MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Its main use is the transfer of data between different electronic music devices and computers. Normally, MIDI devices and computers are connected through a MIDI cable, the MIDI data these cables transfer is usually decoded by software, after which the data can be used to assign a sound for your ears to perceive.
MIDI by itself doesn’t make any sound, it’s not an instrument. However, with MIDI you can shape your sound by applying a synth or a drum sample, applying the velocity, setting the length per note, the chords and whatever else you can think of. It’s a data template to use as you see fit.
MIDI VS. Audio
Now, you may wonder why people use MIDI. For this example, we’re going to put the next best thing up as MIDI’s contender: Audio. First, what is the difference between MIDI and Audio? Think of it as if both these forms of data are a baked cake. Audio is already solidly baked, without the option of reforming, reshaping, recoloring or changing anything about it. MIDI on the other hand allows the baker to reshape anything about the cake. It can be reshaped, rebaked or made to have a different colour long after it’s been baked. MIDI is, simply put, a multi-channel and multi-note recording for producers and composers, whereas Audio is a single-channel and single-note capture of sound.
This is an example of an Audio clip. It can’t be reshaped. The audio waves are recorded, and there’s nothing we can change about that. We can put effects on the recorded audio, but we can’t alter the waves of sound itself.
Advantages to audio
Some artists choose to transfer their MIDI data into Audio before they export their tune. This is due to consistency; there will be no irregularities in the sound that could be caused by lag or CPU overload while working with Audio data. This is one of the biggest advantages of Audio over MIDI. After all, MIDI is data that your computer is constantly recalculating. If this process fails for even 1/100 of a second, the listener will perceive a difference.
This is the same chord pattern, but then in MIDI. We can stretch the notes, we can transpose them or make a whole new chord out of them, we can change the instrument but keep the same chord. Concludingly, MIDI is an extremely flexible method for capturing musical data.
MIDI as a Chordify Premium feature
If you’re a Chordify Premium member, you can download a song in MIDI format directly. This feature gives you the right chords in either ‘time aligned’, which is mainly used for audio editing, or in ‘fixed tempo’, which is mainly used for score editing. In fixed tempo mode, the chords will be quantized.
After downloading the MIDI file, you can simply drag and drop the file in your DAW and you’ll have the ability to use the chord patterns, alter them or do something completely personal with them.