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40oz

If General Midi could be updated

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I notice many MIDI authors have a lot of trouble trying to accurately simulate the sound of many songs released on the radio these days. I know you can run soundfonts but usually they don't work well with various mid's, given how differently the instruments are used.

Do the MIDI instruments sound kind of outdated lately? Does anyone really use Rock Organ or Orchestra Hit anymore? What kind of instruments and noises do we have now that probably would have made it in the set of MIDI instruments had it been developed now instead of in 1982? Maybe some new Lead (sawtooth) or Lead (square) style instruments such as those used in DubStep, some new styles of distortion guitars, maybe an airhorn

What other instruments that are commonly used now probably would have been made in MIDI format if it had been developed now instead of three decades ago?

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40oz said:

Does anyone really use Rock Organ or Orchestra Hit anymore?

Yes, of course.

Midi itself is not tied to the instrument set, it's just a control protocol. What would be the solution is to come up with a new standard set, but the problem is is that GM is pretty much the standard at this point. Besides that, I doubt there'd be much interest in it for the general population, midi isn't really relevant anymore. (for music production it is, but from a consumer standpoint, no, not really)

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Well the GM sound set is meant to meet a very wide range of styles, but only at a very base level. And then it doesn't actually say "Patch 30 (Distortion Guitar) must sound like X", just that #30 is a distortion guitar. It's a base standard and nothing more.

Yamaha and Roland already tried to expand on GM with their XG and GS standards, respectively. Then everyone got together for General MIDI Level 2 in 1999, which was based partially on the GS standard. SoundFonts were just a way to add new instruments and sounds without affecting the standard.

That said, I'd say that while it is pretty limiting, you can still do some very creative stuff when you use a patch by abusing it. Even Bobby Prince did this on MAP32's music, where the marching was made by playing the gunshot sound with a very low note.

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yukib1t said:

Even Bobby Prince did this on MAP32's music, where the marching was made by playing the gunshot sound with a very low note.

You mean MAP31?

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I think a significant part of what makes general midi tend to sound so flat, tinny, and fake is the lack of effects processing and the inability to modulate the sounds via filters. This is particularly true with the default Windows or Quicktime midi playback on a new computer, even with a custom soundfont.

Different types of reverb in and of themselves have a huge impact on a sound and how it fits into the mix; it makes a huge difference when an engineer has the ability to control not just the amount of reverb but also its type (room, hall, plate, spring, etc.), its decay length, how equalization is applied to it to affect the tone of the reverb, and so on. Any of that can be done in professional music software, but standard midi playback on a computer typically has either no reverb at all, or a single built-in type that can't really be controlled by the midi composer and will probably sound totally different depending on what it's being played back with.

Filtering is another thing that has a huge impact on a sound's tonality, and the lack of it hugely limits the fidelity of a standard midi file. As one example, the dubstep synths you mentioned rely hugely on filter automation (that is, programming the filter frequency and resonance to change over the course of the song), opening and closing a resonant lowpass filter (which is then processed through distortion) to make them animate and "growl".

Distorted guitars would also sound a lot better if they were played as clean guitar sounds which could then be low-pass filtered and distorted in realtime, more like an actual guitar recording is made.

Of course, all of this would increase the processor overhead of playback...

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printz said:

D_RUNNIN

[/thread]


(And before anyone says "but that was written 15+ years ago and I said "nowadays" -- D_RUNNIN is timeless. It exists at all points simultaneously. Such is the power of D_RUNNIN.)

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Xaser said:

(And before anyone says "but that was written 15+ years ago and I said "nowadays" -- D_RUNNIN is timeless. It exists at all points simultaneously. Such is the power of D_RUNNIN.)

This.

IMHO, D_RUNNIN is Doom's equivalent to the Super Mario Bros. theme (or even the Legend of Zelda theme).

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More people would know what "At DOOM's Gate" is rather than "Running From Evil," even non-gamers.

Also, Orchestra Hit is used a lot, Rock Organ is also used a bit more in Classic Rock music (even modern). Orchestra Hit is just a generic "all instruments in an orchestra hitting at once" sound for a sudden 'epic' effect.

In General MIDI, all the instruments are in a specific group and to replace them would be rather difficult as they are practically perfect in their spot. Having another synth lead would be redundant unless this particular sound set / soundfont is made for dance music.

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DuckReconMajor said:

I feel D_E1M1 is the more classic Doom theme.

But hey.

Don't get me wrong, D_E1M1 is great, too.

It's a matter of taste. :)

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Have you tried ¥Weeds¥ General MIDI SoundFont v3.0 or Crisis 3.01? I've especially liked these two. The Weeds (not the greatest title ever) is a lot smaller, 54.9 megabytes uncompressed, but sounds really quite excellent. Crisis is pretty big, 1.57 gigabytes uncompressed, 611 megabyte download, but it's worth it as far as I'm concerned. The Blood midis become something else entirely with Crisis 3.01, abysmal, epic, and terrifying.

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yukib1t said:

Yamaha and Roland already tried to expand on GM with their XG and GS standards, respectively. Then everyone got together for General MIDI Level 2 in 1999, which was based partially on the GS standard.

Yep. In other words, General Midi was updated.

yukib1t said:

SoundFonts were just a way to add new instruments and sounds without affecting the standard.

There's also the Extended RMID and XMF formats, which basically embed a soundfont in a MIDI file. Also known as "let's reinvent tracker modules, but with MIDI".

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the newest revisions of XG have filters! Which is why I only use XG, but it's only playable on XG-compatible devices.

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]I notice many supposedly MIDI-savvy people still haven't realized that MIDI is simply a control protocol, used by musicians for uhm...the last three decades and has nothing to do with how an "instrument" should sound.

