MIDI and DAW Terms


MIDI changed music.

Consider what a classically trained Musician needs to do, to make his music heard.

He needs to,

  1. Write it

  2. Get a bunch of musicians

  3. Practice

  4. Play

  5. goto 1

  6. Record the Final Cut in a Studio

With MIDI,

  1. Write it. Save it, with a Software

  2. Get the electronic instruments to play it for him -or- Get a computer Software to play it for him

  3. Tweak

  4. Record the Final Cut in Software or a Studio

MIDI is - Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

It abstracts Music Notation into bytes. Since its bytes, you can replay it with software.

MIDI made production,

  • Dirt Cheap

  • Made Producers more efficient

How about Audio Quality ?

  • A Classical Ensemble still has its place. Panning is unique there.

  • But MIDI + Electronic Instrument increased the Range. It helped form whole new genres in Music like EDM, IDM, SynthPunk …

Limitations ?

  • MIDI is limited to 16 instruments.

  • Integers.

  • 16 is a big number.

  • OSC overcomes these.


To use MIDI you need,

  1. A Sequencer

    This generates MIDI messages like,

    Command param1 param2 param3
    Command param1 param2
    Command param1 param2 param3
    Command param1 param2

    Important messages are,

    1. Note On => Channel [1-16]**, Pitch[0-127], Volume[0-127]

    2. Note Off “

    3. Controller => No [0-127], Value[0-127]

    ** Channel 10 is reserved for Drums.

    Note On and Note Off are typically sent by keys, buttons. Controller Messages are typically sent by knobs and pedals.

  2. A Synthesizer

    This accepts MIDI data. It Maps channels to DSP. It Maps knobs** to effects like distortion and reverb.

    ** The positions of the knob are called patches.

  3. A Sampler.

    This accepts MIDI data. It Maps channels to sound recordings. It Maps knobs to effects like distortion and reverb.

If you buy Music Hardware you have both 1 and 2. The sequencing capabilities are limited in a synth, so you can’t Edit MIDI data in the instrument.

Some notes,

  1. You can buy hardware and get a Synthesizer + a limited Sequencer.

  2. You can buy A Sequencer and use a Computer as a Synthesizer


  1. Use a Software Sequencer to Program your Synthesizer


  1. Forget Hardware and go complete nuts with Software

Also, Robots love it.


Instruments used in Electronic Music

  • Tr 909

  • Tr 303

  • Tr 808

Instruments commonly used in Disco, Synth Wave and Funk

  • Samplers

  • FM Synthesiser

Rock Pedals used in

  • Reverb (sludge)

  • Delay (slow rock)

  • Distortion (metal)

DAW Terms

  • track

  • sequencer

  • piano roll

  • OSC

  • sampler

  • soundfont

  • synthesizer (DSP, FM, AM, AS, SS, PM)

  • effect

  • mixer, LFO

  • automation, equalizer

  • filter

  • arpegiator