Join Scott Hirsch for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding MIDI, part of Logic Pro 9 Essential Training.
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If words like MIDI, sequencing, and quantizing sound scary and confusing to you, don't worry. This lesson will tell you everything you need to get on your way to mastering MIDI in Logic. MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The first thing to know about MIDI is that it is not sound. It's actually a simple, low-resolution computer protocol originally developed in the early 1980s, so that computers could talk to one another. With today's high-powered computers, you may ask what business low-resolution data from the 80s has in our music workflow.
But it's actually the simplicity and small data streams that make MIDI fast, reliable, and very powerful. Let's look at some MIDI in Logic to help you understand how it works. In this project, we have a synth part that was recorded as digital audio. It was sampled at 48kHz and exists as a file on the hard drive. And it is on the Moog track. Let's take a listen. We are going to solo the track and we'll hear it. (Music playing.) This audio is sampled at 48kHz and exists as a file on the hard drive.
It was recorded from the classic pre-MIDI analog Moog synthesizer. I also have a version of the same performance that was recorded as a sequence of MIDI events. This is a generic .mid file. Let's look at the right-hand side of the Arrange window to compare sizes between this file and the audio file. The file I am referring to is called synthMIDI.mid. It is 514 Bytes. The audio file we just listened to is called Moog. It is 8.3 MB. If I did my calculations correct, that audio file is almost 17,000 times bigger in size.
Let's bring it into the session. I am going to simply click and drag from the bin and drag it into an empty part of the Arrange window. When you bring a MIDI file into Logic, it automatically loads a generic piano sound. Notice that you can see the MIDI notes in the region. Let's listen to how this sounds. (Music playing.) So those MIDI notes are playing a generic piano sound. You already have a pre-made track with a software instrument loaded on it.
Let's move this MIDI region up into that track to make the MIDI events on that track play this software instrument called Filter Bubble. Click and drag the region up into the next track. Let's hear what this sounds like. (Music playing.) Let's solo it, just to hear it by itself. (Music playing.) Cool. Now we can see how MIDI can play different instruments. It's separate from the sounds that it makes through the software instruments. Next we are going to open up the List pane on the right-hand side of the Arrange window.
The List shows us a text type view of all the MIDI events inside our currently selected MIDI region. Here we can see information about those MIDI events. Note that MIDI events contain information like position of the song, the pitch value, the value expressed as velocity, and duration length of each of the MIDI events. In MIDI, velocity is not exactly volume. It sometimes corresponds to the volume, but it really is a value between 0 and 127 of how hard the note was struck when it was recorded. Speaking of 0 to 127, you'll see that a lot in MIDI.
It's the total range of any MIDI event. This means 128 total steps, counting numbers 0 to 127 on any MIDI control. We can also look at this MIDI region in the Piano Roll. Let's hit Command+6 to open the Piano Roll window. Here we can see the MIDI events in the Timeline fashion. We can move these MIDI events around and change their lengths and durations. (Music playing.) We can also hear what happens when we do this. Let's close this window. There is another type of MIDI event message called a continuous controller.
Continuous controller messages are different than note-based MIDI events. They are usually performed with a knob, slider, or wheel on a MIDI controller and they can control parameters such as bending the pitch of a synth, or a filter cut-off effect. But just like MIDI note events, continuous controller messages can be edited and changed after they are recorded. Let's select the MIDI Snare region, and let's open it up in the Hyper Editor window. Here we can see some continuous controller messages that were recorded into this region, such as Modulation.
Now that you're familiar with what MIDI is and can do, you're ready to get going with the many MIDI tools, capabilities, and features that are available for MIDI in Logic 9.
- Navigating the Logic Pro interface
- Setting up for recording
- Enabling multiple inputs for a live performance
- Exploring Logic's arsenal of virtual instruments
- Working with powerful MIDI editors and sequencers
- Beatmapping, varispeed, and tempo adjustment in the timeline
- Creating and re-using Apple loops
- Editing music: Moving and snapping regions, cutting and looping
- Transcribing a score and creating lead sheets in the Score Editor
- Syncing with video
- Mixing audio and creating dynamic mixes
- Understanding surround sound requirements
- Exporting a song from Logic Pro