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An Introduction to MIDI

Take notes please:


The creation of MIDI, the Musical Instrument Digital Interface,  was probably the most profound advancement in electronic music of all time.  I remember vividly the first time it was possible to play a keyboard and have the music automatically turn into written sheet music notation on my computer.  It was a miracle.  For years, we composed all by hand.  MIDI made is possible to hear our work instantly and have access to a wide range of sounds and timbres. 


To Start:  Let me tell you what MIDI is NOT.  People assume that MIDI is some type of sound, or audio that travels through MIDI cables, but it is not.  It is a type of programming language that allows electronic musical instruments and computers to send instructions to each other.  


Why is MIDI Important?


  • You can play on one instrument and control several others at the same time

  • You can layer sounds on top of one another

  • You can capture the MIDI data and use it to program music on a computer.  

  • It is very easy to modify MIDI information to fix timing, wrong pitches, etc.

  • GENERAL MIDI was created so that all synthesizers would use the same data numbers for the same types of sounds, allowing you to play back recorded MIDI files on any machine.


What MIDI will do:


When one MIDI device communicates with another, a set of instructions is sent telling the other device what to do.  Kind of like my wife.  When you press a note on a keyboard controller it will send information to another device via a MIDI cable.  The device will recognize how hard the key was struck (Velocity) , how long it was held, and when it was released.  




Taking notes?