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.
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.
MIDI is built atop some concepts we’ve explored in more detail in other tutorials.
- MIDI transmits data using serial ports.
- To make good use of the transmitted data, it’s helpful to know how to convert to and from hexadecimal, and use binary operators.