& MIDI Dictionary
Stress given to a musical tone.
In music, these are sharps, flats, or naturals that are not indicated in the key
signature. MIDI software programs tend to represent accidentals as sharps (F-sharp, rather
In computing, the verb is more often encountered than the noun. Synonymous phrase: To
communicate with. Illustration: A sequencer that lets one directly access hardware.
The process of constructing a complex sound using a series of fundamental frequencies
(pure tones or sine waves). Each of the fundamental frequencies usually has its own
amplitude envelope which allows independent control of each partial (harmonic). Pipe
organs or Hammond organs are both instruments which are based on additive synthesis.
Abbreviation for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release. These are the four parameters found
on a basic synthesizer envelope generator. An envelope generator is sometimes called a
transient generator. The Attack, Decay, and Release parameters are rate or time controls.
Sustain is a level. When a key is pressed, the envelope generator will begin to rise to
its full level at the rate set by the attack parameter, upon reaching peak level it will
begin to fall at the rate set by the decay parameter to the level set by the sustain
control. The envelope will remain at the sustain level as long as the key is held down.
Whenever a key is released, it will return to zero at the rate set by the release
See Pressure Sensitivity
A step-by-step procedure for problem- solving.
Aliasing is the term used to describe the unwanted frequencies which are produced when a
sound is sampled at a rate which is less than twice the frequency of the highest frequency
component in the sound. These unwanted frequencies are typically high frequency tweets and
A device which increases the level of a signal.
Amplitude is a term used to describe the amount of a signal. It can relate to volume in an
audio signal or the amount of voltage in an electrical signal.
A change in the level of a signal. For example, if a Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA)
were being modulated by a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO), the result would be a periodic
increase and decrease in the audio level of the signal. In musical terms this would be
referred to as Tremolo. The abbreviation of Amplitude Modulation is AM.
Data (signal) presented in a non-digital, continuous form.
A synthesizer which uses voltage controlled analog modules to synthesize sound. The
concept of a variety of analog modules all of which can interconnect via a standardized
voltage control system was invented by Dr. Robert Moog. The three main voltage controlled
modules in an analog synthesizer are: Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO), Voltage
Controlled Filter (VCF), and Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA).
A waveform that does not have a repeating pattern.
Apple computers were among the earliest computers to offer MIDI-computing capacity. Others
now in the field include IBM-compatible PC's, Atari, and Amiga.
A device or computer program that sequentially moves a pattern of notes over a range of
the keyboard. The speed of the Arpeggiation is variable and the pattern can usually be
varied depending on the order or relationship of the notes pressed.
The percentage of a note's duration that actually plays. This could represent the
difference between a staccato and a legato effect.
The first parameter of an envelope generator which determines the rate or time it will
take for the event to reach the highest level before starting to decay.
Attenuate means to reduce in force, value or amount. An Attenuator is a device that
reduces the value of something, usually the amplitude of a signal.
The range of frequencies that the human ear can hear. A healthy young human can usually
hear from 20 cycles per second to around 20,000 cycles per second (20-20,000 Hz), less
after prolonged exposure to Heavy Metal music or Opera.
Sound, or its transmission and reproduction.
(Sometimes called "Orchestration" or "Auto Chord.") The rhythmic
styles that sound when a fingered or one-finger mode is selected. Auto Accompaniment
usually comprises a drum pattern, a bass line, and other enhancing sounds, like a piano
arpeggio or a strummed guitar. BAR: A synonym for measure--musical time, a grouping of
beats. BEAT: Literally, a single stroke or pulsation. Tempo is expressed in beats per
minute. The beat value affects the metronome. [See also: TEMPO.]
A process that determines optimum start and ending loop points to produce minimum
Band Pass Filter
A filter which allows only a selected band of frequencies to pass through while rejecting
all other frequencies above and below the cutoff point. Usually a bandpass filter will
allow the user to set the width of the passband.
On the Emulator III, the Bank is the total amount of data stored in RAM memory in the
machine. The Bank contains all preset, sample data, and sequence data. The Bank does not
include information stored on disk.
The speed at which digital information is passed through a serial interface expressed in
bits-per-second. MIDI data is transmitted at 31.25 KBaud or 31,250 bits per second.
Of or based on the number two or the binary numeration system (base 2). Digital computers
use this form of numbering because the values of 0 and 1 can easily be represented by an
open or closed switch.
