Electronic Music Innovation: MIDI

MIDI is the acronym for Musical Instrument Device Interface. Developed in 1982, it is a protocol that allows separate electronic music equipment to communicate amongst each other (History 2012). In those early days of MIDI, the communication was rather simple: data relating to switching a note on and off and volume control (History 2012). In time, the MIDI protocol became much more robust with added datasets. These datasets can control a multitude of parameters and allows a single performer to play a rack of synthesizers and drum machine from a single MIDI controller.

The impact of such a common data language among different electronic instruments and computers has been dramatic. MIDI incorporated in modern software, known as Digital Audio Workstations, or DAWs, allows complex sequences to be programmed and played back at variable settings. And MIDI controller devices can be played as instruments to control a huge array of musical equipment. As a result, a single performer can control a symphony of sounds.

MIDI is now used in virtually all contemporary genres of electronic music. I am unable to think of an example of modern electronic music production that would not employ MIDI.

As a music producer, I thrive in a MIDI environment. The DAWs that have developed over the years have allowed me to produce music on a relatively low budget, all things considered. I am curious about the new MIDI controller called QuNeo and have done some preliminary research on it. It can control several DAW parameters via MIDI to produce sophisticated electronic music.

As for DAWs, I primarily use three different packages. These include Apple Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and Propellerheads’ Reason. I am able to run two DAWs at a time using another protocol called Rewire. Rewire is in essence a virtual MIDI connection between two DAWs, which then syncs them to playback simultaneously.

Since I have used MIDI for years, much of this blog entry is from experience and not documented sources. So I decided to include a few links to discuss MIDI in greater detail:

The History of MIDI: http://www.midi.org/aboutmidi/tut_history.php

MIDI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI

A Short History of MIDI: http://www.rbjones.com/rbjpub/music/mus006.htm


n.a. (2012). History of midi. Retrieved on September 16, 2012, from http://www.midi.org/aboutmidi/tut_history.php

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Shannon McDowell © 2014

Shannon McDowell © 2021