Midi - Midi accompaniments

Get help, exchange tips, replace software or just talk

Postby Christine » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:58 am

OK, I am going to make a 360 degree turn from my previous post in "digital keyboards"...it appears I may have (re)opened a big can of worms. So, I have a question regarding MIDI and exactly what it is. I have a friend who uses these with her keyboard, and has her students perform their songs on the keyboard, for recitals or during class time, and while they are playing, they have these wonderful accompaniments. So, I was wondering, does anyone else use these? I have no idea how they work...I know that with some book series' you can get the MIDI or a CD that the student can play along with at home, but that with the MIDI disks, you can adjust the speed, whereas with the CD you cannot. Of course, a student could only use the CD at home, and not the MIDI disk, if they did not have a keyboard (ha ha...bet you didn't think I would advocate getting a keyboard!)

Thanks for your views in the "digital keyboard" forum...I will tread lightly in that department, but was wondering if anyone used these...they did seem fun, and maybe great for motivating an "unmotivated" student? Maybe a fun thing for a recital, in addition to playing on a good old acoustic? :) I think a drawback could be the cost...I think the books with the disks could be quite costly for some students.

Thanks everyone :D
Christine
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:47 am
Location: Canada

Postby 88keys » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:29 pm

Does your friend use the Mayron Cole method? I know that method use the midi sequenced playing like you described.
That's my story and I'm sticking with it!
88keys
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue May 24, 2005 6:58 pm
Location: North Carolina

Postby Christine » Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:29 pm

I think it is something in the Hal Leonard series (?) but I'm sure there are lots of others.
Christine
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:47 am
Location: Canada

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:01 am

Christine wrote:OK, I am going to make a 360 degree turn from my previous post in "digital keyboards"...it appears I may have (re)opened a big can of worms. So, I have a question regarding MIDI and exactly what it is. I have a friend who uses these with her keyboard, and has her students perform their songs on the keyboard, for recitals or during class time, and while they are playing, they have these wonderful accompaniments. So, I was wondering, does anyone else use these? I have no idea how they work...I know that with some book series' you can get the MIDI or a CD that the student can play along with at home, but that with the MIDI disks, you can adjust the speed, whereas with the CD you cannot. Of course, a student could only use the CD at home, and not the MIDI disk, if they did not have a keyboard (ha ha...bet you didn't think I would advocate getting a keyboard!)

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking for here, but let me take a stab at it. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is the oldest and most well supported standard for connecting musical instruments of all sorts to a computer or other digital electronics. Most computers have a MIDI interface built into their sound cards, though this has been eliminated in some modern sound cards in favor of surround sound capability.

Because the MIDI specification works by responding to commands which specify "instrument", note pitch, length, dynamics and so forth, MIDI files (.MID) are actually compilations of MIDI instructions of that sort. That's the reason they are often called "MIDI sequences." The computer can turn MIDI sequences (you can find about 700 such in our Audition Room page) into sound that comes out of the speakers because the digital signal processor chip on the sound card understands the MIDI sequence commands.

Most MIDI keyboards can play at least 64 MIDI "voices" ranging from Acoustic Grand Piano to less common ones like the Ocarina. A full set of note pitches and timbres specific to a given instrument comprises a specific voice and is usually referred to as a "patch map." This terminology harkens back to the earliest days of synthesizers, when fixed sounds from a series of analog electronic oscillators were mixed to imitate the timbre of a given instrument. The mixing was done by connecting the oscillators together from a central panel using cords ("patch cords"). Thus, the specific configuration of cords on the panel for a given instrument became known as a "patch map."

Usually, it's trivially easy in software to switch the MIDI patch map to change instruments (voices) for a given MIDI sequence. If you think Bach is different on an acoustic piano vs. a MIDI keyboard, you'll find that listening to Bach MIDI files voiced on the ocarina is a real trip!

Note that MIDI files have no actual "sound" embedded in them. A MIDI file is not like a waveform file (.WAV), which is a digitized sample of actual sound recorded many times per second. So, the result of playing a MIDI file depends heavily on the hardware present in the computer. If you'd like to learn more about these differences, see my PEP article, Creating Sound and Music on the PC.

It follows from this discussion that the computer can easily adjust the speed at which a MIDI sequence is played, while it's much more difficult for a CD, which carries the digitized sound in a compressed waveform format. Thus, typically, the CD is used in listening to recorded music, while a CD-ROM with MIDI files is used for teaching and learning. If you have a MIDI keyboard attached to your computer you can easily compose from it in MIDI format and then have the computer play the resulting file.

Similarly, you can write music on your computer and have the computer play it without any keyboard at all, because the composing software can generate the MIDI file for you. It follows from this that the student doesn't need a MIDI keyboard at home to listen to or compose MIDI files on the computer, though having one certainly makes these tasks easier. We are privileged on PEP to have an excellent article, A MIDI Sequencing Tutorial, on MIDI written by Robert Finley, one of the world's experts on MIDI performing and composing. I recommend it to you if you would like to explore that aspect.

This easy manipulation of MIDI by the computer is part of what makes having a MIDI-compatible keyboard (not all are MIDI-compatible) so attractive in teaching and learning environments. There are many music and piano programs which support a MIDI keyboard or are even designed around one. We have reviewed many of these on our Piano and Music Software Reviews page.

I don't know if this begins to answer your questions, but I hope it's a start on it. :)




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1144762217
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
User avatar
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:46 pm
Location: Rio Rancho, NM USA


Return to Miracle Piano and Other Piano Software

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest