Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Changing MIDI transmission channels in Garageband

While I have focused this blog on using the Mac in the world of work, I thought I'd write a quick post on a problem I experienced (and was able to resolve) with Garageband. I write music and had a little ditty that I had started demoing in Garageband. I wanted to put some drums to the piece and thought that it would be nice to write the drum track in MIDI and then output it to a sound module once the drum part was written. I have a Roland TD-3 VDrum set which has some great built-in drum sounds so I wanted to use them in my recording but still have the freedom to edit the MIDI in Garageband. I recorded my drum part and then tried to play it back through the sound module. Nothing happened :(

I checked my setup and the MIDI out of the Mac was plugged into the MIDI in of the TD-3. I did a quick try in Logic Express (a more powerful tool but one I don't understand as well as Garageband... plus I don't have the universal binary for it) and it worked! Why then was there a problem?

The problem was due to the MIDI transmission. the TD-3 will ONLY receive MIDI sent to channel 10 (the traditional MIDI channel for drums). However, from reading on the internet, I discovered that Garageband (by default) transmits on Channel 1. I sighed and moped that I wouldn't be able to get the setup I wanted and then found a cool little plug-in for Garageband called 'midiO' by Retroware (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/23227) that allows you to set MIDI transmission channels for MIDI tracks in Garageband. It isn't perfect but it's definitely worth investigating if this is a problem that you are encountering.