What is midi

M.I.D.I. stands for --- > Musical Instrument Digital Interface

As a computer recording engineer you will come across MIDI a lot. In simple words MIDI is a digital way of reading musical notation. An industry standard in the digital world. Just like in real life musicians use music notation sheet to know what to play and when.

Similarly in the digital audio world, MIDI is acts as a way of communication between virtual instruments.

What is midi?
Midi is the information about what musical notes would be played and when

On the computer, virtual instruments store the information about what notes to play in the song at what type in a standard format and rules. This set of rules and framework is called MIDI.

For example, The synthesizer and other musical instruments stores information about what note would be played and for how long. This format or the framework is industry standard and used by all software and hardware programs. It is known as MIDI.

MIDI information is stores in a piano roll editor. It is a table like window where in we can record or manuall enter notes to play.

MIDI is not the sound in itself. It is just the information about what notes to be played and on what volume. You would need a synthesizer in order to get sound from a MIDI file.

An easy example to understand MIDI

Happy birthday to you in a MIDI notation - piano roll editor

The above diagram is of a Piano roll editor it is a feature of most DAW software which help us in entering musical notes to play a virtual instrument.

The green bars tells the computer how long to play the sound. The Note volume helps in changing the volume of each note. On the left hand side of the piano roll you can see the piano keys.

In the above diagram, the piano roll editor will play the song happy birthday to you when connected to a synthesizer.

There are two ways of getting the notes information on this piano roll editor. One is by simply using the mouse and clicking on the boxes in the window to create the notes and change the location.

Another way is by connecting an external midi controller to the computer and play the notes and record them on the piano roll. This is one of the most popular way and it makes the midi recording process a lot more easier.

An external midi controller
like this one helps us in directly entering MIDI notes on the piano roll editor

Connecting MIDI devices 

You can connect hardware midi devices if they have a MIDI port which looks something like this:

one for midi OUT

ONE for MIDI in

A computer with gaming card has a MIDI port, some PCI sound cards also have a midi Port inbuilt. You would normally connect Midi controllers to computers so as to record the information in the piano roll editor.

USB MIDI connections

These days you can also connect midi devices using USB port . You don't have to spend a lot of money in buying expensive keyboard controller.

You can buy any keyboard from casio or yamaha that offers USB midi connection and you can directly connect the MIDI into the USB port of the computer without getting a seperate midi-interface.

This has revolutionized the way people use MIDI and many lower level keyboard can act up as a midi controller like this Casio CTK 3000 >

We will lean more about MIDI and how to use it in our music making tutorials


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