Musical Instrument Digital Interface

What Does Musical Instrument Digital Interface Mean?

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a technical protocol that governs the interaction of digital instruments with computers and with each other. Instead of a direct musical sound representation, MIDI provides the information on how a musical sound is made with the help of MIDI commands. The protocol not only provides compactness but also provides ease in manipulation and modification of notes, along with a flexible choice of instruments.


Techopedia Explains Musical Instrument Digital Interface

MIDI contains information about the pitch, velocity, notation and control signals for different musical parameters such as vibration, volume, etc. It also contains information for an instrument to start and stop a specific note. This information is used by the wavetable of the receiving musical device to produce the sound waves. As a result, MIDI is more concise than similar technologies and is asynchronous. The byte is the basic unit of communication for the protocol, which uses 8-bit serial transmission, with one start and one stop bit. Each MIDI command has its own unique sequence of bytes.

One of the most common applications of MIDI is in sequencers, which allow a computer to store, modify, record and play MIDI data. Sequencers use the MIDI format for files because of their smaller size compared to those produced by other popular data formats. MIDI files, however, can only be used with MIDI-compatible software or hardware.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.