After over a decade of work, the final specification documents for MIDI 2.0 have been released to the public!
There’s a fantastic article on the MIDI.org site that explains what the hubbub is all about that I’ll just point you at rather than rewriting — check it here: Details about MIDI 2.0
When MIDI 1.0 was released in 1983, the complete document that detailed all you needed to know about it was eight pages long. Expect to need to read a bit more than that in 2020—the full spec for MIDI 2.0 is five separate documents, each looking at a single part of the system:
M2-100: Overview of the specifications
M2-101: Specification of MIDI-CI, the Capability Inquiry portion of MIDI 2 that’s required to enable devices to query each other and determine how two devices can work together.
M2-102: Common Rules for MIDI-CI Profiles explains how to define and work with MIDI 2 profiles to define controllers and other configuration data to permit devices to automatically adapt to the capabilities present in the currently connected instruments.
M2-103: Rules for Property Exchange, the new provisions for querying current settings and capabilites of connected devices
M2-104: Definition of the new Universal MIDI Packet data structure and the high-resolution MIDI 2 message protocol.
Before you can access these documents, you’ll need to create a (free!) account with The MIDI Association, which is an organization of MIDI users. If you’re not already a member, the link to access the docs will redirect you first to the login/account creation page.
Download everything here and then go make cool stuff with it.
With remote working becoming more common across many industries, it might seem like a recent trend. But for nearly three decades, Paul Hershenson has been at the helm of a company that is remote-first.
Hershenson co-founded US software development firm Art+ Logic in 1991. Given his wealth of experience in managing employees outside a traditional office space, he gave us some insights into the world of remote-first working.
Musicians have been connecting equipment together using MIDI since 1983, and the great thing about it is that it just works. The less great thing is that it’s still limited by what was possible in 1983.
From Resolution Magazine: Brett Porter explains why the new MIDI spec is important: greater expressivity, better timing, better data. At NAMM 2020 Roland introduced a new high-end keyboard with weighted action and lots of extras. The most dramatic revelation was that this is the first ‘MIDI 2.0’ instrument from Roland. The A-88MKII has three configurable zones, an advanced arpeggiator, chord memory, and multipurpose pads that can trigger commands and events.
At the recent Winter NAMM convention in Anaheim California, the MIDI Manufacturers Association voted to formally adopt the MIDI 2.0 specification that’s been in development for over a decade. Art+Logic has been involved with this effort for the past several years as part of the group of companies working to validate MIDI 2.0 during its development and refinement by creating prototype implementations of it and connecting those prototypes together to make sure that things perform as well in reality as they do on paper.
What does this mean in the short term? Companies that make hardware and software for musicians will need to become conversant with the additions to MIDI 1.0 (which has been exceptionally stable for the past 38 years!) and determine how their existing product lines might need to change to make use of the expanded capabilities in MIDI 2.0, as well as considering the ways that entire new products and types of products might be invented now. Musicians shouldn’t expect to be able to buy much equipment that has complete MIDI 2.0 support for a while; we also need to wait for platform vendors like Apple, Microsoft, and Google to add new Application Programming Interfaces to their operating systems so developers will be able to build these new software products.
Longer term — this is an opportunity to bring the capabilities of electronic music systems from the 80s into the 21st century and compelling new creative tools that are both radically more expressive and musical as well as becoming easier to connect together and configure.
Last fall I spoke with MusicRadar’s James Russell in more depth on what’s coming and some likely impacts on musicians in the next few years:
What is MIDI 2.0, and what does it mean for musicians and producers?
Here is the statement released by the MMA:
Introduction to MIDI 2.0™
Back in 1983, musical instrument companies that competed fiercely against one another nonetheless banded together to create a visionary specification—MIDI 1.0, the first universal Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Nearly four decades on, it’s clear that MIDI was crafted so well that it has remained viable and relevant. Its ability to join computers, music, and the arts has become an essential part of live performance, recording, smartphones, and even stage lighting.
Now, MIDI 2.0 takes the specification even further, while retaining backward compatibility with the MIDI 1.0 gear and software already in use. Here’s why MIDI 2.0 is the biggest advance in music technology in decades.
MIDI 2.0 Means Two-way MIDI Conversations
MIDI 1.0 messages went in one direction: from a transmitter to a receiver. MIDI 2.0 is bi-directional and changes MIDI from a monologue to a dialog. For example, with the new MIDI-CI (Capability Inquiry) messages, MIDI 2.0 devices can talk to each other, and auto-configure themselves to work together. They can also exchange information on functionality, which is key to backward compatibility—MIDI 2.0 gear can find out if a device doesn’t support MIDI 2.0, and then simply communicate using MIDI 1.0.
Higher Resolution, More Controllers and Better Timing
To deliver an unprecedented level of nuanced musical and artistic expressiveness, MIDI 2.0 re-imagines the role of performance controllers, the aspect of MIDI that translates human performance gestures to data computers can understand. Controllers are now easier to use, and there are more of them: over 32,000 controllers, including controls for individual notes. Enhanced, 32-bit resolution gives controls a smooth, continuous, "analog" feel. New Note-On options were added for articulation control and precise note pitch. In addition, dynamic response (velocity) has been upgraded. What’s more, major timing improvements in MIDI 2.0 can apply to MIDI 1.0 devices—in fact, some MIDI 1.0 gear can even "retrofit" certain MIDI 2.0 features.
