The MIDI Association, Dr. Jonathan Piper and Moldover worked together to create a special exhibition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of MIDI. There were many people who contribute to this amazing project.
MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, lets machines talk about music. In the same way that printed sheet music is a set of instructions telling a musician what to play—this note for this long and this loud, then that note, and so on—MIDI is a set of instructions letting machines understand what we want them to do and how to do it.
At its most basic, MIDI lets a controller—a device that a musician interacts with—send instructions to a synthesizer—a device that makes sound using electricity. Controllers can look like piano keyboards, but they can also be digital drum sets, electronic wind instruments, guitars, computer or smartphone apps, or nearly anything else that can send an electronic signal.
What's more, synthesizers aren't the only things that can get MIDI instructions. Computers can get and store instructions for editing or playback; recording devices can get instructions that keep them synchronized; lighting equipment, cameras, fountains, pyrotechnics, and more can get instructions telling them what to do and when.
And while its first instructions were sent over a specialized cable, MIDI now also travels via USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the internet to allow musicians and devices to communicate almost anywhere across the globe.
More than anything else, MIDI has enabled people to create new music, art, and experiences using new and traditional instruments and devices.
One of the most popular parts of the MIDI@40 exhibit is a specially designed JamBox by Moldover. This is an installation with a number of MIDI controllers that are connected to a computer running Ableton and are programmed so that no matter what controller you hit and how you
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