Roland GS


Roland GS

Roland GS, or just GS, sometimes vaguely transcribed as General Standard, is an extension of General MIDI specification. It requires that all GS-compatible equipment must meet a certain set of features and it documents interpretations of some MIDI commands and bytes sequences, thus defining more instrument tones, more controllers for sound effects, etc.

GS leverages some of the criticism of simplicity of original General MIDI standard, while retaining full forward compatibility and even some backward compatibility. GS defines 98 additional tone instruments, 15 more percussion instruments, 8 more drum kits, 3 effects (reverb / chorus / variation) and some other features.

History

GS extensions were first introduced and implemented on Roland Sound Canvas series modules, starting with the Roland SC-55 in 1991. The first model supported 317 instruments, 16 simultaneous melodic voices, 8 percussion voices and a compatibility mode for Roland MT-32 (although it only emulated it and lacked programmability of original MT-32) and gained explosive popularity.

The next major step in GS expansion was SC-88 that appeared in 1994. It brought counts up to 32 simultaneous voices, 654 instruments, 24 drum sets, and occupied a position of high-end tone generator module in the market.

Currently, as software synthesizers become more and more popular, it became possible to reproduce SC-88 in software, but SC-88VL and SC-88Pro still occupy the professional musicians' niche.

Notable features

Banks

The Sound Canvas used additional pair of controllers, cc#0 and cc#32, to specify up to 65536 'variations' of each melodic sound defined by General MIDI. Typically, cc#32 (Bank Select LSB) was used to select a family (i.e. 1 - SC-55, 100 - MT-32 etc) then cc#0 (Bank Select MSB) was used to set a particular variation bank.

Drum kits

The drum kits were assigned their own bank, cc#0 (Bank Select MSB) 127, cc#32 (Bank Select LSB) 0, and were accessible on any channel (but could not span more than two channels), with 9 different kits in total:

1 Standard Kit
9 Room Kit
17 Power Kit
25 Electronic Kit
26 TR-808 Kit
33 Jazz Kit
41 Brush Kit
49 Orchestra Kit
57 Sound FX Kit
128 CM-64/CM-32L

Additional percussion notes

There were 14 additional drum notes that span Drum Kits 1 to 49:

27 High Q
28 Slap
29 Scratch Push
30 Scratch Pull
31 Sticks
32 Square Click
33 Metronome Click
34 Metronome Bell
82 Shaker
83 Jingle Bell
84 Belltree
85 Castanets
86 Mute Surdo
87 Open Surdo

Additional controller events

Additional controller events included in SC-55 and SC-88 were:

0 Bank select MSB
5 Portamento time
32 Bank select LSB
65 Portamento
66 Sostenuto
67 Soft Pedal
84 Portamento Control
91 Effect 1 (Reverb) Send Level
93 Effect 3 (Chorus) Send Level
94 Effect 4 (Variation) Send Level
98 NRPN LSB
99 NRPN MSB
120 All Sounds Off
121 Reset all controllers
123 All notes off

SysEx messages

There were messages that allowed the user to turn the GS mode on/off, to set effects processor parameters, to change EG envelopes etc.

Supporting hardware

Beginning in 1991, Roland introduces GS support in the majority of its MIDI products.

Tone generator modules


* RA-90
* SC-55
* SC-55mkII
* SC-33
* SC-155
* SC-55ST
* SC-55ST-WH
* SC-55K
* CM-300
* CM-500

* SC-7
* SC-88
* SC-88VL
* SC-88ST
* SC-88Pro
* SC-88STPro
* SC-8850
* SC-8820
* SC-D70

* SD-90
* SD-80
* SD-35
* SD-20

* DS-330 (Boss)

Sequencers

* SD-35
* PMA-5

See also

* Comparison of MIDI standards

External links

* [http://www.midisite.com/info/synth/SysEx.htm Roland GS SysEx messages reference]


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