08 March 2008

Mad About MIDI

MIDI files are a real throwback to an earlier era, when passing around Mbytes of data was not an option. Sleek MIDI files - typically a few tens of kilobytes - were perfect, even if the sound quality left something to be desired.

I thought that MIDI had pretty much disappeared, but on the contrary, it seems to be thriving. Take Kunst der Fuge, which has a huge collection of classical music, although not all of it freely available.

And it's not just the obvious stuff. Here, for example is pretty everything that the insane but amazing French composer Charles Valentin Alkan wrote. Since much of it is almost unplayable by mere mortals, MIDI files are probably a good way to hear the stuff. (Via Creative Commons.)


Anonymous said...

As somewhat of a MIDI nut, I'd like to remind people that MIDI is just a data exchange format and MIDI files contain no audio information. The quality of audio is totally dependent on the synth at the other end. Unfortunately most (99.95%) of General MIDI synths suck. Send that file to a decent synth, and you'll heard some good music.

What is true is that GM is pretty much going the way of the dodo. It's a bit of an archaic model

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, I was sloppy there. What I meant was that the quality of sound on the old PCs - which was where I and most people listened to MIDI files - was pretty ropey. As you say, a good synth can rectify most aspects of the sound quality problems.

Anonymous said...

kunstderfuge.com is really a good site and has a lot of great music! cool!!!