41. How do I access higher bank patches in Band-in-a-Box®? What are MSB and LSB?

There are 3 things that control which sound is played:

  1. Patch or Program Change.
  2. Bank MSB, or controller 0.
  3. Bank LSB, or Controller 32.

Each of these can have a value from 0 to 127. When you are only interested in using the General MIDI instruments on your synth, you only need to worry about the Patch or Program Change. MSB and LSB can be left at 0. However, most synths have patches on higher banks beyond the General MIDI set of instruments, and if you want to access these sounds, you will need to use Bank changes.

At one time, no synthesizer had more than 128 sounds. As technology progressed, musicians demanded more sounds. The MIDI Association then developed a new MIDI command called the Bank Select Command. There are two controller messages in the Bank Select command:

  • Continuous Controller 0 (Most Significant Bit or MSB) messages are often abbreviated as CC in manuals (For example: CC0)

  • Continuous Controller 32 (Least Significant Bit or LSB) messages are often abbreviated as CC32 in manuals.

Two separate messages allows you to access up to 16,384 banks, of 128 patches each. This creates locations for 2,097,152 patches. Needless to say, we're not aware of any modules with over a couple of thousand patches (yet), let alone two million.

Some modules/synths require both controller 0 and controller 32 together and some require them one at a time. Refer to your manual for accessing patches on higher banks on your particular synth.

In your synth or module's manual, bank is usually listed first. In Roland manuals, it is in the CC00 (BANK) column. Place this value into the Bank Box. The second column in the table is usually the Program Change column. Also known as the GM or GS patch name, choose this patch number from the instrument pull-down menu. Don't worry if the General MIDI instrument name does not match the name of the patch you are trying to access. Just go by the number if it's not a General MIDI instrument you are trying to access. Controller Number 32 or LSB may be needed as well. Although it is not used very much in the Roland line of synths, it is used extensively in some other synths.

Once you have selected the patch (Instrument menu), Bank (MSB) and Bank (LSB), you should hear the higher bank instrument that you are trying to access.

If you are selecting patches from higher banks very much, you may want to learn about patch maps. Patch maps allow you to choose any patch on your synth by name, using the 'Select Patch from Higher Bank' dialog (click the [+] button next to the instrument pull-down menu).

Note that if you change the default patches used by the style, you will probably need to use File | Save song with patches and harmony to prevent your chosen patches from reverting back to the defaults when you press Play.

Alyssa - PG Music