MIDI Files

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Tue May 05, 2009 11:00 am

Hi. A few months ago I was having drinks in a small bar and there was this one man show performing. He had a Taylor 312CE connected to an amplifier, a mic for the vocals, a laptop computer on a stand and some other small electronic gadgets. When he performed, he played the guitar and sang the songs with extra accompanying background music, background vocals and drum sounds coming out of the speakers as well. This solo act sounded like he had a small band and backup vocals accompanying him. I managed to speak to him for a few minutes during his short break and he mentioned that he was using MIDI files on his laptop to provide all those extra sounds.

Is there anybody out there who can tell me, what are MIDI files, how and where do you get them and how can one use it to accompany ones playing? It seems like a fun thing to do at home even if we are not professional musicians.

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Tue May 05, 2009 5:21 pm

MIDI or Musical Interface Digital Instruments, these files are pretty readily availble some of dubious quality all over the net best to just google MIDI jam tracks a few are free but some are paysites

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Tue May 05, 2009 8:54 pm

Midi files can also be brought into lots of different Scoring software (like Sibelius and Finale). I use them both (prefer Sibelius). They include sound sampled libraries (see www.garritan.com/) that allow you to assign sampled instruments to a track. There are also programs to allow you to string together 'loops' of sampled music to create a backup band. Sampled sounds are actually recordings of live instruments converted into digital files.

Macintosh has Garage Band which is one of the easiest to use looping programs. 'Chasplay' was absolutely correct though there are a lot of 'dubious' (cheesy) midi files out there. If you don't have the sampled libraries the sound is the same you would find on an inexpensive digital keyboard, that emulates a sound like a banjo or piano. (Don't get this concept confused with a synthesizer which also uses sampled sounds.)

But with midi, there are millions of FREE ones available on the net. Just decide which song you want, search to find the versions that are available and make it your own! With software that allows you to assign instruments, you have an instant band that doesn't complain about working hours or pay. 0:)

Midi will allow you to connect to a synthesizer keyboard with sampled sounds and take a line out of the keyboard to the amp... OR you can play them on your computer with the sound libraries installed.

Check out:
Garage Band (Mac)

There are lots more but that will give you a starting place. Also look up MIDI on wikipedia.com. They have an excellent definition of MIDI and all of the variations and sound file types. Yo will have to take into consideration your computer type (Mac/PC), output audio card capability, RAM etc. With a robust computer you can have an orchestra play behind you.

You may be surprised to learn that midi and sampled sounds are frequently used to 'sweeten' a studio recording. When mixed with your live performance the resulting presentation can be very impressive.

Have Fun!

Rev Kate

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Fri May 08, 2009 1:03 am

Kate- you missed Guitar Pro 5, the best $60.00 investment a guitarist can make for midi, tab, lyrics and scoring. Not as powerful as some you listed but very guitar specific and a great value. There are a huge number of Guitar Pro midi files online and they are generally much higher quality than standard free midis. Guitar Pro 5 also has a Realistic Sound Engine to take your midis and assign more lifelike guitar, bass and percussion sounds to them. I'm still learning it but so far I'm really impressed.

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