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Musical Instrument Digital Interface
August 19, 2013 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to Midi Mondays, a weekly installation where the hottest MiDi traxx — replete with lyrics — are posted each and e’ery Monday (requires browser/player that supports MIDI files).

MIDI music has been featured before (1)(2) on the blue.
posted by Doleful Creature (24 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love this enough to not be too thoroughly disappointed that a site called "Midi Mondays" does not have in its archives "Manic Monday."

Other hits from the 1980s I have enjoyed though:

“Rock Me Amadeus”
"You Might Think" (a very solid adaptation and would have easily been my favorite, if not for...)

"Magic" and “Dress You Up”

There is also A LOT of Whitney Houston.

The instructions on how to use the site are also pretty fantastic. (Step 1: "After school every Monday, invite all your friends over for snacks, midis, and icy-cold beverages. ✔")
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:41 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to have a formidable collection of high quality MIDI files. Zappa, King Crimson, big band. There were some people out there devoting serious effort to making these. I lost all of this in a hard disk crash, which is, perhaps, for the best.
posted by thelonius at 9:42 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, if you're having trouble playing the files, Apple's Quicktime is still a free download and will work just fine with them.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:46 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


In case you're interested:

Bangles Manic Monday MIDI

posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:54 AM on August 19, 2013


Cheesy old .mid files have a special place in my heart. I was super proud of my midi collection on my first Geocities page back in middle school. And the first time I ever tried my hand at writing music, it was in the old DOS version of TabIt on my first PC, which I was just using to learn songs on guitar and really just stumbled into writing with it on a bored afternoon. It used your PC's stock midi synth, so it was cheesy as all get-out, but I loved it, you could do multiple tracks for a full arrangement and I had a ton of pretty decent stuff (for a total beginner) exported as .mid files. And then I learned my first lesson about the importance of backups and lost it all. Well - I should have learned my lesson, but I still ended up losing a ton of Jeskola Buzz tracks a couple years later after I got hooked on that program. Still sad about losing all of those. I still occasionally kick around the idea of doing a project in just those old stock midi sounds, but it just doesn't have the same magic when you're not forced to use them.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:55 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cool, story, jason_steakums. When I was a junior in high school I wrote some incidental music for a play that the drama club was putting on. I wrote it in MIDI and we went to the drama teacher's brother's studio so we could record it 'on the good synths'. Fuck Yeah
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:03 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first major PC had such a crappy (awesome) MIDI synthesizer that my old Midisoft Studio ditties came out all blurry and warm and made everything (especially my mistakes) into a cool sonic mass that I loved... then when I upgraded to a newer machine with the wavetable type synth, everything was all Best Buy Keyboard sounding with real-ish drums and strings and all of a sudden there seemed to be Seinfeld slap bass everywhere that I never intended and what the fuck man? I never composed another MIDI ditty after that.

This site brings back those feelings because I'd really like to hear all this stuff through my cheap old soundcard with the white-noise snare sound and not whatever damn soundfont is currently blabbing at me.
posted by SharkParty at 10:05 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had no idea at the time that MIDI had real, professional studio uses and the silly .mid tracks that were everywhere were just kind of a side benefit. I thought for years that the whole purpose of it was just to play music on a computer with small file sizes because actual audio files were HUGE resources at the time.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:10 AM on August 19, 2013


The amazing thing to me is that MIDI is still in use. Hell, I used it last night for some production music I'm working on, for a paid theater gig no less. And probably over 90% of all TV soundtracks are still produced using MIDI. A lot of popular music, too.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:23 AM on August 19, 2013


Oh man... I just realized I can change the soundfont all I want in VLC... Vintage Dreams is maybe the worst and is REALLY messing up my midi monday. RECOMMENDED.
posted by SharkParty at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love MIDI versions of popular tracks. They're much easier to pull apart for isolated instruments and loops for guitar practice.
posted by vanar sena at 10:33 AM on August 19, 2013


This site brings back those feelings because I'd really like to hear all this stuff through my cheap old soundcard with the white-noise snare sound and not whatever damn soundfont is currently blabbing at me.

There are ways. Although the easiest might just be to fire up DOSBox w/ OPL3 emulation and Windows 3.11, then double-click CANYON.MID (for example).

(I am still looking for the elusive OPL-3 FM 128M.sf2 soundbank however)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:36 AM on August 19, 2013


I had no idea at the time that MIDI had real, professional studio uses and the silly .mid tracks that were everywhere were just kind of a side benefit.

That was why I always wished they'd called General MIDI something different.

I still have a bunch of MIDI cables from that era. And I still refer to the keyboard controller on my desk as a "MIDI keyboard" even though it's connected via USB. Though the protocol is still MIDI.
posted by Foosnark at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2013


The amazing thing to me is that MIDI is still in use. Hell, I used it last night for some production music I'm working on, for a paid theater gig no less. And probably over 90% of all TV soundtracks are still produced using MIDI. A lot of popular music, too.

