MIDI - What's the big deal?


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All MIDI files that I hear are these cheap sounding toy keyboards. Is that all there is to MIDI or am I missing something? Really, I've been perplexed as to what this is all about. What is the enjoyment in MIDI, is it just something to have fun with? That's cool if it's just for fun. I did hear about a new electric guitar that is out with a MIDI interface which makes me think that there is more to this MIDI thing than I realize. Is it that I just don't understand MIDI at all? Please enlighten me somebody! Thanks. :-)
Hold up Jared. Back up the train!
It's all a function of the synthesizer that's being triggered by the MIDI control program.
I've got plenty of samples at my website in .mp3 format. Click on my user profile for the address. Look for the Computer Music Link.
I'm curious as to whether you'd think my .mp3 samples have that toy keyboard sound. The tunes may sound a little out there for most people's tastes but the sounds themselves are great wave samples.
The interface you're speaking about is just a way for guitarists to gain access to the easy programming capability that's been available to keyboardists for a long time.
Ok, yes I listened to some of your MP3's and they don't have that "cheesy" sound of most .mid's that I've heard. I figured that I just didn't understand it. Why would anyone want that "cheesy" toy keyboard sound anyway? I guess MIDI allows one to record a keyboard track by using software on your PC eh? I'm just trying to figure out what it can do for me. Does one have to be an accomplished keyboard player to use all this? Thanks.
Thanks for checking my stuff out. I don't think anybody really wants cheesy OPL3 noises
except for use as sound effects. As to the necessity of knowing how to play the piano:
Well I'm using it and I can't play a lick on the keyboard. And once the data has been recorded (or simply created with the PC keyboard and mouse) the instrument used for playback is only limited by the patch set possessed by your synthesizer. That's where that guitar interface comes in. If you are fairly proficient at playing the guitar, a good guitar to MIDI converter can allow you to do some really cool things. For example, simply play a piece accurately and have the computer generate the sheet music! Any MIDI data, once entered is quite easily edited. Unlike digital audio edits, where you're manipulating the wave information that's already been recorded, manipulation of the MIDI data creates an entirely new performance of the piece each time the MIDI data is interpreted. This interpretation involves the sequencer (PC or standalone) feeding the MIDI data to a specific synthesizer.
I think MIDI is the best thing since sliced bread. MIDI, like anything else, is only as good as you want it to be. First thing, MIDI has no sounds, it is just a set of instructions. MIDI can be used to change patches on an effect unit, or ever change it's parameters.

What most people use it for is to send information to keyboards and/or sound modules, thereby producing sound. If you have a cheesy sound device, then you will have cheesy sound, but if you have a high end board, then your sound will shine.
The problem with some MIDI files is that people program the music in rather than playing it in. Having the notes without dynamics and human feel, will make songs sound cheap regardless of what kind of board you have. So to have a believable sound from your board, you should play it not program it.

Just playing your music to MIDI is not enough. You must play the sound as if it where the real instrument. If the sound is a fiddle, then play it's notes as if it were a fiddle, not as a piano. Playing a sound in a way that is different from the real instrument will make it sound fake and often cheesy. With this in mind, if you buy a guitar to MIDI converter, you cannot play keyboard sounds as if it were a guitar. Some sounds require longer sustains then others; your guitar skills will be hindered.

So what is the big to do about MIDI?
For recording purposes, I like MIDI for two reasons:

First, I can sync MIDI up with my audio; MIDI tracks require a fraction of hard drive space as audio tracks.

Second, is that I can edit MIDI tracks once they are recorded in ways audio cannot. You can add, delete, and modify MIDI notes from the recording, even if the note is in a chord. Hit a bad note? No problem, just move the data from the wrong note to the right one. Note too long or too short? Just increase or decrease the duration of the note. Note too loud or too soft? Just decrease or increase the note's velocity. How about during mixdown, you decide that a certain piano sound does not fit the mix. No problem, change the keyboard sound to one that does; you don't have to rerecord the track to change the sound.
Piggyback on Jared's thread...


Are there any low cost high quality MIDI cards out there--ones that can make an acoustic guitar or clarinet sound? I already have a Dman 2044 digital audio card, so all I need is a quality synthesizer. I don't think the Dman has an onboard synth.

...Oh yeah, what about these Soft Synths like Giga Sampler? I hear they're expensive, but produce better sounds than the hardware types.

[This message has been edited by tdukex (edited 11-25-1999).]