MIDI = Alchemy  (sort of)

Back in the early ’80s when I sort of left music to pursue a career in database software development the Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI was just coming onto the scene.  Synthesizers that I had played with, Moogs, Sequential Circuits, Korg and others, never had any ports other than the traditional old analog outs.

My first MIDI interface was a Roland MPU-401 which connected to the joystick port of the SoundBlaster Pro card residing in my 486DX machine.  Connected to a Roland MIDI trigger keyboard I could produce amazing sounds (for the day) with my PC and create some cool multi-track recording.

Now that I’m back to playing with MIDI devices after a few decades off I set out to try and re-learn what I had forgotten and catch up on what’s going on.  I’m not going to write a big article on MIDI because there are a ton of those out there.  One I found particularly useful is MIDI 101 from Tweakheadz Labs.

What I set out to do was to get a few things connected to my studio toys via the MIDI interfaces.  After some fumbling around I ended up having a great deal of success so I thought I’d relate some of my efforts here.  This article is academic so I’m going to describe a few of the connections and tests I performed in the hopes that they may be helpful.

First, let’s meet the players;

Control Room

  • Apple Mac Workstation (24″ screen) – Mac1
  • Apple Mac Workstation (21″ screen) – Mac2
  • Yamaha DGX 500 Keyboard
  • Mackie Onyx 1220i Mixer w/FireWire
  • Generic MIDI to USB connector (1 IN / 1 OUT)
  • Apple iPad 2
Control Room Workstation