Category Archives: Electronic Music

What is MIDI? A Noob’s Overview

Sometimes there’s something that seems like everyone already knows except you. This can be the case today with the sheer amount of info online about MIDI EXCEPT the very basics of what it is!

You’ll see all kinds of info about sequenicing, usb midi, and all kinds of stuff, but this post is for the noob who isn’t afraid to ask the basic question of ‘What is MIDI?’.

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and can be thought of as a computer language for musical instruments. The term “interface” can be misleading by today’s common usage of the word, since now an interface is mostly thought of as physical devices such as usb audio interfaces which often have both audio and MIDI ports on them. Sometimes the port itself is referred to an interface, so this contributes to the confusion of newcomers.

So in a sense MIDI encompasses both hardware and data because it is a specification, not just a physical or digital thing. When somebody says or writes MIDI, they could be talking about a port, a file, a cable, a sequence, or all of the above! MIDI data can be note information like velocity, pitch, channel, duration and other parameters.


In the early days MIDI it was largely used for connecting various hardware together like synths, drum machines, stand-alone midi sequencers, and even…. lights??!! Yep lights. This is still actually done since midi is a great way to synchronize music to lighting for stage productions. The early 1980s saw a huge influx of new electronic instruments, but digital recording still had not been perfected, so all of this equipment was largely still being recorded to tape. MIDI enabled musicians to connect all this new gear together and synchronize it musically.

In addition to all of this, there’s also something called ‘sysex’ data. Sysex stands for System Exclusive and it still uses the MIDI protocol for information transfer, however it is not musical information, but instead is information about the particular piece of gear like a synth or drum machine. This is useful because you can store information from a synth to an external device using sysex data. In the early days you could use a sysex data recorder to store the information about that piece of hardware such as a patch or settings. Some hardware even featured a ‘tape out’ which allowed you to connect a standard cassette tape recorder to capture data from the synth.

Once personal computers became more available to the public, MIDI started to evolve even more. Way before we were recording audio on computers, we were already sequencing MIDI. In fact, digital audio workstations such as Cubase and MOTU Performer started out as pure MIDI sequencers until computer power caught up to feature audio recording as well. The Atari ST computer came with a standard MIDI port buit-in to the computer and was heavily used by producers such as Trent Reznor in the early days of computer sequenced music.

Other computers like the PC, Mac and Amiga relied on serial ports and special MIDI to serial adapters and cables to make connections to midi hardware. This eventually evolved into USB MIDI and software synths. Today it is possible to work with MIDI 100% in a computer with no external hardware need. However, since the core protocol of MIDI has never changed, even the oldest MIDI devices can still function with modern computer hardware.

This extremely flexible system has remained the standard for musical data and because of it’s longevity, electronic music equipment made as far back as the early 1980s is still widely used today! MIDI is cool.

Thank you for reading and I hope this article helped you understand exactly what MIDI is.

Flying Lotus’ Collaboration With David Lynch Is Probably The Most Disturbing Things You’ll See In 2019

No description needed.

Amazing 1980s video about synthesizers!

This video caught my eye! It’s actually way more interesting than the thumbnail would make it seem! Herbie Hancock and others go into vast details about creating synth sounds and sequencing using the coolest gear of the 80s!

Mad Zach Returns With An MPC Live Demo

Check out Mad Zach chopping up some Bitches Brew with the new Akai MPC Live!

get one for yourself!

7 albums you should buy on Bandcamp right now!

Want to make the world a better place? Want to know something you can do to truly make a difference? Support independent music by buying 1 or all 7 of these albums on Bandcamp RIGHT NOW! How does this help the world? Well sharing fox news or msnbc to your facebook timeline doesn’t help anything but ad revenue of corporate fuck knobs. These are some great albums made by some great REAL people who would love to have you support them. Plus you’ll get 7 of the best albums you’ve heard in ages.

  1. Auterkeia EP by Auterkeia – Pseudonym of the extremely talented musician Jeremy Powell, this EP combines experimental electronics with world rhythms, and Jeremy’s amazing woodwind abilities, slickly produced in a heady package.

2. Somnium by Wayne Rowand – This is the deepest of deep space ambient. Put your head in a satellite exploring the unknown depths of space and time. Absolutely amazing stuff.

3. casing the sill by fulkramick – to try to explain fulkramick’s sound is not an easy task. It’s experimental. It’s trippy. It’s mathy. It’s fucking awesome, so buy this!

4. MÚSICAROBADA by Martin Lambert – Fusion… glorious dark fusion at its finest! Think Bitches Brew meets Tortoise. You absolutely cannot go wrong with that combination.

5.  Morning Day by FOLK9 – Thai tropical indie psych-pop. That pretty much says it all. It’s really really good, get it!

6. Cyberspace Database by Fornax Void – Retro tech ambient 16 bit FM synthesis lo-fi virtual memory installations for cyborg transformations.

7. Espiral by Armisticio – romantic, nostalgic, lush, beautiful synthpop made in Chile that fills your heart with good vibes.

So stop bitching and saying there’s no good new music. Here’s some great new music and it’s all laid out here for you to go get! Stop streaming the same old Hall and Oats from Spotify and support some real musicians you cheap fucks!