September 5, 2001
XMF Designed for Wireless and Web-based Interactive Audio Applications
The MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA), a trade organization of musical instrument, computer, entertainment, and wireless industry companies, today announced a new eXtensible Music Format (XMF) specification for delivery of music and audio content in wireless and Web-based applications. Developed cooperatively with Japan's Electronic Music Industry Association (AMEI), XMF expands upon other MMA/AMEI standards already in use in hundreds of millions of devices worldwide, such as Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), Standard MIDI Files (SMF), General MIDI (GM), and the Down-Loadable Samples (DLS) formats.
The XMF specification allows existing and complementary MMA/AMEI formats for music and sound generation (and more) to be packaged together in a single, easily managed, web-friendly file for use on a wide variety of playback devices. The Standard MIDI File (*.mid) defines what notes are played, like a musical score; the GM and GM2 specifications define standard sets of instruments to play those notes; and the DLS-1 and DLS-2 specifications define the means to create additional instruments (or recorded sounds) that can be downloaded to DLS-compatible players.
"We've seen quite a lot of interest in leveraging our existing standards for new Web and wireless applications, and the XMF Specification is the MIDI industry's recommended means for doing that," said MMA President and CEO Tom White. Music and audio delivered in MIDI format is typically 100 times more compact than other audio formats, and is already highly interactive. XMF allows composers to combine MIDI with other popular audio formats in a single package, and to apply standard playback controls appropriate for web-based music, music remixing, ring tones, network gaming, and more.
Unlike compressed audio formats (such as MP3), XMF files can reference instrument data (sounds, synthesis programs, etc.) contained inside a computer, phone, PDA, or other sound generator or stored on a local drive or web server, making XMF files smaller and faster to download. The XMF specification supports both client-side General MIDI instruments and custom DLS instruments together in a single file that can be streamed for faster start-up. GM instruments are typically already stored on the so an XMF file can be downloaded much faster than a normal DLS file, where desired.
What's more, because XMF files (like SMF files) store music in parts and sections rather than as one linear performance, music delivered in the XMF format can be rearranged and edited during playback to create many hours of music, for example, from just a few kilobytes of data. Unique among music file formats, XMF also allows for international metadata, optionally with Unicode text, to support regional and international commerce markets.
"Industry-wide cooperation in the creation of this format has been a huge benefit for everyone involved in the development of interactive audio solutions," said Don Millers, senior vice president of engineering for Beatnik, Inc, a primary contributor to the XMF Specification. "XMF provides the audio artist and engineers with a solid platform to build interactive soundtracks and is designed to accommodate alternative methods and new media types for creative results."
The XMF Specification was developed by an MMA working group comprised of representatives from the mobile phone, musical instrument and applications software markets, including: Beatnik, IBM, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, US Robotics, Alesis, Cakewalk, Emu, Kurzweil, Line 6, Live Update, NemeSys Music, Propellerheads, Sonic Foundry, Staccato Systems, Steinberg, and Yamaha.
As with other MMA/AMEI standards, XMF has been engineered for reliability and is built on proven technologies and standards endorsed by industry leading companies and other standards associations. MMA standards are also incorporated by reference in other worldwide standards such as VRML and MPEG-4. XMF works on any operating system and was designed for use both in desktop/laptop computers and in current and future mobile devices and applications. There is no license required to use the XMF technology in products. The XMF Specification will be available for ordering from the MMA Web site ( www.midi.org/xmf ) around October 1, 2001.