In the recent times, several computer based audio systems are used for creating music. The main drawback of such systems when compared to the traditional studio equipments is that the physical user interface includes only a mouse and a keyboard, which does not allow varying many parameters simultaneously.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller is the only solution to the above problem. You can add a MIDI control surface to convert the action of faders and knobs to MIDI messages; these messages in turn control the virtual faders and knobs on the screen.
MIDI is nothing but a set of instructions; this data includes a listing of messages or events that intimate electronic equipment about how to produce sound. A MIDI controller generates MIDI data, which can be interpreted by either a MIDI synthesizer or a computer. It can be thought of as a mouse or a joystick.
What does a MIDI Controller do?
The main function of MIDI controller is to relieve you of constantly using the mouse or keyboard for changing several parameters simultaneously. The most common type of controller is the keyboard controller. All MIDI controllers produce many actuators but no sound of their own.
All kinds of MIDI controllers as well as MIDI compatible software work based on the same MIDI 1.0 specification; so the specified MIDI message is also interpreted the same way even if different controllers are used. Thus, communication and interpretation is possible the easy way. Since the music is stored in the form of instructions instead of waveforms, the size of the file is also smaller. Individual key codes are available to trace individual MIDI files.
How does a MIDI controller Work?
When you make use of MIDI controller for recording music on to your computer, the MIDI software saves all the instructions and messages as a .MID file. If you play back this file on an electronic keyboard, the internal synthesizer software used in the keyboard follows the instructions. These instructions are not only limited to keyboards or any electronic device for the matter but also can be played back on a computer with a sound card; it just needs to have the synthesizer software. The faders and knobs are normally used for transmitting the data; they are also capable of increasing the hands-on control over any module that you have used with your MIDI controller. As seen earlier, the set of instructions are interpreted as messages to get the control of buttons on the computer screen. Generally, MIDI transmits event messages for intensity & pitch, clock signals for setting the tempo, and control signals for parameters like volume, vibrato, etc but not audio signals.
MIDI controllers are a great boon for all music makers who work on computer based audio systems since they make the work easier.