MIDI turns 30: Celebrate with these 4 tricks

Articles MIDI in out & thru ports

Published on February 10th, 2013 | by Peter Barter

3 Comments

At the NAMM Show in January, the MIDI Manufacturers Association kicked off a year-long celebration of the technology’s 30th birthday, delighting electronic music geeks everywhere by connecting an old Commodore 64 to an iPad via MIDI. Not only has MIDI survived the test of time, but its use has gone well past controlling synthesizers or sequencing music.

Here are four of our favourite alternative uses of MIDI:

Play with lights: DMX is a protocol similar to MIDI, used exclusively for stage lighting. Several companies have found a way to make the technologies speak with each other, Lightjams being one of them. Check out this video of Quixotic Fusion using a piano with Lightjams:

Make your own controller: Who says you should settle for mainstream MIDI keyboards? Controllerists have been using, abusing and creating all kinds of new ways to transport MIDI information from one place to another. The term “controllerism” was coined in 2007 by the artist Moldover, who demonstrates how you can turn an inexpensive MIDI keyboard into your own custom controller in this video:

Hack YouTube: Definitely one of the more bizarre, yet interesting uses of MIDI we’ve seen, Dutch industrial desginer Gijs Gieskes has created a MIDI interface for YouTube. Yes, YouTube. Used in combination with the YouTube mixer, you can control play, pause and start/stop points of a video which can result in some very interesting found sound beats if you’re patient.

It’s not Gieskes’ only MIDI hack. He’s also created a mechanical image scanning sequencer, which outputs MIDI notes. The official (and headache inducing) website is here, but you might want to watch the video instead:

Image Scan Sequencer from Gijs on Vimeo.

Wear your MIDI?: Okay, this is a bit of a weird one but hey, why not wear a MIDI jacket? Mexican clothing company Machina thinks you will, one day. The project is currently on Kickstarter with $12,252 raised out of its $74,500 goal. We’re not sure whether someone fumbling with their sleeve is any more exciting to watch than someone hunched over their laptop, but with the necessary funding and a bit more tweaking, it could take controllerism to a whole new level. At the very least, the jacket is quite stylish. Here it is in action:

Tell us below of any cool applications of the MIDI protocol that you think we should know about!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/christian.huant Christian Huant

    I was telling the students today about how you can recall all your digital outboard equipment (reverb, delays…) via simple SYSEX dumps into your DAW. Sure beats writing down a recall sheet. AND you can automate all those lovely outboard bits via MIDI controllers, just as easily as automating a plug-in, provided the studio is wired-up for it. Cool.

  • peterbarter

    cool indeed

  • http://ericabasnicki.com Erica Basnicki

    Yes, but not as cool as SYSEX dumps from your jacket. YOUR JACKET.

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