Tech Tip:A MIDI Note

Many folks get confused about the purpose of a midi connection with regards to what is transmitted. MIDI is a control language of 1's and 0's. It is used to send information from one device to another (like from a keyboard to a sound module).


One of the most misunderstood ideas with MIDI is the idea that audio is transmitted from the MIDI ports. MIDI ports aren't set up to be used as sound outputs (you can't send your keyboard's audio to the computer through the MIDI ports). What does come out of a MIDI port is a stream of data consisting of 1's and 0's.


What MIDI does is send command information from one device to others. Think of a television remote control. Does any of the programming you see and hear originate from your handheld remote unit? No. All the remote does is tell the television what to show and how loud the volume should be (and perhaps some more advanced features like picture in picture... would that be called a multitimbral television?)


Your MIDI controller simply sends what note should sound, perhaps how loudly, what patch or parameter to use, etc.. MIDI can be confusing, and there are new protocols being developed all the time, but beginning with a good understanding of what it does not do can help make the learning curve an easier thing to overcome.