COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY CHANGES MUSIC WORLD
Author: from AppleLink
Date: May, 1988
Keywords: midi music audio sound
Text: [This appears to be a pre-final edit of the story, not the exact version that ran in Known Users.] Musical keyboards are being joined in recording and rehearsal studios these days by keyboards of a very different type-ones attached to personal computers. In fact, computers and a variety of new electronic instruments are rapidly adding to the musician's repertoire of creative tools. Microcomputer technology is changing the way music is both created and learned. Music composition and notation, sequencing, learning about music, experimenting with and creating new sounds, and managing sound libraries can all be accomplished faster and easier with the help of a personal computer. Both the professional and education music markets benefit from personal computers. In schools and at home, personal computers can make learning music easier and more enjoyable. With appropriate software, teachers can enhance music instruction in skills such as performance, theory, composition and ear training. Music applications require at least a personal computer and appropriate music software. Those who wish access to more sounds than a personal computer can generate by itself or who wish to convey performance information between an instrument and a computer utilize MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology, which greatly expands the creative options available. Traditional instruments are being joined in the musicians' repertoire with MIDI-equipped, microprocessor-based musical instruments. Among them are synthesizers, which create an assortment of instrument sounds, and samplers, which take sounds from the real world for playback through the synthesizer. Personal computers and instruments like these give musicians more creative control over their music. They won't turn poor musicians into great players. The distinct techniques and musical interpretations of great performers can't be recreated using technology. But technology can produce new musical effects and enhance the musical capabilities and possibilities of any musician. The Apple MIDI Interface for the Apple IIGS and Macintosh family of personal computers has one MIDI in-plug and one MIDI out-plug, making it suitable for a broad range of musical applications. It measures 3-inches long by 2-inches wide and 1.25-inches deep. An external power supply isn't required, eliminating extra wires and the need for another power source. The Apple MIDI Interface connects to one of the computer's two serial ports via a standard eight-pin system peripheral cable. It connects to the MIDI instrument with two standard five-pin DIN connectors. MIDI-equipped devices are unidirectional. That is, data travels along a single MIDI cable from the out-port of one device to the in-port of another. There are numerous software programs created for the Macintosh and Apple II family of computers that take advantage of the MIDI interface. Software can help musicians with musical tasks including sequencing, editing, composing and creating sound libraries. Computer Technology Changes the Music World. The Music Market According to the American Music Conference in a study conducted in 1986, nearly half of the households in the United States own a musical instrument. All told, there are more than 26 million amateur and professional musicians in the United States. Retail sales of musical instruments were $3.37 billion in 1986. This includes $1.35 billion in electronic instrument sales-2.5 million keyboards estimated at $526 million, 350,000 synthesizers estimated at $275 million, and other electronic instruments. Professional Music Market Macintosh is as much a part of many musicians' musical equipment as are guitars, drums and keyboards. Macintosh is the computer of choice among many professional musicians, whose styles run the gamut from rock to classical and who include performers, music studio artists, record producers, record label executives, music promoters, professional music educators, music system integrators, film/video composers and special effects/sound designers. MIDI, The Musical Connection The first full MIDI specifications were released in 1983. As electronic music technology evolved, musicians had a strong need to connect instruments such as synthesizers and drum machines to make them work together. They quickly discovered that there was no standard ''language'' for communicating musical information. In a cooperative effort, electronic instrument manufacturers introduced MIDI 1.0, which evolved into an industry standard. MIDI technology has rapidly been adapted to connect not only electronic instruments, but also electronic instruments and a personal computer, which can then be used as a control device. MIDI's data format is digital. MIDI-equipped instruments communicate with the computer by sending a series of numbers over the connecting MIDI cables. Each MIDI message conveys a single musical event or piece of performance information such as the notes played, how they are played and what special control devices are used to add nuances to the performance. Once the computer captures the information, it can be used as a sophisticated control or playback device to correct mistakes and experiment