Composing on the Roland MT-32

General information and assistance with Munt.

Composing on the Roland MT-32

Postby goldeng » 2018-8-25 @ 18:56

Hi everyone,

I own a physical Roland MT-32 (first release) and also use MUNT sometimes as I find it more convenient. Some say that you must have a physical unit of the MT-32 if you want to use the virtual solution of Munt with Roland's ROMs legally, so for the avoidance of doubt this is my setup:

My Setup.jpg

I'm looking for a way to compose music with the MT-32 (either with the physical unit or the virtual one). My goal is that my final MIDI files will be based on the legendary voices of the MT-32 that most of us DOS fans here really like. I've searched for a while in google and also in the forum, hopping to find information about how to compose with the MT-32 and perhaps on a recommended sequence that can show the real MT-32 sound bank, but wasn't able to find any accurate information about it. So I'd really like to know if there's someone here who walked in this route that can share some information.

I'm using a licensed Cubase for recording audio, but I don't like how the interface handles MIDI and always preferred to compose with a notation software like the free edition of Anvil Studio (version 1999.11.07), which I used greatly back in the day to compose music to some amateur games that I developed. It works great as long as you stick with the General Midi bank, but it doesn't have an option to show the MT-32 bank preset. The "MT-32 Synth Emulator" or the "MIDI-Out" port of my sound card can be selected to send the MIDI data, but the only sound bank preset available to pick is of the GM. If a MIDI file that was meant to be played on the MT-32 is loaded into the program, it doesn't sound as it should since the sound bank preset is set for GM and not MT-32, and so the instruments and parameters that were based on the MT-32 preset get messed up with the preset of the GM bank.

I'm really interested to know how Sierra composed the music for King's Quest IV. According to what I know, KQ IV was the very first game to utilize the MT-32 sounds and that the entire game was composed on it. My question is how exactly they used the MT-32 for composing? Did they had a DOS/Windows based software that integrated with the MT-32? Or maybe they composed mainly on hardware that was connected through the MT-32 unit? It's still a mystery to me.

I'd really like to know about any recommendation on a sequence that is compatible with the MT-32, or perhaps if there's a way to install a MT-32 bank preset in Windows (the same as Munt is installed and shows as "MT-32 Synth Emulator" in DOSBox and other programs), so it could be seen by other sequence programs and be available for selection as a 'MT-32 Bank Preset'


Any help on this topic would be much appreciated.


Thanks! :)
goldeng
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Re: Composing on the Roland MT-32

Postby MusicallyInspired » 2018-9-27 @ 17:25

I use Cakewalk Bandlab (originally have used Cakewalk Sonar 4-8.5 and then X1 and finally Platinum before they were bought by Bandlab and released for free) and every time I simply use my standard MIDI out device (in conjunction with an old Mark of the Unicorn MIDI interface for splitting the MIDI inputs/outputs across multiple devices for when I need them, but you don't need this if you're working with just the MT-32) and compose as normal. It doesn't have anything that takes advantage of reading/writing custom timbre patches or anything, but it does deal with loading SysEx files which you can send to the MT-32.

I also set up a custom INS file which Cakewalk uses to designate names for the instruments of certain MIDI devices. If you're going to make your own patches that aren't in the default patch library on the MT-32 then you need to create/assemble those with third party software. There's "Dr T" which I use in DOSBox and LA Synth which is a Win3.x program which I also use in DOSBox (with an installed instance of Win3.11). There simply aren't any modern tools for modern Windows (that I know of) to create and work with custom MT-32 timbres and create the SYX files you need. But Cakewalk will send SYX file data to the MT-32 well enough.

Not to mention, if you do make your own patch map SYX file then you have to make your own INS file as well. I wrote a program a while back that extracted patch names from Sierra MT-32 PATCH file resources and built a custom INS from it. But that would only be useful if you wanted to write a song using specifically the preset MT-32 instruments from a certain Sierra game. NRS also made a program to convert the MT-32 PATCH resources into SYX files which you can use with Cakewalk to send to the MT-32.

Clear as mud? lol
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"It's Green" Duke3D beta track released!
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Re: Composing on the Roland MT-32

Postby goldeng » 2018-9-28 @ 10:35

Thank you so much MusicallyInspired! :) I'll look into it.

Cheers :blush:
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