Name That Patch

Apple adopted a universal MIDI patch-list management system as part of Core MIDI in Mac OS X. The scheme uses two XML (Extensible Markup Language) documents:
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Select patch name''s text in a PDF manual and copy it into a text editor. Organize the list into banks.Use CherryPicker''s New Device Setup Assistant to set up your device.Set up your new device in the OS X Audio MIDI Setup utility.Add your first bank, give it a name, and specify MIDI Bank Select information. Copy a bank of patch names from your text document to CherryPicker''s Patch List window.Repeat step 4 for each patch bank.Test the list in your host sequencer.

Apple adopted a universal MIDI patch-list management system as part of Core MIDI in Mac OS X. The scheme uses two XML (Extensible Markup Language) documents: a middev file describing the MIDI device and a midnam file containing patch names along with MIDI bank- and program-numbering protocol.

Many Mac sequencers, including MOTU Digital Performer, Digidesign Pro Tools, and Steinberg Cubase, support this scheme and include a large selection of patch lists as part of their installation. (Ironically, Apple Logic still relies on an Environment-based patch-naming system.) For those times when you need to add a patch list for a new MIDI device or modify an existing patch list, Rob Martin's invaluable little application, CherryPicker, makes the task easy.

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FIG. 1: CherryPicker is a utility designed for creating and editing OS X midnam patch-list files.

Easy Pickin's

CherryPicker is a donationware utility that streamlines the process of creating, editing, and converting midnam files. You can download a fully functional copy of the program from If you like it, it is well worth making a donation to ensure continued development.

CherryPicker saves you from having to dig into XML code, and you may not even need to do much typing. With it you can modify existing patch-name lists, and you can create your own custom lists if your sequencer supports that (see Fig. 1). I'll take you through the basics using the Lexicon MPX-100 effects processor as an example (see “Step-by-Step Instructions” on p. 74). Although the exact steps vary from device to device, the basics remain the same.

With CherryPicker you can copy and paste entire blocks of patch name text, avoiding the arduous task of typing in all your patch names by hand. You can save yourself a lot of time by locating a PDF version of the owner's manual that lists the device's presets. Armed with the PDF, copy and paste the patch list into a text editor and edit the text so that it contains only the patch names organized into banks. Watch out for odd characters such as dashes that are illegal in XML. If you can't locate a PDF with the patch names, it's still a good idea to type them into a text editor for editing before copying them into CherryPicker.

It's in the Bank

Launch CherryPicker and choose New from its File menu. The New Device Setup Assistant will walk you through the steps to set up your device. It will prompt you to launch Audio MIDI Setup and make the necessary settings to establish MIDI communication with your device. After working through CherryPicker's remaining setup screens, you will be presented with a blank CherryPicker document into which you will enter your bank and patch information.

To add your first bank, click on “+” in the CherryPicker window. You will be prompted to give your bank a name and to specify MIDI Bank Select values. MIDI devices use different combinations of two MIDI Control Change messages to select banks. Some use CC 0, some use CC 32, and some use both. Consult your owner's manual or the manufacturer's Web site to determine the proper values for your device.

The Lexicon MPX-100 is a relatively simple device, with 16 banks containing 16 patches each. It uses only CC 32 with the values of 0 through 15 to select banks. To tell CherryPicker how to select the first bank, enter 0 in CherryPicker's B Sel32 field and leave B Sel0 set to its default value (-). Then click on OK to bring up a window for entering your patch names.

In your text editor, select and copy the text for the first bank's patch names, and then paste them into the CherryPicker Patch List window. That brings up a dialog box for specifying patch-numbering options and the patch name delimiter in your text file (typically End Of Line).

Get with the Program

The MPX-100 uses MIDI Program Change numbers 0 through 15 for its patches, but they are displayed as 1 through 16 on the front panel. In CherryPicker set Start At to 0 and Start ASCII At to 001 to ensure correct program changes behind the scenes and the correct program numbers displayed in your sequencer. Repeat those steps for each bank, and you're done.

There are many sources for midnam files on the Internet, so it is always a good idea to see if someone else has already done the work for you. Try Googling as well as asking on user forums. Check out the links on the CherryPicker and manufacturer Web sites. Even if you have to enter the names by hand, you will get back the time you spend many times over in enhanced work flow.

Babz is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and music-technology writer based in New York City.



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