Playing with multiple MIDI ports (post 1) - (very) poor man's divisi

[Note : you can do all this in Live, but I find setting up the tiny key ranges in the effects rack fiddly and tedious. ]

I have been looking again at Spitfire’s BBC SO, I wanted a simpler way to link to Scaler rather than the heavyweight templates provided for Live. I have found Catabile very useful, and it has really excellent (and simple to use) midi handling

Step one was to set up output midi ports with loopMIDI
creating one port for each instrument I wanted to use

Step two was to fire up Catabile, and add the ports under ‘tools/ options / MIDI ports’


Here you see the ‘alto_flute’ and ‘bassoon’ ports being added. The ports now have to be made visible in the ‘routing’ panel in Cantabile. You can mange channels here, but in this case, we leave the setting at ‘Omni’

We now want to filter the MIDI from Scaler and route it to the chosen port, and suppress out of range notes


here we are setting the alto-flute range for MIDI notes 60 through 96.
{note to orchestral folk // this is an example… I don’t really know what the alto flute range should be… so this is off Google}

We are now ready to wire up


My work was done in Ableton Live, but other DAWs will be similar. In live, the ports should appear automatically.

Now set up a MIDI track for each port so

and we are ready to go.

For a test, I loaded ‘Touching’ in the ‘Cinematic’ song group, and duplicated the pattern; on the edit page I changed the pitch for the second patter to test it brought in the instruments on the lower register. This is all super crude with no MIDI editing and no effects processing / mastering on the recording, but just to show the approach works.
Listen at Multi port divisi experiment – Galaxies and beyond …

Cantabile has very good routing and filtering capabilities ; check the list of functions in the channel filter / rules page (never mind what they do, just count them)

More in a following post, but this should give an idea of how the approach can work. There are a number of ways to work with multiple Scalers, but (am I am still testing) it appears to work with MIDI merge, which will open the scope up, if this performs properly.

midi merge

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Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
I usually use Loopmidi Port. You have assigned a midiport for each instrument. I usually use the same midiport and assign the instruments to different channels within the same midiport. i will test your system

Keep in mind that in the orchestra there are transposing instruments, such as the Alto Flute, which is in G. That means that when you play or read a C, what really sounds is a G. Therefore, for your calculations must drop a 4th (5 semitones) to match

Sadly, I have Ableton Live, so this is not possible as Live does not recognise channels, and hence the split by port.

I’ve been reading up to tray and understand this. I was also confused because there appears to be no common standard for identifying the location of C… is middle C C3 or C4 ? Cantabile thinks one thing and Scaler another. However, I used MIDI note number, and it seems to be agreed that middle C is MIDI note 60.

Wiki says of the bassoon
Although the primary tone hole pitches are a pitched perfect 5th lower than other non-transposing Western woodwinds (effectively an octave beneath English horn) the bassoon is non-transposing, meaning that notes sounded match the written pitch.

I think there is scope to move further with this, especially if the MIDI merge works ok; plus the filter rules for each channel are quite flexible and I think things can be done using this.

I will make another post soon, this time on using this approach with multi-timbral instruments and Live.

Yes. The bassoon is in C, although its basic scale (from which most of its harmonics come) is F.

If you send Loopmidi before inserting any instruments, you can separate channels. Then place the instruments on other tracks that receive from those tracks

Certain. It even depends on VSTi that do not always place the C in the same place, varying an 8th.
For me, the C4 is the one that is written in the third space in the treble clef, but …
The A used for tuning normally in orchestras (442 double vibrations per second in Europe, but 440 double vibrations in the USA) is the A4

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Just tried that and it worked. I’d assumed / understood that Live couldn’t recognise channels, but with your scheme it obviously does. Thank you for pointing this out … very useful !

I’m now puzzled why Plugin Boutique suggested that Instacomposer needed Blue Cat Audio to work; that was a bad solution in comparison in that (a) you could only route through audio AFAIK to Live, not MIDI and (b) it cost money when using LoopMIDI could be set up in less than 1 minute and was free.

Oh, hold on … “cost money” … generated sales … geddit.

I think Cantabile can still be useful, as it can do some sysex operations, support split keyboards, map channels and other things. Although these can be done with other tools, here they are all in one control environment.

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I agree. Earning money sometimes blinds other possibilities. On the contrary, not wanting to spend that money sharpens your ingenuity. At first I believed that if you didn’t use the Blue Cat plugin it was impossible to work with multiple midi channels (I even downloaded the trial version, which didn’t get it to work as I wanted), but you see there are other solutions in Ableton .
I also have Cantabile, and I think it’s a good program, mainly focused on live performances, but it has other uses, like the one you’ve explained. Then I got Gig Performer at a good deal, which does the same thing as Cantabile, but with more features and in a more intuitive way.
Surely we will continue to seek solutions together to make our programs work better, and above all so that they offer us more inspiration