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Chapter 16. Recording MIDI > The Difference Between MIDI and Audio

The Difference Between MIDI and Audio

A prominent audio engineer once told me with pride that he hadn’t held a MIDI cable in his hand in five years because he was only interested in “real music.” While plenty of music is made without MIDI or synthesizers, each year sees more MIDI in all stages of production. Most dance, hip hop, and techno music begins with a sequencer and MIDI. And as production techniques from those styles, like sampling and looping, work their way into pop and rock productions, MIDI and sequencing are along for the ride. Finally, nearly all digital effects units have deep MIDI implementation, giving MIDI-savvy musicians new creative control—regardless of the kind of music they make.

MIDI offers several powerful advantages over audio. First, MIDI is a tempo-based protocol. Unlike an audio file, a MIDI note is not recorded at a specific moment in time; rather, it’s recorded at a particular tempo and meter position (such as bar 34, beat 3, tick 117). This means that if you change the tempo of a project, the tempo of the MIDI tracks will automatically change as well.


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