Do you need a General Midi plug-in for Mac?

Apple DLSMusicDevice

Last week I had to import some Midi files into my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It was a commercial jingle I was to revamp and produce. To make it clear what instruments each part of the jingle were meant to be played with what instrument the writer (John) used General Midi. “GM” was created in 1991 and in short sets certain program numbers (sounds) to specific numbers. Doing this allows one to make a sound a flute and when the midi composition is played elsewhere using a GM module the embedded program change number will call up a flute sound.

I don’t often work with GM and when I received last week’s work John was adamant I listened to his fairly complex piece using a GM module at least once before I ripped it to pieces. It’s true that on a Mac one can just double-click any .midi file and it will open and play in Quicktime. However, I wanted to load the jingle into Ableton and view all the separate parts playing from a GM plug-in.

Native Instruments - Bandstand

My first instinct was to ask Google for GM plug-ins and Native Instruments Bandstand popped up. Bandstand certainly would have fit my needs. It can be used stand alone or in your DAW and has over 2GB of samples from Sonic Reality, Big Fish, Best Service and others. Bandstand was in my budget at $119 but there was one issue: no download option. I really wanted to get working at that exact moment and as far as I could tell on the NI site there was no demo or download version. I may still grab Bandstand later because it looks to be the best GM player out there. My search for instant gratification continued…

I decided to do a little forum searching and on the official Apple Discussions I found a thread with my final answer. It turns out I already had a complete GM player plug-in installed on my Macbook Pro. Every Mac has a bunch of AU plug-ins installed by Apple for use in Garage Band and iMovie. I’ve used a few of them before in a pinch but rarely look hard into that folder. The Apple GM plug-in is called “DLSMusicDevice”. Very pleased I got to work.

Do you ever have a need for GM modules?

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on February 16, 2009 at 8:03 am, filed under apple, plug-ins and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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5 Responses to “Do you need a General Midi plug-in for Mac?”

  1. puffer says:

    Sonar has a Roland sound module included that maps to GM that’s come in handy once or twice on this end.

  2. richard says:

    Check the procedure to introduce any sf2 [soundfont] into the apple “DLSMusicDevice” and you’ll open a world of [mostly free] sounds – been using it for years, lovely!
    http://www.mjewing.co.uk/gmoogb/article_09.php
    BTW I love your work!

  3. Ruud says:

    Hi Oliver, I’m quite surprised. So you don’t use a GM module with Harmony Navigator?

  4. Hi Richard… thanks for the link, good info!

    Hi Ruud… so far I’ve used my own synth heavy sounds with the stuff I export from Harmony Navigator but I will start off using the DLSMusicDevice from now on.

  5. I still need to run GM for the sake of my students; a lot of the units we teach are still based around ‘MIDI’ sequencing, including correctly using GM program changes. Logic Pro doesn’t handle this particularly well using he AU DLS synth, so we use MidiPipe http://homepage.mac.com/nicowald/SubtleSoft/ as a virtual GM sound module.

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