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Windows MIDI Mapper

PC Notes
Published November 1994

Brian Heywood finds out where you can go for a PC software demo, checks out the Windows MIDI Mapper, and spends some money via his PC...

Despite my natural laziness and a predisposition to use the telephone to order from the comfort of my armchair, there is still nothing like going into a shop to buy the next toy. With software this has always been a problem, due to the fact that not many shops have a PC setup or even the knowledge to give sensible advice. So in the past you've had to play a kind of Russian Roulette, with your wallet at the business end of the revolver. All this is changing now, as stores start to catch up with the PC revolution by having computers available in the shop for demonstrations. One of the pioneers in the field, Nick Holliday of Millennium Music in Nottingham, even has two PCs, one for sequencing applications and one for showing off hard disk recording. In the table below I've listed a number of music stores (in alphabetical order) that I've come across that currently have PCs permanently set up for demonstration purposes. Although the shops should be able to demonstrate software to you at the drop of a hat, it can be worthwhile to give them a call to see if they have the software you want to look at, and maybe even arrange a personal demo.

Musical Uses Of The Windows MIDI Mapper

The Windows MIDI Mapper — which is accessed using the icon in the Control Panel — is actually quite a powerful tool for letting you play General MIDI song files using a combination of older or otherwise non‑GM MIDI synthesisers. [For more detail on using the MIDI Mapper, see the article on using it with the Yamaha QY10 in SOS's July issue.] Most Windows MIDI sequencers allow you to use the MIDI Mapper as an output device and the Windows Media Player application gives you no choice in the matter. Any software that uses the Media Control Interface (i.e. MCI) will also use the MIDI Mapper to define how the MIDI data is going to be interpreted. The MIDI Mapper has three sections:

1. Setups: for matching the instruments to the MIDI channels.

2. Patch Maps: for matching your non‑GM patch set to MPC.

3. Key Maps: mainly for matching drum sounds to GM, but also useful for shifting instruments up or down an octave for non‑standard (usually Yamaha) note mappings.

To alter any of these settings, you need to activate the MIDI Mapper control icon from the Windows Control Panel. Before you can consider creating a new patch map for your synthesizer(s) you need to use the Setups 'page' to match MIDI channels to your external modules. Two things to remember here are that the lower‑numbered MIDI channels are always used first (so you want to have the best sounds here) and that the GM drum sounds appear on MIDI channel 10. So, for instance, if you have a home keyboard with drum sounds played on MIDI channel 16 you will need to set the destination for channel 10 of the MIDI file to channel 16 on your sound module (i.e. 'Dest Chan' = 16 for 'Src Chan' 10).

You then need to set up a patch map to convert the General MIDI sound programs to match your MIDI setup. This is mainly done using the 'Patch Maps' and possibly the 'Key Maps' sections of the MIDI Mapper. You will need the following:

  • A list of the GM patch set with the program numbers.
  • A list of the patches/program numbers for your external MIDI gear.
  • A list of the MIDI channels that your synthesizer can receive on (often described as the multitimbrality).

You may also need:

  • A list of the GM drum mapping.
  • A list of the drum mapping for your MIDI synthesizer.


1. Draw up a chart that relates the sound in your synth module to the equivalent GM sound (see Table 1).

2. Use the Patch Maps section of the MIDI Mapper to create a new map that will select an appropriate sound on your synthesizer when Windows sends out a GM patch number.

3. Use the Setups section of the MIDI Mapper to associate the new patch map with MIDI channels that your synthesizer can receive on.

If your synth's drum kit section doesn't use the Roland or GM drum mapping, you will need to work out how the drum note numbers on your synthesizer are related to the GM sounds. Middle C (or C3) is note number 60 (or 3C hexadecimal), so you can count down (or up) by 'walking' chromatically across the keys until you hit the sound you want.

4. Draw up a chart that relates the drum sounds on your synth module to the equivalent GM sound (see Table 2)..

5. Use the Key Maps section of the MIDI Mapper to create a new map that will select the right drum sound on your synthesizer when Windows sends out a GM drum note number.

6. Assign the new Key Map to the first row (i.e. patch) in a new Patch Maps page created for the drum/percussion channel and associate this to MIDI channel 10 in the Setups page of the MIDI Mapper. Don't forget to set the Destination channel to the MIDI channel(s) that your synth's percussion section uses (usually 10 or 16).

You can create a number of different drum maps by creating new Key Maps and then associating them with different rows in the Patch Maps page that you've created for your drum channel. If you are creating your own MIDI sequences, you can then select between the different drum maps by selecting the appropriate program on the percussion channel. Unfortunately you can't copy the contents of one mapping to a new one (nice one Microsoft!) so you will need to start from scratch each time you want to add a new instrument, but you shouldn't have to do it too often.

Cyberspace Corner

Although there has been a lot of interest lately in the Internet and such networks as the WorldWide Web, Cyberspace covers a lot of other ground as well. For instance, one service allows dedicated couch potatoes (like me) to order bits and pieces using their computer and modem via Maplin's CashTel service, by calling 0702 552941 (300, 1200 or 2400 baud, 8 bits, 1 stop bit, no parity). CashTel allows you to check stock levels, order using your credit card and check the status of previous orders. The service is operational 24 hours a day, and late night and holiday orders are dispatched first thing the morning of the next working day. This is useful if you do something like blow a fuse in the middle of the night and use your last spare — as happened to me recently. To use the service, you need to have a Maplin customer number, which you can acquire by ordering the latest catalogue — ring 0702 554161 (the number will be on the mailing label when you receive the catalogue). I've set up my Windows terminal program to easily access the service, which is available free of charge apart from the BT telephone costs.