What Is MIDI?
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. You cannot buy MIDI, and it cannot be heard. MIDI is a type of interface, language, or protocol that musical instruments use to talk to each other. The electric keyboard in your church probably has a MIDI in/out port on the back. If you wish, you can use the MIDI port to expand the sounds you use in your worship service.
Synchronize and Expand Your Music Using MIDI
MIDI out means your keyboard has the ability to send notes, pitch, sustain, and transmit other musical data to another device. A lot of keyboard manufacturers sell just the sound processor (or “brain”) of their high end keyboards for those who don’t have the budget to pay full price for the complete keyboard. You can plug the MIDI out into the MIDI in of the sound processor so that when you play the notes on the keyboard, it sends that data through the MIDI cable into the sound processor. The sound processor then translates and plays the notes from the sounds that it has loaded.
MIDI in means that your device is capable of receiving a MIDI signal and translating it into music. You can even use the MIDI out of one keyboard, and put it in the MIDI in of another keyboard. This would mean that even though you are only playing the notes on a single keyboard, sounds will be coming through both keyboards at the same time. I’ve used this before when I’ve had one keyboard that has incredible ambient sounds and another keyboard has a great piano sound, and wanted both sounds at the same time.
If you are tech savvy and have $50-$100 you can even buy a MIDI interface for your computer and use it to generate sounds via MIDI. Simply connect the MIDI out of the keyboard to the interface, which then connects to your computer via USB. This is very handy if you are the type that likes to tweak your keys’ sounds exactly the way you like it. You can do this in GarageBand, Ableton, and many other music creation programs. Many popular worship artists make their sounds available online for you to download so you can emulate the sounds they make on their worship albums. As a side note, my favorite ambient background sound is made by Korg. It’s called “Gods Bathtub.” Hate the name, but I love the sound.
MIDI is the language most musical instruments use to talk to each other. It is beneficial for you to know how it works, and how to get the most out of it. In the examples I gave above I discussed how it is used in playing keyboards, but that has barely even scratched the surface. MIDI is used in many other musical applications including backing tracks, triggers, looping, and more. If you can learn to wield the power of MIDI, it can revolutionize the sounds you bring to God’s throne.