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Learning About MIDI

Started by arlo, September 16, 2014, 09:43:27 AM

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If you're getting into MIDI for the first time, especially if you don't have a technical background, all the status bytes and hex codes can be intimidating. But it's actually a pretty straightforward system, and can be fun to work with when you understand it. Here are some resources I would recommend if you want to learn how MIDI works. If you find other helpful links, particularly in other languages besides English, please add them below.

MIDI Spec at
This is my favorite overall MIDI tutorial. It breaks down how MIDI messages are assembled and then goes through every kind of message in detail. Don't worry about the initial Hardware section, but take your time through the Messages section and you'll understand everything much better.

MIDI Message Tables at
If you know what MIDI messages you're looking for but just can't remember their numbers, this is a good quick-reference. Skip the first link, which only lists numbers in binary format, and use the subsequent links, which list numbers in both decimal and hexadecimal. Those are the two formats you'll find in the user manuals for your MIDI devices.

Decimal/Hexadecimal Converter at
Since some resources show MIDI message numbers in decimal format and others in hexadecimal, it's helpful to convert between them. (Set List Maker uses decimal for program changes and song numbers and hexadecimal for raw MIDI.) This calculator can convert in both directions, but it requires Flash. You can search for similar tools if you need something that works on an iOS device.