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This term (pronounced “Mih-dee”) is an essential part of any type of electronic music making. Standing for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, MIDI was a protocol launched in 1983 that in essence would let electronic instruments like keyboards talk to other keyboards regardless of the brand of that keyboard. At its earliest integration, by connecting one keyboard to another via a MIDI cable, you could control that 2nd keyboard without having to physically play the keyboard. This opened up a whole new world of sounds and timbres for the performing musicians. No longer would a keyboard player be forced to carry multiple keyboards, each containing a specific set of sounds for unique applications. Now one MIDI controller could trigger different sound modules making for a much more efficient keyboard setup.
The MIDI applications didn’t stop at simply connecting multiple keyboards. By utilizing computer software designed to record the MIDI data a composer could record their music for easy digital playback in real time without having to commit that performance to tape. This common application was referred to as sequencing and an entirely new generation of products called sequencers were designed to accomplish this task. As computers and technology has evolved, so has the use and applications for MIDI keyboards and MIDI controllers (including now Wind Controllers). The 5-pin MIDI cable for In/Out/Thru is now replaced by a single USB cable allowing for easy connection to a computer. MIDI controllers will now send additional performance data adjusting many different expression parameters beyond simple volume and note on/off messages. The recording software available today is fully integrated with MIDI often using on-screen editing of even the smallest detail of any MIDI performance. Truly a generation of musicians have grown up with this functionality being a given, not knowing the ‘old’ way music was recorded and performed.
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