with different sounds and arrangements. Apple MIDI Interface Apple Computer's Macintosh(R) personal computer is already a leader in the professional and amateur music market with its graphics interface and abundance of music software. In the kindergarten through high school education market, where Apple(R) II computers dominate, the Apple MIDI Interface brings greater functionality to the Apple IIGS(R). Macintosh computers, MIDI interfaces, MIDI-equipped instruments and appropriate software are being used by professionals in a variety of ways. Sequencing Sequencing is the most popular software application for professional musicians. Sequencing on a personal computer provides more creative control over music, letting composers work with all the parts of a composition. The computer is used to capture performance information-that is, what notes are played, how long they are held, and how hard the keys are pressed. Unlike tape, which permanently records the sound, this ''recording'' is strictly digital performance information. Musicians can now go back and experiment with alternative parts, arrangements and sounds. Musicians who are not proficient on keyboards may record a piece slowly for more precision. Digitally recorded performance information can be played back at any speed without affecting pitch. This contrasts to tape recordings, which rise in pitch as playback speed is increased. Sequencing can also be cost-saving. Musicians can work out all the parts of a piece with their computer and MIDI equipment, trying different variations and arriving at a final composition before entering the studio to record a live performance with other musicians. Also, parts of a piece can be completed on disk and brought to the studio where live performance parts can be added. Music Notation and Publishing In the past, musical lead sheets were hand written, and changing or modifying music was a major project. With a computer and appropriate software, creating music manuscripts and leads sheets for recording sessions is much easier and faster. The software provides functions such as aligning the notes in measures across all parts of a piece, automatically adjusting note spacing as lyrics are added, and transposing to another key. Desktop publishing capabilities make computers especially well suited for music publishing, creating a score that is much easier to read than a handwritten version. Sound Libraries and Editors When people first started working with synthesizers, they were generally limited to sounds that were shipped with the synthesizer, usually numbering from 16 to 64. RAM (random-access memory) cartridges, each of which typically cost between $50 and $150, also became available as external storage devices for sounds. Now many musicians have literally hundreds of sounds for each keyboard they own. In order to manage and edit these sounds, they need an alternative. A personal computer connected to a synthesizer through a MIDI interface enables musicians to store sound libraries on 800-kilobyte floppy disks or on a hard disk. Floppy disks cost approximately $3, and the sounds can be easily accessed and edited. Using a personal computer and MIDI technology, musicians can create sounds at a high level of precision previously available only on more expensive sampling synthesizers. Sound designers can cut and paste sounds together on a Macintosh, letting them create new sounds and add special touches while avoiding the imperfections that could result from older techniques. Film and Video Work Macintosh and MIDI technology are being used to synchronize music or special effects with the moving images in film and video productions. In the past, a score or a set of sound effects created and sequenced to match the video events in a scene had to be painstakingly redone every time a change was made in the film or video edit. Now the process is faster and easier using the computer and appropriate software to rearrange the sequence of sound events. Business and Productivity Professional musicians are also business people. The Macintosh is used as a business tool for word processing, electronic mail, client billings, equipment inventory, stage set-ups and other tasks. Music Education Market Teachers use computer-aided musical instruction to enhance learning in music classes. Music education, which extends into the home, includes keyboard skills, reading music, ear training, music theory, performance and composition. Aside from music skills, there is software available that lets musicians of any level explore the music world simply for the fun of it. Editing and creating sounds is also a lot easier using a Macintosh rather than a synthesizer. On a synthesizer, sounds can only be viewed as a compilation of numbers, displayed in a small window. Using the Macintosh's graphics interface, sounds are represented as two or three dimensional graphics on a larger screen and can be easily changed and manipulated. Sound Sampling and Design Sound designers create and keep track of thousands of sounds. They might have several types of sirens from sources like fire engines, police cars and air raid alerts. These sounds could be sampled, or recorded, from the real world. In sound design, sampled sounds are captured and modified for playback through a sampling synthesizer.
Copyright © may, 1988 by from AppleLink