Macintosh, MIDI And Music

Ever wonder why Macs are popular with musicians?

This video might be one reason.

The Open Door: Macintosh, Midi, and Music is a vintage Apple promo video (1988). The 26 year-old video shows that, early on, Apple was putting serious resources into courting musicians to the Mac platform. The video also shows how ubiquitous MIDI had become, in the six years since its introduction.

Watch out for appearances from Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Laurie Anderson, Tom Coster, Carlos Santana……and some serious 80’s hair.

via Video TrashpileBert Schiettecatte

13 thoughts on “Macintosh, MIDI And Music

  1. Macintosh became popular because it was the perfect tool at the perfect time
    as more people used it it became a standard amongst musicians

    today people still knit pick about mac or windows , ios or android ..
    but ANY tool we have today is way more powerful
    than what was used to make HITS in the 80’s or 90’s

    1. more features, but imo the implementation is often more “surface” and aimed at reducing “work” than really more powerful. imo reducing “work” often just leads to people smoothing out the rough edges by default that the program says they “should”. in the past you had to push your tools to achieve, now you have to question the assumptions they make about what you want.

      that said, core midi and core audio are wonderful! i just wish we had more software tools aimed at doing a few things really well and uniquely and integrating into the studio rather than replacing the whole thing outright or “saving time”. imo the time saving should come mostly from stability and crash proofing.

      i have computers from a computers from ’10 and more from ’00 ’90s and 80s. when it comes to bi-directional working with the rest of the studio and getting “personal” results i find the older ones are more powerful and easier, although the os9 ones i do find are more crashy unfortunately, because that has my favorite software.

    2. >Macintosh became popular because it was the perfect tool at the perfect time
      >as more people used it it became a standard amongst musicians

      If we are being honest, the Mac platform became the standard with musicians because there was no alternative for a long time. As a young, poor musician in the early 90s I had built a PC, and it was fine for doing some sequencing. But when it came to recording audio about the best you could do under Windows was Cool Edit and a Soundblaster card. So I made the investment and took the HUGE step up to ProTools, Sound Designer and Turbo Synth, with dedicated FX chips and high quality multi-in/out.

      Today it really doesn’t matter what platform you use, and the real difference between a PC and a Mac is a few k worth of boot rom. It’s down to personal preference, budget, and your chain of familiarity.

  2. Great and visionary marketing by Mr. Jobs!
    For me it is more important to see how sampling was used by that time. Today we have a great anaolg revival but only a few do experimental sampling how they did it in the 80/90’s.
    But how should we without the appropriate machines? A old Akai S900 is still superior to many VST/Ableton samplers when it comes to play a single sample over the keyrange.
    An ASR-10 delivers such nice aliasing artifacts if you pitch it to hell. Sometimes it sounds like windows crushing or ice breaking in a artificial way like in a William Gibson novel.
    A vision is needed while we slice, stretch and make it fit somehow. There are no surprises any more.
    We actually develop ourselves into machines that only prepare a consumable product that matches our expectations. We have these unnecessary genres like e.g. “Big Beat”. One of the greatest crimes was to put the FSOL “Dead Cities” album into Big Beat. All because of a single song (We Have Explosive) that really has nothing to do with Big Beat.
    Dead Cities is THE all time sample masterpiece with goosebumps quality (Equipment: Akai S-Series, Alesis reverbs and some analog stuff).
    Turn of the light, computer and any other noise source and listen.
    Be careful, it changes your mind forever.

    1. Never heard that album, I have listenend to fsol on the platipus compilations and really enjoyed their stuff. Will track it down, thanks 🙂

      1. It took me a decade to find out where their samples came from. It is the lack of context in which their samples occur that makes their music so fresh and inspiring. In former albums you hear how they experimented with this dissociative way of composing. In that album they’ve done it right.
        While producing the album one of the members (Gaz) was in fear of dying because of strange mental and physical symptoms. As he later found out it was a “simple” mercury intoxication.
        You can really hear this. The “We Have Explosive” track is the only exception and comes like a manic statement which can be understand in many ways.
        Not to compare with this Art Of Noise “look, we have sampling technology” kind of sound.
        FSOL had a genre especially for this album: EBV (Electric Brain Violence)
        Very fitting!

    2. You’re really speaking my language here. My first piece of gear was an ASR-10, and I’m a big William Gibson fan. Papua New Guinea was a big early influence on me to get involved with the production of electronic music. Cheers!

  3. i still have my mac plus and a floppy with one of the first midi apps for mac. it was pretty easy to use and last time i checked it still worked but i don’t have a serial midi interface any more.

  4. This was actually the most exiting time for people interested in MIDI. The gear available at that time was amazing and relatively affordable. After the Korg M1 appeared everything started to become more homogenised.

    1. yes we had Atari ST, Alesis MMT8, Cubase V2 on PC with total inyégraytion on the synth patches and edition………inexpensive ???? well I don’t think so…..a few weeks ago I just bought a second hand X200 thinkpad for just 120 euros and it will run my whole live setup….FLstufio, a few paid plugins and many freewares like Tone2 firebird……

  5. Laurie Anderson: “My Mac is so amazing!”
    Laurie Anderson’s Synclavier: “That’s cute!”
    I was dreaming about all those tools in the late 80s. Then I got My 1040ST, then my Mac Classic. But I was still lusting after a Synclavier and a Fairlight.

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