MIDI Program Change message

The MIDI program change message tells a MIDI device that at a certain time certain program should be selected for one of the MIDI channels.

Usually this means that an instrument will be selected for the MIDI channel and notes that follow this message will be played with the selected instrument. Occasionally a program change could mean something else such as the selection of a drum beat in a MIDI drum machine.

This message belongs to the category of MIDI voice messages.

The MIDI program change message consists of two bytes of data. The first byte is the status byte and has hexadecimal values between 0xC0 and 0xCF. The high nibble of the status byte is C, which tells the MIDI device that this is a "program change" message. The low nibble of the status byte is between 0 and F (0 and 15 in decimal values) and points to one of the 16 MIDI channels. One byte follows the status byte and has values between 0x00 and 0x7F (0 and 127 in decimal values). It signifies the program that should be selected. A list of the standard programs is provided below.

The following is an example of a MIDI program change message.

0xC6 0x07

The status byte 0xC6 shows that this is a program change message for channel 6. The selected program is 0x07, which for most devices means that a clavinet was selected as the instrument for this channel.

If the status byte is 0xC9, then the program change message has a special meaning. MIDI channel 9 (starting from 0) is the MIDI percussion channel and plays percussion instruments. Thus, a program change message will usually select a specific set of percussion instruments depending on the MIDI device. A list of the percussion instruments is provided below.

The following is a list of defined standard program changes.

0x00 0 Acoustic grand piano
0x01 1 Bright acoustic piano
0x02 2 Electric grand piano
0x03 3 Honky tonk piano
0x04 4 Electric piano 1
0x05 5 Electric piano 2
0x06 6 Harpsicord
0x07 7 Clavinet
    Chromatic percussion
0x08 8 Celesta
0x09 9 Glockenspiel
0x0A 10 Music box
0x0B 11 Vibraphone
0x0C 12 Marimba
0x0D 13 Xylophone
0x0E 14 Tubular bell
0x0F 15 Dulcimer
0x10 16 Hammond / drawbar organ
0x11 17 Percussive organ
0x12 18 Rock organ
0x13 19 Church organ
0x14 20 Reed organ
0x15 21 Accordion
0x16 22 Harmonica
0x17 23 Tango accordion
0x18 24 Nylon string acoustic guitar
0x19 25 Steel string acoustic guitar
0x1A 26 Jazz electric guitar
0x1B 27 Clean electric guitar
0x1C 28 Muted electric guitar
0x1D 29 Overdriven guitar
0x1E 30 Distortion guitar
0x1F 31 Guitar harmonics
0x20 32 Acoustic bass
0x21 33 Fingered electric bass
0x22 34 Picked electric bass
0x23 35 Fretless bass
0x24 36 Slap bass 1
0x25 37 Slap bass 2
0x26 38 Synth bass 1
0x27 39 Synth bass 2
0x28 40 Violin
0x29 41 Viola
0x2A 42 Cello
0x2B 43 Contrabass
0x2C 44 Tremolo strings
0x2D 45 Pizzicato strings
0x2E 46 Orchestral strings / harp
0x2F 47 Timpani
0x30 48 String ensemble 1
0x31 49 String ensemble 2 / slow strings
0x32 50 Synth strings 1
0x33 51 Synth strings 2
0x34 52 Choir aahs
0x35 53 Voice oohs
0x36 54 Synth choir / voice
0x37 55 Orchestra hit
0x38 56 Trumpet
0x39 57 Trombone
0x3A 58 Tuba
0x3B 59 Muted trumpet
0x3C 60 French horn
0x3D 61 Brass ensemble
0x3E 62 Synth brass 1
0x3F 63 Synth brass 2
0x40 64 Soprano sax
0x41 65 Alto sax
0x42 66 Tenor sax
0x43 67 Baritone sax
0x44 68 Oboe
0x45 69 English horn
0x46 70 Bassoon
0x47 71 Clarinet
0x48 72 Piccolo
0x49 73 Flute
0x4A 74 Recorder
0x4B 75 Pan flute
0x4C 76 Bottle blow / blown bottle
0x4D 77 Shakuhachi
0x4E 78 Whistle
0x4F 79 Ocarina
    Synth lead
0x50 80 Synth square wave
0x51 81 Synth saw wave
0x52 82 Synth calliope
0x53 83 Synth chiff
0x54 84 Synth charang
0x55 85 Synth voice
0x56 86 Synth fifths saw
0x57 87 Synth brass and lead
    Synth pad
0x58 88 Fantasia / new age
0x59 89 Warm pad
0x5A 90 Polysynth
0x5B 91 Space vox / choir
0x5C 92 Bowed glass
0x5D 93 Metal pad
0x5E 94 Halo pad
0x5F 95 Sweep pad
    Synth effects
0x60 96 Ice rain
0x61 97 Soundtrack
0x62 98 Crystal
0x63 99 Atmosphere
0x64 100 Brightness
0x65 101 Goblins
0x66 102 Echo drops / echoes
0x67 103 Sci fi
0x68 104 Sitar
0x69 105 Banjo
0x6A 106 Shamisen
0x6B 107 Koto
0x6C 108 Kalimba
0x6D 109 Bag pipe
0x6E 110 Fiddle
0x6F 111 Shanai
0x70 112 Tinkle bell
0x71 113 Agogo
0x72 114 Steel drums
0x73 115 Woodblock
0x74 116 Taiko drum
0x75 117 Melodic tom
0x76 118 Synth drum
0x77 119 Reverse cymbal
    Sound effects
0x78 120 Guitar fret noise
0x79 121 Breath noise
0x7A 122 Seashore
0x7B 123 Bird tweet
0x7C 124 Telephone ring
0x7D 125 Helicopter
0x7E 126 Applause
0x7F 127 Gunshot

