Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thing 43: Getting Musical with MIDIs

I was amazed at how many songs on the Internet had MIDI versions. I'm not a musician, so I won't be using MIDI sequencers for creating songs anytime soon, but it was good to find out what they can do. I didn't want to download any software for this exercise so I used Jamie's online sequencer suggestion from the Learning 2.1 activities forum. For my song, I decided to try Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" from Ragtime Piano MIDI files by Warren Trachtman. There were plenty MIDIs of this song to choose from!

I saved one to my hard drive and then uploaded it to the Online MIDI Editor. I could choose to play the song in Quick Time, Windows Media, or Real Media. The editor let me transpose up or down 1 octave at a time, double the tempo or half the tempo, delete tracks so that I could hear a single part played. In the case of "Maple Leaf Rag" there are the right and left hand piano parts so you could take one of them out to just hear one side. I can really see how a musician would appreciate this so you could hear how your particular part should be played out of the entire composition. You could also show the midi result as text. You could always revert to the origial file at any time. When you created a new MIDI from your original track, it gives you the option to save the altered file.

As for finding sheet music for the song, I tried to download the suggested MidiNotate Player v.1.1.1 but it was no longer available from the Hitsquad Musician Network - Shareware Music Machine. So I did a search for Maple Leaf Rag sheetmusic and came up with one from Guitar Chords were available at Since the song was first published in 1899 I thought it might be available online.

I can certainly see the usefulness of MIDI files for musicians to help them learn the parts of a song and to fill in parts when not all members of the band are present. Their small size makes for easy downloads. As for myself, I'll probably use them mostly to make my slideshows more interesting.



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