John's Midi File Choral Music site

Playing Midi Files

Midi Files are a set of instructions that tell a device that is Midi compatible (that knows about the Musical Instrument Digital Interface protocol) - such as a computer's soundcard - what to do to provide a representation of a piece of music. Additional software may be required to do this. Instances of such software, described in more detail further below, are:-

Suitable software for playing Midi Files
Windows Macs and iOS Android
Windows "Media Player"
Chris Hills' "MidiPlay"
MidiSoft "Recording Session"
MidiNote's "Composer"
Myriad Software's "Melody Assistant"
Winamp.com's "Winamp"
vanBasco's "Karaoke Player"
Willow Software's "Anvil Studio"
Noteworthy Composer's "Noteworthy Player"
and "Noteworthy Viewer"
"MuseScore"
Madhav Vaidyanathan's "Midi Sheet Music"
VideoLAN's "VLC"
Alexander Scheutzow's "Vocis Magis"
Roni Music's "Sweet MIDI Player"
"Garageband"
VideoLAN's "VLC"
MethodRed's "MIDIPlayer X
"MuseScore"
"Learn My Part"
"Sonja™"
Madhav Vaidyanathan's "Midi Sheet Music"
Lucas Wong's "4D Music Pocket Player"
Madhav Vaidyanathan's "Midi Sheet Music"
"MuseScore"
VideoLAN's "VLC"
SK Lee's "Midi Practice Player"


The Problem with Session

As I intimated above, there is a problem with Midi Files produced by Session. Although the Midi Files output (exported) by Noteworthy Composer play perfectly properly with Windows [3.1, 95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista ...] Media Player (and all other Players I have tried), once they been loaded into and then saved out from Session they may no longer play properly in other Players - they still play OK in Session itself - if they use more than Midi Channels 1-10 (in some other Players, such as Windows Media Player, they may not play all the channels, and there may from time to time be strange changes in tempo). That is to say, I can't work out why, or what to do to correct the situation. But worry not: maybe they'll work for whatever Player you use ... and if they don't then they DO play properly using Noteworthy's own Player (see above).

Session has a number of other, possibly connected, irritating habits. One - though this mainly concerns me, using it to produce my emphasised Midi Files, rather than you using it to play them back - is that it is easily confused by any Time Signatures that are not measured in crotchet time (so 3/4 or 4/4 or 5/4 is fine, but 2/2 or 5/8 halves or doubles the assigned Tempo), and I have to fudge it - which can be done quite easily, but it's still irritating! Also - and this concerns you - Session is a Windows 3.1 16-bit piece of software, and so you have to use "compatibility" mode for XP and the like. Moreover, Session is expecting there to be a directory/folder called "Session" in your root directory/folder (on Drive C) otherwise you can't save any changes you make to Session itself (such as ensuring it always opens in 16-track General Midi mode). Although you can achieve this by actually installing Session in Drive C's root, it seems to be perfectly OK to have a "Session" Folder there but then instal Session elsewhere, wherever you want.

Another slightly irritating feature is Session's ability to stick the wrong clef at the beginning of a track, so that the subsequent notes end up far up or down from where you expect them to be. A typical example of this is in the Brahms "German Requiem", where in the opening number the Alto line has been depicted as though written in the Bass clef, so that all the notes appear up in the air! There must be rules for the conversion (from mere note, which is what Midi is, to note-on-staff, which is how Session displays it.), and I suspect it depends on the range of the notes, top to bottom, in the staff. But, there is something you can do about it ... as follows:- Load in the music (for example, for the "German Requiem", the Alto version of the file A-BLESSED.MID; at the moment the clef assigned to the Alto track is the Bass clef). Then, go to the Session pull-down menus (up at the top of the window) and pull down "Music". Select "Clef ...", and a box opens. In the box, use the little down arrow to find all the tracks, and choose the correct one (in my example, it's No 2, Alto). Then choose the correct type of clef - i.e. Treble - and the bar/measure number where you want this to take effect - Measure No 1. Click "OK", and it will miraculously be done! THEN SAVE THE REVISED FILE SO THAT NEXT TIME YOU OPEN IT IT WILL STILL LOOK OK!!

Problem-ridden though Session may be, even so I use it - and I recommend it. Once installed it is simple and easy to use, and will do all you need to make the Midi Files most useful. That having been said, Chris Hills's MidPlay is good, and gets better with each version!

A slightly newer version of Session - Version 4, from 1995 - has recently come my way from a Contact in America. It deals with some of the noted problems - specifically it is a 32-bit program, originally for running under Windows 95 (so you can properly choose, and save, the Midi Drivers in SetUp) - but ... it still has problems with some time signatures/tempos - and it keeps giving me an "out of memory" error message whenever I use it (but see below). From here you can download the self-extracting SETUP.EXE File (which includes both 16- and 32-bit versions, so you can run it on Windows 3.1 if you really want!), plus a zipped set of HTML Files (which my US Contact prepared to show how to install Session 4 under Windows XP). I actually prefer the layout of Version 1.11, but maybe that's just because I'm used to it.

On the subject of the "out of memory" error message (see above), a Contact in Holland running "Session" under Windows XP notes that if you go to the program location (probably C:\Program Files\Session4), you can right-click on the executable (Session.exe), click on 'properties' and choose the compatibility tab, tick '256 colors', click apply, and then close - and this apparently solves the problem. At the moment I can't test this because I'm still using Windows 2000 (which doesn't show a compatibility tab), but my Contact says that this tweak did the trick for him (for as long as Session 4 is running, your whole computer runs only in 256 colors, but is restored to normal as soon as you close the program); maybe it will work for you, too.

A possible alternative route to dealing with the "out of memory" error message is provided by Craig Edgar on his Website page here. He says
"I'm not a musician and more often than not I can't even spell Midi but I've heard rumours that people are having problems getting MidiSoft Studio 4.0 to work successfully on Windows XP.
"I have the solution!
"Download Solution
[this is the Website's address for a downloadable 'hacked' version of Studio 4; you can also find it here] - Warning - Does not work on Windows 7 64Bit. Sorry!
"All you have to do is download the solution and install it. The installation program will install a fresh copy of MidiSoft using my solution. If after installing you find it works for you come back to this site and make a donation, I would really appreciate it."

I have not actually tried this, but ... one of my German contacts assures me it works OK.

Yet more comments about Session and its successors are provided by Bostonian Sara Kunz. She writes:
I was curious as to what had become of [Session] so I went looking and found it on a site that provides abandoned software - WinWorld. She adds:
I ... discovered [some info] about Midisoft [from] HackYa, which led me to the Forte websites here and here. Forte [is quite like Session, and] will run on 32 and 64-bit operating systems.
Further comments come from Charlie Hummel, of Waukesha, WI USA. He says Sara's link to download Session from WinWorld returns an error, but that he's found a Winworld page with downloads for Session v 1.07 & 1.12 here. However, it makes no reference to v 1.11 .



Odd on-screen scores using Noteworthy Player

Warning: if you play these Midi Files back using software (such as the Noteworthy Player) that shows you the score on the screen, you may find that some of them play OK but look a bit odd. That's usually because I had to fudge the Session output to get the tempo right (typically when it measures time in quavers [as in 5/8 time], and switches back and forth between these and other units [such as 3/4 time]. Don't worry; just don't look at the screen - read your printed score!

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Last updated by John on 18/May/22