A Bit is a single piece of information assigned a value of 0 or 1 as used in a digital
computer. Computers use digital words which are combinations of bits. A Byte is a digital
word consisting of eight Bits. The Emulator III uses a 16 bit number to represent a sound
word. A 16 bit word can represent 65,536 different numbers.
Starting up a computer by loading a program that allows it to run other programs. The term
comes from bootstrapping which means that the computer "pulls itself up by its own
When recording or sequencing, to bounce tracks means to combine (mix) several tracks
together and record them on another track.
An area of computer memory that is used to temporarily store data.
An error in a computer program that causes it to work incorrectly. Very annoying.
Denotes a series of system-exclusive messages. Sometimes, this involves transferring a
mass of data, like several choruses of a song that have been stored in memory from the
keyboard to the sequencer or vice versa. Settings at both ends must be coordinated. A
keyboard "bulk dumps" to a sequencer as a system exclusive message (Sysex).
Conversely, a keyboard can receive such data as a system exclusive message.
A computer word made up of eight bits of data.
An often-misunderstood command. It does not mean delete (e.g., the file) or "send it
to the moon." It usually means, simply, turn off the display now on the screen.
(kar' de-oid') A directional microphone with a heart shaped, narrow pattern, which picks
up from directly in front of the mic. Very useful for recording drums.
A list of all files stored on a disk or in a bank. Sometimes called a directory.
Unit of pitch equal to 1/100 of a semitone.
A notch in the center of a modulation wheel or lever which allows the performer to find
the home position.
The circuitry through which an instrument outputs individual notes.
An information pathway through which MIDI information is sent. MIDI provides for 16
available channels, each of which can address one MIDI instrument.
Channel, MIDI Control
A MIDI Channel also contains information about which controllers are being varied.
Assigning an Emulator III realtime control destination A or B lets another MIDI device's
controllers control the EIII realtime control destination via the MIDI Control Channels.
An integrated circuit.
What happens when the sequencer receives too much continuous data. Result: Tempos slow
down and speed up randomly. CHORD: Three or more tones sounded simultaneously preferably
A voice doubling effect created by layering two identical sounds with a slight delay
(20-50 ms) and slightly modulating the frequency of one or both of the sounds .
It's that sign at the beginning of a staff- -the one that determines pitch.
A steady pulse from a generator which is used for synchronizing sequencers, drum machines,
etc. Common sequencer timing clock rates are 24, 48, or 96 pulses-per-quarter note. MIDI
timing clocks run at a rate of 24 ppqn. The EIII clock runs at 96 ppqn.
A temporary holding place in RAM for what you last cut or copied.
A microphone placement technique which involves placing a microphone close to the sound
source in order to pick up mainly direct sound, and avoid picking up reverberant sound.
Hardware which enables a computer to communicate with other devices. A common example is a
MIDI interface, which allows a computer to communicate with a musical instrument.
A microphone which converts sound pressure level variations into variations in capacitance
and then into electrical voltage.
In MIDI, as in general computing, a code refers to program instruction. One type is a
source code (human readable). Another is a machine code (executable).
Two activities that can be facilitated by MIDI-computing. The composer creates music. The
arranger enhances it--by scoring for other voices or instruments.
In MIDI-computing, the process of compression and expansion refers to changing the range
of a song. Compression makes the loud parts softer, the soft parts louder.
Controllers, pitch bend, aftertouch...
See Envelope Generator
(1) Most often, it means the instrument: keyboard, guitar, drums... (As in Master
Controller.) (2) A second meaning, in sequencing, refers to a setting, a parameter, such
as Controller 7 = Volume. In this sense, a controller is a MIDI event.
This event will be displayed in the Event List editor. It refers to a change in the
synthesizer setting. There are 128 controllers. Example: the loudness of notes. [See also:
To make a copy of something, either a sound or segment, by selecting it and choosing the
copy function from the module menu. What is copied is placed on the clipboard.
A command in a sequencer that plays a metronome for several measures until you are ready
Abbreviation for Central Processing Unit. The main component in a computer's
microprocessor which performs calculations and executes instructions.
A gradual increase in volume. Antonym: Decrescendo.
To gradually fade out one sound while fading in another so that a seamless transition is
made between the two sounds.
Foiled again. A visual indicator showing the position of the next entry.
Cut and Paste:
In word-processing, this function means moving text from one place in a document to
another. In MIDI, one can copy a section of a musical passage and paste it elsewhere.
The frequency above which a low pass filter will start attenuating signals present at its
input. Abbreviated Fc.
