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The MIDI Technic

  1. The MIDI music - for what to make ?

  2. What the MIDI music ?

  3. What a synthetizer ?

  4. Why impassion to realize a MIDI file ?

  5. Technical exploit or artistic realization ?

The MIDI music - for what to make ?

For some, music lovers or not, the MIDI music, especially in the field of the classical music is only one artificial substitute of a musical hearing. For other, and even for professionals, the MIDI music is full with promises and has a series of advantages still little exploited at the present time.

Thus let us try to take stock, to point out the basic concepts of the MIDI music, analysis its weaknesses, its strong points, its promises ...

See also at the bottom of the page for the realization of soundfiles (WAV, MP3) form Midi

What the MIDI music ?

Contrary to the musical files found on the Net (type MP3 is well-known), the MIDI music is not a recording of a musical execution. The MIDI file is only composed of instructions intended for a synthetizer.

There is thus no executant, the file is composed of instructions of the type: to play the flute C 7 with a volume 80 during 1/2 second. For this reason, the MIDI file is extraordinarily compact. 100 times smaller than a MP3, 1000 times smaller than a file WAV, that which one finds on CD.

On the other hand, the synthetizer can give only mechanized music, like the barrel organ. There is a priori no sensitivity in a MIDI music, there are notes, cerebral organization, but not of heart.

However, with good to think, the musician, the executant lays out him also only of notes to transmit his sensitivity. Thus, an organist, would have it the best organ of the world, does nothing but actuate switches. It cannot vary the attacks, volume, and its principal asset would thus come from the quality of the instrument which it uses, and of acoustics of the environment.

All is quite different, obviously, on a violin, where there are hundred manners of playing a note, via the gestures of the two hands, the behaviour of the bow, the subtle movement of the left hand, and so much of other details.

What a synthetizer ?

A synthetizer, it is all and anything. There are "free" synthetizers (currently installed on all new PC) and others which cost several thousands of euros. Same capacities should not be awaited as other. Thus, soundcards installed at great prices on PC in the Nineties were hardly able to make a complaint painful, while the current basic model behaves already in a quite satisfactory way

Yes, here, contrary to files MP3, the MIDI files can be returned in a way completely different according to the equipment of the PC, without forgetting the system of loudspeakers whose price also varies from 1 to 100.

Another important factor: the MIDI synthetizer reconstitutes the sound starting from sound samples. Those can be free, downloaded on the Net, or to cost more than 1000 euros for one instrument. Here also, the result will depend largely on the cost.

Lastly, to establish the dialogue between the computer (or a keyboard) and the synthetizer, is needed a coherent language. This language is precisely
the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

MIDI is a standard. i.e. that the synthetizer or the software for realization of the files must answer precise characteristics. It is not a question that a violin on an installation is transformed into trombone on another.

Unfortunately the standard speaks about figures, of formats of the instructions, it does not approach the quality of the of the sound. Moreover, it requires only some minimal characteristics. An ordinary installation will show already characteristics quite higher than the standard.

Thus, the standard requires that the synthetizer be able to play 16 notes simultaneously. This is insufficient for a correct classical interpretation. 24 is a bare minimum, and 32 or 48 playable notes simultaneously will allow a listening without chance mishaps.

There are ialso alternatives to this standard. Three under-standards currently dominate : MIDI GM (lthe original standart), MIDI GS (chosen officially by Microsoft and developed by Roland ), and Yamaha.. The differences are tiny, but it may be that you hear in certain files of the abnormal percussions. That often means that the MIDI file was optimized for a standard different from that of your synthetizer.

But MIDI is not a method intended for fortunate people. My MIDI files are optimized for a modest installation (a soudcard at 100 euros, an acoustic installation at 70 euros), and a parameter setting correct makes it possible to obtain sounds resembling to there with ordinary CD, in any case for the sonority. You can realize it by examining some examples of MIDI realized in MP3. You will hear it thus such quasi such as it appears on my PC.

But the artistic part is still far from the objectives, a subject which further we will reconsider. Even if it remains mechanical, which palpitates in a leader, we try to discover it and adapt it in Midday. I say ' we' because thanks to the Internet, we try to work in team, which does nothing but improve our judgement.

Why impassion to realize a MIDI file ?

