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The MIDI Forum

  Monday, 07 June 2021
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Up to now, when I've been creating music (I use an older version of Finale), I've been limited to 16 voices; if I want more tracks, I have to assign multiple trace to the same voice channel (eg Flute 1 and 2 > "Channel 1, Flute" and even if I'm desperate, Flute 1, 2, Piccolo > "Channel 1, Flute"). Also the Drum channel was always channel 10 (because that's the spec as far as I know).

Is this going to be changing in MIDI 2.0? I haven't read much of the new documentation, and what I have read hasn't addressed this.

I'd love to be able to create 20-50 individual tracks (each instrument part has their own track), and also be able to split the percussion tracks and not necessarily have it locked into channel 10. Eg currently in an orchestral piece, Bass Drum, Snare, Toms, Cymbals, could be four staves, but they all are linked to channel 10. I'd love to split that in to four channels, say on 10, 11, 12, 13 -- and have it play back correctly.

This has been my biggest pet peeve of MIDI 1.0 thus far.
2 weeks ago
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#9231
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You can certainly put together a system to go beyond 16 MIDI Channels. In fact, it’s rather common.

MIDI 1.0 only defines 16 MIDI channels, which at first glance might appear to be a limitation. But for many years, we have had solutions to get beyond that limitation. For example, Windows and MacOS both support multiple MIDI connections (“ports”), each with 16 Channels. Many (most?) MIDI applications allow you send each track to any one of multiple available MIDI ports. USB MIDI (1999) defines a way for a single device to have up to 16 MIDI ports, for up to 256 Channels. Still, the most common (but not all) devices have either 1 MIDI Channel or 16 MIDI channels. If your system currently only has 16 channels and you want more, you might consider adding another device to your system.

Also, MIDI supports drums ands percussion on as many channels as you want. Your limitation might be the version of Finale you are using. It's not a MIDI limitation. General MIDI is a subset of MIDI with a set of rules for specific device types. General MIDI has drums on Channel 10. But MIDI itself has no such designation.

MIDI 2.0 extends these concepts. The basic data format of MIDI 2.0, called the Universal MIDI Packet format, supports 16 Groups, each with 16 Channels, for a total of 256 channels on one connection. We are still in the early days of MIDI 2.0 so only time will tell, but I suspect that MIDI 2.0 will encourage some segment of MIDI devices to support more than 16 MIDI Channels in the years ahead.

What MIDI device(s) do you have now?

Mike.
2 weeks ago
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#9233
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Paul,

Some of your 'peeves' relate to Channels, and some relate to Tracks, but Tracks and Channels are quite different things, so some of your complaints are quite unfair.

For example, under Midi 1 you can use as many tracks for drums/percussion as you like, exactly as you say you'd like to. No problem. However, they'd need to all point to the same Channel (i.e. Ch 10) which is assigned to Percussion.

I'm sure that Finale allows the use of far more than 16 tracks, even if you are still restricted to 16 Channels. Multiple tracks can happily use the same channel.

As per drums, you could have a number of tracks for 'Flute' all assigned to the same Flute sound but in reality named as the specific flute type.

Note that percussion does not HAVE to be on Ch 10, this is merely a convention. You could use Ch 10 for something else if you like.

It is also quite permissible to use one channel for different instruments (but only one at a time). In many orchestral scores there may be instruments that make an appearence for a few bars only, various if these could use the same channel with Program Change instructions inserted into the track at releavnt points. Needs a bit of work to keep track of, but you can make things easier by using different tracks for each instrument, even if they are using the same Channel but at different times.

Midi 2.0 may be some time before it is available for ordinary users. Some of the above may be a help in the meantime?

Geoff
2 weeks ago
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#9236
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The version of Finale you use must be really ancient! :o

I've been using the product for some considerable time and I've always been able to use more than 16 channels.
Port 1 has 16 channels, then, if you need more, port 2 has another 16, and so on.
I still use an ancient copy of the Yamaha sequencing program XGworks, from the late nineties, and I've had that with up to 96 orchestral tracks (6 x 16 channels).
And you can always reassign channel 10 to any other instrument, it isn't fixed at percusion, that's just the suggested channel.
Many sequences put a second 'kit' on channel 11.

Maybe it's time for a software upgrade? ;)
2 weeks ago
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#9245
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A lot of the limitations you are describing seem to refer to the General Midi specification. Are you perhaps using the synth built into a soundcard or some other GM style synth for playback? Roland made several of those. That protocol was a subset of the full midi spec that attempted to define where certain instrument sounds were assigned to allow for easy midi playback of computer video game soundtracks (and other things). The full scope of the Midi 1.0 spec is much more flexible than that.
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