MIDI is 30 years old today! The acronym stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and it was created by Dave Smith. You know his name because he’s the guy behind Sequential Circuits and Dave Smith Instruments. We are all very lucky that Dave decided to give MIDI away for free and convince other manufactures to use it. To celebrate the day the BBC interviewed Dave Smith about the birth of MIDI. Read the article here: How MIDI changed the world of music.
“What Smith did next would transform the way recording studios worked, and create a revolution in music and recording production. He persuaded manufacturers to adopt a common format which allowed their synthesisers to be controlled externally by another keyboard potentially made by a rival manufacturer, or even by a computer. It was called Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and would soon become the industry standard for connecting different makes of synthesisers, drum machines, samplers and computers.” – bbc.co.uk
The feature that has me the most excited about Live 9 is Drum and Melody to MIDI. I’ve use various other tools to do this (Melodyne for one) but it’s always been hit or miss. It does look like Ableton has cracked this and it’s going to be an amazing and useful tool.
“Your voice is the new keyboard: sing, beatbox, tap a rhythm on your desk, or play any solo instrument to capture your musical ideas as they come. Then use the Melody- or Drums-to-MIDI feature to turn your recordings into MIDI clips that you can edit and reuse with any sound.” – ableton.com
I used Ableton’s Stretch MIDI function often. You can hear it clearly in my song You Are Disturbing from my 2007 album Attack Decay. The main synth line switches from single to double speed. There is another detailed post on Wire to the Ear about Stretch MIDI notes from April 2008 titled “use the stretch notes command in ableton live” which you can read: click here. I think it’s a great and useful songwriting feature so it was definitely worth a revisit.
“The Stretch MIDI Notes feature allows the user to take a selected group of MIDI notes and stretch their duration, a lot like how you are able to stretch warped audio. You can either lengthen or shorten the duration of the selected notes, and even better is that you don’t have to select every single note in the clip in order to start stretching… that way you can stretch the timing of the kicks and hi-hats without altering the timing of the snares for instance. All you need to do is select a note (or several, or all notes) in your MIDI clip, then right click in the clip, and at the bottom of the contextual menu you will see Stretch MIDI Notes!” – Thavius Beck
Nick from Sonic State added MIDI to his Korg Monotribe using a kit available from Brasil called Miditribe I/O. I’m very tempted. It looks easy to install, also adds clock sync, aftertouch and some knobs also respond. $64 + shipping.
I am constantly using Midi effects and tricks in my own workflow. I look for plug-ins that output midi data (Audio Damage Axon for example). The video above from The Ableton Cookbook shows you how to record the Arpeggiator’s notes while manipulating the device.
“The traditional signal chain in Ableton goes from the MIDI clip to a MIDI effect and then into an Instrument or Instrument Rack, where the MIDI information is interpreted and output as audio. This means that, if you press record on a MIDI Clip that has an effect on it, you’ll get a recording not of the effected MIDI signal, but of the unaffected MIDI signal. If you want to capture these affected MIDI events, you are going to have to do some MIDI routing. In this video, I show you how this is done!” – theabletoncookbook.com
There has definitely been a resurgence of hardware in recording studios. I’ve personally been building an arsenal of kit from the past such as an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and new pieces such as a Jomox Mbrane and Doepfer Dark Time. Possible proof of this hardware comeback is the fact that Motu has rereleased a new version of a very classic Midi interface the MIDI Express XT. It has lots of I/O, routing, special timing tricks and more.
“Built with MOTU’s award-winning MIDI interface technology, the MIDI Express XT is a professional MIDI interface and SMPTE synchronizer that provides plug-and-play connectivity to any USB-equipped Mac or Windows computer. The Express XT provides 8 MIDI IN, 9 MIDI OUT, 128 MIDI channels and compatibility with all Mac and Windows software. Sixteen convenient, one-touch presets (8 factory and 8 user programmable) give you instant front-panel access to multiple operational configurations. The included ClockWorks™ console software for Mac OS X and Windows provides comprehensive MIDI routing, merging and muting.” – motu.com
The iOS music creation environment is devoloping. First we had great single purpose apps. Next there was audio copy/paste between some apps. Then apps like Tabletop showed up multiple devices in a single app. Coming soon we can sync multiple single purpose apps (video above). It’s starting to seem like this is all heading somewhere. All you old time mouse point and clickers (myself included) better sharpen your fingertips!
“Now you’ll be able to have your music apps talk to each other, while they run in the background, and use polychord to control them. In this video we show how polychord can control another app (MoDrum) running in the background — all through virtual MIDI, all without any cables. Polychord sends MIDI clock signals out, keeping everything in sync. Stay tuned — we’ll have even more exciting things to share soon as we test out polychord with some of the iPad synthesizers that are supporting this game-changing new feature.” – Shoulda Woulda Coulda
I would certainly love to get some classic analog drum machines MIDIed like this. According to Wikipedia the TR77 was Roland’s very first product. Hey Brandon how about some individual outs and some tuning for the kick drum (always the one weak point in most early drum machines)?
“Just finished building trigger shaper/converter circuits x12 for this project, and it works! Still need to work something out for the Guiro, but all in all, I’m happy with it.Sounds triggered over MIDI from the Electribe.” – Brandon Daniel
I try almost any audio creation app for iOS. I definitely have a group of favorites and Polychord is one of them. If you make verse chorus type of music connect Polychord to your DAW and recording. The MIDI generated is a nice secret weapon. Polychord 2 was recently released so if you passed by the original I suggest taking a look at 2.0.
“Shoulda Woulda Coulda, Inc. is readying a major update to their iPad music composition tool, Polychord. The version 2 update brings a vast quantity of new exciting features to this highly-rated app including the ability to record your song data, a new graphical user interface, and Palettes.” – Future Music