This page contains documents that explain MIDI and audio concepts in non-technical terminology. It also contains information that may be useful to musicians using MIDI-based products.

Basic Tutorials

What is MIDI?
A tutorial that explains what MIDI is, and what it can do.

What is a sequencer?
A tutorial that explains what a sequencer is, how it works, and how it is used.

MIDI Note Numbers versus Note Names
A tutorial about how musicians name notes, and how this relates to the MIDI Note Numbers that MIDI devices use.

MIDI Channels and Multitimbral Sound Modules
A tutorial that explains the concept of a MIDI channels in more detail, and describes what it means when a sound module is multitimbral.

General MIDI
A tutorial that explains what General MIDI is. Also included are listings of the GM Patch Set and the GM Drum Map.

About MIDI files
An explanation of what MIDI files are, and how they are different from WAVE files. Useful information about MIDI files is also contained herein, such as explaining the various types, discussing the implications of not including various controllers at the start of a MIDI file, how to play Macintosh MIDI files on an IBM PC, what RMID files are, how to create an audio CD from a MIDI file, and how to transfer MIDI data between two sequencers.

Digital Audio on a computer
A tutorial about digital audio on a computer. Explains how digital audio is recorded, played, and processed.

Hardware discussions

Audio Cards and MIDI Interfaces for a computer
A discussion of various MIDI interfaces and Audio Cards for an IBM PC (compatible) computer; which cards have features that may be important to you. This also discusses cards that record/play digital audio, as well as cards that have built-in GM modules.

Multiple MIDI outputs
A tutorial about the use of multiple MIDI busses (ie, multiple MIDI OUT jacks upon one interface). Learn about the practical implications of MIDI bandwidth (ie, speed) limitations.

A beginner's controller keyboard
Advice for a beginner looking to purchase a keyboard controller (ie, to play his rackmount MIDI modules, or use with a computer soundcard/MIDI interface and computer software).

Reducing noise on a sound card's output
Advice on how to reduce RF interference and grounding hum on a sound card's output.

Channel and Key Pressure (Aftertouch)
A tutorial that explains the difference between Channel and Key Pressure (ie, Aftertouch).

What's Active Sense?
A tutorial that explains what Active Sense MIDI messages are and what they do.

Differences between samplers and synths
A tutorial that explains the differences in how MIDI samplers and synthesizers make sound, and what the advantages/disadvantages are for each.

Using MIDI guitars
Advice concerning playing a MIDI guitar (controller), and using it with a sequencer. Learn about the practical limitations of MIDI guitars.

Computer and hardware configuration/setup/trouble-shooting

MIDI connections and computer setup
Answers to questions about connecting MIDI gear together, and in particular, resolving common problems that people have with getting a computer working with external MIDI gear or a sound card/interface or MIDI software.

MIDI/Audio under Windows 95
Answers to questions about MIDI and audio under Windows 95. It's recommended that you read "MIDI connections and computer setup" also.

MIDI for Game Players (and other morons)
A FAQ that helps guide game players through the other FAQs on this web site to deduce only that info which they need to know concerning game audio. Also insults them because they aren't MIDI gods like the rest of us.

Performance and sequencing tips

Arranging for MIDI sound modules
Mixing techniques for getting fuller, more spacious sounds out of your MIDI sound modules.

Creating effects (ie, delay, reverb, etc) with MIDI
A discussion about using MIDI messages to implement effects.

How to create slurs
How to create the effect of a slurred note from your MIDI sound module. In particular, this discusses some important issues about the Pitch Wheel (ie, how its range relates to the values in Pitch Wheel MIDI messages).

Changing patches over MIDI using Bank Select Controller
How to specify Bank Select and Program Change events in your sequencer tracks in order to switch patches on modules that have more than 128 patches. An example is given for Roland's approach.

Registered and Non-Registered Parameter Number
A tutorial that explains what RPN and NRPN controllers are, and how to use them to adjust various parameters on your MIDI gear, for example setting Pitch Wheel range.

Sequencer Timing
A tutorial about sequencer timing: what makes for a stable, human-sounding playback, and what doesn't. Also, some information about sync protocols is included.

Tips for creating patches upon Sound Modules
A tutorial about how to create your own custom patches upon a sound module that uses digital audio waveforms.

Useful Charts

Defined MIDI Controllers
A chart listing all defined MIDI controllers, and their respective controller numbers.

Sequencer Note Division Chart
Charts that show how many clock pulses are in each note value (ie, 16th, 8th, quarter, half, whole, etc) for various PPQN resolutions.

MIDI Note to Frequency
A chart that shows the corresponding frequency (in Hertz) for each MIDI note number, plus some BASIC code that shows how to calculate those frequencies from MIDI note numbers.

Information on Roland Products

The architecture of Roland sound modules
Gives an overview of how the JV and related series sound modules operate, and answers some questions about these modules.

Understanding the MIDI Implementation in your Roland manual
Helps guide you through understanding this chapter in your user's manual. This chapter contains the details of your Roland products MIDI support (ie, what messages it understands and what it does with them, and what messages it can generate and transmit if any). Also discussed is Roland System Exclusive Implementation.

Roland Audio Card FAQ
Answers to questions about Roland audio cards, including the RAP-10, SC-7, SCD-10, SCD-15, etc.

Roland Audio Card Specs
Charts and discussions of the features of various audio cards (and sound modules designed to attach to a computer's serial port) made by Roland.


The historical, musical significance of computers
Often, college instructors assign meaningless "make-work" assignments that have absolutely nothing to do with the creation or appreciation of art. (That's because art isn't properly taught by The Education Business. Misguided bureaucrats tend to teach it as if it were a "soft science" in order to more easily categorize and grade art, and thereby have some simple criteria for issuing/selling pieces of paper known as "degrees"). Often, I get email from unfortunate victims of The Education Business, who have been assigned the task of writing an essay on "the significance/importance of computers and MIDI upon music" or "how technology has made things better/easier for musicians". This article is my response.

The beginnings of MIDI
An article that discusses how MIDI came about. This is meant to provide some historical information/perspective for students needing to write more of the "make-work" assignments.

The World's Most Obnoxious FAQ
Really obnoxious answers to all of your annoying questions.