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Some notes about the implcations of using the amp= setting in a TiMidity config file from Eric A. Welsh <ewelsh at ccb dot wustl dot edu>:

Just to clarify what amp= does. It amplifies the samples to X percent of their original amplitude. So amp=200 does NOT equal 2x perceived volume increase. The human ear has a more logarithmic response. The actual equation you need to calculate that is:

X^1.661     where 1.661 is actually 1/log10(4), and X is the volume

So 2^1.661 = 3.16, which is the number you always see mentioned in discussion about decibels, so you can know the equation is correct. amp=316 will give you 2x the perceived volume.

But be careful, it is easy to overamplify the samples beyond 16-bit amplitudes and introduce clipping.... If you use big amps, you may want to scale down the final timidity volume so you don't introdue clipping. Use the -A flag to do this.

From an email exchange with Mikus Grinbergs <mikus at>:

I'm still not clear how the *.cfg files include others and how to do proper bank switching for GS and XG.

There's two processes involved: 1) Storing the sounds for Timidity to use (.cfg files organize this); 2) Fetching the sounds during "playing" (MIDI files specify this). [And there are two kinds of sounds: A) melodic (voiced) instruments, which can change the frequency (note) of the sound they produce; B) percussion (drum) instruments, which can emit only a single sound.

As far as .cfg files go, for melodic (A) instruments: (at the top organizational level) the "kind" of sounds_collection is specified by bank <number>; (at the middle organizational level) the particular instrument within a bank is specified by <program number>; and (at the bottom organizational level) how the instrument sounds at different frequencies is established by the waveforms within the GUS patch for the instrument.

And as for .cfg files for percussion (B) instruments: there is no top "organizational" equivalent for melodic banks (though .sf2 files have code-values indicating "this is percussion"); (at the middle organizational level) the "kind" of percussion sounds_collection (drum kit) is specified by drumset <number>; (at the bottom organizational level) the particular instrument within a drumkit is specified by <note number>. [By definition, a percussion instrument has only a single sound (i.e., frequency), so the "note" value is used instead to *select* an instrument within a drumset.] [For percussion instruments that can change their tuning (e.g., timpani), a *separate* "percussion instrument" is defined for each frequency used.]

As far as MIDI files go, the top organizational level is selected by the "Bank Select" Controller_Change MIDI events; the middle organizational level is selected by the Program_Change MIDI events; and the bottom organizational level is selected by Note_On MIDI events. [This works out so that for melodic MIDI channels, Note On plays, at a particular frequency, an instrument selected by a preceding Program_Change MIDI event. For drum MIDI channels, Note On sounds a particular percussion instrument within a drumkit selected by a preceding Program_Change MIDI event.]

Perhaps you could help me with this one.. I have some default set of pats from Debian plus the eawpats and also at least 4 full GM soundfonts. What is the best mechanism for me to be able to pull different GM sets from a midi file ? I can grok changing instruments within a single GM context (whether pat or soundfont) but how to manage various complete GM sets is just a complete blank for me ?

The best way to select between "sets" is to have multiple Timidity configuration files, one for each "set". [Then those individual configuration files specify the various GUS patch and/or .sf2 files which make up that "set".] You then would use a parameter when invoking Timidity, to indicate *which* configuration file you want Timidity to use.

And is it possible to have two seperate GM sets playing at the same time off a single instance of timidity (so the instruments sound fatter) ?

Not as far as I know.

For some midi files, if I could hear play back the eawpats plus this 140Mb gm.sf2 I have then I'm pretty sure it would improve the overall sound if the two instruments sets could be heard at the same time.

Remember that Timidity uses ony __one__ set of sounds. If you specify more than one "set" in the configuration file, Timidity will use the most recently specified sounds (and ignore duplicate sounds specified earlier in the configuration file). [Notice what I did - I specified a .sf2 file to be used to "fill in" those sounds that I did not have individual GUS patches for.]

You mention XG, if I understand correctly, there are 1024 sounds and ALSO the ability for NNPN(?) controls to add some extra effects or something. Can timidity take advantage of real XG built midi files and play them back "properly" (assuming the set of sounds were available) ?

That's a function of how capable the Timidity software is. They implement some of the controllers but not all of them. [I have not checked, but I doubt whether they have implemented many of the controllers introduced by XG.] What makes XG much more "iffy" with Timidity is that many XG MIDI files set a whole wagonload of SYSEX parameters. I'm fairly positive that Timidity does *not* support XG SYSEX variants - meaning that Timidity can play back XG MIDI files (perhaps substituting for those XG instruments it does not have), but will OMIT much of the "bells and whistles" whereby XG MIDIs typically "customize" sound playback.

DISCLAIMER: What Mikus wrote here is what he believes. Mikus makes no claim that it is correct.

(example timidity configs to come)

Thank you for your comments Mikus.

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