That's also why there are so many soundfonts and audio processor plugins suites aimed at professional musicians, which often used them in cascades.

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Maes said:

]I notice many supposedly MIDI-savvy people still haven't realized that MIDI is simply a control protocol, used by musicians for uhm...the last three decades and has nothing to do with how an "instrument" should sound.

That's also why there are so many soundfonts and audio processor plugins suites aimed at professional musicians, which often used them in cascades.

This, a million times.

General MIDI defines some sounds, but not how they should sound. Only that, for example, #81 is a "Sawtooth Lead". Otherwise "MIDI" is just a control protocol, and not even limited to music; it's also used to control lighting.

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yukib1t said:

This, a million times.

General MIDI defines some sounds, but not how they should sound. Only that, for example, #81 is a "Sawtooth Lead". Otherwise "MIDI" is just a control protocol, and not even limited to music; it's also used to control lighting.


Yeah, it always annoys me that people don't know what I'm talking about when I ask for midi help on Linux, they say "just use timidity" and I want to HIT THEM SO HARD OVER THE INTERNET HNNG


I use Windows mainly for midi stuff now.

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Csonicgo said:

Yeah, it always annoys me that people don't know what I'm talking about when I ask for midi help on Linux, they say "just use timidity" and I want to HIT THEM SO HARD OVER THE INTERNET HNNG

I can feel your pain. I've used Ubuntu once and couldn't do jack shit with MIDI files. :(

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It makes me wonder just what percentage of people use which soundset. It sucks when you make a MIDI with a specific soundfont in mind, and it sounds out of balance on every other set. For example, the Roland set's "distortion guitar" is pretty loud and sharp sounding. On a Soundblaster card I had recently, a "distortion guitar" at the same volume was almost inaudible. In AirFont, the same instrument sounds scratchy and disgusting.

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Maes said:

]I notice many supposedly MIDI-savvy people still haven't realized that MIDI is simply a control protocol, used by musicians for uhm...the last three decades and has nothing to do with how an "instrument" should sound.

That's also why there are so many soundfonts and audio processor plugins suites aimed at professional musicians, which often used them in cascades.

If you're including me in that, I did try to make my post differentiate with general midi and default midi playback to explain what I'm talking about specifically without having to say "the default instrument set and playback software used for built-in translation of midi data into mediocre-sounding audio on many modern computer systems" every time I referred to it :p

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I suppose the lesson to take from this thread is that General Midi has been updated, and if a song distributed as a .mid sounds outdated when you play it, that's largely your own fault for listening to it with the wrong soundfont or in the wrong environment.

Personally, I like that fake, tinny, outdated sound. I'm still playing MIDIs with Windows' default soundfont and playback device. Somehow, that kind of sound enhances the immersion of a low-fidelity game better than anything else. Maybe that's just nostalgia talking, but it's also refreshing to listen music that's under-produced instead of over.

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Creaphis said:

but it's also refreshing to listen music that's under-produced instead of over.

PUNK ROCK

But yeah I do like the default Windows MIDI playback. I'll try fancy soundfonts or that OPL stuff and just end up going back to default Windows.

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Bucket said:

Me too. But if I could figure out JACK I would.


The problem with JACK is that it doesn't seem to work with all controllers. I have a very new Axiom 49 and it doesn't work with it. In fact, a lot of USB-powered MIDI interfaces that require a firmware check will not work with JACK.

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Well, so much for my M-Audio interface.

Interestingly, Windows 7's MIDI driver has automatic dynamic compression. Nice to have, but I wish I could turn it off to make sure my levels aren't screwed up.

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So just make your own GENMIDI lump, right?

Sorry if I'm missing the point but that's exactly what I've been working on the past few days.

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Wagi said:

It makes me wonder just what percentage of people use which soundset. It sucks when you make a MIDI with a specific soundfont in mind, and it sounds out of balance on every other set.


That's why musicians historically tended to publish recorded music and/or make live performances, selling their own "the way it was meant to be" interpretation.

Spreading the MIDI file is akin to spreading a sheet of music with some vague descriptions such as "use a violin and a piano, or something that sounds close anyway" and "I hope you play them like I meant to". No wonder many high-profile academic composers eventually end up disliking MIDI/standard musical notation and end up making up their own custom notations.

Only classical music performed by highly trained orchestras sounds "constistently the same", and then again the differences are there, enough to warrant producing different recordings of different interpretations.

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Yamaha has a digital piano competition that I have participated in, that uses their XG format, which registers a lot of stuff other than velocity, such as half-pushed keys, speed of keys, etc, which acutally may make or break you in terms of precision.

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Maes said:

That's why musicians historically tended to publish recorded music and/or make live performances, selling their own "the way it was meant to be" interpretation.

Spreading the MIDI file is akin to spreading a sheet of music with some vague descriptions such as "use a violin and a piano, or something that sounds close anyway" and "I hope you play them like I meant to". No wonder many high-profile academic composers eventually end up disliking MIDI/standard musical notation and end up making up their own custom notations.

Only classical music performed by highly trained orchestras sounds "constistently the same", and then again the differences are there, enough to warrant producing different recordings of different interpretations.


Before the age of music recording, popular music actually was distributed as sheet music with vague instructions. If you wanted to listen to your favourite pop song, then you and your three friends would pluck and toot on whatever instruments you have lying around. Even the work of many famous classical composers was published without any markings for dynamics or intonation. Much of the notation you'll find on scores of those earlier works was added by editors of much later editions.

If that worked just fine for so many years, maybe we need to learn not to sweat the small stuff.

It could even be argued that insisting that your composition be played the same way twice runs counter to what music is in the first place: an endlessly growing and shifting beast. After all, you can only hear a piece for the first time once. Listening to the same piece again probably won't move you like it did the first time unless it's been reinterpreted.

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