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How well do you understand MIDI?


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Hey all,

 

I'm curious about something...

 

I've noticed recently in answering support questions for Cantabile (I'm Cantabile's developer) there seems to be growing number of people who don't really understand MIDI. Usually this is obvious because they say so but other times I'll suggest something fairly simple and it'll go completely over their head.

 

Also I've noticed that these are often veteran keyboard players who are moving from a hardware rig to software based solutions. It seems strange to me that these long-time keyboard players have so little understanding of MIDI.

 

So I'm wondering: how do rate your understanding of MIDI? Did you just learn it recently? What prompted you to learn it etc... I'm interested in any insights on this.

 

Brad

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Hello Brad,

 

I think you'll find that the members here are much more MIDI-savvy than your average support caller. I joined the International MIDI Association (IMA) when it was first established circa 1983? And built my first hardware MIDI sequencer shortly thereafter for example.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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I was first immersed into MIDI hell when I started working in the keyboard department of a high volume music store in 1991. Rack module synths were in peak demand then. Learn MIDI or go broke (we worked on commission). :laugh:
:nopity:
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I used to be a Midiot

 

Then I bought Mainstage. Now it's sink or swim in a sea of Midi.

 

I've done some sinking, but right now I'm keeping my head above water.

 

I think my Midi knowledge is better than any musician I am actually in direct contact with, but at the same time I know there's much more to it than I currently use.

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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I used to be a Midiot

 

Not to be confused with me (i.e. my screen name).

 

:)

"Inspiration is not a choice, it's got to search you out..." - Jason Falkner

Kurzweils, some oldie but goodie stuff from Yamaha/Korg, and soft-synths that I've barely explored.

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Hi Brad,

 

Good to see you here. There are some heavy duty Cantabile users here some of whom have successfully migrated from hardware to software for live performance.

 

I fall into the category of folk you described however I came with many years of exposure to hardware evolution and software development.

 

I approached midi as being an alternative input language to ASCII for example.

 

Your guide to audio on Windows was excellent, if you have the time and inclination a similar Midi guide would be very useful for those starting out with Cantabile.

 

Cheers

 

Mark

A misguided plumber attempting to entertain | MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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> It seems strange to me that these long-time keyboard players have so little understanding of MIDI

 

I was just going to tell you that the older guys will know MIDI best. I made my living with MIDI at one point so I know it well and most older professionals should know it well but maybe the numbers of these players are small now.

Korg Kronos, Roland RD-88, Korg Kross, JP8000, MS2000, Sequential Pro One, Micromoog, Yamaha VL1, author of unrealBook for iPad.

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I was in college when MIDI was unleashed. I was an EE student and picked up on it quickly, my senior project was a MIDI controller.

 

There were some misinterpretations and product duds in the first few years, by the time I got into MIDI in 1989 the market had straightened out.

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I've been pretty well versed in MIDI since the early 1980s, using a Commodore SX-64 and a Sequential Circuits Model 64 interface, running a program I think was called Sonic(?). The only part of MIDI I never delved into was MIDI Machine Control.

 

Brad, it's good to see you here - we've interacted on Twitter.

The fact there's a Highway To Hell and only a Stairway To Heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers

 

People only say "It's a free country" when they're doing something shitty-Demetri Martin

 

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I think the issue with the MIDI spec and use of MIDI in general is that the people coming up today have audio tools available to them that we didn't have. In fact, just as an example - a lot of current producers will go to time stretchable audio loops over creating drum patterns on MIDI or instrument tracks and hardware or software instruments. I mean of course some younger guys are versed in the 808 type interface, but programming sequences is not as common as it once was. I've seen arrangements with every drum hit a sample just placed in time on an audio track - no MIDI track in sight, no soft-sampler used at all. It's just a different way of working. The EDM guys, DJ producers work this way - think Skrillex. It's all audio being manipulated.

 

Around here - shit. I'd imagine this forum is packed with people well versed in MIDI, sysex, midi sequencing, complex program change messages and routing, all it's disparate uses in music making and putting on a show.

