Import SMF

Video Tutorial

Before you begin, make sure you understand the limitations of MIDI import. We recommend you import into libraries, sift through the imported tracks and collect useful phrases.


If you export MIDI files from another program, or have a chance to edit them, make sure they are best prepared for import.

  1. Files must be in Standard MIDI File Format (1 channel for each instrument)

  2. Program change messages should conform to the General MIDI Standard, so Synfire can automatically determine the kind of instrument for each track.

  3. Drums and percussion should be on channel 10.

  4. Only one sound per channel (no dynamic sound changes).

  5. If possible, avoid upbeat, lead-in, or other events before the actual start of the piece. Likewise, nothing should come after the end.

  6. Synfire can handle non-quantized music. However, quantization can be helpful to create cleaner and leaner phrases.

  7. Notes must match the time signature and beat of a file. Synfire does not perform any after-the-fact tempo synchronization or beat recognition.

  8. While key changes are recognized and handled, you should prefer files with a single key signature.

  9. Remove any unnecessary and redundant data form a MIDI file if possible.

Possible Destinations

Create a New Library
Open a Library App with File > New > Library and do File > Import > Standard MIDI File.
Import Into The Embedded Library
In an Arrangement App, do Library > Import > Standard MIDI File to have all imported phrases added to the embedded library.
Import Into a New Arrangement
In an Arrangement App, do File > Import > Standard MIDI File to create a new arrangement based on the imported MIDI tracks.
Note: If you want to re-import a MIDI file you have previously exported from Synfire, do File > Import > Standard MIDI File (Copy My Sounds) to copy the current arrangement rack over to the new arrangement. However, please consider the fundamental limitations of this approach.
Import a Single Phrase
In an Arrangement App, select the desired target container and instrument. Then do Phrase > Import ... to import a single MIDI track into that phrase.

Import Settings

After selecting a file for import, the Standard MIDI File Import dialog pops up, allowing you to select the tracks you want to import and configure the handling and processing of MIDI data. The import process is then started on that dialog.


After an import has finished, you have the option to further improve the result.

  1. Do the recognized chords somehow appear implausible? It is possible that Synfire incorrectly selected a parallel key. Try it yet again and confirm the detected key yourself.

  2. Figures should spread out a bit around the center ("zero") line. If figures have been mistakenly set too far apart, transpose them manually by moving the entire vector seven steps (about an octave) upwards or downwards.

  3. Do the segments seem to be torn apart and unusually messy? Try a new figure recognition with other settings: Select the Take parameter and perform the figure recognition in the inspector.

  4. Play the arrangement. It should sound something like the original. If not, check once more whether all prerequisites for MIDI file import are met.

Re-Importing From a DAW

If you exported the MIDI file from a DAW yourself and the file is laid out for a particular device with specific MIDI channels, you can proceed as follows in order to retain the file's track structure and sounds:

  1. General MIDI Standard: Disable this, unless the device confirms to the GM standard.

  2. Retain MIDI Channels: Tick this box.

  3. Switch to the Settings tab and use the Sound Wizard to setup the sounds for all tracks. This creates a rack for the arrangement that is about to be imported.

Trouble: If harmony seems messed up, double-check if drum tracks or other non-tonal content was accidentally included with the harmonization.