MIDI 2.0 Was Just Announced This Month. What Does That Mean?

On January 18, 2019 at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), it was announced that a new protocol for MIDI will be created. “MIDI 2.0” will aim to have lower latency for faster reactions, backwards compatibility with regular MIDI, 32-bit resolution instead of 7 and also… web? The news on MIDI 2.0 is still behind closed doors as the developers are looking specifically for what it is that they want and also how it’s going to be developed. As far as anyone can guess however, it’s currently just being tested and made for integration.

One standard that many music producers have made their “go to” for music production is MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface. What MIDI is, as said by Rory Seydel: “It’s a language that allows computers, musical instruments and other hardware to communicate.” Basically, it allows producers to be able to press a note on a keyboard and have their computer translate it to musical data.

MIDI itself is an “old” standard that has existed for over 3 decades. It was developed in 1983 by Sequential’s president Dave Smith and other developers from America and Japan. The idea was to create a way for instruments to communicate with each other digitally. The old technology was very tedious and didn’t always work. Also, all communications were specific to brands or types of instrument. Though once released, it has shaped the way music has been made ever since. To this day, MIDI is still used in all kinds of instruments, programs and other devices.

So why should it matter that we update MIDI if it works so well already? Well, we don’t really know the details, but when they said they want “web” compatibility, it could be possible that we get web based instruments instead of having to download and install them, which would allow for more musical data to be shared among creators. It’ll also include a higher resolution from 7-bit to 32-bit (which boosts the contrast of values from 128 to 4 294 967 296). This could create a whole new wave for text to speech software becoming exponentially more human like to the point where we may not be able to tell if it’s real. It could also create entirely new tuning systems. Which will create new scales and thus, new music. Whatever it is that MIDI 2.0 may bring in the future, I am personally excited to see what kinds of music can be created from it.