MIDI gear can now have Profiles that can dynamically configure a device for a particular use case. If a control surface queries a device with a "mixer" Profile, then the controls will map to faders, panpots, and other mixer parameters. But with a "drawbar organ" Profile, that same control surface can map its controls automatically to virtual drawbars and other keyboard parameters—or map to dimmers if the profile is a lighting controller. This saves setup time, improves workflow, and eliminates tedious manual programming.
While Profiles set up an entire device, Property Exchange messages provide specific, detailed information sharing. These messages can discover, retrieve, and set many properties like preset names, individual parameter settings, and unique functionalities—basically, everything a MIDI 2.0 device needs to know about another MIDI 2.0 device. For example, your recording software could display everything you need to know about a synthesizer onscreen, effectively bringing hardware synths up to the same level of recallability as their software counterparts.
Built for the Future.
MIDI 2.0 is the result of a global, decade-long development effort. Unlike MIDI 1.0, which was initially tied to a specific hardware implementation, a new Universal MIDI Packet format makes it easy to implement MIDI 2.0 on any digital transport (like USB or Ethernet). To enable future applications that we can’t envision today, there’s ample space reserved for brand-new MIDI messages.
Further development of the MIDI specification, as well as safeguards to ensure future compatibility and growth, will continue to be managed by the MIDI Manufacturers Association working in close cooperation with the Association of Musical Electronics Industry (AMEI), the Japanese trade association that oversees the MIDI specification in Japan.
MIDI will continue to serve musicians, DJs, producers, educators, artists, and hobbyists—anyone who creates, performs, learns, and shares music and artistic works—in the decades to come.
It recently came to our attention that someone has been using our company name as part of a job scam. While we’re not entirely sure what they expect to get out of scamming people with a fake job offer, we can share with you an anatomy of a job offer scam that affected us.
First, here is a version of the scam email that was sent to people claiming to be from Art+Logic:
There are several clues in this email that should immediately set off alarm bells for the recipient. First, the email address that is used, email@example.com, is typical example of the false email addresses that scammers use. We are a software development firm with our own URL, we would never use a generic gmail address for any company business. This email address has already been reported to Google, so it is possible that the scammer is already using a different gmail.com address.
Next, in the emails used for this scam, the senders refer to the company as Art & Logic. While that is technically not false, we changed our company name to Art+Logic a few years ago. If you receive an email offering you a job, and something just doesn’t feel right about it, look for the possible inaccuracies in how the company is referenced. Even the smallest discrepancy could be an indicator of a scam.
The details in the summary for the job seem to come from other listings that one can find online and they seem to have just cut and paste them into the email. If you look at them carefully, however, you’ll see that they refer more to tasks one would have at a graphic design company, not at a software development firm. There were other emails sent out to people that did something similar with a fake offer for an animator position.
The About Us section looks like it was just pulled verbatim from our website, which is probably why it gets our name right the second time.
Then we arrive at the strangest part of the email, the section that should immediately make it obvious that this offer is a scam, the How to Apply section. We would never use a service like Telegram as part of a job application process. I’m skeptical that any legitimate company would ask a job applicant to contact them via anything other than a company email address or phone number. It would be very odd for an established company to use an app or web-based account that’s easy to create anonymously and that does not use the company name or that directs someone to an easily anonymized phone number.
Apparently, these scammers will even go so far as interviewing people and then asking them to do some work — but then disappear once it comes time to pay for the work. In similar scams, they have also requested that potential applicants submit a payment for a background check. Most legitimate companies, like Art+Logic, would never ask a job candidate to pay for any part of the interview/job application process.
We encourage anyone who receives a scam job offer to file a complaint with the FTC, submit a report to the Anti Phishing Working Group, and also notify Google.
Fortunately, many people who received this type of email notified us immediately and did not fall for the scam.
Bob Bajoras, President of Art+Logic, recently joined Neil Hughes on his Tech Talks Daily Podcast to discuss the relationship between software and hardware and the recent IoT truce struck between Google, Apple, and Amazon:
The recent news that Amazon, Apple, and Google are working together to create a new standard for smart home communication is a rare display of unity amongst the giants of our interconnected worlds. But will their work be successful? Is this the right time for this? Why now?
These are just a few topics that we discuss on today’s podcast. Bob Bajoras, President of Art+Logic, an innovative software development firm for over 25 years, who have worked with Google and Apple in the past, has some thoughts on the plans.
Because none of these companies have dominated the smart home field yet, Bajoras sees this plan as a truce more than a standard. Bajoras’ and Art+Logic’s extensive experience in designing for all things IoT make them thought leaders on this subject.
If you’ve ever created music on a computer, it is likely that you have used the MIDI specification. Created in the early 80s as a protocol for synchronizing musical events in electronic instruments and computers, MIDI has been a staple for musicians around the world.
MIDI’s wide usage can also present various challenges – how can the protocol be improved without breaking the functionality of instruments and software utilizing the MIDI 1.0 specification, and how can a consensus be reached on the best way to improve MIDI? We spoke about these questions and more with some of the key contributors to MIDI 2.0. (Interview by Joshua Hodge)
In many ways, MIDI 1.0 has changed a lot since the specification made its public debut in 1983. You can measure the progress by how MIDI-compatible instruments connect, the types of devices and software programs that employ it, and how much easier the technology has become for musicians to use.
Connecting your MIDI controller through USB, drawing MIDI hits directly into a DAW’s drum pattern grid, or instantly mapping something like an Ableton Push to Ableton Live’s functions and parameters—such things were far outside the realm of possibility in the early ’80s.