Computer-Music.com contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music. Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

Computer-Music.com  contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music.
Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com



 

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What Software And Hardware Will I Need?

When I first wrote this article almost five years ago (in Nov., 1996) there were a great number of things I wanted to see improved. Since then most of those improvements have happened in one way or another. However, there are now so many new features and tools and new ways to do things that today it can be more overwhelming than ever. Because of this I will try to resist the urge to tell you about all of the new goodies out there and, instead, keep this article as simple as possible, changing things only where the old information is no longer valid. I am considering a new article that will attempt to organize all of the innovation in computer music software and hardware over the past few years.

The software and hardware necessary to compose music using MIDI can be best understood in terms of the path that the MIDI data follows. This is the MIDI signal path. In an intermediate or advanced MIDI studio there can be several different types of paths to follow that all involve some form of electricity like MIDI data, analog audio signals, digital audio signals, amplified speaker connections and even power connections and all of these can have increasingly complicated paths through your studio as you add more equipment and hook it up in more complex ways. Because of this phenomenon I find it easier to make sense of what I am doing by remembering what type of signal I am tracing and only following one type at a time. This article will focus almost entirely on the MIDI signal path. Trains are often used in making analogies about MIDI because they share some of the same characteristics. Like MIDI data a train follows a single track and can only go where the track leads and generally only in one direction. That means to send the train back in the opposite direction requires routing it to a different track to travel in the opposite direction. MIDI is a serial communications protocol so it consists of small packets of data that are labeled for their destination then sent down the track like a car on a train. Unlike cars on a train, MIDI data does not have to be linked together and there isn't really anything analogous to the engine. Many people find MIDI data hard to use because they think only in terms of what cable plugs into what socket. That is like thinking of a railroad as only a bunch of stations with some connected track. The train's whole purpose is to carry cars (MIDI data) from one station (MIDI device) to another so it makes more sense to think in terms of following the car (MIDI data) along the path it takes to get from its starting point to its ending point in a particular trip.

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