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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
As you get involved with digital audio, you'll no doubt come across a technology known as MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Now, it's a very useful technology to understand when you're working with digital audio. Most audio recording software comes with some MIDI recording capabilities, and most MIDI recorders--which are also called sequencers--come with some digital audio capabilities. It comes into play if you're using keyboards or samplers and sound modules, and it's also useful for adding control surfaces that can allow you to interact with your audio software and control certain functionality through hardware interfaces.
So, there is actually quite a bit to MIDI, and we can spend a lot of time talking about it, but the basic premise is actually pretty simple. What I like to do in this movie and the next of couple movies is just introduce you to a few of the applications and show you how you might set it up, or might interact with it, with your digital audio workstation. So, let's get to it: what is MIDI? So, MIDI is essentially a protocol that allows different devices to communicate, and they are allowed to send information back and forth to each other. Now, it's important to understand that it sends command data, and it doesn't send analog or digital audio information.
It's more a matter of sending communication information about sound than it is about sending sound itself. MIDI communicates via what we call 'MIDI messages,' which are more or less 'to do' commands, and it sends things like play this note on a keyboard for this long at this time. So, it can send information in terms of musical notes and times and durations. It can also be used to send information like, tell the transport to go into Play mode, or tell the transport to stop, or record. Or you can use it to control a fader, or you can also use it to control different functions within your software.
It's actually good to think about MIDI actually kind of as your computer keyboard. You know, when you hit that button and you get K, there is not necessarily a K in the computer keyboard; you are just sending out some information to your computer and saying find the K and let me see the K. But you are not sending K through the cable from your keyboard to the computer, and MIDI is kind of like that as well. you can send information that calls up other information. The other thing to keep in mind is that MIDI messages can actually be created and transmitted in real time, and they can also be recorded, stored, and played back later.
This is where it starts to get really cool. It's one thing to hook them up and use it to play a couple of sounds. It's another thing to be able to record that sound information, manipulate it, and make it play back another device at a later time, and we'll look at this in this chapter. Now, you might think you're new to MIDI, but the chances are you've actually probably had a few devices that use it. If you had an old cell phone that had a pretty cheesy ring, or you downloaded some kind of cheesy musical rings, you are probably dealing with MIDI, which more or less wasn't the sound itself, but it was a set of commands or some information that told your device what sounds to play, and in what order.
Now, with the cooler phones you get an MP3 ring tone, but with the older cheesier ones, it was MIDI all the way. In the next movie, we'll take a look at some real-time applications, and how you go about setting up MIDI, and just what it looks like when you work with it.
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