Multi-Instrument Objects

A multi-instrument is like a collection of 16 standard instruments Opening the Object Parameter Box in one package.

Each of the 16 standard instruments provides a separate MIDI channel (mirroring the 16 MIDI channels), and is therefore called a sub-channel. The multi-instrument’s interface includes a numbered square (button) for each sub-channel. Clicking any of these numbered squares selects the corresponding sub-channel, and displays its parameters in the Object Parameter box.

Figure. Multi-instrument object and its parameter box.

Each sub-channel has a complete set of instrument parameters (identical to those outlined in The Standard Instrument Parameter Box).

You will generally use multi-instrument objects to address multi-timbral hardware synthesizers or samplers. A multi-timbral sound module is one that can receive on several MIDI channels at once, playing back a different sound on each channel simultaneously.

As most modern MIDI devices are multi-timbral, the multi-instrument will probably be the most commonly used instrument object in your Environment.

To create a new multi-instrument object
  • Choose New > Multi-Instrument (or use the New Multi-Instrument key command).

The Multi-Instrument Parameter Box

The multi-instrument object parameters are a shorter set of the standard instrument object parameters (see Opening the Object Parameter Box). The settings you make in the multi-instrument Parameter box apply globally to all sub-channels.

To view the multi-instrument Parameter box
  • Click the icon at the top of the multi-instrument object.

The whole multi-instrument object is selected, allowing you to set the Port parameter, for example.

The Multi-Instrument Window

Double-clicking a multi-instrument opens the Multi-Instrument window:

Figure. Multi-Instrument window.
Device Name and Short Device Name

At the top-left corner of the window, you can enter the full name of the multi-instrument in the Device Name input field. You can also enter a short name for the multi-instrument in the Short Device Name input field. This short name is used in the Arrange window track list, when the program name is displayed.

Depending on whether or not you have activated the sub-channel’s Program parameter, the following information appears in the Arrange area’s track list:

  • The name of the multi-instrument and channel number (if the parameter is not activated)

  • The short name, channel number, and program name (if the parameter is activated)

Program Names

There are 128 program names in the Multi-Instrument window. A total of 15 banks of 128 program names are available. There are several ways of entering program names:

  • By double-clicking the name (via the text input field).

  • By copying (via the Clipboard) from a different multi-instrument, or from a word-processing program. The Clipboard functions for a whole sound bank are available in the Options pop-up menu.

    • First, copy the program numbers or General MIDI names to the Clipboard, and add them to a word-processing document.

    • You can then edit the names and copy the whole section back again.

  • If you want to use program numbers instead of names, choose Init Names as Numbers from the Options pop-up menu.

  • If you want to use General MIDI program names, choose Init General MIDI Names. If the Use GM Drum Program Names for Channel 10 checkbox, at the bottom of the window, is activated, the standard GM drum set names are shown in the Program menu of the Parameter box for sub-channel 10.

If the Program box in the selected sub-channel’s Parameter box has a checkmark in it, you can send a program change message by selecting a program name in the Multi-Instrument window.


The Bank pop-up menu allows you to choose one of 15 available sound banks (0 to 14). The top item—”No Bank specified. Names of Bank 0 used.”—can be used if your sound generator does not understand bank select messages, or only has 128 sound programs.

  • Bank 0 is always initialized.

  • The first time you choose one of the banks numbered 1 to 14, you are asked whether or not you want to initialize this bank.

  • Non-initialized banks use the names of the equivalent program numbers from bank 0.

Note: You should only initialize additional banks if you want to enter program names for those banks, because each initialized bank uses more memory.

Bank Message

The Bank Message pop-up menu allows you to define the MIDI events that are sent when you switch between the banks of the multi-instrument.

Different bank select formats are used by different MIDI instrument manufacturers. Refer to your MIDI instrument’s manual to see whether or not it supports bank select messages, and if so, what format it uses.

With modern synths, there’s a good chance the format will match one of the top items in the menu:  either controller #32 or controller #0. There are also presets to accommodate several of the more common types of synths. If your synth doesn’t use one of the formats listed, you can define your own bank select messages (see Custom Bank Selects).

Working with Sub-Channels

To select a sub-channel (to address a specific MIDI channel number within the multi-instrument), click the appropriately numbered square (button) on the multi-instrument object. The first time you click it, the sub-channel is activated, making it available in the Track Assignment menu of the arrange track list (accessed by Control-clicking a track). To avoid menu clutter, you should only activate as many sub-channels as you actually need, or as many as the external MIDI device supports.

As with any other Environment object, you can remove sub-channels from the Track Assignment menu by deselecting the Icon checkbox in the Object Parameter box. The button for the sub-channel appears with a diagonal line through it when deactivated.

Figure. Multi-instrument object showing selected, activated, and removed sub-channels.

In the above image, sub-channel 1 is selected, sub-channels 1 to 8 are activated, and sub-channels 9 to 16 have been removed from the Track Assignment menu.

The Sub-Channel Parameter Box

Each sub-channel has a complete set of instrument parameters, identical to those for standard instruments. (See The Standard Instrument Parameter Box.) The only parameter you cannot change is the MIDI channel. If you attempt to change the channel, you are asked to select another sub-channel, or select the multi-instrument itself to change the common driver destination.

You can, however, change the channel in the Arrange window’s Track Parameter box to any sub-channel of the multi-instrument, and the track will be assigned to the selected sub-channel. This allows you to redirect the (regions on the) track to another sub-channel, making it easy to play multiple parts with a particular channel/sound.

Note: If you change the Output port parameter of any sub-channel, the entire multi-instrument and all other sub-channels are affected.

Cabling Directly to a Sub-Channel

To connect the output of an Environment object directly to the input of a sub-channel, Option-click the source object’s output triangle and choose the sub-channel in the Reassign Track Object menu. (See Cabling Environment Objects.)

Note: You cannot drag a cable to a sub-channel. Any dragged cables can only be connected to the entire multi-instrument object, not one of its sub-channels.