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razor7music

Anyone Around Long Enough to Remember MIDI New?

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Hello Group--

Counting down a few minutes before I get to leave work for the weekend, and was mentally reminiscing about how I felt when MIDI first came out. I thought, what an amazing innovation! To be able to connect instruments, sound modules, and outboard FX regardless of who the manufacturer was!! WOW!

I could never keep a band together, as at least one of the members ended up being a flake. So, I ended up being pretty much the whole show! I sang and played guitar and had a real drummer. The bass, keyboards and any accent instruments were all MIDI via an outboard sequencer!

Funny how things have progressed. The introduction of MIDI (circa 1983) might as well be 100 years ago!!

Oh, look at the time. I need to go home now! ūüėČ

Edited by razor7music
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I remember!¬† Also, I remember C-64 MIDI!!!¬† Commodore asm routines!!!! Mondo fun!!! - when programming was easy!¬† ūüôā

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I remember MIDI being first introduced. I bought a very early version of the Prophet 600 that had an add on option for Midi output . I think that was around 86. My first major Midi recording program was Texture 2.5. Cake walk and Voyetra were the about the only other PC compatible softwares back then. This was probably pre windows.

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In 85 or 86 i had a Kong DDD-1 drum machine and SQD-8 Sequencer. The beginnings a of my own home studio. I had it made. At least i think that was the model numbers. I had a good friend about 10 or 15 years my senior, who owned a Music Store and always had the latest gear. Bill and then later, Alf, who bought that store from him, used to sponsor our 4 piece band with some small bits of gear. New types of products seemed to come out every other day.

Couldn’t get enough of the tech but it was hellishly expensive back then. We really struggled to own our own PA gear. The lack of the right gear was often a limiting factor in the size of gigs we could get. I remember we secured a residency in a really flash sports club. We were offered 5 nights per fortnight. In the end we couldn’t accept the offer because we didn’t have big enough gear. And couldn’t afford to buy it. No one was game to step up and borrow money to buy it.  This was the days before all the venues had their own equipment - you not only had to play you had to be a small trucking  and stage business carting the gear and setting it up. Too poor and not big enough for roadies. Always going round in circles. Those were the days. Woohoo!

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Pre-Midi here as well. Thought it was magic that one synth / sequencer could control another. Pre Midi synth - a second hand Yamaha CS01 (still got it). First midi synth - Yamaha DX100 (still got it). Had a Yamaha QX21 sequencer follow by an Atari computer with Steinberg Pro24. Suddenly my Fostex X15 cassette four track had a lot more possibilities (with a synchronizer).

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Friends,

No way I could avoid diving into this one. I can remember music before there was Elvis, and the cultural chaos that ensued with the birth of rock.  Nostalgia was such that I had to go downstairs to the trophy room and dust off my MSQ700 midi hardware sequencer. Think it cost me $375 at the time.

Some ironic passages in mind.

MIDI was mind blowing, but not the only keyboard language around struggling for recognition. In the same arrogant way ProTools told the world to fork off with vst protocol since RTAS was immortal and ProTools ruled, Roland told MIDI developers to fork off. They were Roland and ruled the planet. MIDI was already dead under their power, and Roland's DCB protocol was the future.

Roland's DCB interface was already built into their hardware synths. Have a Juno-60 with DCB output. MIDI however took over and DCB was abandoned. The worst bitter pill for Roland was to have to release a hardware DCB to MIDI converter after it was apparent they lost the battle. I got that too. Buggy piece of crap, but works kinda if you do a couple controlled false start sequences.

MIDI for me was a revelation, a tool on the new horizon. If I tried to play something that was too fast, I could slow it down, then speed it back up so was like I had the chops. Bach on steroids with a fraction of the effort. Hit a sour note, and edit it out. Couldn't figure out a note, there was the step mode. Snort a line or two of cocaine and walk around the block a few times til I had it figured out, then edit it in.

But you know what...  It made me weak. Have realized that for every progression, there is a penalty. Not that we should not progress, but to be aware that there is some times a dark side to the latest and greatest.

You may remember the contest at the 40th anniversary of the Beatle's Sargent Pepper album. They had some heavy hitters in there. Challenge was to recreate the album using only the technology available at the time.  Meant overdubbing with a Teac 4-track among other limitations. Some group finally did it, but it was impossible for most seasoned recording artists of our newer digital age. Reason after the fact was that many of the ancient masters had to contend with a one shot attempt. Heavy pressure to get in the studio, pay hi dollar per hour, get the thing done before they went broke from the studio time. They had to have their act together and play a song flawlessly (or acceptable) from start to finish. The 40th anniversary challenge was an eye opener as to how soft we had become.

Read an article years ago that may or may not be accurate, but was in a respected digital music rag of the time.

Said that the final universal acceptance to MIDI was carved by the Michal Jackson Thriller tour.

The promoters had spent mega bucks in promoting the tour. Everything had to be perfect. They claimed that parts of the cast and crew would show up late, hungover and could barely drool on their keyboards. Rather than jeopardize the performance, they went with MIDI to pre program the keyboard parts. Thus they could dress up the musicians, put them behind the keys and have them dance around like they were playing. Not a note missed.

Still think MIDI is cool.

John

 

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18 hours ago, RBH said:

My first major Midi recording program was Texture 2.5. Cake walk and Voyetra were the about the only other PC compatible softwares back then. This was probably pre windows.

Texture!!! Reminds me . . . I still have the manual for Prism 1.0 (c) 1989--also pre-Windows 3.1 and with an amazing GUI!  "For IBM-PC's, compatibles, and Yamaha C1 Music Computer." 