Traditionally, the damper pedal of an acoustical piano functioned to stop vibration of a
piano string. (In contrast, the SUSTAIN pedal held or prolonged the note.) Unfortunately,
sustain pedals on electronic pianos are often called "damper" pedals-- thus
blurring the distinction. [See also: SUSTAIN.]
Information a computer needs in order to make decisions or carry out a particular action.
These follow the status byte in a MIDI message, e.g., what note has been struck, how
hard... [See also: STATUS BYTE.]
The unit typically used to indicate the slope of a filter, or how fast the frequency
response rolls off past the cutoff frequency. Example: A 24 dB/octave filter would
attenuate an input signal by 24 dB one octave above the cutoff frequency, by 48 dB two
octaves above the cutoff frequency, and so on.
The second stage in an ADSR type envelope generator. See ADSR.
A reference for the measurement of sound energy. The minimum change in volume that the
human ear can perceive. Named after Alexander Graham Bell. A decibel is 1/10th of a Bell.
In MIDI, as in general computing, this is a choice made by the program (when the user does
not specify an alternative).
A controllable time parameter giving the ability to start an event only after a
predetermined amount of time.The Delay function on the EIII allows you to delay the start
of a sound from 0 to 1.5 seconds from the time a key is pressed.
The amount of modulation. Sometimes called Amount, Width, Intensity or Modulation Index.
Design, Program: Two distinct functions. The designer of a sequencing
piece of software, for example, conceives and plans the product and all its functions. The
programmer addresses the issues of programming languages, data structures, how data is
stored and manipulated, etc.
Equipment that uses quantities represented as binary numbers. In a digital synthesizer
every aspect of the sound generation is handled as a numeric calculation. The digital
information is not audible and so must be converted to analog form by a DAC before it is
Digital to Analog Converter (DAC)
A device which interprets Digital information and converts it to Analog form. All digital
musical instruments must have a DAC so that we can hear their output.
A device that gives information in a visual form.
A microphone placement technique which involves placing a microphone far from the sound
source in order to pick up a high proportion of reverberant sound.
A file extension standing for "Dynamic link libraries." A DLL is part of an
application's executable files, and is often used to link the application to the hardware.
The maestro's downward stroke, indicating the first beat of a measure. In contrast, the
upbeat is unaccented.
Making a new recording of sound already recorded. Sometimes used to describe the process
of mixing sounds from several sources into one recording.
The length of time (number of beats) of a note or chord.
On the EIII, Dynamic Allocation defeats any pre-assigned output channel assignments and
assigns the output channels according to a modified circular algorithm.
A microphone in which the diaphragm moves a coil suspended in a magnetic field in order to
generate an output voltage proportional to the sound pressure level.
The range of the softest to the loudest sound that can be produced by an instrument. Or
the range of the low and high signal levels obtainable by a velocity sensitive keyboard.
The greater the Dynamic Range, the more sensitive the keyboard.
Editing, in MIDI, involves altering, deleting, revising the musical passages that have
been captured in a digital recording, and are now displayed on the monitor screen. This
display will offer two options: (1) The notes are listed by track and number, by event
(like "Note on"), by the specific note G4, the beat, the channel, etc. (2) The
second option for editing is to use a musical notation display. Here, the notes are
arrayed in clefs, (a) like a piano-roll. or (b) in conventional musical notations. Editing
options include changes in notes, measures, transpose, volume... (The piano-roll display
is sometimes referred to as "graphic notation.")
Enable - Disable:
Antonyms, meaning to turn on or turn off. Synthesizers and sequencers have many controls
requiring such action (like MIDI THRU).
A complimentary descriptive term, meaning a professional-looking job of printing music.
Beginners (trying to learn MIDI, for instance). They may be devoid of experience in
computer engineering or in electronic music.
The changes of a tone, e.g., attack, sustain, decay, release.
A circuit, usually triggered by pressing a key on a keyboard, that generates a changing
voltage with respect to time. This voltage typically controls a VCF or VCA. An AHDSR and
ADSR are two types of Envelope Generators. See ADSR.
A Scaling system where the octave is divided into 12 equal parts. The ratio of the
frequencies between any two adjacent notes is exactly the same. Most keyboard instruments
are scaled in this manner. The EIII is normally tuned with Equal Temperament, but can be
tuned to other relationships by the use of the tuning function in the Analog Processing
A device which allows attenuation or emphasis of selected frequencies in the audio
spectrum. Equalizers usually contain many bands to allow the user a fine degree of
frequency control over the sound.
