Author Topic: inexpensive midi resources (Textfile Article March 1993)  (Read 1704 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline chrisNova777

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 8893
  • Gender: Male
  • "Vintage MIDI Sequencing + Audio Production"
    • | vintage audio production software + hardware info
inexpensive midi resources (Textfile Article March 1993)
« on: November 23, 2016, 02:33:28 PM »

Date: Wed, 24 Mar 93 00:44 CST
From: Shekhar.Govind@UTXVM.CC.UTEXAS.EDU
  • inexpensive-midi-resource.txt (Mac-MIDI report)

Please replace the old archive file at sumex-aim:
with this newer version.
Comments to (J R Evans), the author.

Cheers - Shekhar Govind       


From: (J R Evans)
Subject: Draft FAQ : Inexpensive MIDI resources for the Macintosh
Date: 21 Mar 93 11:07:35 GMT
Organisation: British Geological Survey, Edinburgh

Note: I've received few comments on the last draft, so hopefully this
document has reached a stable enough to deserve FAQ status; let me know
if you disagree!


What is this posting?
The Macintosh is an excellent platform for music-related applications,
most of them interacting with electronic sound production systems via
MIDI.  Your Macintosh dealer, your instrument dealer, and mail-order
suppliers such as MacLine and MacWarehouse will all provide you with
ample information regarding commercial products, but information about
the many excellent freeware and shareware products which are available
is somewhat harder to come by.  This posting is an attempt to gather
together that information.

How do I use it?
The posting is in three parts: this preamble, intended to make you
aware of the resource; a short list of basic questions relating to the
Mac and MIDI, with pointers to those products which may be helpful to
you; and a directory of free or inexpensive products, brief reviews and
details of where they may be obtained.  You can either browse throught
the document, or use your newsreader's search facility (or a text
editor) to navigate it. Look at the list of questions which follow, and
use the search facility  to get to the answers which interest you; most
answers include a list of  references; use the search facility to find
the items referenced.


2. Some questions and answers:
Q01: What is MIDI? / How do I connect my Mac to my synthesiser?
Q02: Which Mac is best for MIDI applications?
Q03: Is there a free- or shareware sequencer for the Mac?
Q04: Is there a Mac-based patch editor or librarian for my synth?
Q05: How do I write a MIDI application for the Mac?
Q06: How can I obtain the applications described?
Q07: Who is responsible for this, and how can I correct mistakes?

Q01: What is MIDI? / How do I connect my Mac to my synthesiser?
An extensive discussion of MIDI is beyond the scope of this document.
See the FAQ posting regularly offered by Craig Latta in the newgroup, or available by ftp from

Briefly, MIDI is an agreed group of electrical and digital protocols
which describe how music production systems and computers can exchange
information.  There is a degree of relationship with the RS-232/RS-422
protocols used routinely for serial data communication between computer
equipment. The RS-422 protocol is produced by the Mac's serial ports,
and the Mac is capable of producing and receiving these signals in a
form which can be easily converted to true MIDI.  A simple electronic
circuit is required to achieve this.  Most users find it easiest to
purchase one of the many standard interfaces which are available, and
music production systems are now beginning to appear (e.g. Yamaha
TG100) which incorporate Mac/MIDI interfaces.  However, it is entirely
possible to produce a Mac-MIDI interface using a handful of inexpensive
parts from your local electronic hobby store, and there  are several
documents which explain how to do so.  Search for "MAC-midi" and
"mac-to-midi-interface" for information about them.

Q02: Which Mac is best for MIDI applications?
All Macs come equipped with the necessary serial port hardware, but
reasonably capable applications (sequencers in particular) require a
fairly large memory allocation, and a 1-Meg system running a System
version prior to 7 is probably a practical minimum capability.  As
usual, a machine running System 7 or later will demand much more -- 4Mb
is now generally accepted as a practical minimum for any System 7
machine.  MIDI data rates are comparitively leisurely by computer
standards, so most of the applications described below, as well as most
commercial MIDI applications, run quite adequately on 68000 based

The Powerbook 140 and 170 have problems accepting large amounts of MIDI
input, and are probably a poor choice; Apple's Technical Note
M.DV.PollProc gives their account of the problem and offers a
workaround which programmers can adopt.  Nick Rothwell
( has written a number of articles on the subject
and can offer a user's viewpoint.

There have also been reports of problems with the IIvx; Apple have
issued an updated version (1.0.1) of System Enabler 001, which is
claimed to fix the problem.  May now be available from,
and copies are circulating by email.

