Configuring A Custom Synthesizer Or Soundfont

Most of the configuration files (.kmk) and instrument definition files (.sid) supplied in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder are for the General-MIDI set of instruments, so they can generally be used interchangeably.

Though such files can be used interchangeably, it is better to use a configuration file developed specifically for a particular synthesizer or sound-font, since the volume-levels of the various instruments vary – even within the General-MIDI instrument set.

But not all of the configuration files fall into this category. For example, the '.kmk' and '.sid' files for MainStage-1, and ZynAddSubFX, do not adhere to the General-MIDI standard, so they can't be used with General-MIDI sound-fonts or synthesizers.

Configuration Files vs. Instrument Definitions Files

First, you need to know the differences between configuration files, and instrument definitions files.

Configuration Files (.kmk) specify the KeyMusician Keyboard settings for a specific sound-font, synthesizer, or even for a specific piece of music (such as the key-signatures it uses), or for a given performance (the instrument settings you want to use in a specific performance. These files appear in the “Configuration File” drop-box of the F1 (Help/Setup) pane. These files cannot be edited using a text editor. They specify the settings used in each of the panes (F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, Drums, F12, and Chords) of the KeyMusician Keyboard.

Instrument Definitions Files (.sid) specify the sound-banks (and the instrument-sounds (patches) contained in those sound-banks), for a specific sound-font, or synthesizer. These files appear in the “Instrument Definitions Used” drop-box of the F1 (Help/Setup) pane. These files can be edited with a text-editor, such as WordPad (on Windows).

How The Keyboard Changes Instruments

At the bottom of each performance pane, there are drop-boxes specifying which bank of instruments are used, and which specific instrument (within that bank of instruments) is used. These drop-boxes look like this:


The bank numbers, and the instrument numbers (and names) are specified in the particular instrument definitions file you are using.

When you change the “Bank” drop-box, the contents of the “Instrument” drop-box are changed to the instruments available in the specified bank, and the “Instrument” drop-box is set the first instrument available in that bank (which is not necessarily number 0). So if you change banks, you also need to change instruments.

When you make such a change, a MIDI bank-change message, and a MIDI program-change message are sent to the output MIDI device. These messages use numbers only – not the bank name or the instrument name.

So if you use the wrong instrument definitions file for a particular sound-font or synthesizer, it will still work, but the instrument name shown in the “Instrument” drop-box box probably won't be the instrument sound that you hear.

To make the instrument names you see in the “Instrument” drop-box correspond to the instrument sounds produced by the synthesizer, you create an instrument definitions file specifically for that synthesizer (or sound-font).

In that file, the names of the instruments are not important – they only let you know what instrument you are using. You can name the instruments anything you like. But the numbers (bank numbers, and instrument numbers) have to be right. If they aren't right, you change to an instrument different from what you thought.

What's In An Instrument Definitions File

These files are text-files, and can be edited with a text-editor. Each line of the file defines an individual instrument, and contains the bank number containing the instrument, followed by a space, then the instrument (program) number of the instrument, followed by a space, and the rest of the line is the name of the instrument.

For example, here are some lines from the “FluidR3_GM.sid” file:

0 0 Yamaha Grand Piano

0 1 Bright Yamaha Grand

0 2 Electric Piano

0 3 Honky Tonk

0 4 Rhodes EP

0 5 Legend EP 2

(A lot of lines are skipped here, in this example.)

0 123 Bird Tweet

0 124 Telephone

0 125 Helicopter

0 126 Applause

0 127 Gun Shot

8 4 Detuned EP 1

8 5 Detuned EP 2

8 6 Coupled Harpsichord

8 14 Church Bell

8 16 Detuned Organ 1

Notice that all of the instruments for a given bank number (in the example above, banks 0, and 8) start with the same bank number. Also, notice that the numbering starts with zero (rather than 1). Notice too, that it's not necessary to include all consequtive numbers – it's fine to skip numbers not used.

Editing An Instrument Definitions File

To create your own instrument definitions file, first open the “FluidR3_GM.sid” file (in your “KeyMusician-Keyboard” folder), using a text-editor, such as WordPad (in Windows). Then do a “Save-As” of the file, using a different file-name (of your sound-font or synthesizer), also in your “KeyMusician-Keyboard” folder.

After doing this, edit the contents of the file to correspond to your synthesizer or sound-font, deleting any lines left-over that were for the FluidR3_GM sound-font.

