Unlike MP3 files and CDs, MIDI files contain individual instructions for playing each individual note of each individual instrument. So with MIDI it is actually possible to change just one note in a song, or to
re-orchestrate an entire song with entirely different instruments. And since each instrument in a MIDI performance is separate from the rest, its easy to
isolate individual instruments and study them for educational purposes, or to mute individual instruments in a song so that you can play that part yourself.
Here are just some of the tangible advantages of using MIDI for active music-making.
Play with "a band"
Learning to play a musical instrument is one of the most rewarding things people can do. But why play by yourself when you can play along with a band? Standard MIDI Files are available for many popular songs, and when used with a personal computer or digital piano make it possible to have an entire backing band play along with you at whatever speed (tempo) and in any pitch (key) you desire. MIDI files are perfect for practicing with, as well as for performing when additional musicians are not available.
Correct Your Performance
A MIDI sequencer or a ‘Digital Audio Workstation' can record your performances for listening at a later time, and even save your performance in Standard MIDI File format for playback on other MIDI systems. This is a great way to evaluate your own progress, or even to study how someone else plays.
Better yet, because all MIDI data is editable, you can edit out any imperfections! If you play a wrong note, you can just change it using the Sequencer's editing tools. And if you find you just can't play fast enough to keep up with the tempo, you can slow it down for recording and speed it back up for playback -- without the "Mickey Mouse" effect that normally comes from speeding up a song.
Play Any Instrument
When you use MIDI to make music, you aren't limited to playing just one instrument. No matter what sort of MIDI Controller (keyboard, guitar, wind, drums, etc.) you actually use, you can make it sound like just about any instrument you can imagine (and some that are only in your imagination). Most digital pianos and other MIDI instruments come with hundreds of different sounds (pianos, trumpets, violins, guitars, basses and more) which you can play yourself or play via a MIDI sequencer to create fully orchestrated music.
Arrange and Orchestrate
Many people enjoy arranging and orchestrating music as much as performing it. There are MIDI files available for songs from every style of music -- as well as software programs that generate the basic rhythm and chord patterns that define specific styles -- that you can use to create your own arrangements and orchestrations. Just change the instrumentation, add a verse or chorus here or there, even put in your own original phrase or section -- all of this is easy to do with MIDI. You can also share your arrangements with other people, who can then rearrange them to fit their own needs -- many people download MIDI files from the Internet and rearrange them to fit their own needs.
Print Sheet Music
When you are done creating your own performance or arrangement, if you have a personal computer, you can convert MIDI information into musical notation and print out actual sheet music. Even if you can't play a note, MIDI Notation programs often make it possible to place notes on a musical staff using your mouse or computer keyboard. There are Notation programs available for every level and pocket book -- from professional engraving to casual use.
If you've ever had an original song idea in your head and wished you could have it performed, MIDI is the way to do it. All you need is a MIDI Sequencer , plus a MIDI instrument to enter notes with. (You can also use MIDI Notation software to place notes on a musical staff without playing them at all.) You can start with just a melody and then add backing chords, bass, and rhythm later, or add instruments in any order you like. If you make mistake, you can change it without having to play the part all over again. You can also make entire sections repeat without playing them again. And you can rearrange and re-orchestrate your song as many times as you like.
Part 2: How To Do It