MIDI 2.0 The code that will define the future of sound has arrived
MIDI 2.0 A lot of big things happened in music in 1983. It was the year Michael Jackson’s album Thriller hit number one across the world, compact discs were first released in the US, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers formed.
The earliest musical notation would take millennia to emerge, and the first recordings were made only about 150 years ago. You might think that since then we have got steadily better at capturing the grace and richness of music. But for almost 40 years, we have relied on the same technology to produce the vast majority of the music we hear.
Yet there was one obscure event that was more influential than all of them: MIDI 1.0 was released. MIDI stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” and, after 37 years, it has finally received a major update. MIDI 2.0 is live, and it could mean the end of the keyboard’s dominance over popular music.
Finally, though, a sweeping overhaul is in progress. The ramifications for music-making will be huge. When digital music entered into its own in the 1980s, it quickly began to shape what people listened to, ushering in waves of creativity and whole new genres. Now that its foundations are being reset, the same is sure to happen again. And it isn’t just music; the way we experience sound – on television, in cinemas and beyond – is set for an upgrade. So steady those ears: they are about to experience sound as never before.
The first sound recording we know of was made by a device called a phonautograph in 1860, and features a rendition of the folk song Au Claire de la Lune. The machine, a brainchild of French inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, transcribed sound waves into a line traced on smoke-blackened glass or paper. It may seem primitive, but conceptually, things stayed the same for more than a century.