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Jim Fogle

MIDI 2.0 Is Close To Becoming Real!

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I am a non dues paying member of the MIDI Manufacturing Association (MMA) and subscribe to the MMA newsletter.

The January, 2019 newsletter indicates several manufacturers plan to show instrument prototypes using MIDI 2.0 at the 2019 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Manufacturers) show. The newsletter describes MIDI 2.0 as follows:

Quote

The MIDI 2.0 initiative updates MIDI with auto-configuration, new DAW/web integrations, extended resolution, increased expressiveness, and tighter timing -- all while maintaining a high priority on backward compatibility. This major update of MIDI paves the way for a new generation of advanced interconnected MIDI devices, while still preserving interoperability with the millions of existing MIDI 1.0 devices. One of the core goals of the MIDI 2.0 initiative is to also enhance the MIDI 1.0 feature set whenever possible.

Anyone can become a non dues paying member of the MMA and subscribe to the MMA newsletter at: https://www.midi.org/

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I'm looking forward to MIDI 2.0 but TBH with the way I work (and not doing anything live at the moment) I don't expect it to make much difference in my work.

Wonder how long it will take various DAWs, MIDI instruments and plugins to comply with MIDI 2.0 once/if it becomes a standard?
A lot of hardware companies will love this because it will give them a chance to resell you the v2 version of your audio interface or controller.
By the same measure a lot of software companies will be upset because they'll have to shoehorn v2 features into their product(s) at some point within their annual update cycle to appear competitive.

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I know the Tracktion DAW  folks have been heavily involved with it. Don't know if Waveform 10 coming out shortly will have anything with MIDI 2.0

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More tidbits...

The following info and a lot more at:
https://www.midi.org/articles-old/midi-manufacturers-association-mma-adopts-midi-capability-inquiry-midi-ci-specification

MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) Adopts MIDI Capability Inquiry (MIDI-CI) Specification.

MIDI 2.0 Environment

The MIDI-CI specification is now available for download by MIDI Association members. .

MIDI has been a successful tool for more than 3 decades. The features of MIDI 1.0 continue to work well. 

The basic semantic language of music does not change and as a result the existing definitions of MIDI as musical control messages continue to work remarkably well.

However, MIDI has not changed to fully take advantage of the new technical environment around it. We want to expand the feature set of MIDI capabilities.

At the same time, we recognize there are several key hurdles and requirements to consider as we make any additions to MIDI:

•Backwards compatibility is a key requirement. Our users expect new MIDI devices to work seamlessly with MIDI devices sold over the past 33 years.

•All MIDI Status Bytes are defined. The opcodes and data payloads are defined. It is difficult to define any new message types or change the format of the existing MIDI messages.

Expanding MIDI with new features requires a new protocol with extended MIDI messages. To protect backwards compatibility in an environment with expanded features, devices need to confirm the capabilities of other connected devices. When 2 devices are connected to each other, they use MIDI 1.0 and confirm each other's capabilities before using expanded features. If both devices share support for the same expanded MIDI features they can agree to use those expanded MIDI features. MIDI-CI provides this mechanism.

MIDI-CI: Solution for Expanding MIDI while Protecting Backwards Compatibility:

MIDI Capability Inquiry (MIDI-CI) is a mechanism to allow us to expand MIDI with new features while protecting backward compatibility with MIDI devices that do not understand these newly defined features. 

MIDI-CI separates older MIDI products from newer products with new capabilities and provides a mechanism for two MIDI devices to understand what new capabilities are supported. 

MIDI-CI assumes and requires bidirectional communication. Once a MIDI-CI connection is established between devices, query and response messages define what capabilities each device has. 

MIDI-CI then negotiates or auto-configures to use those features that are common between the devices. MIDI-CI provides test mechanisms when enabling new features. If a test fails, then devices fall back to using MIDI 1.0 for that feature. MIDI-CI improves MIDI capabilities in several key areas. 

MIDI-CI allows devices to use an expanded MIDI protocol with high resolution and multiple per note controllers. It allows for incremental adoption of new MIDI features by providing a fallback to MIDI 1.0 devices in all cases.

MIDI-CI Includes Queries for 3 major areas of expanded MIDI functionality: 

1. Protocol Negotiation

2. Profile Configuration

3. Property Exchange  

 

 

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The CI feature reminds me of the days of dial-up modems and fax machines.

There was always a negotiation step during the dial-up connection process where the two devices decided what transmission rate was acceptable to both.  You always had to accept default to the lowest common denominator, or the speed of the slowest device.

This sounds like a great way to roll out new MIDI features, while keeping the old standards intact.

If you use two new devices that both support a new MIDI feature, then great, they should work together with the new v2 feature enabled.  But if you buy a new device and want to connect it to your old stuff, it should still work, but only the v1 features will be available.

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I'm glad they are ensuring backwards compatibility.

Although I have new MIDI devices, I also have sound modules that go back to the dawning of MIDI like the Yamaha TX81z, Korg DS8, and Roland MT-32. While plenty of the sounds on these synths are dated, there are still some great sounds that havnen't been duplicated in newer devices.

Insights and incites by Notes

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Amazing how MIDI standard has been relevant at version 1 for all these years.
The founding MIDI specs were that good. Nice to see them preparing for the future.

