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Learn About MIDI
• Tutorial: Introduction to MIDI (.pdf)

See also: Resources

MIDI technology is all around you. It's inside musical instruments, computers, tablets, smart phones, stage lighting, audio mixers, and many other products from well known international companies like Microsoft, Apple, Yamaha, Google, Pioneer, and hundreds more. 

Film Composer
Harry Gregson-Williams' Production Suite

MIDI is how recorded music is typically made, including music for films, TV, and even video games. MIDI-equipped electronic keyboards (aka "synthesizers") are often used along with computers running software "Sequencers" and/or "Digital Audio workstations" to produce music. With advances in digital sampling and synthesis technologies making digital instruments sound ever more realistic, the orchestra playing behind that big-screen block buster is more likely to be a recording of a few MIDI devices than of dozens of acoustic instruments. 

MIDI technology has been around for more than 30 years, and first appeared in the form of a "5-Pin DIN" connector on the back of a keyboard that is used to connect to another keyboard or to a computer. Over the years the connector has changed and now USB is often used to provide a MIDI connection to a computer, though 5-pin DIN connections are still used for making connections between keyboards.

Of course, MIDI is not just for keyboards... other MIDI-equipped musical instruments include digital drums, guitars, wind instruments, and more. For electronic dance music (EDM) and DJs, there are specialized controllers that use MIDI to trigger beats and loops, and to control lighting. And new kinds of musical instruments are invented all the time, all of which integrate perfectly with existing instruments and devices because of MIDI. (Products

Your computer, tablet, or smart phone also probably has the ability to play recorded MIDI data (Standard MIDI Files) using either built-in hardware or software that responds to MIDI messages by making sound. On some smart phones, MIDI files are even used as ringtones. Using readily available sequencing software, almost anyone can create music and save it as a file for others to play on their computer, tablet, smart phone, digital piano, or any musical instrument that plays Standard MIDI Files. (Making Music with MIDI)

Starting in 2015, the web browser you are using to view this page may be capable of making music with MIDI... Google's Chrome browser (and others to follow) can access local MIDI devices (hardware and software synthesizers, external keyboards, etc.) and use them for producing music and/or for controlling objects in the browser (such as a browser-based synthesizer). Web app developers are rapidly adding MIDI support to existing apps and creating new apps that are Web-MIDI enabled. (Web-MIDI

The Flaming Calliope - 
MIDI triggered

If you own an iPad or iPhone you may know that there are hundreds of programs you can get for making music (even on-the-go) that use Apple's CoreMIDI technology to connect to MIDI devices. CoreMIDI also allows an iPad/iPhone to send/receive MIDI messages via Wifi to a Mac (via RTP-MIDI), allowing the iPad/iPhone to control and/or play sounds and sequences on the Mac, and vice-versa. CoreMIDI also supports MIDI connections via USB, Ethernet, and FireWire (where equipped). Windows users can also connect to Macs and iOS devices via a third party RTP-MIDI driver. (iOS Products)

Besides music creation, MIDI has some other interesting and popular uses. MIDI Show Control is a set of MIDI messages used for controlling lights and rides at theme parks as well as for operating themed events such as are found outside many Las Vegas casinos. And MIDI Machine Control provides remote transport control for many kinds of audio/video recording devices. Moreover, because MIDI is widely available and free to use, many people are able to develop unique products using MIDI to control and/or generate sound... in all kinds of shapes and forms. (Fun with MIDI)   

If you'd like to learn more about the technology of MIDI, we offer a number of online tutorials that should be helpful, as well as the specification documents themselves. You can also visit our Resources page for additional articles, as well as links to locations that offer books and DVDs.

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