It blew my mind when I started a job in TV production that almost none of the equipment interfaced over MIDI, instead using a half-dozen different protocols. It's a solved problem in the audio world, but in a video production control room you've got some hardware talking over RS-232, some over ethernet, some over GPIO, etc etc, and most of it's low-level automation stuff like the audio board, vision mixer, deck control, etc where you don't need to shoot content and playlists and stuff around. In fact the higher level playlist/content/script syncing stuff is far more standardized and easier to implement, but you'll spend hours getting a simple controller to talk to equipment. I always thought it would be pretty rad if MIDI could be sent along in the ancillary data on SDI for device syncing.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Getting pop stars wired for 30 years
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2013


Nostalgia! Irony! Two great tastes that taste great together!
posted by blue t-shirt at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2013


I don't know about you but I'm enjoying this nostalgia 100% irony-free
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2013


Also, behold the glory that is the Pinboard MIDI tag page.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2013


I was underwhelmed by his suggestions. Admittedly, I browsed only a smattering since my tolerance for mediocre was limited.

Many years ago, I found several MIDI files that were created by someone who loved Big Band and had scores and entered things so that swung at least a little bit, so they sounded like they at least some life to them.

And since the internet rarely lets data die, here's Pressure Cooker, The Queen Bee, Satin Doll, and Waltz for Debby.

And for grins, here's Johnny Quest and She Blinded Me With Science (which is really not a big stretch for MIDI).
posted by plinth at 12:39 PM on August 19, 2013


If you're having trouble playing these, you can install TiMidity++. In ubuntu the package is named "timidity".

Yes, I did notice that the timidity project hasn't been updated since 2004.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:30 PM on August 19, 2013


VLC works pretty well for me. Preferences, Audio, Show All, Input / Codecs | Audio codecs | FluidSynth, load sound font. The Gravis Ultrasound soundfont linked above is a good start.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:40 PM on August 19, 2013


Speaking of serious effort, the Classical MIDI Connection is a great resource for learning. The transcriptions tend to follow the notation robotically, which isn't very listenable, but makes it easy to follow along with the sheet music.
posted by mubba at 6:48 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


AWESOME post. This is .. quite relevant to my interests. I still use General MIDI on a daily basis! To me, it's the "notepad of music" -- I use a Sound Blaster Live! loaded with the legendary 4MBGM.SF2 to jot down ideas with zero latency on its snappy hardware synth, write full tracks before producing them fully, etc. It's definitely not a forgotten product of a bygone era, it's a thing I still rely on constantly!

My friends and I try to stump each other by calling out an obscure patch in the GM set ("Guitar Fret Noise" "base zero, 120" "Damn, son..") We also hold competitions semi-frequently (not frequently enough, if you ask me) where you are given one hour to compose a complete original .MID file within the default 128 instruments (adherence to a "theme" for the song is optional), and after the hour is up, we assemble everything into a zip file, and listen to each entry one by one, laughing it up and drinking heavily.

If you'll excuse the self-link, I released my "greatest hits" from this event as a free, full-length album (which also got a disc pressing). Each track on the album was written within 60 minutes using the GM sound set on my SBLive, then rendered (without changing a single note) on a fancy-ass Yamaha Motif XS, on which I dropped $2500 because of its exquisite GM set. I wonder if anyone else on the planet has bought one for that specific reason. Ugh.

Until about last year (and still, if you're making a Japanese RPG) all Nintendo systems were composed for heavily using MIDI + custom sample banks (still an integral part of the Wii U and 3DS -- boot up the main menu, that fun cheesy music you're hearing in the main menu, the eShop, and in other places -- that's all tiny MIDI sequences) as a space-saving alternative to streaming encoded studio-recorded music tracks.

One major advantage of doing music this way is that you can change the tempo or add/remove components via the game's code in realtime, without having to stream multiple huge files off the disc, or set up fancy sample-accurate synchronization wizardry, so doing "interactive" scores (the music ramping up in intensity or playing timed "hits" as Link smashes through foes) is really easy. Nintendo are by far the most creative with this stuff, though I got to work on a Spongebob Squarepants game recently where I got to pull some of the same tricks -- the music speeds up without changing pitch as you progress, which is easy because everything's being synthesized in realtime. MIDI!

I have in the past 12 months had to create a complete drum kit sample bank that fit within 30 kilobytes, mapped to the GM drum map where C-1 is the bass drum, etc. This is still a thing that people are doing! Not many of us, though, only the real crazies. May it never die.
posted by jake at 12:07 AM on August 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


jake, that is so eminently fucking cool.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:02 AM on August 20, 2013


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