Using Yamaha MIDI synthesizers

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If you have a synthesizer or keyboard sitting idly by and it has a General MIDI soundset, you might want to try using that instead of the MIDI synth that comes with Windows. Here's how.

This guide is written using the Yamaha MO6 synthesizer and thus the procedure should be identical for the MO8 and Motif ES at least.

This guide applies only to Windows 2000/XP and Yamaha synthesizers and keyboards that have a built-in "To host" (Yamaha-lingo) USB MIDI interface and a GM or XG soundset, so it should work at least with the MO6/MO8, Motif Classic and Motif ES and the rack versions.(Anyone want to try it with MM6 and Motif XS?) This should also work with a number of PSR-series of keyboards as well but the GM initialisation procedure is probably going to be very different and I don't own a PSR so don't ask me how to do it.

I'm going to assume you know your way around your Motif so i'm not going to hold your hand but I'll try sticking to the official Yamaha names of things.

Also, make sure to read the notes at the end.

Install the Yamaha Generic MIDI driver

Get the Yamaha Generic USB MIDI driver from here:

Download the appropriate version and install the driver.

After installing the driver, plug the USB cable into your synth and the driver should detect it. After it's finished installing it, check its ports are there. Go to control panel -> sounds -> defaults tab -> MIDI playback. The combo box should show a list of MIDI devices with your synth's model name. If they are there, proceed. If not, then umm... I don't really care. Try asking on the Motifator forums or some such.

Configure the synth

What you need to do in this step is to enable MIDI reception for the USB to host connection. Here's how it's done on the MO6/MO8/Motif ES:

  1. Go to UTILITY, select MIDI (F6) and OTHER (SF5).
  2. Set MIDI IN/OUT to USB.
  3. Press STORE to save the settings.

Configure DOSBox

This is easy: Start DOSBox, and do MIXER /LISTMIDI. Note the number of the first occurence of your Yamaha synth. Open DOSBox.conf and find the midi section. Now specify this number to the config parameter. Save the file and restart DOSBox if it was running.

Configure the game

Run the game's setup program and select General MIDI as MIDI output. That's it. You can test the output as well but make sure you perform the next step first.

Set up the synthesizer

I have absolutely no idea how this section works out with a PSR nor if it is even needed, but here's again the MO6/MO8/Motif ES instructions.

Before playing you need to initialize the synth to General MIDI. You'll need to do this after every mode change but not every time you start DOSBox, if you haven't changed the synthesizer's mode between sessions.

  1. Switch to song mixing mode. Pattern mixing will work just as well. It's your choice and makes no difference.
  2. Press JOB, and you should see the "Initialize Current Mix" screen.
  3. Move the cursor to "GM", enable GM initialization by pressing YES. Also make sure all Part toggles are enabled for initializing.
  4. Press ENTER/EXECUTE and confirm with YES.
  5. All done. Now go play.


  • You can switch out of mixing mode but do not switch between song, pattern, voice, performace or master modes during play or the GM mixing setup will be lost. If you did, repeat the procedures in step 5 and restart the game. You don't have to restart DOSBox.
  • Some games send program change messages during playback instead of using more MIDI channels. Program changes cause stuttering in all Motif series synth because they use ROM waveform compression (the synth stops playback while it decompresses the waveforms into RAM). There is no way around this.