient eyes anyway!!

I've played some of the GS files I sent, and they play OK. I assume they're not as good as they should be, but they do play. My Yamaha may well disregard the sysex, as it's specifically Roland. My unit will not recognise the 'variation' instruments, as my XG systems work on Bank # and patch # within the selected Bank, and the MSB code is pretty much disregarded (i.e. is used for something else quite different). One of the more 'interesting' aspects of our discussions! Or should that be 'perplexing'?

You might be amused - but when I first tried playing one of the Roland files, I had my keyboard mixer set wrong. The result was that I was listening to the file playing through my Roland LAPC-I card (this is the device fitted into the old PC I use as my midi machine, which is in effect a Roland MT-32 module on a card, but also provides my midi interface etc). I was listening, and it wasn't 'bad', but I was thinking it just wasn't 'right'. Then I realised I was listening to the LAPC, and NOT the Yamaha MU, which is a MUCH more sophisticated module. I restarted the playback, switching to the appropriate output, and immed could tell that it sounded SO MUCH better! No doubt, would sound even better on your 'proper' device, being Roland and GS.

The little demo files are, I believe, intended to be instructional. Some just have one or two tracks. Most are quite short, just a couple of minutes. They do demonstrate many aspects of the SC/GS systems. I'd advise that you load them into Cubase and see how they're constructed, play them, see how they do things, amend and add to them.

Geoff
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 7
Tim Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hi
Just to conclude this thread, I was at the point of "selling on" this module when i acquired a cheap Roland PC160 ED master keyboard for another separate MIDI project (DAWLESS Jamming !).
Looking at the manual , it suggested that i could do a bank change via combinations of Key presses and that proved to be correct.
I can now select (somewhat clunkily) all the Variations shown in the manual.
All i need now is a way of capturing sysex data that i'm creating.
I could use midiox , but that would defeat the DAWLESS element - maybe the old Roland BL-1 ?
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 8
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