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Continuous Controller

In MIDI terms, a continuous controller (CC) is a MIDI message capable of transmitting a range of values, usually 0-127. The MIDI Spec makes 128 different continuous controllers available for each MIDI channel, although some of these have been pre-assigned to other functions. CC’s are commonly used for things like MIDI controlling volume (#7), pan (#10), data slider position (#6), mod wheel (#1) and other variable parameters.

Use of continuous controllers in performance and sequencing can be a major factor in adding life to MIDI music – but beware, over-use of CC messages can result in MIDI log-jam, where the amount of data being sent is more than the bandwidth of MIDI can support. (Most sequencers support commands for “thinning” CC data if this becomes an issue)

Interestingly, pitchbend is technically NOT a continuous controller. Because of the greater resolution wide bends require (to prevent “stair-stepping”), pitchbend has been assigned its own dedicated MIDI message type…

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