What is MIDI? An Introduction for Beginners – Part 1

What is MIDI? An Introduction for Beginners – MIDI is a word you will often see when reading about recording music at home. As a beginner, I own and use a lot of MIDI equipment without really knowing how it works. In this article, I will share how and what MIDI functions in an effort to understand the world of MIDI and its role for today’s musicians.

One assumption that is usually wrong for people new to MIDI is that they think of MIDI as a kind of audio, flowing over a MIDI cable. In simple terms, MIDI, which stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface,” can be understood as a system that allows electronic musical instruments and computers to send instructions to each other. Sounds simple, but MIDI provides several opportunities to explore a musician’s creative abilities.

What is MIDI

But before getting to the core of the discussion “What is MIDI“, it would be better if we looked at the historical traces of MIDI development. MIDI was invented in 1983. Because there is no standard way to synchronize electronic musical instruments from different companies at the same time. Therefore, this function is very important in situations of making music with more than one instrument, or the limitations of analog instruments.

Then, at that time Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi, Oberheim Electronics founder Tom Oberheim, and Sequential Circuits president Dave Smith in the early 1980s started discussions with representatives from Yamaha, Korg, and Kawai that a universal language should be created so that various instruments could communicate with each other. other.

A meeting between Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi, Oberheim Electronics founder Tom Oberheim and Sequential Circuits president Dave Smith in the early 1980s initiated discussions with representatives from Yamaha, Korg, and Kawai that a universal language should be created so that various instruments could communicate with each other. The idea of ​​this musical ‘standard’ was actually proposed in November 1981, a year later Robert Moog announced MIDI in October 1982 and demonstrated it for the first time in 1983 with signals transmitted between the Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 and the Roland JP-6.

How Does MIDI Work?

No audio signal (sound) is sent via MIDI. Instead MIDI functions as a digital signal. A series of binary digits (0s and 1s). Each instrument (or computer) understands and then responds to these 1s and 0s, which are combined into an 8-bit message that supports data rates of up to 31,250 bits per second. These messages can communicate useful information such as: which notes were pressed, when the notes were pressed and released, speed (how hard it was pressed), after-touch (when keystrokes changed), vibrato, and even; pitch bend.

MIDI ‘protocol’, can support up to 128 tones, ranging from C5 an octave below Middle C to G10 an octave higher,, other values ​​such as speed are recorded in the ranges 0 and 127. With 0 there is no sound and 127 being the loudest. These standard numbers can be read by any instrument or machine capable of capturing MIDI signals. That’s why MIDI is such a powerful tool in music production. The type of MIDI mentioned above is known as ‘general MIDI’ but keep in mind that its capabilities vary depending on the age of the instrument used. More than that MIDI also has other functions, outside of music, MIDI has been used for lighting performances in theater productions or can be used to control any digital device provided that the device used can read and process MIDI.

How is MIDI DATA Transferred?

MIDI is an old-school connection type, MIDI devices are equipped with ports for ‘MIDI in’, ‘MIDI out’, and ‘MIDI Thru’. A special type of cable known as a MIDI cable is usually used for this connection. Each cable is actually made of 3 wires, two are used for data transmission and one as a shield. Each MIDI connection along with one of these cables (or ‘link’), can contain up to 16 channels of information and each MIDI device has 16 channels. Each of these channels will have a pitch, speed, pitch bend, etc. This gets a little confusing because MIDI signals can eventually be transferred via USB. This is common in most modern synths or MIDI keyboards. USB effectively replaces the In, Out, and Thru ports. -What is MIDI-

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