One needs about 4 to 10 working hours to carry out one minute of correct MIDI music . Is necessary it to be insane to undertake such a work, when excellent CD commercial costs hardly more than 10 euros. Moreover, a MIDI file must mature several months, regularly to be improved and corrected before being published on the site.

But the realization of a Midi sequence is fisrt a whole splendid method to learn, discover, a work in-depth. Better than a listening, than a traditional analysis, than a hearing with the partition, the writing of a sequence is one marvellous moment of discovery, especially in the presence of giants of the music like Brahms or Beethoven.

Arnold Schönberg learned besides a broad part of its musical knowledge while working as copyist during his free times as student.

For this reason I prefer to work on the traditional masterpiece, whereas it would be much simpler to copy less rich works (light music). But to admire how Schubert organizes such or such topic, such or such harmonization, is much more of interest than an overture of Offenbach, this known as without the least pejorative concept.

The Midi music will undoubtedly become what was the piano at the last century: in the corner of the living room, how much works were mutilated, while other musicians, future geniuses, made their first difficulties there.

Currently, the midi music interests many professors of music, for analysis, but also as working tool.

Lastly, I will add a small detail: the Midi music can render the greatness of a work (but the technique is still far from being with the height). Let's think to the modern Organ, which one finds in the churches or the concert halls, where the electric drive replaced the decayed system of pneumatic power. They are not here than switches opening of the pneumatic valves towards the pipes, exactly as in the Midi technique, if not than the bank of samples is provided infinitely more. But the interpreter has under the fingers only switches. The rendering of life of the music is possible by negligible imperfections, the variations in the length of the notes, or subtle changes of tempo (even and especially at Bach).

Here details which deserve to be studied, not for the greatness of music, but by personal curiosity. The executant plays with his brain and his heart. The brain can be translated into Midi, I remain persuaded that the heart can be partially translated. But I do not have the audacity to say to have already arrived there, after 7 years of work on the subject.

Technical exploit or artistic realization ?

I received from a visitor of the site, this message left in the guestbook:

The music, as a promise of art and not of completed art - because the completion of the music, it is its listening, and thus its death - supposes major relations between the interpreter and the partition. Relations that only the genuine instruments - whose Midi is not that a memory more or less definite - can clarify. Admittedly, the idea is good, the gratuitousness also, but all these files betray all that saw and palpitates in an orchestra. In short, it is classical music without the size.

Is it necessary, for that reason, to give up my passion, or on the contrary, to continue my long work, while hoping to better do each time. I do not think of betraying the composer. Quite to the contrary, I seek with better knowing it, better including/understanding his work, restoring his partition with an increased fidelity, with time with other, a personal touch. I seek to forget the technical side to concentrate me exclusively on what lives. I seek in turn to put myself at the place of a leader, a soloist or an executant - sometimes also, of a sound-engineer.

Often, I would like to destroy all my MIDI files old of more than two years. However, it is the proof of a constant improvement. Because long before 2000, there existed on the Internet of the achievements remarkable, incomparable, seemed to me there. It is as thanks to the Internet, with the dialogue between these in love with the music as each one made enormous progress, that the technique of writing also progressed.

A tutorial is available on the site. Although it is very old (and updated soon, I hope), it makes it possible to find some basic tricks to surpass a simple transcribing of the partition. It proposes tips, not done everything things. It shows how to translate the inevitable small human defects of a real execution. It insists especially on the study of the pulsation. As repeated it the musicologist Fred . Goldbeck, the rate/rhythm and measure are two quite different things.

But whoever is impassioned by the realization of Midi will quickly find a real pleasure to conduct 'his' orchestra, awkwardly at the beginning, then, once the controlled basic technique, progress will appear, very quickly.

There is no professor for Midi music. Each one must learn by oneself, by reading the tutorials, by copying others impassioned. And especially by exchanging opinions. That they are positive or negative, as soon as they carry out to a discussion, these exchanges are extraordinarily enriching.

Arrived at this stage, passion overrides the technical exploit. It is what I wish for who want to begin the realization of Midi. All those which like the music but ever were likely to study an instrument.

From the MIDI files, it is also possible for you to create files WAV, to make MP3 or CD of them. This method is rather complex. For more explanations, click on this button :

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There is not a great realization which was not initially utopia