Q03: Is there a free- or shareware sequencer for the Mac?
Yes; Altech Systems MiniTrax (see below).  The CMU MIDI Toolkit, CSound
and Lime also have some capabilities in that direction.  The commercial
demos are all very constrained, but are well worth examining, so that
you have some idea of their relative strengths and weaknesses if/when
you decide to purchase!

Q04: Is there a Mac-based patch editor or librarian for my synth?
I suggest that you browse through the following notes in search of your
particular model; a number exist.  If all else fails, Altech's Bulk
Sysex Utility can be used with many synths/samplers to provide a  basic
librarian facility.  The HyperMIDI and MIDIControl shareware programs
provide the means to build your own editor from a provided kit of
parts, and both are very easy to use.  If what you want isn't
available, try out that option -- the great beauty of shareware is that
you can 'try before you buy', but don't forget to pay the programmers
for their efforts if you do find them useful!

Q05: How do I write a MIDI application for the Mac?
A full answer is beyond the scope of this document, but a number of
sources of helpful information are available via the net.  Brian A
Miller ( is preparing a document on MIDI
programming which will be posted to comp.sys.mac.programmer and; a draft is available from him by mail.

A lot of requirements can be met easily by using HyperMIDI or
MIDIControl, which provide LEGO-like toolkit environments.  The CMU
MIDI Toolkit, and Altech Systems' MIDIBasic/ MIDIPascal products move a
step beyond that, providing more capabilities at the cost of being
embedded in a traditional programming language.  The  recommended
method of interfacing a full-blown Mac application to the MIDI hardware
is through Apple's MIDI Manager.  Full documentation plus a copy of the
program and its supporting components are available from APDA (refer to
"MIDI Manager" for details).  Finally, for those who want to see what
is involved in coding at the hardware level, the CMU MIDI Toolkit
includes a functional hardware driver in source; I have a small
collection of simple examples, including Craig Ruff's MIDI Driver which
provides a simple skeleton which could be used within a patch editor or
similar application.  The CMIDI library will be invaluable to
programmers using the Think C class library.

Q06: How can I obtain the applications described?
Most of the applications and documents are available via ftp over the
Internet; the listing below gives sites from which they can be
obtained, and I have propagated copies of the most recent versions to (although they do not appear to have shown up in the
application directories at the time of writing this).  If you do not
have access to ftp facilities, a number of sites offer an ftp-by-mail
service.  Send a message containing the word 'help' to for information on one such.

Information on ftp procedures and file formats is available in the
Usenet introductory messages (newsgroup news.announce.newusers) and in
the news.answers and rec.answers groups, as well as other FAQ postings
to comp.sys.mac.* and* groups.

If you have received this document by some means other than Usenet, I
can only suggest that you ask those from whom you obtained it for help
in gaining access to the Internet.

Q07: Who is responsible for this, and how can I correct mistakes?
Russ Evans ( prepared this, and has been helped by
corrections and reviews offered by a number of others, as mentioned in
the text.  If you have more up-to-date versions of these programs,
additions or corrections, please let me know.  It would be helpful to
mention which edition you are commenting on -- see the copyright notice
at the foot of the posting.


3. Directory of inexpensive MIDI resources for the Mac

Altech Systems MIDIBasic/MIDIPascal toolkits
    Source: Altech Systems, 122 Faries Indl Pk Dr., Shreveport, LA 71106
            phone (318)-868-8036
    Status: Commercial software; free demos!
    Description: Libraries supporting rapid construction of MIDI applications.
    A number of the utilities listed here are demos for these products; I
    haven't been able to determine current prices, but Ralph Ritchey
    <urritche@edu.drexel.mcs> confirms that Altech are still in business.

Bulk Sysex Utility
    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/sysex_util.hqx
    Status: Free [demonstration of Altech Systems' MIDI library]
    Description: A very nice sysex tool -- can handle dumps of up
    to 128k.  Includes MIDI through and basic play-from-keyboard
    capabilities. A 'must have'!

    Source: /mac/think-c/classes/cmidi.hqx
    Status: Free
    Description: Class library for Think C which provides support
    for Apple's MIDI Manager.  Only of interest to programmers.

