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MP3 Fredrick Hoffer - CD 9, Piano Suite Number 7

Classically oriented Jazz music

9 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary, JAZZ: Smooth Jazz


In the beginning there was chaos and confusion. Each manufacturer prided itself on the uniqueness of its musical instruments. No two could be connected up to work with each other. Yamaha synths would not work with Kawai or Buchla or Kurzweil. In order to get a different set of sounds, musicians had to carry large numbers of keyboards to their venues, and with the coming of digital instruments, it looked like things were going to get worse.

Then in October, 1981, Dave Smith and Chet Wood of the California based company, Sequential Circuits, read a paper on a Universal Synthesizer Interface at the annual meeting of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Over the course of the next year discussions took place among the American and Japanese representatives during which the name was changed to Musical Instruments Digital Interface. (MIDI)

The first MIDI synthesizer, the Sequential Circuits Prophet 600, shipped in December of 1982, and a month later the first coupling of two different synthesizers took place at the annual meeting of the National Association of Music Manufacturers. (NAMM) It was a Prophet 600 and a Roland Jupiter 6; American and Japanese.

The official Midi 1.0 Detailed Specifications was published in October of 1983, a little over twenty years ago. It has never had to be revised, although it was expanded. It is voluntarily followed by all the musical instrument manufacturers in the world. There are two organizations that oversee the Midi specifications, the Midi Manufacturers Association (US, Canada, and Europe), and the Japanese Midi Standards Committee, and neither will act without the approval of the other.

What we have here is an almost unique cooperation between competitors. It''s almost as if all the automobile manufacturers were to get together and standardize parts! But the amazing thing is that Midi has gone way beyond its original purpose of standardizing interfaces so that different instruments can talk to each other. It has become a tool for composers that rivals the development of musical notaion, many centuries ago.

It is the elegance and simplicity of Midi that makes it so attractive. Much like a word processor, it takes very little computer power to make it work. A Midi message consists of a command to start, a number that designates a note, a number that indicates how loud the note is to be, and a command to stop. Along with that is a number to designate its position in the song, and a tempo map to determine the speed of the music. That''s about it! The actual sound is made by the music module; like notation, Midi makes no sounds. It''s just numbers.

Midi can do many other things, of course. It can record a sustain pedal, it can control a reverb unit. It can even turn the lights on or off. But without a sequencer, its use would be limited. A sequencer is a machine that records all the Midi numbers in their proper places, usually first into RAM, then when revised to suit, onto a floppy or hard drive. What a sequencer really does is allow you to change all those numbers around until you finally get what you were looking for. Can you think of anything more useful to a composer than that?

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