A single MIDI link can carry up to sixteen channels of information, each of which can be routed to a separate device. These messages are sent via a MIDI cable to other devices where they control sound generation, a simple example of a MIDI setup is the use of a MIDI controller such as an electronic musical keyboard to trigger sounds created by a sound module. This MIDI data can also be recorded into a hardware or software device called a sequencer, advantages of MIDI include compactness, ease of modification and manipulation and a wide choice of electronic instruments and synthesizer or digitally-sampled sounds. MIDI technology was standardized in 1983 by a panel of industry representatives. In June 1981, Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi proposed the idea of standardization to Oberheim Electronics founder Tom Oberheim, in October 1981, Kakehashi, Oberheim and Smith discussed the idea with representatives from Yamaha, Korg and Kawai. Smith proposed this standard at the Audio Engineering Society show in November 1981, MIDIs development was announced to the public by Robert Moog, in the October 1982 edition of Keyboard magazine. By the time of the January 1983 Winter NAMM Show, Smith was able to demonstrate a MIDI connection between his Prophet 600 analog synthesizer and a Roland JP-6, the MIDI Specification was published in August 1983. The MIDI standard was unveiled by Ikutaro Kakehashi and Dave Smith, MIDIs appeal was originally limited to professional musicians and record producers who wanted to use electronic instruments in the production of popular music. The standard allowed different instruments to speak with other and with computers. This interoperability allowed one device to be controlled from another, which reduced the amount of hardware musicians needed to own, MIDIs introduction coincided with the dawn of the personal computer era and the introductions of samplers and digital synthesizers. The creative possibilities brought about by MIDI technology have been credited as having helped to revive the industry in the 1980s. MIDI introduced many capabilities which transformed the way musicians work, MIDI sequencing made it possible for a user with no notation skills to build complex arrangements. A musical act with as few as one or two members, each operating multiple MIDI-enabled devices, could deliver a performance which sounds similar to that of a larger group of musicians. By performing preproduction in an environment, an artist can reduce recording costs by arriving at a recording studio with a song that is already partially completed and worked out. Educational technology enabled by MIDI has transformed music education and those new to the subject of MIDI might confuse it with digital audio. MIDI symbolically represents a note, whereas digital audio represents the sound produced by the note, MIDI was invented so that musical instruments could communicate with each other and so that one instrument can control another. Analog synthesizers that have no digital component and were built prior to MIDIs development can be retrofit with kits that convert MIDI messages into analog control voltages. When a note is played on a MIDI instrument, it generates a signal that can be used to trigger a note on another instrument
MIDI allows multiple instruments to be played from a single controller (often a keyboard, as pictured here), which makes stage setups much more portable. This system fits into a single rack case, but prior to the advent of MIDI, it would have required four separate full-size keyboard instruments, plus outboard mixing and effects units.
MIDI music sequencers
MIDI connectors and a MIDI cable.
Two-octave MIDI controllers are popular for use with laptop computers, due to their portability. This unit provides a variety of real-time controllers, which can manipulate various sound design parameters of computer-based or standalone hardware instruments, effects, mixers and recording devices.