A message shown in the display to alert the user that an error of some type has occurred.
In ordinary language, an occurrence, a happening. In MIDI, the signal that is
transmitted-- like note on, note off, program change, control change... [See also: PROGRAM
CHANGE, CONTROL CHANGE.]
Scans data in a sequence before the start-point of the recording. Looks for patch changes,
An alphanumeric display of all MIDI events on a single track. Examples: notes, time
signature, tempo, program changes, control changes...
Controls for changing effects gradually, like decreasing loudness.
Fast Fourier Transform
A computer algorithm which derives the fourier spectrum from a sound file.
See Cutoff Frequency
Traditional computing defines this as a location in a record. Examples: name, address, zip
code, etc. Illustrative fields in MIDI: Song title, Track name, Instrument, Channel...
A MIDI File Type 0 is a single (multiple-channel) track. A MIDI File Type 1 contains one
or more simultaneous tracks.
A device used to remove unwanted frequencies from an audio signal thus altering its
harmonic structure. Low Pass filters are the most common type of filter found on music
synthesizers. They only allow frequencies below the cutoff frequency to pass (Low Pass).
High Pass filters only allow the high frequencies to pass, and Band Pass filters only
allow frequencies in a selected band to pass through. A Notch filter rejects frequencies
that fall within its notch.
Provides automatic rhythm, bass, and orchestral accompaniment. The bass and orchestral
accompaniment reflect the notes in the chord of the left hand. [See also: AUTO
An effect created by layering two identical sounds with a slight delay (1- 20 ms) and
slightly modulating the delay of one or both of the sounds. The term comes from the early
days of tape recording when delay effects were created by grabbing the flanges of the tape
reels to change the tape speed.
A thin portable disk used to store digital data.
The description of a sound that is in terms of its distribution of energy versus frequency
rather than its amplitude versus time (waveform).
The number of cycles of a waveform occurring in a second.
The encoding of a carrier wave by variation of its frequency in accordance with an input
Frequency Shift Keying. An audio tone (frequency) modulated by a square wave, which is
used both for data transfer and also for sequencer and drum machine synchronization.
The first, lowest note of a harmonic series. The Fundamental frequency determines a
sound's overall pitch.
The factor by which a device increases the amplitude of a signal. Negative gain will
result in the attenuation of a signal.
When tracks are "ganged," they will move simultaneously. (Analogy: A
variable capacitor in an early radio receiver.)
The length of a produced sound (e.g., legato, staccato).
General MIDI Mode
A convention specifying how a sequence (a song) should be constructed, so that it
will play on a variety of hardware.
This effect plays the sound of a semitone below the pitch, then slides up to normal pitch.
A rapid slide through a series of consecutive tones in a scale like passage. On the
Emulator III arpeggiator, when two notes are played with glissando on, every note in
between the two notes will be played in a sequential order. Similar to portamento except
that the pitch changes in semitone steps.
Affecting an entire file or program. Transpose is illustrative. The contrasting
function is local editing, like changing one event.
Hum caused by currents circulating through the ground side of a piece of equipment or
system. This is due to grounding it at points of different voltage potential.
Graphical user interface. A display that permits a user to select commands, menu
items--by pointing at an icon (with a mouse) and clicking.
A storage medium for digital data which can hold more information and access it faster
than a floppy disk.
Sequencing can be performed by software programs or by hardware. Hardware sequencers also
work with synthesizers, controllers, sound modules--creating and editing songs. A hardware
sequencer is--as the name implies--hardware, containing a single-purpose program, one
designed to provide sequencing.
The presence of harmonics in the output signal of a device which were not present in the
A unit of frequency equal to 1 cycle per second. Named after Heinrich R. Hertz.
High Pass Filter
A term that is used in the sense of introducing random irregularities in note-timing and
velocities, in order to reduce the mechanical character of a performance. [See also:
Look for the MIDI Implementation Chart in the manual of your Master Controller
(e.g., the keyboard). This will tell you what is transmitted (or recognized) for the
various functions, like note number, the velocity (pressure on a key), aftertouch (change
in pressure), pitch bender, control change, program change, system exclusive message, etc.
To bring data from one program into another. Antonym: Export, meaning to transfer
to another program. (Some sequencer manuals use the term "Export" to mean:
Convert and save--as a MIDI file-- preparatory to transferring elsewhere.)