The following is a list of percussion instruments played on MIDI channel 9.

Note Instrument
0x23 35 B Acoustic bass drum
0x24 36 C Bass drum 1
0x25 37 C#/Db Side stick
0x26 38 D Acoustic snare
0x27 39 D#/Eb Hand clap
0x28 40 E Electric snare
0x29 41 F Low floor tom
0x2A 42 F#/Gb Closed hihat
0x2B 43 G High floor tom
0x2C 44 G#/Ab Pedal hihat
0x2D 45 A Low tom
0x2E 46 A#/Bb Open hihat
0x2F 47 B Low-mid tom
0x30 48 C High-mid tom
0x31 49 C#/Db Crash cymbal 1
0x32 50 D High tom
0x33 51 D#/Eb Ride cymbal 1
0x34 52 E Chinese cymbal
0x35 53 F Ride bell
0x36 54 F#/Gb Tambourine
0x37 55 G Splash cymbal
0x38 56 G#/Ab Cowbell
0x39 57 A Crash cymbal 2
0x3A 58 A#/Bb Vibraslap
0x3B 59 B Ride cymbal 2
0x3C 60 C High bongo
0x3D 61 C#/Db Low bongo
0x3E 62 D Mute high conga
0x3F 63 D#/Eb Open high conga
0x40 64 E Low conga
0x41 65 F High timbale
0x42 66 F#/Gb Low timbale
0x43 67 G High agogo
0x44 68 G#/Ab Low agogo
0x45 69 A Cabasa
0x46 70 A#/Bb Maracas
0x47 71 B Short whistle
0x48 72 C Long whistle
0x49 73 C#/Db Short guiro
0x4A 74 D Long guiro
0x4B 75 D#/Eb Claves
0x4C 76 E High wood block
0x4D 77 F Low wood block
0x4E 78 F#/Gb Mute cuica
0x4F 79 G Open cuica
0x50 80 G#/Ab Mute triangle
0x51 81 A Open triangle

See also:
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)


admin: First posted on 2013 03 21

anonymous, 2013 03 21: this is really good - especially the comment about percussion on channel 9 instead of 10. It depends on if you start counting up from 0 or 1. This tidbit saved me some problems with the program I was working on.

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