Ultima V MIDI with hidden arrangements

Full recording, all musical scores from Ultima V via an original Passport Designs MIDI Interface:

Individual scores:


Midi files

The UltimaMIDI.ZIP contains three types of MIDI arrangements, captured from Ultima V:

  1. Raw MIDI events as-captured with all tracks played through one channel: 1WORLDS.MID, 1GREYSON.MID
  2. Tracks separated into channels and assigned instruments: 2HORNPIP.MID, 2MISSING.MID, 2ENGAGE.MID, 2BRIT1.MID, 2DREAM.MID, 2FANARE.MID, 2HALLS.MID, 2LORD.MID, 2VILLAGE.MID
  3. Arranged with added patch-change MIDI events: 3STONES.MID, 3ULTIMA.MID



When Ultima V was published in 1988, MIDI was such a new technology that standards for interoperability had not been established yet.  General MIDI 1 had not been published, and was not widely adopted until the 90s.

The musical score Ultima V was undoubtedly composed using a Roland multi-timbral sequencer, as the MIDI data contained percussion and effects that would have matched the drum kit and tone generator of a Roland MT-32.  Probably to achieve wider compatibility, Ultima V doesn't transmit multi-channel MIDI data -- the program assigns all MIDI tracks to a single channel to be played through a single instrument.  The music is nevertheless polyphonic because individual MIDI channels can play multiple tones simultaneously, but it sacrificed the lush multi-timbral arrangement and lost all its percussion effects.

Despite merging all the MIDI tracks together during playback, the track numbers associated with the composer's MIDI arrangement are still hidden in the MIDI data stream.  These MIDI files attempt to re-create the original arrangement by splitting the MIDI tracks back into their original channel assignments, and assigning each channel my best-guess at the original instrument.

And...surprise!  The Ultima V Title Fanfare contained crashing cymbals, while Halls Below revealed hidden 'wind' sound effects which had apparently been tuned for a Roland TR-808.  By inserting Roland GS MIDI events, those arrangements could be reproduced on a GS or GM2 synth with the original effects at last!

It's high time to upload these files to AppleFritter for preservation, as my Roland MT-120 threatens to reject the floppy disk they were preserved on...

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