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MIDI 1.0 is a ubiquitous protocol that allows different musical instruments and devices to communicate with each other using digital messages. MIDI 1.0 was first published in 1983, the outcome of collaboration between various manufacturers.

The first version of MIDI 1.0 defined a core data format for messages and a serial transport using 5 pin DIN connectors. MIDI 1.0 has been expanded with many features and reached far beyind the dreams of the original designers.

MIDI 1.0 remains a core vital standard, and continues to evolve. MIDI 1.0 specifications available here also continue to be crucial documents as foundational components of MIDI 2.0.


The following changes/additions became part of the MIDI 1.0 Specification after the “96.1” publication and should be consulted to have a current understanding of MIDI technology.

General MIDI

The General MIDI Specifications (GM 1, GM 2, and GM Lite) define specific features and behaviors for compliant MIDI devices. 

    MPE: MIDI Polyphonic Expression

    This specification is designed for MIDI controllers that allow the performer to vary the pitch and timbre of individual notes while playing polyphonically.

    MIDI 1.0 Core Specifications

    MIDI, the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, was established as a hardware and software specification which would make it possible to exchange information (musical notes, program changes, expression control, etc.) between different musical instruments or other devices such as sequencers, computers, lighting controllers, mixers, etc.