How MIDI Changed Music

midi-30th-anniversaryProducer Simon Leo Brown let us know about his new audio documentary that looks at how MIDI changed music.

In the documentary, Brown takes you on a tour through the history of MIDI, from its troubled beginnings to its near ubiquity in recording studios around the world. It features an in-depth interview with MIDI pioneer Dave Smith, who notes, “I could plug in an instrument I designed over 30 years ago into an instrument I’m designing now and it’ll work just fine, it’ll work perfectly.”

Along with the Dave Smith interview, Simon also talks to musicians and engineers who work in Australia – thousands of kilometres away from the companies who produced the standard, underscoring the global nature of MIDI’s impact on the music and recording industries.

Tom Ellard from Severed Heads and Nicole Skeltys from BifTek talk about the impact MIDI had on their musical careers in the 1980s and 90s, while engineer Adam Calaitzis and composer/programmer Chris Vik explore the near-limitless possibilities this humble standard allows.


5 thoughts on “How MIDI Changed Music

  1. Let’s hear it for MIDI 🙂

    What I’m hoping for though is a revision or extension to the MIDI standard to be able to send arbitrary pitches. Imagine if you could choose a tuning/intonation in your DAW, complete with custom piano roll for non 12-tone based tuning, and have any synth put out any freqency. Sure, you can use pitchbend and programming tricks, but custom scales are still set *on the synth* when ideally they should be set by the composer.

    1. Yes, there are workarounds you can do to make microtonal or alternate intonation music, I’m just saying, I think it would be a good thing if we had a repeat of the “meeting of minds” of the 80’s, with all the manufacturers getting together to improve MIDI for the next 30 years. And one bone of contention is MIDI’s complete disregard for alternate tunings, and how this is reflected in VST and synth design in general. I believe this would be rectified if pitches were specified at the composition level and synths could output arbitrary pitches… But obviously it would take time for these changes to happen and become supported… and I’m honestly not sure anybody is as forward-thinking as people were in the 80’s. Which is understandable given the piss-poor state of our economy.

  2. Could this nit be achieved threw a vst and then sent via midi i dont think its the protocol i think its the implemntation but i do like the concept Though my compositions do not require this

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