To get the real power out of the MIDI protocol for composing and reproducing music, you need additional software. A MIDI file is simply a file of all the commands needed to play a certain sequence of music. A PC can store these and then transmit them to MIDI instruments. Alternatively, these can be transmitted to a PC sound card/speaker system, which will play them through MIDI Player software such as vanBasco’s Karaoke Player.
So what is this MIDI that started it all? MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI is a hardware/software combination.
The hardware is a MIDI cable. The MIDI cable looks like a 5-pin cable, but it is not an ordinary 5-pin cable. It is specially grounded and shielded for efficient data transmission, critical for music interpretation. It is an asynch serial x, with baud rate 31.25 kbaud. This is not a speed that can be created by the PC; hence, the PC controlling MIDI instruments must be fitted with a MIDI card. This sound card creates the special 31.25-baud rate. The interface is 10 bits - 1 start bit, 8 data bits, and 1 stop bit. These move at 320 microseconds per serial byte, in a current loop of 5 mA. The MIDI cable’s stated maximum length is 50 feet, but for optimal data transmission, 20 feet is the effective maximum. Most MIDI cables are 5 or 10 feet.
Here is a list of General MIDI Patches (sounds)
The following represents a master list of controller messages. Not all devices use all available controllers. Some devices may use certain controllers for proprietary use. Refer to your Device MIDI Implementation Chart to confirm the use or non use of the following Controllers.
Before we talk about what MIDI is, let’s talk about what MIDI is not.
- MIDI is not a word…it is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. When you see it spelled as midi, or midifile, the author is either a bad typist, or really doesn’t understand what MIDI is.
- MIDI is not a recording. MIDI is a data stream…a chain of instructions sent to a particular device telling it to do something. It could tell the device (usually a synth, or sound card) to play a particular note, or to stop playing notes, etc.
- MIDI is not a sound recording. A MIDI contains no sounds. It tells the connected devices to play the sounds.