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January 21, 2021 | | No Comments

This article sets out to provide expanded details on WS MIDI messages and what to do with them.


Most confusion and miss information appears to surround the MIDI DUMP and it’s actual purpose in life. This function is not unique to the GEM WS. It is partly due to this that I have heard from owners who have tried to ‘store’ or send a MIDI Dump from another MIDI instrument into the WS with the objective of saving to the WS disk. This is not possible!.

MIDI Dump is a means by which manufacturers are able to send and receive any amounts of instrument specific information or data (via MIDI) using one of the four types of MIDI System Exclusive message.

The System Exclusive message is prefixed by a MIDI F0H status byte and follows on with an ID number that indicates the type of System Exclusive message. All System Exclusive messages should be terminated with the one byte, End Of Exclusive (EOX) message.

To avoid confusing other brands of equipment and models that might be connected via MIDI, each System Exclusive message must carry a unique manufacturer identification number and sometimes even a model number. It is for this reason that you are not able to save another instruments data on the Workstation disk drive. The system exclusive manufacturer ID for GENERALMUSIC is 35H. However, the Workstation make use of the ELKA ID of 2FH.

However, you may send and receive MIDI dumps between Workstations i.e. WS2 to WS400 or MIDI Workstation. In doing so, both will then respond identically, as all Voice, Global and/or Sequencer data has been effectively ‘cloned’ into the other depending on the type of MIDI dump used.

You may also send and receive MIDI dumps via your computer sequencer software and then save to the computers disk drive, assuming that the sequencer supports MIDI dump.

Another example would be using the future option on our new WS File Manager to send and receive MIDI dumps to/from the Workstation. This providing you with additional options of the Displaying, Printing or Editing of Voice, Global and Sequencer data, on a computer.

Expression Pedal

Although not shown on the WS MIDI Implementation Chart, the expression pedal on the Workstation offers not only the facility to change the Workstation volume but also sends out simultaneously, in real time, a MIDI Foot Controller message BxH 04H vvH, where x represents the MIDI channel and vv represents the Velocity value.

This allows you to vary the volume level of other instruments connected via MIDI to the WS  assuming that they recognise this message.

A separate Foot Controller message, including a velocity value in the range of 14H (20) to 7FH (127), is sent for each voice channels A-E plus the Common MIDI channel. Should any voice share the same MIDI channel then only this channel message is sent in addition to the others.

System Reset

The MIDI System Reset FFH is no longer sent by WS version 2 (1.10) software, automatically on power down condition.

This MIDI message which turns all voices off, resets all controllers, resets all other functions to power-up condition, sets local control to on, sets MIDI mode to Omni on, Poly (if implemented), stops sequence playback and song position to 0, is recommended to be used sparingly and only sent under manual control.

However, this message unfortunately crept into the WS Version 1 software and sometimes caused some confusion to other connected MIDI instruments when the Workstation was turned off.

MIDI notes from C1

The WS MIDI Implementation Chart clearly shows that the WS2 is not able to send C1 Octave note values. However, is does recognise them.

We have received enquiries about owners wanting to compose Styles on the Workstation using the Bass line from C1. Unfortunately, the section transposer (Global, page 3) does not change the MIDI note number sent, although the keyboard transposition (Status, page 1), does.

This does mean that you may only record a new style in your Workstation sequencer with Bass line from C1 (note 24) providing you set the section transposer -12. In addition, if you wish to use you WS2 as a master keyboard and compose using a computer sequencer, you will have to transpose down one octave within the sequencer and echo back into the WS2, there is no alternative.

Maybe the facility of recording the C1 Octave directly into the WS2 sequencer from the keyboard and/or allow the actual MIDI note number to be sent out when using section transpose and/or extend the keyboard transpose from -6 to -12, will be incorporated in a future software version. Until then, you will have to leave the section transpose set to -12 or echo back from your computer or another keyboard.

MIDI Note On/Off Message

A MIDI Note On (9xH) is only sent once when a key is depressed and a Note On, Velocity 0 is sent once when a key is released.

The Workstation does not send a Note Off (8xH) and in place a Note On, Velocity 0 is sent. This method is adopted by other MIDI instruments and is not unique to the Workstation.

Note Velocity values are not influenced by Equalisation Volume, Section Level or Foot Controller settings.

To provide more ‘body’ to solo voices, if you were to echo back from a computer the root note plus and minus an octave, you are able to add a little ‘colour’ to your playing. This is easily achieved using a computer and one of our programs on our new MIDI utilities collection on User Software Disk 3.


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Dave Williams

Original and sole proprietor of GEMWorks Europe, later renamed to GEMClub - Generalmusic Owners Club.

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