0% Interest for 24 Months! Learn more »
(800) 222-4700
  • Español: (800) 222-4701
Dad Gift Card


How do I create my own instrument definitions in Cakewalk or Sonar?

How To Create or Modify an Instrument Definition

Instrument Definitions are very convenient, because they allow you to choose your MIDI gear’s banks and patches from within your Cakewalk product, rather than on the device itself. If you find we don’t currently offer the definition for your MIDI device, you may want to create the definition yourself. These instructions will direct you in that task.

The Define Instruments menu
Choose Options | Instruments and click the Define button to view the Define Instruments menu. The Instruments tree, in the left pane, shows the instrument definitions currently loaded in your Cakewalk product. The Names tree, in the right pane, shows the resources you use to build the instrument definitions. This is where you’ll begin the construction of your Instrument Definition.

Create a Patch Name List

1. Right-click the Patch Names folder in the Names tree
2. Select Add Patch Names List
3. Type the Name of your new patch list Patch Name Lists should be descriptive and are usually named for the sounds they contain. For Example: Korg N364 Bank A or Panel Voices

Entering Patch Names

1. Right-click your new Patch Name list
2. Select Add Patch Name
3. Type the name of the first patch after the “0=”, then press
4. You can enter the data for specific patch numbers if you use the format NUMBER = NAME. For Example type: 100 = Xylophone then press
5. Use the key to add more Patch Names

Create New Instrument

1. Push or Right-click the Instrument Folder in the Instruments tree (in the left window pane) and select Add Instrument
2. Type your new instrument’s name

Assigning Your Patch Name Lists to the New Instrument

1. Drag your Patch Name List(s) and Drop it on your new Instrument
2. Enter the Bank Number. If you need help determining the correct Bank Number, see below in this article.

Modify Bank Select Method

1. Open the Bank Select Method folder in the Names Tree. If you aren’t sure what BSM to select, check your keyboard manual.
2. Drag and Drop the correct Bank Select method from the Names Tree on the BSM in your new Instrument. Your keyboard manual should specify whether the instrument uses the Normal method (Controllers 0 and 32), or another method.


Bank Select Methods Made Easy

Synthesizer manufacturers will provide different methods for changing banks via MIDI. Some manufacturers use a simple patch change message to change banks, while others use a MIDI Controller 32 message, or a Controller 0 message. Some MIDI instruments use a combination of Controller 0 and Controller 32; this last method is also known as the Normal Bank Select method.

This document addresses the four different Bank Select methods used in Cakewalk’s Tools, Instruments, Define menu. First, we’ll look at the Normal Bank Select method.

Determining the Correct Bank Number – Normal Bank Select Method (Ctl 0 and Ctl 32)
You will have to do some calculations to determine the correct “Normal” bank numbers to use in Cakewalk. The good news is that Cakewalk will save the bank numbers as part of your Instrument Definition.

For this example, let’s determine correct Bank Number for the Preset A bank of the Roland JV-1080 synthesizer. The JV-1080 uses the Normal Bank Select method.

For synths using the Normal Bank Select method, you need to calculate the bank number based on the values of Controller 0 and Controller 32. There’s a simple formula for doing this. The formula works for all instruments that use the Normal Bank Select Method of Controller 0 and 32:

(Ctrl 0 value x 128) + Ctrl 32 value = Bank number

NOTE: Some Synthesizer manufacturers refer to Controller 0 as the MSB, or Most Significant Byte, and to Controller 32 as the LSB, or Least Significant Byte.

According to Roland’s documentation, the JV-1080 PR-A Bank has a Controller 0 value of 81, and a Controller 32 value of 0. Plug these numbers into the formula:

(81 x 128) + 0 = 10368

So 10368 is the correct bank number for the PR-A Bank. Use this formula to calculate the correct numbers to enter in the Instrument Definition walkthrough above.

Determining the Correct Bank Number – Other Bank Select Methods
Some synthesizers, such as many Ensoniq and Kurzweil models, use a patch change event (also known as a program change) to change banks. Keyboards manufactured by Roland, Korg, and E-mu can use any combination of Controller 0 Only, Controller 32 Only or Normal (Controller 0 & Controller 32). This information is usually located in the back of the synth’s Users Guide in the “MIDI Implementation Chart.” Consult the keyboard manufacturer for further information.

Controller 0 Only
When using Controller 0 Only, simply type the value of the Controller 0 into the Add Patch Names Bank Number window.

An example of this is the Roland JV-80. It uses a Controller 0 value of 81 to change between A and B banks. Type 81 in the Bank Number window that appears after you drag & drop Patch Name List onto the Patch Name for Banks folder.

Controller 32 Only
If your synth uses Controller 32 only, type the Controller 32 value into the Bank Number window and associate that number with the patch list you created earlier.

Patch 100..127
If your instrument accesses its banks via patch events, you will select Patch 100..127 in the Bank Select Method window. Remember that the actual patch number used to change banks will be offset by 100 when you type the number into the Bank Number window. For example, certain Ensoniq keyboards use a patch change number of 124 to change to a specific bank. Instead of typing 124 into the Bank Number window, you will type 24. Associate the number 24 with the patch list you created in the Uses The Patch Names menu.

Click here for 28,000 answers to your tech questions