CMU Midi Toolkit
    Source: /pub/mac/CMU_MIDI.sit.hqx
           (this version has some minor problems on current systems)
    Status: Free
    Description: The Carnegie-Mellon MIDI Toolkit is a suite of programs
    for experimental computer music education, composition, performance,
    and research, which runs on a variety of platforms.  CMT includes a
    compiler for a simple text-based music language and software for
    recording, replaying and computing MIDI data in real time. It has
    three major attractions: flexibility, availability of source code,
    and low system cost.  The principal author (Roger B Dannenburg of the
    CMU Studio for Creative Enquiry) presently has version 3 in a beta
    stage of development, and it looks most attractive.  Let us hope that
    he will be able to make it available for ftp soon.

    Status: Free
    Description: Port of major ongoing project for description and
    genesis of sounds, which operates on a number of platforms.
    Encompasses sampling and signal processing capabilities as
    well as MIDI interfacing; will require application to master,
    but the effort will be well worthwhile!  Complementary approach to
    CMT and Lime.

CZ Librarian
    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/cz_librarian.hqx
    Status: Free
    Description: A patch librarian for Casio CZ101/1000/3000/5000
    synths.  The application wouldn't even start on my Macs running
    7.1, but Josh Brandt ( reports that it works
    on system 6.0.4.  He describes the interface as 'slightly odd'.
    Includes four banks of useful voices.

D110 Rhythm
    Source: /pub/mac/D110R.sit.hqx
    Status: "Beta software, not to be released" !!
    Description: Basic Hypercard based editor for D110 rhythm parts.

    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/esq1_librarian.hqx
    Status: Free (Demo for Altech Systems' MIDIBASIC)
    Description: I couldn't get this to run on my system 7.1 Macs.

    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/HyperMIDI.sit.hqx
    Status: Shareware
    Description: A well written, extensible Hypercard stack providing
    a bit of everything - dumps, recording, analysis, play-keyboard
    and programmable patch editor [DX7 version included].  Version
    1.0 available on the net is dated 1988.  Blanche Cohen
    ( reports that HyperMIDI is now "semi-
    commercial" and available at $125 from the author, Nigel Redmond.
    Widely recommended.

    Source: /pub/lime/...
    Status: Free demo; inexpensive license
    Description: A very capable score writing program with some
    MIDI sequencing capabilities.  The demo is almost completely
    functional (it is limited to scores of up to three pages) and
    the cost of the full version is nominal -- $160.  Lime can do
    things no fully commercial program I've seen can handle.
    I have just two reservations about it:
        a)  it is very, very slow.  Response is leisurely on my IIvi
            (16MHz '030); on my SE, Lime is all but unusable;
        b)  it can't export or import standard MIDI files.
    In all other respects, an amazing piece of work!  Comes with
    copy of MIDI Manager, Patchbay, and notational fonts. What's more,
    David M Cottle (, the consultant on
    the project, provides first-class support.

    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/kamikaze_dx.hqx
    Status: Unknown
    Description: Wouldn't even start on my systems running 7.1.

    Source: /pub/mac/Megalomania1.0.sit.hqx
    Status: Shareware $22
    Description: This looks like a really imaginative idea.  A
    MIDI-based effects processor with a graphical patch interface.
    Without time to explore, it's impossible to assess its value,
    but it comes with a promising looking manual and a heap of
    example patches.  Worth investigating?

    Source: Joe Ciarcia
    Status: Shareware $35
    Description: A promising general purpose patch editor.  I had it
    driving my VFX in a matter of minutes without reading the manual.
    Plenty of examples for DX7's and relations. I preferred it to
    (an old version of) HyperMIDI, which is its most obvious competitor.

    Source: Craig Ruff or myself (mail to
    Status: Free
    Description: After posting a request to the net for a MIDI driver,
    Craig Ruff sent me two simple drivers he had written some time
    ago, one in assembler, one in C, for the Aztec compiler.  I have
    rewritten them both for Think C, and the assembler version works
    (at least to the extent I've been able to test it).  Unless Craig
    has any objections, I'm willing to share this code; it is *very*
    basic, but at least demonstrates the way in which the Zilog SCC
    has to be prodded in order to transmit and receive MIDI bytes.
    In addition, Ralph Richey ( has forwarded
    to me public domain routines originally written by Kirk Austin and
    others.  We will no doubt find an ftp site for this material, but
    in the meantime, it's available by mail from Ralph or myself.

MidiScope 1.5
    Source: umich /sound/midi/midiscope1.5.sit.hqx.Z
    Status: Free (PD, advertising Kurzweil)
    Description: Allows you to monitor MIDI traffic in great detail.
    Definitely a 'must have' in anything but the simplest setup.
    Note that version 1.1 (present at some ftp sites) is buggy!
    Blanche Cohen ( reports that MidiScope
    has been superseded by MIDIKeys, a shareware application, but
    archie doesn't list a site offering that program.

