GM voice table

The Standard 128 GM Sounds

There are a total of 128 GM sounds, organized into 16 "families" containing 8 sounds per "family" (8 X 16 = 128).

The 16 families are:

PIANO,
CHROMATIC PERCUSSION,
ORGAN,
GUITAR,
BASS,
STRINGS,
ORCHESTRA ENSEMBLE,
BRASS,
REED,
PIPE,
SYNTH LEAD,
SYNTH PAD,
SYNTH EFFECTS,
ETHNIC,
PERCUSSIVE,
SOUND EFFECTS. 

Note that manufacturers usually number their patches from 0-127 rather than from 1-128.

GM No.

Patch No.

Instrument:

    PIANO
1 000 Acoustic grand piano
2 001 Bright acoustic piano
3 002 Electric grand piano
4 003 Honky-tonk piano
5 004 Electric piano 1
6 005 Electric piano 2
7 006 Harpsichord
8 007 Clavichord
    CHROMATIC PERCUSSION
9 008 Celesta
10 009 Glockenspiel
11 010 Music box
12 011 Vibraphone
13 012 Marimba
14 013 Xylophone
15 014 Tubular bells
16 015 Dulcimer
    ORGAN
17 016 Drawbar organ
18 017 Percussive organ
19 018 Rock organ
20 019 Church organ
21 020 Reed organ
22 021 Accordion
23 022 Harmonica
24 023 Tango accordion
    GUITAR
25 024 Acoustic guitar (nylon)
26 025 Acoustic guitar (steel)
27 026 Electric guitar (jazz)
28 027 Electric guitar (clean)
29 028 Electric guitar (muted)
30 029 Overdriven guitar
31 030 Distortion guitar
32 031 Guitar harmonics
    BASS
33 032 Acoustic bass
34 033 Electric bass (finger)
35 034 Electric bass (pick)
36 035 Fretless bass
37 036 Slap bass 1
38 037 Slap bass 2
39 038 Synth bass 1
40 039 Synth bass 2
    STRINGS
41 040 Violin
42 041 Viola
43 042 Cello
44 043 Contrabass
45 044 Tremolo strings
46 045 Pizzicato strings
47 046 Orchestral harp
48 047 Timpani
    ORCHESTRA ENSEMBLE
49 048 String ensemble 1
50 049 String ensemble 2
51 050 Synth strings 1
52 051 Synth strings 2
53 052 Choir aahs
54 053 Voice oohs
55 054 Synth voice
56 055 Orchestra hit
    BRASS
57 056 Trumpet
58 057 Trombone
59 058 Tuba
60 059 Muted trumpet
61 060 French horn
62 061 Brass section
63 062 Synth brass 1
64 063 Synth brass 2
    REED
65 064 Soprano sax
66 065 Alto sax
67 066 Tenor sax
68 067 Baritone sax
69 068 Oboe
70 069 English horn
71 070 Bassoon
72 071 Clarinet
    PIPE
73 072 Piccolo
74 073 Flute
75 074 Recorder
76 075 Pan flute
77 076 Blown bottle
78 077 Shakuhachi
79 078 Whistle
80 079 Ocarina
    SYNTH LEAD
81 080 Lead 1 (square)
82 081 Lead 2 (sawtooth)
83 082 Lead 3 (calliope)
84 083 Lead 4 (chiff)
85 084 Lead 5 (charang)
86 085 Lead 6 (voice)
87 086 Lead 7 (fifths)
88 087 Lead 8 (bass and lead)
    SYNTH PAD
89 088 Pad 1 (new age)
90 089 Pad 2 (warm)
91 090 Pad 3 (polysynth)
92 091 Pad 4 (choir)
93 092 Pad 5 (bowed)
94 093 Pad 6 (metallic)
95 094 Pad 7 (halo)
96 095 Pad 8 (sweep)
    SYNTH EFFECTS
97 096 FX 1 (rain)
98 097 FX 2 (soundtrack)
99 098 FX 3 (crystal)
100 099 FX 4 (atmosphere)
101 100 FX 5 (brightness)
102 101 FX 6 (goblins)
103 102 FX 7 (echoes)
104 103 FX 8 (sci-fi)
    ETHNIC
105 104 Sitar
106 105 Banjo
107 106 Shamisen
108 107 Koto
109 108 Kalimba
110 109 Bagpipe
111 110 Fiddle
112 111 Shanai
    PERCUSSIVE
113 112 Tinkle bell
114 113 Agogo
115 114 Steel drums
116 115 Woodblock
117 116 Taiko drum
118 117 Melodic tom
119 118 Synth drum
120 119 Reverse cymbal
    SOUND EFFECTS
121 120 Guitar fret noise
122 121 Breath noise
123 122 Seashore
124 123 Bird tweet
125 124 Telephone ring
126 125 Helicopter
127 126 Applause
128 127 Gunshot

