Invoking MusE
Window Reference Guide
Creating your setup
Getting Started
Software synthesizers coming with MusE
External Software synthesizers
Reference Information

MIDI Basics

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and it is a system designed to transmit information between electronic musical instruments with real synthesizers such as the Waldorf Q or Access Virus.

MIDI allows computers, synthesizers, sound cards and drum machines to control one another and to exchange system information. MIDI does not transmit nor receive audio from your synthesizers. This can be done with external equipement like audio cables connected to your soundcard's line in port.

You can use several diffrent connection methods:

  • MIDI IN/OUT of your sound card's joystick port
  • USB MIDI hub with basic and advanced MIDI IN/OUT
  • PC-serial-port to MIDI IN/OUT converter hub

If you are searching for a list of linux capable devices, look at the device section of our MusE tour.

In the picture above you can see a midi cable used to plug a synthesizer's IN/OUT to your soundcard's joystick port.

In the picture above you can see a midi cable used to plug a synthesizer's OUT to an IN port (on another synthesizer, for example). This can also be used to attach a MIDI THROUGH port to a MIDI IN port.

In the picture above you can see a MIDI HUB wired up with USB and many MIDI INs/OUTs.

This specifies the direction of the data which is going through the cable. IN will pass data (as you would assume) into something. OUT passes data out.
Normaly a synthesizer has one IN and one OUT, and sometimes it also has a MIDI THROUGH port. Sometimes the MIDI OUT port will also act as a MIDI THROUGH port.
With MIDI THROUGH you can cascade several devices in a chain. When the first device emits a signal through its MIDI OUT, the signal is sent to the next device's MIDI IN in the chain. This device then could perform any action according to its received MIDI message. In most cases, the received MIDI message will then be forwarded without any modification through the device's MIDI THROUGH.

Normaly only data coming from MIDI IN (unmodified by the current device) will be sent to MIDI THROUGH. MIDI data created or changed within the device will be sent to the MIDI OUT port instead.

Exception: There are devices which don't have a MIDI THROUGH but they can be configured so that MIDI THROUGH is routed into MIDI OUT. This is a cheap workaround for companies which don't want to spend money on a third port.

In short: Data will be routed through all devices in the chain and every device can be configured to act on the data. The received MIDI message will also be forwarded through the MIDI TROUGH ports in the original form.
(see diagram, TODO1)

  • How MusE performs MIDI IN/OUT
    • The O-port (output port)
You can have several O-ports in MusE and they are treated allover the same. Because there is no difference between software synthesizers and real synthesizers in the midi setup. This is because MusE is based on alsa which provides a high abstraction layer so that all midi ports seem exactly the same.
(See graphic TODO)
    • Track
Tracks are used within a 'O-port' in your setup. First you set a O-port (for example to the soundcard MIDI OUT/IN) and next you can set up to 16 MIDI CHANNELS which are called TRACKS in MusE.
The advantage of this method is that you can assign instruments fast and easy with it's specific MIDI number.
(See graphic TODO)
  • midi with several components connected in a series
  • virutal midi devices like the internal synths
  • routing midi with MusE
  • routing midi with alsamidi tools

MIDI concepts

Midi itself consists of:

  • NOTE
    This consists of note-on and note-off messages. If you hit a key on a MIDI keyboard, the keyboard transmits a note-on message and after releasing the key the note-off message is sent.
    Velocity is also important.
    Is used to send saved patches from MusE to your synthesizer. You probably can use this to update you're synthesizers boot rom or operating system in case your synthesizer supports this in general.
    This is data describing data.
  • channel aftertouch
  • key aftertouch

(TODO: write about the midi concepts in general, explain the terms in the list above)

Master Keyboard Technique

This is a very basic method of playing notes into your sequencer. You play any midi capable keyboard. The notes and modulation controler values are sent to your sequencer and from there the signals are routed to your desired destination device via midi itselfe. The reciving device will then output some audio based on the midi notes and signals played on the other keyboard.

In the picture above you can see a basic midi / audio setup.

  1. synthesizer with midi IN/OUT/TROUGH and audio OUT
  2. synthesizer with midi IN/OUT/TROUGH and audio OUT

Often masterkeyboards are kept very basic. But you can also use any synthesizer with a midi capable keyboard. (TODO: add picture of a basic masterkeyboard)

Diffrent Midi Connection Concepts

MusE's Midi Instances

IDF Controller and Sound Abstraction

With idf you are able to set controller values. But read more here idf.

Midi Setup Verification


In the picture you can see a advanced midi / audio setup. Let's start with some explanation about it:

  1. synthesizer with midi IN/OUT/TROUGH and audio OUT
  2. synthesizer with midi IN/OUT/TROUGH and audio OUT
  3. soundmodule (maybe a Roland MC 307) with midi IN/OUT and audio OUT
  4. real audiomixer with many audio inputs and one audio out
  5. MusE - PC with midi IN/OUT and audio IN/OUT
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