What is Midi and How does it Work?

What is Midi and How does it Work?

If you’re just starting with music creation you’re probably wondering what MIDI is. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The story goes back to the early 80s when the manufacturers of digital musical gear decided to create a unified language that would enable different digital music equipment to communicate with one another. Simply put, Instruments like synthesizers, various controllers, and computers use this MIDI interface or MIDI language to talk to each other.  

Is midi an audio signal?

MIDI is not an audio signal and it does not transmit like that. MIDI language is based on transmitting information about the tonation, velocity, volume panning and other parameters so it can be used as a trigger to another device  that understands this communication and information encoded. The MIDI language as a unified language enables various music equipment to work in sync with each other.

Do I need MIDI ?

Well… Yes. In order to make music electronically, you’re definitely going to need to use a controller or some kind of triggering device that will basically allow you to record your performance and transmit the information that you’re playing to your Virtual Studio Technology (VST) instruments or external gear or whatever you’re using to make your music alive.

Midi Controllers

Photo by Cedrik Malabanan

People mostly use controllers to “record” the midi, controllers are the easiest way to get started with MIDIs to understand its ins and outs. Most of the new MIDI interfaces have USB so all you have to do is plug it in directly to the USB in your computer and you’re all set

Have fun with it!

Nowadays the DAWs you use will come with an assortment of a wide range of different sound patches and instruments to choose from, some are free and some are obviously paid. For example one of the popular DAWs on mac – Logic Pro comes with an in-app library that provides multiple instruments to make your MIDI recordings sound pretty close to real-life instruments as long as your MIDI tracks are configured accordingly. From there on it’s all about your imagination to create awesome tracks with it.