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Continuous controller

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(Often abbreviated CC) A category of MIDI messages which are used to convey performance or patch data for parameters other than those which have their own dedicated message types (note on, note off, aftertouch, polyphonic aftertouch, pitch bend, and program change). The continuous controller message format contains a controller number and a seven-bit value. 128 controller numbers are possible, but six are reserved for special purposes, leaving 122 available. The standard originally assigned meanings to only a few of these, notably mod wheel which is assigned to continuous controller #1. However, subsequent revisions have assigned meanings to many of them, and reserved some ranges of numbers for particular purposes: the numbers from 64 to 80 have long been reserved for on/off type parameters, with #64 being assigned to the sustain pedal. (A value of zero equals "off"; any nonzero value is taken to be "on".) Numbers 81 to 100 are for controller definitions associated with General MIDI. Since it has been found desirable to allow for some controllers to have more than seven-bit resolution, the controller numbers from 32 to 63 are now conventionally reserved for conveying the least significant byte for the corresponding numbers 0-31. (For example, controller #32 carries the LSB for controller #0; controller #33 goes with controller #1, and so on.)

Unfortunately, the standard is not very consistent about the meanings of some of the standard assignments.For instance, some such as volume and pan derive their names from the functions they are intended to perform, while others such as breath controller and expression pedal are named after the types of input devices that generally produce controller messages of that type. Also note that there is no enforcement on usage on conventional meanings for continuous controller messages; some soft synths in particular are notorious for totally disregarding the standard controller number assignments.

Some commonly used controller numbers and their conventional meanings:

0: bank select
1: mod wheel
2: breath controller
5: portamento time
6: data entry -- used with the registered parameter mechanism
7: volume
10: pan -- adjusts the left-right positioning of a signal in a stereo output
11: expression pedal
64: sustain pedal
65: portamento on/off
88: High resolution velocity prefix (added 2010)
98 & 99: non-registered parameter number
100 & 101: registered parameter number
121: reset all controllers
122: local control on/off
123: all notes off

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