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So what about the old MIDI 2? My Sound Canvas 8850 is a MIDI 2 device.  Also if there was a MIDI 2 why are they calling this one MIDI 2?

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On my SC 8850 is is marked with MIDI2. Also GS. MIDI 2 in those days took GZ and XG and incorporated  them into what was called MIDI 2. It also upped the number of patches from 128 to 256. Yes it was GM.  The SC 8850 has over 1500 accessible patches. That is based on GS though. 

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Maybe they just left off the word 'General' on the case?
I've always liked the SC 8850, but never owned one.

Wikipedia Roland SC-8850
"The SC-8850 was the first sound module to incorporate the new General MIDI Level 2 standard."


From the SC-8850 manual:  http://cdn.roland.com/assets/media/pdf/SC-8850_OM.pdf

Quote

 

Supports General MIDI 1/General MIDI 2/GS Format

This unit is a sound module compatible with the General MIDI 1 and 2. It can be used

to play back any song data (General MIDI scores) bearing the General MIDI logo.

This unit is also compatible with the Roland GS format. It can be used to play back

any song data bearing the GS logo.

 

GS appears to be proprietary Roland format:

image.png.e15606a6f6bdf19acf1256a5f02fd4ce.png

Edited by TheSteven
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Right General MIDI 2 is the full name.  My view is it seems we are only interested in GM in relation with a DAW.  I am not talking about patches but how we use MIDI.  Nor did I see anything in the documents that says anything about how it will impact a DAW.  To me most softsynths have their own way of using MIDI.  They don't follow the GM spec.

I also have a Rolond 5080. I really like that box. 

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Yes, I think GM2 was based on Roland thing called GS. It adds 128 additional standard patch names in a second bank of sounds.

I have an Edirol SD-90 that is compatible with GM2, GS and XG (which I think is a Yamaha extended bank).  I don't remember exactly how to access them. I have access to up to 16 variations of any GM1 voice by using a MSB (Most Significant Bit) and LSB (Least Significant Bit) in the MIDI stream going to the synth. I suppose GM2 and the others would be accessed in a similar way. But they are just patch maps and not additional sounds so I've never bothered with it.

GM1 is nice because I can do a MIDI sequence using GM patches, and when another person receives it, the patches will have the same name. They of course might not sound the same, because each synth has it's on variation on what they think a tenor sax, trumpet, clean guitar or fantasy sounds like, but at least it will be recognizable. If every GM synth doesn't recognize GM2 it's not going to work..

Insights and incites by Notes

 

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I believe that accessing patches in GM1 and GM2 is the same, just that GM2 has more standard patches - 256 vs 128.
Both use the MSB (Most Significant Bit) and LSB (Least Significant Bit) system you described.

If you have a GM1 device and feed it GM2 data it will respond to the messages it recognizes. 
GM2 CC# messages may be ignored or be handled differently.
The additional GM2 instruments fall under the same instrument families found in GM1 so you'll still get a piano or drum kit, just possibly not the same kind.  For example GM2 has 9 different drum kits vs the 1 found in GM1.

The GM2 spec standardized handling of control messages for a variety of parameters, for example:

  • Filter Resonance (Timbre/Harmonic Intensity) (cc#71)
  • Release Time (cc#72)
  • Attack time (cc#73)
  • Brightness/Cutoff Frequency (cc#74)
  • Decay Time (cc#75)
  • Vibrato Rate (cc#76)
  • Vibrato Depth (cc#77)
  • Vibrato Delay (cc#78)

Not saying the GM1 devices didn't have the ability to control these kind of settings through MIDI  just that the handling (CC#) wasn't consistent across manufacturers.

 

Quote

by 1999 many manufacturers were producing sound generators (synthesizers) with far more sounds and more expression capability, so they developed extensions to General MIDI 1 which increased both the number of available sounds and the amount of control available for sound editing and musical performance. All GM 2 devices are also fully compatible with General MIDI 1.


More information at:
https://www.midi.org/specifications-old/item/general-midi-2
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_MIDI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_MIDI_Level_2

 

Edited by TheSteven
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Isn't General MIDI 2 nearly 20 years old now? I think the spec came out in 1999.

MIDI 2.0 is a different beast, and looks pretty cool.

I especially like the MIDI CI part, where controllers can actually tell your DAW what their capabilities are.

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6 hours ago, John said:

Right General MIDI 2 is the full name.  My view is it seems we are only interested in GM in relation with a DAW.  I am not talking about patches but how we use MIDI.  Nor did I see anything in the documents that says anything about how it will impact a DAW.  To me most softsynths have their own way of using MIDI.  They don't follow the GM spec.

I also have a Rolond 5080. I really like that box. 

>we are only interested in GM in relation with a DAW.
In looking at the info it seams like a primary concern is not screwing up the existing MIDI implementation. So hopefully all our current or old stuff (DAWS, other software, equipment) will still work flawlessly.

The new abilities could be very nice, for example MIDI controllers that work with any DAW or sound module with virtually no preconfiguration.

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8 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

Isn't General MIDI 2 nearly 20 years old now? I think the spec came out in 1999.

Yes, 1999

8 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

MIDI 2.0 is a different beast, and looks pretty cool.

I especially like the MIDI CI part, where controllers can actually tell your DAW what their capabilities are.

I'm excited about it,  just hope it doesn't take another 20 years to finally get it approved.

 

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