Controllers - MIDI CC
continuous controller command consists of the MIDI controller command
by two data bytes that specify the controller number and the
0xb0 | channel = MIDI continuous controller command
0 .. 127 = MIDI continuous controller number
0 .. 127 = MIDI continuous controller value
Allows continuously changing information such as pitch wheel or breath
controller information to be passed over the MIDI line. Continuous
use large amounts of memory when recorded into a MIDI sequencer. Some
MIDI Continuous Controller numbers are listed below although the EIII
to assign controllers and destinations to any Continuous Controller
A Controller message has a Status byte of 0xB0 to 0xBF depending upon
the MIDI channel. There are two more data bytes.
The first data byte is the Controller Number. There are 128 possible
controller numbers (ie, 0 to 127). Some numbers are defined for
specific purposes. Others are undefined, and reserved for future
The second byte is the "value" that the controller is to be set
Most controllers implement an effect even while the MIDI device is
generating sound, and the effect will be immediately noticeable. In
other words, MIDI controller messages are meant to implement various
effects by a musician while he's operating the device.
If the device is a MultiTimbral module, then each one of its Parts may
respond differently (or not at all) to a particular controller number.
Each Part usually has its own setting for every controller number, and
the Part responds only to controller messages on the same channel as
that to which the Part is assigned. So, controller messages for one
Part do not affect the sound of another Part even while that other Part
Some controllers are continuous controllers, which simply means that
their value can be set to any value within the range from 0 to 16,384
(for 14-bit coarse/fine resolution) or 0 to 127 (for 7-bit, coarse
resolution). Other controllers are switches whose state may be either
on or off. Such controllers will usually generate only one of two
values; 0 for off, and 127 for on. But, a device should be able to
respond to any received switch value from 0 to 127. If the device
implements only an "on" and "off" state, then it should regard values
of 0 to 63 as off, and any value of 64 to 127 as on.
Many (continuous) controller numbers are coarse adjustments, and have a
respective fine adjustment controller number. For example, controller
#1 is the coarse adjustment for Modulation Wheel. Using this controller
number in a message, a device's Modulation Wheel can be adjusted in
large (coarse) increments (ie, 128 steps). If finer adjustment (from a
coarse setting) needs to be made, then controller #33 is the fine
adjust for Modulation Wheel. For controllers that have coarse/fine
pairs of numbers, there is thus a 14-bit resolution to the range. In
other words, the Modulation Wheel can be set from 0x0000 to 0x3FFF (ie,
one of 16,384 values). For this 14-bit value, bits 7 to 13 are the
coarse adjust, and bits 0 to 6 are the fine adjust. For example, to set
the Modulation Wheel to 0x2005, first you have to break it up into 2
bytes (as is done with Pitch Wheel messages). Take bits 0 to 6 and put
them in a byte that is the fine adjust. Take bits 7 to 13 and put them
right-justified in a byte that is the coarse adjust.
Assuming a MIDI
channel of 0, here's the coarse and fine Mod Wheel controller messages
that a device would receive (coarse adjust first):
0xB0 0x01 0x40
Controller on chan 0, Mod Wheel coarse, bits 7 to 13 of 14-bit
value right-justified (with high bit clear).
0xB0 0x33 0x05
Controller on chan 0, Mod Wheel fine, bits 0 to 6 of 14-bit
value (with high bit clear).
Some devices do not implement fine adjust counterparts to coarse
controllers. For example, some devices do not implement controller #33
for Mod Wheel fine adjust. Instead the device only recognizes and
responds to the Mod Wheel coarse controller number (#1). It is
perfectly acceptable for devices to only respond to the coarse
adjustment for a controller if the device desires 7-bit (rather than
14-bit) resolution. The device should ignore that controller's
respective fine adjust message. By the same token, if it's only
desirable to make fine adjustments to the Mod Wheel without changing
its current coarse setting (or vice versa), a device can be sent only a
controller #33 message without a preceding controller #1 message (or
vice versa). Thus, if a device can respond to both coarse and fine
adjustments for a particular controller (ie, implements the full 14-bit
resolution), it should be able to deal with either the coarse or fine
controller message being sent without its counterpart following. The
same holds true for other continuous (ie, coarse/fine pairs of)
Note: In most MIDI literature, the coarse adjust is referred to with
the designation "MSB" and the fine adjust is referred to with the
designation "LSB". I prefer the terms "coarse" and "fine".
Here's a list of the defined controllers. To the left is the controller
number (ie, how the MIDI Controller message refers to a particular
controller), and on the right is its name (ie, how a human might refer
to the controller). To get more information about what a particular
controller does, click on its controller name to bring up a
description. Each description shows the controller name and number,
what the range is for the third byte of the message (ie, the "value"
data byte), and what the controller does. For controllers that have
separate coarse and fine settings, both controller numbers are
MIDI devices should use these controller numbers for their defined
purposes, as much as possible. For example, if the device is able to
respond to Volume controller (coarse adjustment), then it should expect
that to be controller number 7. It should not use Portamento Time
controller messages to adjust volume. That wouldn't make any sense.
Other controllers, such as Foot Pedal, are more general purpose. That
pedal could be controlling the tempo on a drum box, for example. But
generally, the Foot Pedal shouldn't be used for purposes that other
controllers already are dedicated to, such as adjusting Pan position.
If there is not a defined controller number for a particular, needed
purpose, a device can use the General Purpose Sliders and Buttons, or
NRPN for device specific purposes. The device should use controller
numbers 0 to 31 for coarse adjustments, and controller numbers 32 to 63
for the respective fine adjustments.
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