the GS format

The GM format is based on a system developed by synth manufacturer Roland, and they’ve now taken the idea a step further and come up with their GS format. GS is an enhancement to GM in that, instead of having just one bank of standard sounds, you can have several other banks offering variations on those sounds. The arrangement is that the standard GM sound set is in the first bank (bank 0), with up to seven further banks of variations. All of the variation tones of a piano will still sound like a piano, just as all of the variations of organs will sound like organs, but they will offer more variety.

the XG format

Yamaha also introduced their own expanded General MIDI format, which they call XG. Like Roland’s GS mode, this provides several banks of alternative sounds, although most Yamaha XG instruments also support Roland’s GS format. GM and GS tend to be supported mainly by hardware synths rather than by soundcards, although Audigy’s default SoundFonts support both GM and GS variations.

General MIDI - Basic Specs

The GM standard has been embraced by all companies who produce MIDI songfiles, nearly all synthesizer manufacturers, soundcard makers, and music software publishers.

Yet, believe it or not, General MIDI is still an unofficial and largely unregulated standard!

Compliance is strictly voluntary among these companies (however, if they chose to ignore the GM specification, they would lose a lot of business!).

So, General MIDI compliance is considered recommended practice, but it is not a feature that any company is absolutely required to include in their MIDI products. In fact, not every MIDI instrument on the market today will have a General MIDI compatible mode of operation.

It's up to you to make sure that the instrument you wish to purchase sports the GM compatibility logo. That way you know that it will be current with today's MIDI hardware, software, and commercial MIDI songfiles.

Here are the important "minimum features" that a General MIDI compatible instrument will offer...

16 Part Multitimbral
When MIDI synthesizers first became available in the early 1980's, they could only transmit and receive on just one out of a possible 16 MIDI channels. A single channel = a single sound. To achieve an ensemble playback of different sounds, you had to hook several MIDI synthesizers together, each assigned its own personal MIDI channel and instrument sound. Then, for multitimbral playback, the connected synthesizers were triggered for playback all at once.

A GM instrument is literally equivalent to SIXTEEN synthesizers of old! A General MIDI instrument can transmit or receive up to 16 simultaneous MIDI channels through a single MIDI cable receptacle. Each channel can be assigned any one of the 128 GM sounds, except for MIDI channel 10, which is reserved for the Drum Kit.

24 Voice Polyphony
This is the number of actual voices (not necessarily notes) that can be played simultaneously. What's a "voice? Although I have grossly oversimplified this, the explanation still sounds a bit technical, so hang in there.

When you play a note on a MIDI instrument, you trigger an internal circuit called a tone oscillator. Each tone oscillator produces a single "voice" (a sound). So, if you play a single note on a MIDI instrument, you are using a single voice, right? Well, sometimes.

You see, there are some instrument sounds that actually use more than one tone oscillator to produce a particular sound. For example, some of the fuller, lush sounds on a synthesizer may use 2 or more oscillators (per note) to achieve that fullness. Let's see if you followed all that.

If I play a 3-note chord on my MIDI instrument, and I am using an instrument sound that uses one oscillator per note, how many voices have I used up? The answer is, three voices.

Now, if I play a three note chord, and I am using an instrument sound that uses two oscillators per note, how many voices are being used? The answer is, six voices.

You can see that if a feature listed on a MIDI instrument is stated as "24-Note Polyphony," it is only correct if the sounds you use are triggering a single tone oscillator per note. The most accurate way for a manufacturer to state their instrument's polyphony is by voices, not notes i.e.: "24-Voice polyphony."