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MIDI and Music Production
Written by Dongeon Kevin Lee | Published. 2020.07.14 10:04 | Count : 954

Today, producing music is very easy with just a little bit of knowledge. While the creativity and art behind music is not an easy accomplishment, producing musical notes played by a multiple of instruments is quite simple. Before the development of MIDI, or the Musical Instrument Design Interface, producing music with multiple instruments was a hassle; producers would have to record each instrument separately and bind the different files together. Each instrument produced a unique file format according to its brand, and thus producers had to take another step of adjusting the compatibility of each file. 

[Screen capture of the writer’s music project using MIDI tools.
Photo taken by Dongeon Kevin Lee]

Fortunately, the development of MIDI has opened doors for many producers worldwide, allowing them to easily create music by uniting the file format of instruments. Unlike before, producers are able to play on one synthesizer and then move onto the other without having to worry about compatibility. Moreover, MIDI allows producers to play scores of music perfectly with any desired instrument, saving the time that originally took instrumental professionals to memorize and play scores perfectly at a studio. Such innovation has dramatically alleviated the difficulty of producing music digitally and the cost of music production has significantly decreased as well. 

[Photo of the writer composing music using MIDI interface and instruments.
Photo taken by Yoona Lee]

MIDI has been a necessary tool for many music producers, including myself. As the owner of “Music 2 Vibe 2” channel on YouTube, I regularly produce EDM music or instrumental music, and MIDI enables the production process to be extremely simple. EDM music, also known as Electronic Dance Music, does not require any real instrument or talented vocals and has become widely popular since the introduction of MIDI. Music notes inside my imagination can be realized and revisions can easily be made as instruments don’t have to be played in real life. Thanks to MIDI, even amateurs, like myself, are able to develop complex music with a few clicks and interest in music.   

Among the different music genres, Hip Hop can be considered one of the fields that benefited from the creation of MIDI. As Hip Hop or rap music generally consists of non-stopping lyrics from the vocal, it does not require a significant investment in producing complex background music. With a simple beat production that costs almost nothing with the help of MIDI, Hip Hop musicians are able to produce music with a huge profit potential.

[Screenshot of the writer’s interview with rapper/celebrity ‘San-E’ via email.
Photo taken by Dongeon Kevin Lee]

For further information, I was lucky to receive an email response to my interview request to ‘SanE’, a renowned musician in Korea. According to SanE, one of the first rappers in the Korean Hip Hop scene, MIDI is loved by many producers in the industry. He notes that just as rappers cannot perform easily without a microphone, music producers are unable to create beats so quickly and easily without the help of MIDI. SanE also highlights the significant cost difference between producing music with and without MIDI. Although music is all about talent and skills, MIDI has definitely changed the game by helping such musical talents to be realized much more efficiently. Moreover, he states that the existence of MIDI not only benefits the Hip Hop scene but also every other genre of music produced in the market today. The soft and peaceful melodies in ballads or the invigorating beats behind K-Pop music are all created with MIDI. While one may doubt the value of music produced with such technology, SanE does not see any downside to using MIDI. In fact, he prefers MIDI to any traditional methods of music production in all aspects.

Not limiting itself to Hip Hop, MIDI has become an essential part of the digital music production business. The interview with SanE reveals that the fast rate of production and low costs would have been a mirage without the development of MIDI. Furthermore, it has enabled music producers at all skill levels to produce music simply with a computer program. While its achievements are already impressive, the MIDI association announced MIDI 2.0, which aims to improve its protocol and compatibility further. Just as MIDI 1.0 has opened up a new world for music producers in the 1980s, MIDI 2.0 is expected to unveil new possibilities in music production.

 


 






Dongeon Kevin Lee
Grade 11
Yongsan International School of Seoul

Dongeon Kevin Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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