How and when music first came to be part of our culture is a long and lengthy discipline. What was the first distinction between noise and music? When did poems begin to be recited to melodies and become transformed into songs? How has music been preserved and passed on beginning with oral traditions, then written score, and finally, to the more technologically-dependent medium of sound recording? From the rhythmic and repetitive pounding of percussion of more primitive music styles, to the theoretically complex arrangements of full orchestras in classical music, to the lo-fi raw energy of garage rock, music has a complex and diverse evolution.
One of the most recent developments in music technology is MIDI, which stands for musical instrument digital interface. It is first a tool for of both music composition and recording. It is simultaneously an instrument in itself as well as a device for controlling other instruments. It is part of the digital medium of using information about sounds instead of actual analog sounds. Finally, it is an interface connecting instruments with computers. Because of this final point, MIDI is very prevalent in today's electronic music scene, such as house and techno music, but can also be used as a tool to compose and experiment with broader classical arrangements.
In today's music recording scene, MIDI provides many new advantages that were previously unheard of. One advantage is that it allows a single person, or very few people, to simultaneously play and control many instruments. This is possible because a MIDI controller operates in a daisy-chain, meaning that one controlling device can link through many other slave devices in a long series of information exchange. This gives the individual the chance to compose multi-instrumental music without needing other musicians or pre-recorded tracks. This creates the possibility for expanding the live performance of a single individual.
Stage for Experiments
Another advantage with MIDI is the ability to experiment with different sounds in the early composition stages. A musician can write the melodies and chord progressions with one instrument and sound, and then instantly shift those notes onto other sounds. Doing this over and over can let the musician hear the melody played through many different sounds and instruments in a short time so as to help him hear and decide which sounds best.
A third advantage of MIDI is that it creates new opportunities for musicians to share music and collaborate regardless of proximity. A MIDI musician can send the digital information of his MIDI track to a collaborator via the internet. This is not sending a recording, but information that is easily replicated and manipulated while always preserving the core values of a musical track, like the melody, notation and time signature.
Learning about music still requires an understanding of the basics of theory and much practice for performance. But music production training has certainly expanded its scope with the advent of MIDI technology.