This Exists – Black MIDI


The latest episode of’s This Exists takes a look at Black MIDI – a genre that gets its name because the music is so densely sequenced with notes that, written out, it approaches solid black:

Black MIDI music recalls the work of classical composer Conlon Nancarrow. Nancarrow composed for player pianos, because they allowed him to create music that was incredibly complex and effectively unplayable by a human pianist. But, while Nancarrow’s multiple simultaneous tempos, with complex relationships, Black MIDI composers tend to be more concerned with pushing the limits of what their machines are technically capable of playing. One Black MIDI composer, Xinyu Qian, notes that  “There are more than 12,000,000 notes in the last 2 seconds,” of one arrangement.

Check it out – and let us know what you think of the genre of Black MIDI!

via Jon Stubbs

25 thoughts on “This Exists – Black MIDI

  1. If you want busy geometric patterns to accompany your music, make a music video :p

    Kinda cool though, though I prefer the less busy “midi art” style of visual midi, where they use the note bars to make patterns that sound and look interesting together.

  2. Since when has MIDI been used to play Guitar Hero style games?
    The ‘guitar’ is basically a very large, and oddly shaped gamepad.

    Also, don’t the vast majority of phone ringtones now used MP3, or similar, audio files?

  3. To me the most fun part of it is when humble old MIDI brings the playback to its knees and practically breaks the playback system. That it even sounds somewhat organized is kind of impressive.

    I’m not saying its beautiful. But its like a nerdy version of speed metal.

  4. I didn’t listen to it, but I was able to hear it in my head simply by sight reading all the notes and CCs. A little music concreteish.

  5. bro do you even synth?

    haha sorry, i don’t think it’s bad, but you could get the same effect with 99% less notes with some effects.

Leave a Reply