MIDI and Controllers:

Musical Instrument Digital Interface was defined in 1982 and over subsequent years revolutionized music production. MIDI is in fact a very simple concept it allows MIDI equipped devices to communicate with each other. Once MIDI interfaces were made available for computers, software was developed that records and plays back the MIDI data. Each MIDI buss can contain up to 16 channels of data.

MIDI data is digital information that includes functions such as:

It is very important to understand that you cannot 'hear' MIDI, you can only hear the result of the data being read or processed by the receiving device. MIDI has no concept of sound or tone. MIDI can contain program change data for example 'select sound number 10 on MIDI channel 5' this will always select sound number 10 on whatever receiving device is used, it may be Electric Piano on one device but something else on a different device.

No realtime audio data travels down a MIDI cable, this is a basic mistake that people make. If you are driving a synthesizer by MIDI you have to listen to the result by connecting the audio output to the speakers, and to record audio you have to connect the audio output to the audio input of the audio interface.

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MIDI sequencing is a very useful tool for the composer. MIDI data can be edited much more intricately than audio data. As mentioned previously, because MIDI has no concept of tone a track that was recorded using a piano sound can easily be changed to strings etc. MIDI data is easily transposed, quantized, and can play back at any tempo that the sequencer can produce.

MIDI data is used to control Virtual Instruments. As the use of VIs is expanding, many composers don't require hardware synthesizers any more. They input data into the computer via a MIDI controller. 'MIDI controller' or just 'controller' is a general term and can be applied to a range of devices:

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TECH TIP

The Mackie Control Universal is a premium controller and works with most software applications.

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This only shows playback to record MIDI data a MIDI cable will be connected from the OUT on the synth to the interface.

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Many programs can record mix settings in real time called automation. In this case tha faders follow the mix.

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Really just an audio sample with a rhythmic sound or feel.

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Application varies depending on what values the controller can send and the software receive or interpret.

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One of the most commonly used MIDI edit functions, Quantize corrects timing by shifting the notes to a user preset range.

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To change key. Some audio editors can do this to audio but only over a small range as quality is lost for larger intervals.

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Loads of 'audios' stresses the point MIDI and audio are very different.

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Because it is digital informantion it is sometimes displayed as 0-127, rather than 1-128.

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Patch select function formally out of 128. Bank changes were implemented later providing 128 x 128 x 128 values.

 

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Called CC or Continuous Controllers, they can be assigned to a range of functions.

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Also used to select different patches in an effects processor like a guitar FX unit and MIDI foot pedal combination.

 

 

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In this case each cable. Some MIDI interfaces have multiple ins and outs, i.e. more than one buss.

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Originally it was just MIDI, nowadays most music programs are sophisticated audio editors as well.

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Nowadays they connect via USB or the MIDI interface on the Audio Interrface, USB, Firewire, or PCI.

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Via 5 pin DINN cables. MIDI OUT goes to MIDI IN and vise versa. MIDI THRU replicates data received at MIDI IN and is rarely used.