MIDI Tutorial

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Contributors: Byron J.
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Introduction

Perhaps you’ve seen the plug on the back of something. In today’s world of micro-USB and thunderbolt connections, it’s a rather large circular connector, about ½" in diameter, with five electrical connections. There are often two or three of these plugs in a row.

MIDI ports

This is the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) plug. Musical instruments use these ports to communicate performance data, but the protocol has also been extended to related devices, such as stage lighting and recording studio equipment.

MIDI itself is a relatively simple serial communication standard, but it can be daunting because there’s a lot of terminology. In the following sections, we’ll do our best to explain the terminology, while exploring the finer technical details.

Background

MIDI is built atop some concepts we’ve explored in more detail in other tutorials.