About MIDI Bank Select Messages

The basic MIDI message used to select different sounds on your keyboard or synthesiser is called the Program Change. Like many MIDI messages, the Program Change message has a range between 0 and 127, giving 128 different sounds in total.

Modern keyboards typically have many more than 128 sounds, so additional messages, called Bank Select, are used in conjunction with the Program Change to give a range of over 2 million.

The MIDI Bank Select message is split into two parts, called the Most Significant Byte and Least Significant Byte (or MSB and LSB for short). Each of these messages also has a range between 0 and 127.

Bank Select messages are also called Control Change messages, so sometimes the Bank MSB message is called Control Change 0 (or CC#0 for short), and the Bank LSB message is called Control Change 32 (or CC#32 for short). The names mean the same thing.

So, in some keyboard manuals, you might find the values for Bank MSB and LSB are listed separately. QWS combines these two messages into a single number. To do this, use the following simple formula:

bank = MSB × 128 + LSB.

For example, the first bank of GM2 sounds has Bank Select MSB set to 121 and the LSB set to 0. So, applying the formula, in QWS you'd use a bank number of 121 × 128 + 0 = 15488.

Please be aware that some synthesisers might only make use of the MSB or LSB, but not both. If this happens, you can normally ignore the other one and set it to 0. So, if your synthesiser only uses the LSB, then the bank numbers for QWS would be 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ..., 127. If instead your synthesiser only uses the MSB, then the bank numbers in QWS would be 0, 128, 256, 384, 512, ..., 16256. The formula still applies.

Note also that each synth will respond to different values of bank messages. The only real way (apart from experimenting) is to consult the manual for your synthesiser.

That's about it: so consult your MIDI instrument manual to find out what bank numbers your keyboard or synthesiser accepts, and if they're listed separately as MSB and LSB, then use the formula bank = MSB × 128 + LSB to find the number to use in QWS.


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