What is a MIDI

Definition of MIDI

MIDI is a communication protocol that allows computers, synthesizers, sequencers, controllers, and other electronic musical devices to communicate and share information. It was created in the year 1982.
MIDI file contains a series of instructions that a synthesizer or other sound generator uses to play the sound in real time. These instructions are messages that tell the instrument what the musical notes are, their duration, the strength of the touch and the modulations of the sound parameters, information necessary for the generation of sounds. Each sound emitted by MIDI is made up of command packets in numerical format.

This type of file transmits signals in one direction (simplex), from a ‘master’ device (controller) that sends, to a ‘slave’ device (synthesizer) that receives.

What does it mean?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface .

What is it for?

The main function of a MIDI is to allow electronic musical instruments and other digital tools to communicate with each other. The instrument can be a piece of hardware like an electronic keyboard or synthesizer, or it can be part of a software application environment like Ableton, GarageBand, Digital Artist, etc.


A MIDI system is made up of three basic elements:

  1. The language protocol, which allows configuration of the language.
  2. The connector or hardware interface
  3. A format that allows distribution of MIDI files.

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Equipment used for MIDI falls into three categories:

  1. Controllers: they generate the messages (activation or deactivation of a note, pitch variations, etc.), the most used being the controller in the form of a piano keyboard.
  2. Sound generating units: known as sound modules, they receive the messages and transform them into sound signals.
  3. Sequencers: devices designed to record, play or edit MIDI messages.

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