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What is MIDI?

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: What is MIDI?

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.

What is MIDI?

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 26632 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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