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With most major web-browsers being able to play MIDI files, almost everyone on the internet has access to MIDI music - provided their computer has a soundcard, that is. Unfortunately, few people will get the most out of this capability without investing in more expensive equipment - a better soundcard, keyboard, module or software emulator. Without any of these things, most MIDI-files will tend to sound alike: soft, weedy sounding instruments and the same set of drums in every song. This, and the general reluctance to use 'real time' recording, is what gives MIDI music such a bad name.

Things are different for the MIDI enthusiast, who may have access to all sorts of wonderful sounding gear. Personally, after having used my Roland E-35 keyboard for five and a half years, I couldn't believe how primitive my MIDI-files sounded through my new soundcard- equipped computer. This has necessitated a major revision of the musmidi-page - with over half of the original 50 songs being deleted and many others modified.


But even for the enthusiasts, there are various system incompatibilities to take into account - as not all MIDI-files are created equally. So in order to introduce the major file formats (and my own MIDI-songs), the following information will be of use:

- General MIDI: As described above, this is how most computer-owners will hear MIDI-music. It is, however, fine for playing almost all MIDI-files that you'll find on the internet - since other types of files are reverse-compatible. Just don't expect the instruments - especially the guitars and drums - to sound anything like they were originally intended to;
- Roland GS: This system - as used by the Sound Canvas range and E-series keyboards - uses big, beefy instrument sounds and seven different types of drum kits, plus additional controls for reverb and other paramater changes. GM files will sound gorgeous under GS while, on the other hand, XG MIDI-files won't play at all;
- Yamaha XG: This is supposedly the ultimate MIDI music system to my knowledge, with all sorts of extra sound controls - resonance, detuning and more. But, if my NovaStation emulator (see below) is anything to go by, the instrument sounds aren't really all that impressive. GM files sound boxy and lo-fi, whereas with GS files, the drum channel information becomes lost or misinterpreted.

Getting around these incompatibility problems is the real fun part. There had been no way to do this on my Amiga, but on my new computer I currently use:

- Evolution Audio Lite: This is a demo version of a MIDI recording program that is freely available, but has some limitations - it won't save tempo or mixing changes to disk. It does, however, allow instrument changes and conversions between the GM, GS and XG drum systems, before re-saving the file.



Direct Music, on the other hand, is a new development entirely. This system, developed by Microsoft, allows for a diverse combination of sounds - mostly based around the Roland GS set - to be incorporated into MIDI music that can be programmed to change format, style and tempo as necessary. This is intended for games and some general software applications. I've had it installed on my computer since mid 1999, but just can't get used to using it. for a start, the "Help"file is the longest I've ever seen for any software application (bar the entire Windows system itself). But, no doubt, some people will take to it with a passion.



Rather than try and cater for minority interests, I've done a purge of my original online MIDI-file collection. Only those songs which sound reasonably good under all systems - GM, GS and XG - have been kept. As for the remaining songs in my collection, I'll probably package up the best of them and upload them to a GS/Sound Canvas users' site, somewhere on the 'net. Anyone wanting to hear what my songs are really supposed to sound like should perhaps order my MIDI-related CDs, as I've heard some really awful 'interpretations' of them through both soundcards and software emulators.

With exception of the drum-patterns and the obviously sequenced songs, most of the music here has been recorded in 'real time'. In other words, I have used my music sequencers as 'virtual tape recorders' to layer real tracks, rather than plotting out parts a note at a time, or copying and repeating blocks of music. The final performances are then edited, to erase any obvious mistakes. This facilitates the creation of smooth flowing songs with lots of improvisation, rather than the stiff, robotic music that is so prevalent elsewhere. I hope that listeners can appreciate the difference.

MP3s of "Mystery", "Ditto" and various other MIDI-songs are included on my MP3 site at http://www.mp3.com.au/AlexVanStarrex/ - be sure to have a listen.

  1. Symphony#1 1st Movement 3:57 - real-time 1997 piano version of part of my 1979 1st symphony.
  2. Eva 3:33 - an 'impossible' sequenced piano composition from 1988-9, written for a complex woman.
  3. Medley 8:10 - 8 minutes of musical morphology, MIDI-fied from a 1990 DMCS Amiga song.
  4. Vertigo 4:04 - a DMCS song from 1990, MIDI-fied with an overdubbed solo, from 'MIDI-Files#3).
  5. Aerial 4:35 - this song uses the drums, auto-accompaniment and harmonies from my Roland E-35.
  6. Surprise 3:48 - as above (these are from MIDI-Files#1') - there's a "live"version of the song here.
  7. Impatience 3:26 - A song from 'MIDI-Files#2' - E-35 drum-track, plus normal, layered overdubs.
  8. Mystery 4:27 - the first song from my 'Ambience' song-collection - (compare the real audio file).
  9. Well 4:18 - another 'Ambience' song - note the progression from pentatonics to blues to classical.
  10. MF5 A20 2:37 -from my 'MIDI-Files#5' of 1995/6 - a quickly-recorded selection of 26 short songs.
  11. BJ05 3:24 - an uptempo and uncharacteristic song from by 'Baroque Jazz'MIDI-File disk, of 1996.
  12. Candle in the Wind 4:06 - a real-time solo-piano piece (mistakes and all), released in 1997.
  13. This Guy's In Love With You 3:14 - another real-time piano song (and compare the 1999 video).
  14. How Deep Is Your Love 2:35 - sequenced MIDI-version of one of my solo guitar-songs & videos.
  15. Miniature#1 0:44 - a tiny sequenced classical-guitar song I finished in 1998, from an old idea.
  16. Ditto 3:22 - backing is doubled+delayed guitar and harpsichord lines with octave contrabass.
  17. Somewhere 4:20 - a stylish little ballad of love and hope, dedicated to... someone, at least.
  18. Vista 5:00 - a quick and effortless song to create, but still quite pleasing to listen to nevertheless.
  19. Delicate 3:35 - quiet, understated song that that had to be felt more than it had to be composed.
  20. Obscurity 3:52 - in the long run, I suppose it's only one step away from fame (and vice versa).


The above files are provided on an unrestricted use for private use and performance only. Permission should be sought for public use (including redistribution and use on websites) as this may otherwise constitute a breach of copyright.


I've collected a lot of transcriptions of popular and classical songs from the net, since I first got online. Some are immensely clever and I can actually enjoy listening to them - e.g. 'Lazy', by Deep Purple. Others are just incredibly strange and I wonder why someone actually bothered to work them out in the first place - e.g. 'The Noonward Race' by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, or 'Soundchaser' by Yes. Bear this in mind when you start your own MIDI-collection.



SEARCH THE INTERNET FOR A MIDI FILE - here's a nifty way to find that MIDI-file you're after:

Alta Vista

File Extensions:



www.filez.com 's FTP Search

THE CLASSICAL MIDI CONNECTION - I haven't found a similar site or search engine for rock/pop files.


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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
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