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Church Of The
Swimming Elephant



Messages are divided into two main categories: Channel and System.
Channel messages contain a four-bit number in the Status byte which address the message specifically to one of sixteen channels. These messages are thereby intended for any units in a system whose channel number matches the channel number encoded into the Status byte.  There are two types of Channel messages: Voice and Mode.
To control the instrument's voices, Voice messages are sent over the Voice Channels.
To define the instrument's response to Voice messages, Mode messages are sent over the instument's Basic Channel.

System messages are not encoded with channel numbers.  There are three types of System messages: Common, Real-Time, and Exclusive.
Common messages are intended for all units in a system.
Real-Time messages are intended for all units in a system. They contain Status bytes only -- no Data bytes. Real-Time messages may be sent at any time -- even between bytes of a message which has a different status. In such cases the Real-Time message is either ignored or acted upon, after which the receiving process resumes under the previous status.
Exclusive messages can contain any number of Data bytes, and are terminated by an End of Exclusive (EOX) or any other Status byte. These messages include a Manufacturer's Identification (ID) code. If the receiver does not recognize the ID code, it should ignore the ensuing data.

So that other users can fully access MIDI instruments, manufacturers should publish the format of data following their ID code. Only the manufacturer can update the format following their ID.

  • Introduction & Conventions
  • Hardware
  • Message Types
  • Data Types
  • Channel Modes
  • Summary of Status Bytes
  • Channel Voice Messages
  • System Common Messages
  • System Real Time Messages
  • System Exclusive Messages
  • Controllers




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