MiniTrax 1.54
    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/minitrax154.hqx
    Note also: umich has /sound/midi/minitrax1.55.cpt.hqx
    Status: Free (PD demo for Altech Systems MIDIBASIC)
    Description: As it's the only free (or even cheap!) sequencer
    that I've seen for the Mac, I have to say this is a good deal!
    Compared against equivalent offerings for the Atari ST, it's
    very commendable.  Tidy interface, simple to use, but limited
    editing capabilities.

Music Fun
    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/MusicFun.hqx
    Status: Shareware
    Description: Only tangentially a MIDI application.  Provides
    ear-training exercises (identifying intervals, chord qualities,
    inversions) -- a useful tool. offers what is
    probably an updated version in

SY77 Voice Librarian
    Source: umich sound/midi/sy77voicelibrarian.cpt.hqx
    Status: Free
    Description: A voice librarian for the SY77/TG77 series, written
    by Ralph Ritchey (  Runs on system 7 or
    later (it's not clear to me whether that's a requirement).  Source
    code available from author.

Miscellaneous documents

    Source: /pub/midi/software/mac/MAC-midi
    Description: How to build a MIDI interface for a Mac

    Source: Check archie, or mail me
    Description: Another way to build a MIDI interface for a Mac

    Apple MIDI note [pollproc]
    Description: Apple's technical note describing the official
    assessment of the infamous Powerbook problem, and a procedure
    which developers can embed in their applications to work
    around it.  Of interest to Powerbook programmers only.

    Apple MIDI Manager
    Source: Order from APDA (
    Description: The official word on how to construct MIDI programs for
    the Macintosh; includes a program disk and 44 page manual.

    MacTutor articles
    Source: Order from MacTech (
            Less than USD12
    Description: Ralph Ritchie (urritche@edu.drexel.mcs) reports that
    a series of articles from MacTutor are available and recommends the
    Vol 1 no 12 p 30 "MIDI In Assembly" by Kirk Austin
        .. Sound lab MIDI discussion..
    Vol 3 no 12 p 71 "MIDI in Assembly - a MIDI demo for the Mac" by Kirk
        Austin  .. MIDI routines..
    Vol 3 no 7 p 41 "MIDI in assembly and Pascal" by Kirk Austin
        ..A MIDI library for Pascal .. MIDI is explained
    Vol 5 no 11 p 10 "MIDI in C" by Don Veca .. a look at Apple's MIDI
        Manager routines
    Ralph says the above are all "really really good"; he or I can supply
    machine-readable copies of the code by e-mail.

Other sources of Mac MIDI software

I haven't yet had time to investigate the following items turned up
by a recent archie search:

The UK magazine Sound On Sound distributes PD, shareware and demo
disks for MIDI and related applications.  They list the following
items which I've not been able to locate on the networks:

    MIDIStix -- shareware drum pattern sequencer
    MIDIMagic -- 32k bulk dump librarian
    M1 MIDI Concrete -- shareware editor/librarian for Korg M1

and demos for the following products:

    Turbosynth -- waveform synthesiser
    Steinberg Cubase 1.0 -- sequencer
    Intelligent Music M -- composition aid (?)
    Opcode Vision -- sequencer
    Opcode Cue -- sync to picture tool
    Passport Trax -- sequencer
    Passport Pro -- sequencer
    Hyperstudio -- studio management aid
    Coda Finale -- scoring/notation program
    Passport Notewriter -- notation
    Passport Encore -- notation with MIDI sequencing

Their address is Sound On Sound, PO Box 30, St Ives, Cambridgeshire,
PE17 4QX, UK, fax +44 480 61786.  Disks priced at UKL7 plus UKL0.85 per
order for mailing outside UK.  If you get any of these, please place a
copy on or some other archive site, so that we can
share it!  Amongst the magazines circulating in the UK, I find SOS offers
the most information relating to Macintosh applications.

Soho Soundhouse kindly provided me with demos of Steinberg Cubase 1.8
(the current version is 1.8.3), and of Passport Encore.  These demos
will not save or restore files, although in all other respects are
fully functional.  Useful to anyone considering a purchase.  Copies
have been posted to

Copyright J R Evans (
Permission to copy is hereby granted subject to the following
    1.  This document is copied only in full and without alteration
    2.  No charge is made other than reasonable costs of materials
        or connection services.

Edition of: 1993 March 20th