Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)
Basically, MIDI is a ‘protocol’ (a set of rules and specifications) that allows different electronic instruments to share information.
The most common use is to provide an electronic musical instrument with the information that it needs to play a complete song. Imagine a player piano; MIDI is the roll of music that you put into it.
A set of MIDI instructions includes note info, but also pitch, tempo, volume, and nearly any other kind of info that influences the playback — and it can be sent to multiple instruments at once, synchronizing all of them (hopefully). This is sometimes referred to as “sequencing”, and the software that allows the user to compose or assemble a MIDI file is called a “sequencer”.
MIDI has about a zillion other uses, however. Because electronic instruments are complex, idiosyncratic, and sometimes extraordinarily flexible, MIDI had to be designed to be robust and flexible and scalable and all of those other words that executives use when they’re trying to sound ‘techy’.
The drawback is that the final sound cannot be guaranteed; though MIDI specifications are well – established and largely adhered – to, you’ll inevitably hear a MIDI file that sounds different on different machines… this may cause subtle differences in timbres, or even in extreme cases a partial or complete failure to interpret the MIDI information (i.e., weird noises or complete silence).
For the most part it has become a normal part of making music for a growing group of musicians. Once it was released it grew steadily due to the loyal following that it immediately took on. These people introduced more people and so on… This has now become everyday equipment for most musicians to at least learn about. Most people who claim to create music either for a living or hobby have either learned on their own or learned the use of the tool from somebody that was skilled with it.
It has evolve since it’s creation and people have learned to use it ever more creatively to make exactly the musical product they are looking for. You might be amazed at just what you can do with one of these if you have never had the chance to see one being used or better yet, play around with one yourself…
They are great fun even for just playing around with creatively. This is how many of the uses for it were expanded upon. It took the release and actual use for the full benefit to be seen. After people got their hands on it and started tinkering around they made an alteration here, an addition there. It really took on a life of it’s own. It’s really interesting stuff here…