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