What is MIDI?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and is used to connect various devices that create and process music. This could be anything from synths, computers, samplers to drum machines. MIDI can be used to easily work between different branded machines, because it’s universal.

The one thing to remember here is that MIDI is not an audio signal or sound, it is communicated as controller and note data, usually in the form of note on and note off events. These events are transferred through the cable as numbers (the 1’s and 0’s that computers talk in).

So MIDI can communicate anything from which key was pressed on a keyboard (this is a note on event), how hard the key was pressed (known as a velocity number), the moment that you release a key (note off event), when you twisted a knob on the interface (the controller data).

The great thing about MIDI data is that once you have it all recorded, it’s then fully accessible on the screens of your sequencer and computer. You can edit, replace, transfer, erase, re-assign everything on your edit screen.

MIDI sequencers and DAWs, like Cubase or Logic, are able to record these note events onto a grid that can be played at any tempo of your choice. If you pressed play on your sequencer, you would hear the exact same notes being played on your external device (synth) as it was recorded.

If you don’t like the sound of what you recorded then you can go back into the sequencer and make whatever changes you feel are necessary. So when you are happy with your editing, you can then record your MIDI as an audio track by playing back the music on the external device.

You will need the necessary inputs and outputs in order to record this audio track, the most basic setup would be to have MIDI OUT on your instrument connected to MIDI IN on your computer and vice-versa, MIDI OUT on your computer to MIDI IN on your instrument.

There are many different MIDI connections available but the most basic would be to use the USB MIDI IN/OUT options.