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10.1. MIDI: A universal approach

MIDI and MIDI-hybrid formats such as Beatnik or QuickTime Music Tracks are perhaps the best audio formats on the market for incorporating sound into limited-bandwidth environments. MIDI communicates between devices via a text-based code system or score. Much like the player piano of old, where hole-punch sheet music was fed into the piano, MIDI pianos and synthesizers can play back music translated into the MIDI format. When a user comes across a web page featuring MIDI, the embedded MIDI file or score is downloaded to the computer and played back via the user's MIDI-compatible soundcard or synthesis engine.

On most home computer systems, MIDI is played back with Apple's QuickTime plug-in or Microsoft's Windows Media system. These plug-ins feature a MIDI sound engine or a software-based synthesis module that replicates a set of common instrument sounds. Increasingly, popular web browsers such as Internet Explorer and Navigator 4.0 and later are starting to include built-in sophisticated MIDI sound engines.


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