Yamaha CP88, Casio PX-560

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What Moe said is true for me too.

I have found that on some instrument specific forums, I am constantly amazed as to the lack of MIDI knowledge. I could never be a moderator or "help desk" pilot - no patience.

Lotsa time with Mac/logic/mainstage......but no experience with Cantabile.

 

Professional musician = great source of poverty.

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Hi Brad,

 

I've been developing MIDI hardware devices since the 90s, so I'm probably an outlier. I think many of my keyboard player peers are not that MIDI conversant. They know what it is, and that if you stick this end of the cable here, and the other end there, that a lot of the time you can make sound happen! But if you start talking control change, program change, their eyes will usually glaze over. I think for some players, MIDI is a means to an end and that's about it.

 

That said, awhile back I developed a Hammond organ style MIDI drawbar controller, and I have to say that most of my support calls were with people who had a decent enough understanding of MIDI. It really does vary.

 

When you say that there's a growing number of people who don't understand MIDI, is Cantabile moving into new markets? Ie, are you noticing a change in your customer base itself? Or does it appear to be the same customer demographic, just with less MIDI awareness?

 

Dave

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The only part of MIDI I never delved into was MIDI Machine Control.

 

MMC is WAY cool... I have Cakewalk Pro 3.5 running on WFW311 (!) and figured out how to get my Alesis HD24 to sync to the sequencer via MMC and I *LOVE* it. I use a JLCooper MSB+ MIDI Matrix to control who is the master. With the sequencer as master, the HD24 is slaved and follows the sequencer. With the HD24 as master, the sequencer is slaved and follows the HD24. It is SICK that a 1993-circa operating system can sync to a modern hard disk recorder.

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Midi is a great tool. I use it as well as Im able. However, I also dam its name. It is usually the hardwares deficiencies that cause me grief. I am always stymied by the hardwares inability to do exactly what I expect it to do.

 

Even though all modern digital keyboards have midi they do not all have the same available parameters on board to send or receive midi commands. Therefore midi can be a crap shoot.

 

 

We play for free. We get paid to set up and tear down.
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I skipped everything up to now.

 

 

I know hexadecimal. I know RPN's and NRPN's. I know sysex.

 

Nobody has good MIDI implementation anymore. They all suck. Period. I'm out.

 

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I've learned just enough MIDI to do the music I want to do.

 

In the 1980s I took two MIDI classes with Rick Lawn (the Jazz educator) at the University of Texas. Our focus was on building complex arrangements with multiple keyboards and modules. I would learn and type sysex strings and and NRPNs into MOTU Performer to do what appeared to me to be magical. In the 1990s once again I had to do some multi-module arrangements, so I picked up The MIDI Files by Rob Young to refresh myself. Well written book. I still tried to stay away from hardcore programming, but when I needed to I would crack the book, or reread the MIDI spec, which I had in a three ring binder. I still have my trusty Opcode 8x8 interface in a rack somewhere, lol. Today, a lot of MIDI has been subsumed into the application: Commands have become visual envelopes that you can draw ... and I don't think about it most of the time. Plug, play, draw, press a button .... :)

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I've been using it since the 80's. I'd say I'm pretty proficient, at least for getting all my gear to talk, especially for live situations where I want a couple button presses on 1 keyboard to change my whole rig for the next song.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this. Very interesting.

 

When you say that there's a growing number of people who don't understand MIDI, is Cantabile moving into new markets? Ie, are you noticing a change in your customer base itself? Or does it appear to be the same customer demographic, just with less MIDI awareness?

 

That's what I'm trying to figure out. I don't think the demographic has changed too much, I've just noticed that I need to explain the basics more often than I used to and it got me wondering about the average keyboard player's knowledge.

 

 

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Not me. It's too bad I never had anyone really to teach me. It never made a difference in my playing so I guess it wasn't that important at the time. I see it's value though.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Like Moe I'm pretty good but know I'm no expert - I'm fine with routing, CC, PC etc, a bit rusty on SYSEX but NRPN is a bit far for me. Fortunately I got into sequencing just after Logic etc. started getting big but just before software sample libraries took off properly so I got a good grounding in the basics.

