Category Archives: MIDI

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.

Make an Ableton Style Drum Rack In Reaper (WORKS IN LINUX!)

I went searching for a way to make an Ableton style¬† drum rack in Linux and found this awesome idea which of course uses the amazing Reaper! I’ve tested it in Lubuntu 18.10 and works great on the Linux Native version. Drag and drop samples work fine too!

Maestro, A Great Music Notatation App For Android

I’ve been getting more into music composition lately, and trying out various tools and programs to do it digitally. One of the easiest and best things I’ve found so far is this app called Maestro http://bit.ly/2X2RdQM. I’m running this on a Fire HD tablet (with google play installed) learn how to put google play on your Fire Tablet http://bit.ly/2DCi3WU. You can also pick up a Fire Tablet here https://amzn.to/2E8PDp5 and a stylus here https://amzn.to/2X2Xn3i

Maestro is great for learning and has a ton of pro features like:

  • Notes, Chorded Notes
  • Rests, Measure Bars and Repeat Bars
  • Articulations and Note Relationships
  • Tie, Slur, Triplets, Accidentals, Dynamics
  • Octave Up and Down and more
  • Change Clef, Tempo
  • Change Time Signature and Key Signature
  • Play your Masterpiece Instantly
  • Set Playback Section and Repeat
  • Supports Multiple Instruments
  • 127 MIDI Instruments
    Piano, Organ, Violin, Cello and other Strings
    Guitar, Brass, Leed, Pipe and Drums
  • Name the Title, Subtitle and Composer
  • Export to Image Files
  • Zoom In and Out to draw more or fewer notes in one line
  • Save as image file as you see on the screen
  • 100% free for all features
  • Supports Tablets and All Size of Device
  • Host your music at the Concert Hall and see if others like it
  • The Concert Hall is where you can post your music or listen and see other maestro’s work
  • It is another fun way of learning how to write the various musical notations and symbols
  • Get some new inspirations!

As you can see it’s pretty amazing. I’m using it on my Amazon fire tablet and it works really well.


Introducing The Macintosh SE/30 Raspberry Pi

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I finally did it and decided to make a youtube vid about it. I took an old Mac SE30 case and built an all in 1 Raspberry Pi DAW computer into it. I really think it came out fantastically well and wanted to share my tips in making one for your self. Thanks for watching and please watch more of my videos!

Here’s all the links to buy everything talked about in the vid:

raspberry pi 3 kit https://amzn.to/2KpQhiN

behringer uca202 https://amzn.to/2HHo0CL

screen https://amzn.to/2HI7Sko

industrial velcro https://amzn.to/2JDX734

dremel tool https://amzn.to/2HGNZKC

sabrenet usb hub https://amzn.to/2KoTAqI

keyboard https://amzn.to/2HGKfg3

mouse https://amzn.to/2Ksrgno

headphone cable https://amzn.to/2JHw1YV

usb cable https://amzn.to/2I1S3s3

Yamaha FB-01 FM Synth Module with Live Drums

This is a new song I created with only the Yamaha FB-01 in 8 part multi-timbral mode and then played lived drums to it. No FX were used on the FB-01. I seqenced the MIDI using the program, Seq24 for linux, then recorded the drums in Harrison Mixbus 4.
Drums used were a 1966 Slingerland Blue Sparkle kit, with an 80s metal Pearl Export 6.5×14 snare drum. Mics used in this recording were:
Kick – CAD KBM412 http://amzn.to/2yzAGan
Snare – PDMIC78 http://amzn.to/2AFBBYf
Overheads – http://amzn.to/2iUjPZ1