Community Tip - Working With GM MIDI Files In Pro Tools

09-29-2013 10:00 PM

With the support of iLok, more tips & tricks from the community. Here is one from Mick Ritchie…
Hi Guys I have another solution to the question last week about using GM midi files and getting sounds quickly and named. I came up with this years ago when still using some OS9 machines when QuickTime player could be loaded into Pro Tools as MIDI playback. For OSX I bought the GM sounds for Structure thinking that would solve my problems - but of course having the sounds left me having to look at a list of GM numbers and working out which instrument was which - eeek. I rarely use the sounds in a finished mix but do use midi files for jazz tunes to be able to work out key, tempo and arrangements for singers before they pass them onto musicians. For a while I was back to my guitar learning a song and then transposing before putting chord changes back in by hand - double eek. My trick is in 3 parts….

  1. Download SimpleSynth for Mac - a freebie gm sound player - or have access to similar on a pc - then load the MIDI file into Pro Tools by dragging and dropping and select consecutive outs on an IAC bus for all tracks and have SimpleSynth receiving the IAC bus. Though you have no midi names SimpleSynth just sees the GM MIDI program messages and you should hear all the MIDI on the right instruments from the Mac sound out - not within Pro Tools at this point, but if all you want to do is add decent sounds you can then start creating your PT instruments and bus the MIDI tracks to them
  2. To get the instrument names shown in Pro Tools - they show in the MIDI track program change menu as 1-127 so at this point it is very easy to create a midiname file for use with IAC. In Library/Audio/MidiPatchNames/Digidesign(orAvidnow)/GeneralMidi folder there should be a GeneralMidi.midinam file. Open this in a text editor and open the IAC window in audiomidisetups now all you have to do is change the text file to match Manufacturer and Model from the IAC window. Its usually Apple something for manufacturer and IAC bus for model - but make sure the syntax is exactly the same. Then save with a new name in the same place so if it fails first time youve still got the original. Now in Pro Tools on one IAC MIDI track hit the patch change button and you will see nothing but numbers. Hit Change and select your new midinam file and all the names will appear if the syntax is correct. Now you can easily find the MIDI instruments by opening prog change on all tracks and you can change them yourself within the track. Note if you dont change the prog change within the track but just in the menu it will revert to the prog change on next play It may be intimidating but its a one off and will work every time you use that IAC bus in this way.
  3. Getting the audio back into Pro Tools if needed can be done by Rewiring the Mac sounds to Pro Tools or use Soundflower which is my preferred option - the latency here should be measured the first time you use it and expect it whenever its used. I route all my internal Pro Tools audio through a final master aux anyway so can just put on a small Time Adjuster delay plug-in to cope with this latency I did a video for some students a while back which should show how to do it.

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