 

Nobody has good MIDI implementation anymore. They all suck. Period. I'm out.

 

This is the main problem I have, my knowledge is stagnating. It's not helped by the fact that most software makers seem intent on hiding the underlying MIDI controls as far away from users as possible - which is fine for some but if I want to reconfigure things to work faster it's a nightmare.

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Hey Brad,

 

I find I usually know a lot more about MIDI than other gigging keyboardists I come across, and often more than the average M.I. retail salesperson, but there's still a lot I haven't dug into. I still have a well worn copy of the MIDI spec 1.0 with the blue cover that I read several times back in the late '80s. I've also written 3-4 sysex strings for a Lake Butler MIDI Mitigator pedal controller.

 

My MIDI wheelhouse is live performance though; CC's, PC's, filtering, mapping and the like.

 

~ vonnor

Gear:

Hardware: Nord Stage3, Korg Kronos 2, Novation Summit

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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Hello Brad

 

I'm very comfortable working with midi but I've been sorting issues with my own equipment since the 80s.

 

There's a learning curve for anyone coming to it now who didn't have to plug in cables and look up which cc message does what.

 

I'm currently hardware only but have worked with an all VST rig in the past. I liked your software when I used it and found it straightforward to get it to do what I needed - but only because (I suspect) I've been working with midi for a long time.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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I'm a jazz acoustic piano player who's trying very recently to use Vst's threw Mainstage.

I don't know MIDI, I just try to use the soft instruments as simply as possible.

I think nowadays, we don't take the time (not saying it's good) to learn things deeply, we use softwares for softwares etc, and sometimes we loose more time than we want to gain.

And that's part the fault of the good softwares like Cantabile, Mainstage etc. that people tend to know less about MIDI I guess... It's because it works without knowing about it !!

But since I'm very newbie, maybe I'm talking shit :)

Nord Electro 6D / Prophet Rev2/ Digitakt / Minilogue / Keyscape -

New video :

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I've been using MIDI almost since the spec was born, and watched it grow from a layering tool, to sequencing, to a comprehensive controller protocol. I have a MX-8 and two keyboard controllers that feed into my PC3.

 

That said, I recently ditched the FCB1010 because I had only used it once in three years. I am considering dumping the MX-8 because nowadays I only use it to merge the two controllers on their way into the Kurzweil. So while I understand MIDI pretty well, I seem to be using it for less and less each year.

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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I understand it well enough to be bloody giddy over modulation matrices and the age of casual per-track assignments. I ate the Flaming Sword of MIDI bottlenecks and CCs that took 12 tries to secure when it was all in hardware, so even on days when my goals come to squat, I can still handle the soft-rig with a near-drugged equanimity. Its a profound sea-change over the firestorms of the Medieval MIDI Era, when hanging by MIDI cable was a common peril. When David Sancious bemoaned the loss of his Peavey CP-8 (IIRC) controller, which allowed him to assign pedals per-synth on the fly, I could relate. One of the things I love most about Logic is flying by the seat of my pants and automating moves that once required a hot Moog, three pedals in series and all four limbs at once. Now if only the world was less in need of a giant noise gate lately... :hitt:

 

 

 "You seem pretty calm about all that."
 "Well, inside, I'm screaming.
    ~ "The Lazarus Project"

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I grew up w/ MIDI when it was developed.

It was hard in the beginning coming from electromagnetic instruments, tube amps and big knobs and times where computers and related machines existed only for the army and NASA.

 

But learning by doing made me an advanced MIDI user controlling large keyboard rigs already in the 80s.

 

So, yes,- I know how it works and cannot live w/o MIDI at all.

 

A.C.

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Very poor knowledge for me, always been a "hardware" guy. Would appreciate pointers to any decent beginner tutorials

Remember - you can make a record without an organ on it, but it won't be as good

 

www.robpoyton.co.uk

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