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Designing Web Audio & CD-ROM by Dylan Thede, Josh Beggs

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Chapter 10. MIDI: Quick and Easy Audio for the Web

One of the quickest and easiest means by which to add sound to a web site is to use MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). MIDI allows for universal, cross-platform communication between computers and composers. It lets you easily integrate sound into your site by utilizing the same principles musicians and producers have used for nearly two decades. What makes MIDI a popular format for web audio is its simple learning curve, its inexpensive price tag, and its conservative use of bandwidth.

MIDI developed out of the need for a standard. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, electronic instrument makers began to create the world’s first commercial synthesizers. Companies created systems that could communicate only with their own synthesizers. These machines were made popular by such music pioneers as Keith Emerson, Joe Zawinul, Walter and Wendy Carlos, and most notably, Herbie Hancock.

In the early 1980s, synthesizers started becoming more mainstream and computer software was developed to communicate with the electronic instruments. With the introduction of each new synthesizer, manufacturers were forced to write complex customized code to interface with each new product line. Due to the inherent inefficiencies in developing new software each time a new synthesizer was developed, the larger electronic instrument companies like Roland, Sequential Circuits, and Yamaha decided to create a universal standard that all electronic instruments ...

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