Copyright 2008 Robert Finley. All Rights Reserved
A MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) recording can be thought of as the modern day electrical equivalent of the paper roll
of the old fashioned player piano. MIDI is an industry standard for the protocol of the electrical signals that control musical instruments
such as electric pianos, organs, synthesizers etc. MIDI signals enable musical instruments to communicate with each other.
of a music file consisting of many Megabytes of the digitized sound waveform, a MIDI file is relatively small, sometimes a few hundred
kilobytes. The file contains the signals or "instructions" that control which note is played and at what time, it's loudness, duration
and quality. It also controls special effects such as reverberation, chorus, vibrato, and panning (stereo effect and virtual positions
of instruments from left to right) etc.
Since the MIDI data does not contain the actual sound data, the quality of the playback is
entirely dependent on the player piano, electric piano or synthesizer. Player pianos contain electro-mechanical devices (controlled
by solenoids) to operate the keys, and digital pianos and synthesizers contain digitized recordings of the sounds from a piano or
other musical instrument, stored on a computer chip. MIDI recordings can be played back on the sound card of a computer, but the quality
is not always good.
MIDI data can be generated using an electric piano, a Yamaha Disklavier, a piano equipped with a MIDI strip, or
even the mouse of a computer. When an electric piano is connected to a computer using the appropriate cables and running MIDI sequencing
software, it is possible to record music onto the hard drive and play it back exactly as it performed. It is possible to adjust the
tempo without changing the pitch, transpose the music to another key, correct wrong notes, insert missing notes, and add reverberation
to make the performance sound as if it is played in a large hall with resonant acoustics.
MIDI recordings can be beneficial for a
student practicing the piano as instant playback can be arranged so that he can hear the result. The can be useful as an accompaniment
to singers and instrumentalists as the tempo and pitch can easily be adjusted. The are useful aids to musical education where the
sections of a "virtual orchestra" can be played together or in sections, enabling the student to obtain a better understanding of
harmony and orchestration.
Since 1995 Robert Finley has been producing MIDI sequences of classical piano music. He started with a
Yamaha Clavinova, and his first recording was the Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto with the orchestral reduction on a second piano.
He recorded the solo part and then added the orchestral accompaniment, combining the two tracks. His MIDI recording output was prolific
during the late 1990s. Many of his recordings can be found on websites all around the world. In addition to solo piano recordings,
he produced concerto performances with a virtual orchestra of synthesized instruments. These included concertos by Chopin, Rachmaninoff,
Tchaikovsky, and the Scherzo by Litolff.
He was contacted by the QRS Corporation about licensing some of his recordings for their
player piano system. He recorded three albums of Liszt, Russian and other music for QRS.
His MIDI sequences have also been used for
CD ROM computer games, cellphone ringtones, and for the soundtracks of movies. An excerpt from his MIDI recording of the first movement
of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 can be heard in the movie "Harold Buttleman Daredevil Stuntman"
directed by Francis Stokes,
about 12 minutes and 19 seconds after the beginning, during the breakfast scene.
He has given lectures and demonstrations of MIDI
to the Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Boston Piano Amateurs Association (see under "Lecture-Recitals" for more details).
Robert Finley's future projects include more recordings for player piano systems. Please contact him for licensing of his recordings
for player piano systems, CDROM games, film soundtracks, ringtones and other applications.