The main reason for doing it this way, is that it shows you the way the lines should be, and you only need to change the instrument names.

The other reason for doing it this way (on Windows), is that it preserves the file type (the '.sid' file-name extension), rather than adding '.txt' to the end of the file-name you specify, which will cause your file not to show up in the “Instrument Definitions” drop-box.

When you get done editing the file (making your changes, and deleting excess lines), be sure to save your work (it will remember the new file name).

After doing this (assuming you saved it in the KeyMusician-Keyboard folder), the next time you run the KeyMusician Keyboard, your new instrument definitions file will show up in the “Instrument Definitions” drop-box (of the F1 pane), where you can select it.

Changing the “Instrument Definitions” drop-box of the F1 pane invalidates the “Bank” and “Instrument” settings of all of the performance panes, so you'll have to set them to what you want in each of the performance panes.

As you do this in each pane, be sure to click the “Save” button of the performance pane, so that your changes are saved in memory.

Then, when you're done doing this, go to the “F1 (Help/Setup)” pane, and click the “Save Config” button, naming your new configuration file (.kmk file) similarly to your instrument definitions file.

After doing this, all you need to do to use all of your custom information, is to select that new configuration file.

A Practical Example

Here is the contents of the Instruments Definitions file I created for the “Magnus Choir” VST instrument, from http://syntheway.com (a VST instruments provider):

0 0 Default

0 1 Celestial Choir (The Garden of Eden)

0 2 Aahhs Choir (Sustained Vowels)

0 3 Octave Choir (Men’s Choir )

0 4 Curious Choir (Odd)

0 5 Big Choral (Women’s Choir and Men’s Choir -Maestoso)

0 6 Angels Choir (Legato)

0 7 Magnus 1 (Sustained Vowels)

0 8 Oohs Choir (Sustained Vowels)

0 9 Synthetic Choir (Spatiotemporal)

0 10 X Choral (Relaxed Vowels)

0 11 Choralis (Choral Pad -Cresc-Decresc-Sustained)

0 12 Future Choir (Tenuto)

0 13 Magnus 2 (Espressivo - Maestoso)

0 14 Glorious (Maestoso - Majestic and Sustain)

0 15 Finale (Women’s Choir and Men’s Choir)

0 16 Vox Vocis (Vocal Texture -Staccato)

0 17 Psychedelic Vox (Synthetic)

0 18 Breath Choir (Staccato)

0 19 Quasi Spatial Voices (Soft Choir Pad)

0 20 Textural Murmur (Odd Choral)

0 21 Ad Infinitum (Tenuto Choir -Legato)

0 22 Infernus (Crescendo Dark Octave Choir)

0 23 Hybrid Choir (Marcato - Synthetic and Natural)

0 24 Astral Choir (Crescendo and Decrescendo)

0 25 Alienus (Marcato Odd Choir)

0 26 Caelestis (...Kingdom Of Heaven)

0 27 Psychomantium (...A Place Of Necromancy) -Tenuto-

0 28 Ad Libitum (Oohs + Aahhs Chorus)

0 29 Aeternus Lux Lucis (Tenuto)

0 30 Divinitus Chorus (Staccato)

0 31 Mystical Choir (Mms Choir below Middle C)

0 32 The Apocalypse Has Begun (Crescendo)

0 33 Abbey Ghost (Synthetic Voices)

0 34 Aurum Vox (Choral Pad)

0 35 Lost Souls In The Dark (Atmos)

0 36 Guardians Of Limbo (Atmos)

0 37 Spectralys (Pad Noise -Cresc-Decresc-Sust)

0 38 Voices In The Mist (Fx)

0 39 Restless Spirits (Odd Wailing - Atmos)

0 40 Angels Between Us (Decay)

0 41 Eximius Choral Group (Women’s Choir and Men’s Choir)

0 42 Padilius Fx (Pad)

0 43 Vinyl Choir (Women’s Choir and Men’s Choir)

0 44 Escape To Paradise (Choir Pad)

0 45 Terrifying Voices (Fx)

0 46 Aeris Mortis (Decay)

0 47 Sanctus: Voices of Ascension (Holy Choir)

You should be able to download both the Instrument Definitions (.sid) file, and the KMK Configuration file (.kmk) by right-clicking on the links below, and choosing “Save Link As” (or something similar):

MagnusChoir.sid

MagnusChoir.kmk

Enjoy your new freedom in being able to customize the application!

Index Of All Newsletter Articles