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Had a early Roland sequencer (MSQ100 ?????) and a Yamaha DX100 as my first MIDI gear, synced to older pre MiDI gear and a Fostex 4 track cassette recorder.

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My first MIDI keyboard was a Casio HT700 SD synth, which was 3 part multi timbral. I used this alongside a Sinclair ZX Spectrum & Cheetah MIDI interface with 8 track sequencer. All recorded into a Fostex X-15 4 track. Occasionally my dad would let me use his MT-32, which was awesome at the time.

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I remember when MIDI was new, too.

My first was a Yamaha PS Keyboard that had a sequencer built in and I had a Korg DDD5 as a drum machine attached to the MIDI cable to get the then in-style gated snare sound.

Then I bought an Atari/ST with built in MIDI ports, and Master Tracks Pro sequencer.

MIDI has come a long way since then and the proof of the concept is that it is still useful and current.

I do all my backing tracks for my duo in MIDI because it is so, so, so, so much more editable than sound files.

Insights and incites by Notes

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"MIDI???  Like that will catch on!"

    ~ Someone in the 80's probably

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I graduated from college the year MIDI was introduced, but had no awareness of it for several years after that. I had worked a bit with voltage-controlled synths (including a Synclavier) in an electronic music class, but mostly just played acoustic piano, and was not into any kind of recording.

in '88, I moved to Florida from Colorado, and left the the family heirloom piano with my sister.  A month into piano withdrawal, I walked into a music store to see what the state of electric keyboards was, and found a Yamaha Clavinova set up with a Roland MC-50 sequencer. Twenty minutes later, I was totally absorbed in recording and layering MIDI tracks, and another hour after that, walked out of the store with a slim publication by Electronic Musician that was a thorough introduction to MIDI - I think out friend, Craig Anderton, might even have been a contributor.

A week or two later, I ended up buying a Roland RD-300s piano but no sequencer, having decided that a software sequencer would be the better way to go. Six months later, back in Colorado, I bought my first Intel 80286 computer and went looking for a MIDI interface. Cakewalk 2.0 for DOS came bundled with the MPU-401... the beginning of a great adventure.

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Loving this thread. Great memories and gear. Quite like using some the old gear, just to remember and sound different.

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Ages ago I lived in Allentown, PA for a year, not too far from Macungie, PA--home of the Allen Organ Company.  I had heard about a computer music keyboard they had and having been interested in college in any possible potential to connect a computer up a synthesizer (such as a Moog), I arranged for a visit with the person who did the album showcasing the RMI Keyboard Computer.  It was a great tour/demonstration/explanation!!

To me, it was esp. amazing to see the ability to slide in a punch card and to have the organ play the sound that was coded on the card!

I think midi had already come out, so I asked if it had (or could have) the ability to use midi.  Unfortunately at the time, the reply was, "We don't speak midi." 

As I understand it, the Allen Organ Company eventually did get on board with midi.

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My first MIDI computer was an Apple IIe. The Yamaha DX7 was a big deal then (mid-1980s), but I got a DX9 instead because it was cheaper. I don't think you could edit individual notes in the software, but you could record what you played and then copy and paste sections together into a song. Then I recorded it all with my Fostex X-15. 

Still have the Fostex in my closet, but the Apple and the DX9 are long gone. I switched to an Intel computer and Cakewalk for MS-DOS when it came out and have been running some version of Cakewalk ever since. I still use MIDI in every project, though more and more software instruments are replacing some of my MIDI hardware. 

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I was introduced to it at my local music store where I hung out. Prior to that I'd only read about it in magazines, although I'd been exposed to Roland's proprietary interconnect scheme so I got the concept. I had one keyboard with the Roland interface but nothing to connect it to, and was shopping for a second one when Roland announced they'd be dropping their design in favor of MIDI.

I had no MIDI-enabled hardware of my own, so I convinced my buddy at the music store to let me hook up every MIDI-equipped synthesizer in the shop. We had six synths going off one keyboard with me in the middle of it all happily jamming away - until the owner came out and told us to STFU. Apparently, not all the customers there that day appreciated the momentousness of the occasion. Some were just there for clarinet reeds.

To be honest, I did not see the full potential of MIDI at first. There were no MIDI interfaces for computers yet. For me it was just a way to play piano and strings at the same time. That all changed with Cakewalk 1.0, the reason I bought my first MIDI interface.

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Yes. In 1983 the salesman at our local music store explained that it was all brand new and had limitations.  I was deciding which way to go with a new major purchase.  I ended up buying was was known at the time as the Oberheim system: OB-8; DMX drum machine; DSX sequencer.  It worked great for me and did the same thing as midi but was a 100% closed system.  That salesman is a VP at Sweetwater today.

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Anyone remember a program called X-OR that was written by Bob Melvin in the late 80's?  It was a cross-platform (IBM, Mac, Atari) program that was a generic editor for synths, so you could have all your patches for all your synths in one program. 

In 1991, when Roland released the SC-55  it was the first synth to use the General Midi spec.   I already owned several MIDI synths but purchased the SC-55 as soon as it was available.   Then using the X-OR program I wrote the first GM editor and put it up on Compuserve so others could download it and use it.   I recall that it was very cumbersome to use - if I recall correctly you had to download 3 modules to use it.  But folks downloaded it and liked it.  And I recall Bob Melvin writing to me and complimenting me on it and making suggestions for further enhancements.

You can get a taste of what X-OR was like via this article:  

http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/dr-ts-x-or/170

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