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All about MIDI and MP3

MIDI stands for Music Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI allows electronic keyboards, synthesizers, and sound modules to communicate with each other and with a computer (through the use of software).

Music can be played on an electric keyboard and the computer will play it back or print it out. It is also possible to edit this music. The computer can change the tempo, the key, the octave, instrumentation - just about anything the user would like - all at a touch of a computer key.

MIDI can be used as a "duet partner" playing at any speed the student wants.
Through the use of commercial software, it is possible for a student to feel that s/he is performing with an orchestra.

If ease of use is your top concern, first consider the eJay series from Voyetra Turtle Beach ( 800-233-9377). This line of Windows programs comes in an array of different musical flavors, so whether you're into dance, techno, rave or hip-hop, you're moments away from creating tunes.

The main interface includes a palette of sound clips and a timeline editor--consisting of horizontal rows, or tracks, onto which you place bits of sound. These license-free clips cover a number of musical instruments, voices, effects and bass lines. To add a clip to your song, simply drag it up to the timeline editor and drop it onto one of the tracks. At any time, just click a button to hear how the composition sounds. Once you've polished your new hit single, you can save it as a WAV file, an audio format that can be played by most programs.

It's hard to describe on paper something that's meant to be heard. But believe me, you can create some truly amazing tunes with the hundreds and hundreds of sound clips that ship with each version of eJay.

Prices for these programs range from $39.95 to $49.95. Voyetra also sells a $29.95 expansion pack, called the Mega Kit. It adds another 5,000 sound clips to your library. The kit can be used only with the dance and techno versions of eJay.

Sonic Foundry's Acid Style line ( 800-577-6642) takes a similar approach. You mix and match prerecorded sounds to create your own tracks. However, the Acid interface is not quite as friendly as that of eJay. For example, while the sound clips in eJay have semidescriptive labels, those provided with Acid Style only go by their file names--which aren't as useful. On the other hand, it forces you to be more experimental.

What Acid Style sacrifices in simplicity it makes up for with extra strength. For starters, Acid gives you more precise control of your music. You can position each sound clip on the timeline to within a sixty-fourth of a note, and you can also chose to extract only a portion of any given sound clip. Pretty remarkable stuff.

Another of Acid Style's strengths is its ability to save your songs in MP3 format or as a WAV file. MP3 files are about one-tenth the size of WAV files, and they have become the standard for transporting music across the Internet. Other "export" options include RealAudio and Windows Media Player formats.

The Acid Style line serves a variety of musical tastes: Acid DJ--dance hall tracks with thick bass, heavy percussion; Acid Hip-Hop--old and new school loops, scratches, needle drops; and Acid Rock--metal and grunge guitar, keyboards and drums. Each is $59.95. Again, these are Windows packages.

Another music generator is GrooveMaker, from Cakewalk ( 888-225-3925). It lets you control eight loops to build tracks in a number of styles, including techno, ambient, dub, progressive and drum-and-bass.

While GrooveMaker can produce some powerful results, it suffers from an interface that looks great but is not very intuitive. This is not a program that you can jump right into and start cranking out tunes in minutes. The help feature is also less than stellar. When you activate this feature, a pop-up window merely tells you the purpose of the control you pass the mouse over--nothing about how to use it. Gee, thanks.

On the plus side, the Mac and Windows versions ship on a single CD. The program is $66.

The final verdict? It's a tough call between Acid Style and eJay, but a slight edge goes to eJay for ease of use.

Kim Komando is a nationally syndicated talk radio and TV host, author and computer editor for Popular Mechanics.

These music links (other than MIDI's by Michael) are connections to sites elsewhere on the Internet. To access any of these links, just click on the underlined words. To return here, use your browser's "Back Button".

The O'Connor Music Studio is not responsible for the content of these sites.

       MIDI's by Michael
                       MIDI files realized and transcribed by my son, Michael.


OCMS Classical OCMS
All classical composers are now listed on the Composers Page More MIDI and MP3 information can be found on the Musical Links Page.

Internet Piano Page

      Internet Piano Page
This Webpage contains lots of classical Piano files in the common General MIDI format.. Most of the pieces have been played by professional concert pianists so that best quality is guaranteed. The music includes all brilliant and familiar tunes and works beginning with Bach and ending with Rachmaninoff. Although this page does not include every piece of music the artists composed, it gives a good clue and a nice impression of their technical and harmonical power.

     Amazon Tunes

Amazon.com steps into the free music scene, with downloads of audio clips from the likes of Lyle Lovett, Randy Newman and others. The Liquid Audio and MP3 players are free to download, too.

     Broadway MIDIs

     Free Tracks

Free Tracks provides just what the name says -- tracks of music, in both Real Jukebox and MP3 versions. A long list that ranges from blues to jazz to pop.

     MP3 Music Guide

MP3now.com aims to be a one-stop guide to the world of a revolutionary music format. With news, downloads, charts and technical info.

     Sound Storage

Tired of cluttering up your hard drive with a growing collection of sound files? Mp3 Storage provides up to 50 Megs of online space for you to keep them digitally handy. And you can trade them with friends. Registration is free.

As Internet bandwidth grows, StreamSearch may be what next-generation portals look like. A search engine that specializes in audio and video clips, in a variety of player formats.

     Real Good Music

      Back to Music Links
A line of music

Many thanks to Dearest for everything!

  The O'Connor Music Studio
is located
in Fairfax, Virginia
Over 30 years
Piano, Organ
Electric Keyboard
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