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Frequently Asked Questions about MIDIs
What does MIDI stand for?
MIDI is the acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
What is MIDI?
MIDI is a digital language that was agreed upon by major manufacturers of Electronic Musical Instruments. It allows keyboards, synthesizers, computers, tape decks and even mixers & stage-light controllers to communicate with each other.
What are MIDI (*.mid) files?
A MIDI file contains what the composer (or the person who played it) did at his/her music keyboard. It keeps track of which note (key) was pressed, when it was pressed, for how long, and at what pressure. Playing back a MIDI file would need a device (sound card) that can generate the sounds of common instruments (eg: Piano, Violins, Drums) on its own. The note data is sent to the device, which then generates the sounds that was intended. A MIDI file is generally very small and can be edited (including changing the instruments altogether) on any PC.
FindMIDIs.com makes available thousands of MIDIs to you for free, so you can use them for karaoke, webpage background music, or just for fun.
How do I play MIDI files?
You can open MIDI files using a large number of sound editors and media players. For a comprehensive list of such software, click here.
Your sound card must support MIDI playback for MIDIs to work on your system - any modern computer should be able to play MIDI files without any problem.
What's the difference between MP3 and MIDI files?
MP3 (MPEG-3) audio is a compressed audio format that allows music and voice to be played on a large number of platforms. When a PC plays back an MP3 file, it converts the numbers into the audio signal that's fed into the speakers. A complete song encoded in .MP3 format using a decent bitrate (128 kbps) will range between 2.5MB to 5MB in size (depending on length and compression).
In contrast, a 5 minute MIDI composition may be as short as 0.05MB (50KB) in size! This is because MIDI files do not contain any voice information, and the sound stored in a MIDI is limited to the types of notes that a digital piano can play. This property of MIDIs makes them ideal for use in karaoke and online music.
What is General MIDI?
General MIDI is a standard adopted by many manufacturers of MIDI components. In the early days, if you took a MIDI file from one musician's studio to another's, they didn't assign the same instruments to the same patch # (instrument number). So a piano part could have played as a drum, a violin as a trombone... and so on. General MIDI is a set of rules such that the same patch # correspond to the same instruments (eg: Patch 0 is always Grand Piano, Patch 40 = Violin). This has also became the standard for sound cards.
What is the history of the MIDI format?
MIDI was introduced in 1983. It was developed in co-operation between the major music industry electronic instrument manufacturers including Roland, Yamaha, Korg and others. No one ever dreamed the kinds of sounds that could be created and accessed using such a powerful communications protocol.
The MIDI protocol allows electronic devices (usually synthesizers, but also computers, light show controllers, VCR’s, multi-track recorders, etc.) to interact and work in synchronization with other MIDI compatible devices. Using a master controller device such as a keyboard, one can play or trigger sounds from other electronic devices remotely. This eliminates the need for one keyboardist to perform with nine or ten keyboards around him. He can play all the keyboards through one, simply by connecting them using MIDI. The other keyboards can be off-stage; he never has to touch them, yet he can play them.
The best analogy for MIDI is to liken it to the linking of two computers via modems. The same way the computers share information via modem, electronic devices share it via MIDI. It does not send the actual musical note, but the information about the note. It can send messages to synthesizers telling it to change sounds, master volume, modulation devices, which note was depressed, and even how long to sustain the note.
MIDI has been continually expanded to include other features for the professional musician. Some of note include MIDI Time Code (allowing synchronization of video and audio), Sample Dump Standard (allowing for the transfer of digital audio files) and MIDI Show Control (allowing control of devices used in theater).
Throughout its existence, MIDI has gained acceptance with industry professionals by leaps and bounds. Not only does it allow for faster creation and composition of music, it allows the composer to become the proverbial one-man band.
The contents of this page have been compiled from several online resources. findMIDIs.com does not claim ownership over the contents of this page, and has provided it for purely reference and educational purposes.