When you're songwriting, you want nothing to get in the way of your creativity, and you want as fast a workflow as humanly possible—so for those reasons, you're better off starting the songwriting process with MIDI rather than recording audio (if not you're not a keyboard player, even a simple MIDI guitar controller like the Jamstik+ or You Rock gu...
Most people of think of arpeggiation solely in melodic terms, but arpeggiation has additional uses. General MIDI instruments include drum kits where the top notes are percussion sounds, and many virtual instruments include percussion presets. Setting up an arpeggiator in a random mode to trigger various percussive sounds can create a really cool ef...
When audio plug-ins entered the mainstream, MIDI plug-ins took somewhat of a backseat because they weren't the "shiny new toy" in town. However with MIDI's resurgence, companies are paying more attention to MIDI plug-ins. For example Cubase has always had a great roster of MIDI effects, Ableton Live almost gives parity with MIDI and audio plug-ins,...
If you think of a keyboard as playing only notes, four or five octaves may be sufficient. However, many virtual instruments (e.g., FXpansion Geist, Native Instruments Kontakt, EastWest's Play engine, etc.) use MIDI keys not only to play specific notes but also to trigger articulations or variations on a basic sound. If your main USB MIDI controller...
Quantizing MIDI notes to precise rhythmic values on a grid can sound "mechanical." This isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly with techno, electro, etc. But for musical genres that aren't quite as rigid in terms of tempo, overly tight quantization can sound stiff. Enter groove quantization: instead of quantizing to a grid, you can call up a p...
When it comes to mixing, a lot of engineers will tell you there's nothing quite like a good piece of hardware with real faders. Some synthesizers nclude faders for real-time control over the sound you're playing, however you may be able to program these to control the faders in a recording program's mixer. Several keyboards, such as Nektar's Panora...
One of the main differences between music recorded in the past and today's recordings is the use of click tracks to maintain a constant tempo. We can debate whether this is a good idea or not, but here's an easy-to-do tempo track tweak that can add a lot of impact to a song. Short, subliminal pauses can create a fleeting sensation of tension and an...
If you're a keyboard player using chords to define a chord progression, it's easy enough to have chords hit on, for example, the beginning of a measure. But "strumming" the chord can add interest and a more guitar-like quality (note that the intention here isn't to replicate a program that emulates strummed rhythm guitar parts, but to add interest ...
A macro lets you string together multiple keyboard shortcuts into a single keyboard shortcut. For example, suppose you often quantize to 1/16th notes, with 50% strength, and like to add a swing factor of 52%. You can set up a macro so that after selecting your data, you do a single keyboard command and voilà—all three editing operations occur. Keyb...
Despite rumors to the contrary, Congress did not pass a law saying that mod wheels could be used only to add vibrato. Granted, the periodic vibrato a mod wheel adds is something only a synth can do, but try adding vibrato with the pitch wheel instead—it will sound more human, and more like the vibrato guitarists use. Now that you've freed up your m...
A company asked me to do a video for a reverb plug-in they were introducing, and I wanted to demo it with a variety of instruments. Drums? It's easy to find good acoustic drum loops. Guitar? I play guitar. Vocals? The company provided me with a vocal I could use. But I really wanted an acoustic piano piece, like something from Debussy, to demo the ...
Jamstik+ from Zivix is an interesting solution for guitarists who want to play MIDI instruments. While it's not a guitar, it feels mostly like a guitar because it has real strings, a neck, and frets—but it doesn't make any sound. On the plus side, you don't have to change or tune the strings. Also, the basic version has only five notes, so it's mor...
Don't Let Notes Overlap. Most bass lines are single notes, and because bassists lift fingers, mute strings, and pick, there's going to be a space between notes. Go through your MIDI sequence note by note, and make sure that no note extends over another note's attack. The orange notes have overhanging decays and attacks. The gray notes to the left a...
Audio compression can give more consistent levels, but it doesn't give a more consistent touch; that has to happen at the source, when the instrument plays. Some recording software programs have either MIDI FX or editing commands to compress data by raising low-level notes and/or or reducing high-level notes. But if your program doesn't have veloci...
The original MIDI protocol specified a five-pin DIN connector (DIN stands for Deutsche Institut für Normung, a German standards organization), which is what you'll find on older legacy MIDI gear (anything made before 1999).  5-pin MIDI out and MIDI in jacks were the original MIDI connectors, and are still in use. However, today most MIDI gear ...
Celemony Melodyne has one foot in audio, but the other in MIDI because the analysis that it runs on audio ends up being easily converted to MIDI data. If you can sing with consistent tone and level, Melodyne can convert your singing into MIDI. The same functionality for monophonic tracks exists in many DAWs. MIDI data has been extracted from the gu...
Yamaha has been intimately involved with the development of MIDI since the very beginning. We pioneered groundbreaking technology by making the first all digital FM synthesizer, the epoch making DX7. Yamaha synths like the Motif and the Montage have been the standard for touring and studio professionals for the past 2 decades.  ...
At SXSW, we got a chance to check out the Cabor MIDI cahon.  Cabot is a project of UTSUWA, Inc., a Kyoto, Japan based tech start-up.  The Cabot percussion robot was conceived by Hideaki Iio, Director of the Cabot development team and guitar player/singer. "I wanted to create a product that would rev up my solo performance." &nbs...
Air DJ displays new MIDI Controller at SXSW There were some interesting new MIDI products introduced at SXSW.  One of them was the wireless BTLE MIDI controller for DMET Product Corporation.  It can control sound, DJ Video software, and lights. Of course, it is all done by mapping MIDI signals and in some cases translating them ...
MIDI Bling with wireless rings There are a number of MIDI rings on the market. IK Multimedia makes one and so does Enhancia . Here are links to articles on those.  The Enhancia Ring MIDI Controller at CES 2018 -   For the past several years a MIDI product has always been in the Best of CES product list including the Roli Seaboard and the ...
Google Creative Lab, Use All Five, and Yotam Mann  launched a new browser-based music sequencer  c alled Song Maker.  It's a classic grid style sequencer and allows anyone to easily create simple grooves on the web.  You can even connect your MIDI keyboard or other controllers to input notes via Web MIDI.  When you're ...
It's a pure delight to attend the Winter NAMM Show. You get to bask in the warm Southern California sun, in the middle of winter, next to Disneyland, while your family enjoys a mini-vacation. The annual Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim California puts you at the global crossroads of the music products industry. This year's event, which to...
 Art+Logic Announces Launch of New Software Incubator Lab. Software innovation company will design and develop a working prototype of selected music technology or pro-audio app. Pasadena, CA: January 24, 2018, Art+Logic, a premier software innovation firm in the United States, announces the launch of a new software incubator called Art+Logic L...
MIDI-CI specification available for download The MIDI-CI specification is now available for download by MIDI Association members. .  Download the MIDI-CI Spec MIDI-CI press release ​ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) Adopts MIDI Capability Inquiry (MIDI-CI) Specification. New Feature of MIDI Technology Paves the Way fo...