45 Facts About MIDI


MIDI is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, digital interface, and electrical connectors that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and related audio devices for playing, editing, and recording music.

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One common MIDI application is to play a MIDI keyboard or other controller and use it to trigger a digital sound module to generate sounds, which the audience hears produced by a keyboard amplifier.

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Advantages of MIDI include small file size, ease of modification and manipulation and a wide choice of electronic instruments and synthesizer or digitally sampled sounds.

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MIDI technology was standardized in 1983 by a panel of music industry representatives, and is maintained by the MIDI Manufacturers Association.

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All official MIDI standards are jointly developed and published by the MMA in Los Angeles, and the MIDI Committee of the Association of Musical Electronics Industry in Tokyo.

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The MIDI standard was unveiled by Kakehashi and Smith, who received Technical Grammy Awards in 2013 for their work.

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In 2016, the MIDI Association was formed to continue overseeing the standard.

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MIDI's appeal was originally limited to professional musicians and record producers who wanted to use electronic instruments in the production of popular music.

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MIDI's introduction coincided with the dawn of the personal computer era and the introduction of samplers and digital synthesizers.

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The creative possibilities brought about by MIDI technology are credited for helping revive the music industry in the 1980s.

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MIDI introduced capabilities that transformed the way many musicians work.

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MIDI sequencing makes it possible for a user with no notation skills to build complex arrangements.

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In 2022, the Guardian wrote that MIDI remained as important to music as USB was to computing, and represented "a crucial value system of cooperation and mutual benefit, one all but thrown out by today's major tech companies in favour of captive markets".

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MIDI was invented so that electronic or digital musical instruments could communicate with each other and so that one instrument can control another.

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MIDI is a set of commands that create sound, MIDI sequences can be manipulated in ways that prerecorded audio cannot.

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Personal computer market stabilized at the same time that MIDI appeared, and computers became a viable option for music production.

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Standard MIDI File is a file format that provides a standardized way for music sequences to be saved, transported, and opened in other systems.

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Main advantage of the personal computer in a MIDI system is that it can serve a number of different purposes, depending on the software that is loaded.

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Early PC games were distributed on floppy disks, and the small size of MIDI files made them a viable means of providing soundtracks.

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MIDI has been adopted as a control protocol in a number of non-musical applications.

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MIDI Show Control uses MIDI commands to direct stage lighting systems and to trigger cued events in theatrical productions.

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The term MIDI slop refers to audible timing errors that result when MIDI transmission is delayed.

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MIDI was designed with keyboards in mind, and any controller that is not a keyboard is considered an "alternative" controller.

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Nevertheless, some features of the keyboard playing for which MIDI was designed do not fully capture other instruments' capabilities; Jaron Lanier cites the standard as an example of technological "lock-in" that unexpectedly limited what was possible to express.

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Devices dedicated to real-time MIDI control provide an ergonomic benefit, and can provide a greater sense of connection with the instrument than an interface that is accessed through a mouse or a push-button digital menu.

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MIDI instrument contains ports to send and receive MIDI signals, a CPU to process those signals, an interface that allows user programming, audio circuitry to generate sound, and controllers.

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Typically, the MIDI Module includes a large screen, so the user can view information for the currently selected function.

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Some MIDI Modules include a Harmonizer and the ability to playback and transpose MP3 audio files.

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MIDI samplers are typically limited by displays that are too small to use to edit sampled waveforms, although some can be connected to a computer monitor.

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MIDI messages are made up of 8-bit words that are transmitted serially at a rate of 31.

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MIDI message is an instruction that controls some aspect of the receiving device.

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Examples include "note-on" messages which contain a MIDI note number that specifies the note's pitch, a velocity value that indicates how forcefully the note was played, and the channel number; "note-off" messages that end a note; program change messages that change a device's patch; and control changes that allow adjustment of an instrument's parameters.

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MIDI notes are numbered from 0 to 127 assigned to C-1 to G9.

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Properly designed MIDI devices are relatively immune to ground loops and similar interference.

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MIDI specification provides for a ground "wire" and a braid or foil shield, connected on pin 2, protecting the two signal-carrying conductors on pins 4 and 5.

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MIDI allows selection of an instrument's sounds through program change messages, but there is no guarantee that any two instruments have the same sound at a given program location.

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The General MIDI standard was established in 1991, and provides a standardized sound bank that allows a Standard MIDI File created on one device to sound similar when played back on another.

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General MIDI is defined by a standard layout of defined instrument sounds called 'patches', defined by a 'patch' number and triggered by pressing a key on a MIDI keyboard.

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The MIDI tuning standard, ratified in 1992, allows alternate tunings.

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MIDI Clock is based on tempo, but SMPTE time code is based on frames per second, and is independent of tempo.

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MIDI Show Control is a set of SysEx commands for sequencing and remotely cueing show control devices such as lighting, music and sound playback, and motion control systems.

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MIDI Polyphonic Expression is a method of using MIDI that enables pitch bend, and other dimensions of expressive control, to be adjusted continuously for individual notes.

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Octave-Plateau Voyetra-8 synthesizer was an early MIDI implementation using XLR3 connectors in place of the 5-pin DIN.

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Computer network implementations of MIDI provide network routing capabilities, and the high-bandwidth channel that earlier alternatives to MIDI, such as ZIPI, were intended to bring.

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The Universal MIDI Packet is intended for high-speed transport such as USB and Ethernet and is not supported on the existing 5-pin DIN connections.

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