Initial means the beginning. To initialize is to set a program to a starting
position-- to prepare the program for use.
The selection of instruments in a MIDI arrangement.
The amount of modulation.
Intros and Fills
The Jazz Man's vamp--a couple of measures repeated before a solo.
The reversal of light and dark on a screen character. Example: An indication of
whether Automatic Rewind is on (enabled) or off (disabled).
A system of tuning in which the distances between pitches are based on the natural
harmonic series instead of the octave being equally divided.
Abbreviation for Kilo which is the same as 1000
Reminder: In MIDI-computing, one has to remember which one is involved in a documentation
reference--the computer's or the controller's.
The assignment of specific sounds to an area of the keyboard. For example, the lowest
octave could be drum sounds, the next octave could be an electric bass, the rest of the
keyboard could have various piano samples assigned to it.
Musical notation shows this in terms of sharps and flats after the clef. Software
sequencers sometimes show a song key as "F Major/D minor," and indicate the
number of sharps or flats. B- flat Major/G Minor has two flats, for example. [See also:
The ability to place or stack two or more sounds on the same area of the keyboard to
create a denser sound.
Low Frequency Oscillator. An oscillator used for modulation whose range is below the
audible range (20 Hz). Example: Varying pitch cyclically produces vibrato.
To transfer from one data storage medium to another. This is generally from disk to RAM
memory or vice-versa, as opposed to saving from RAM to disk.
To prevent data from being edited, discarded or renamed, or to prevent entire banks or
disks from being altered.
Looping is the process of repeating a portion of a sample over and over in order to create
a sustaining sound. The looped sound will continue as long as the key is depressed. A
sound is usually looped during a point in its evolution where the harmonics and amplitude
are relatively static in order to avoid pops and glitches in the sound.
Low Note Priority
When more than one note is played on a monophonic synthesizer, only the lowest note will
Low Pass Filter
A filter whose frequency response remains flat up to a certain frequency, then rolls off
(attenuates signals appearing at its input) above this point.
Abbreviation for Mega which is the same as a million.
Something used to record a position. MIDI markers identify, for example, musical
cues. They work like tab stops in a word-processor.
The process of identifying patches and keys, so that sound files can be played
properly. A key map will translate values for MIDI messages, so that the correct keys will
be played. A patch map functions to identify the correct patches (sounds, instruments).
Media Control Interface
This command removes specified measures (like measures 4, 5, and 6). [See also:
The contents of specified measures are erased, but the length of the song is
unchanged. [See also: MEASURE DELETE.]
Microsoft's term for the Windows application that will control the playing of
sound cards, CD-ROM drives, and videodisc players. It will also play MIDI sequencer files.
One of the elements of music (the others being harmony and rhythm). Melody is a
succession of tones--hopefully pleasing.
The part of a computer responsible for storing data.
To combine or blend into one. Example: Merging two tracks.
The net effect of MIDI-computing is sound: melodies, harmonies, rhythms... But
the MIDI message (the MIDI event) itself is not a sound. Transmitted are digital
commands--about 1,000 events per second.
In ordinary language, the prefix META often means above or beyond. In computing,
a METAcharacter conveys information about other characters. In MIDI, a meta event would be
illustrated by such things as track name, patch name, tempo, time signature, etc. Meta
events are contrasted with data streams.
The basic pattern of note values, e.g., beats per measure. [See also: TIME
A device to mark time by producing a repeated tick. The older type--a triangular
box with a vibrating arm--was succeeded by an electrical unit. In MIDI, the ticks are
computer-generated. MIDI: A protocol. The musical instrument digital interface comprises a
MIDI card and cables connecting the computer to an electronic instrument, such as a
keyboard. The MIDI card (a printed circuit board) is normally mounted in an expandable
slot inside the computer. Keyboard synthesizers can also communicate with other
synthesizers by means of a MIDI connection.
Acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI enables synthesizers, sequencers,
computers, rhythm machines, etc. to be interconnected through a standard interface. MIDI
is an asynchronous, serial interface, which is transmitted at the rate of 31.25 KBaud or
31,250 bits per second.
Allows instruments interconnected via MIDI to be synchronized. The MIDI Clock runs at a
rate of 24 pulses-per-quarter-note.
MIDI Continuous Controller
Allows continuously changing information such as pitch wheel or breath controller
information to be passed over the MIDI line. Continuous controllers use large amounts of
memory when recorded into a MIDI sequencer. Some standard MIDI Continuous Controller
numbers are listed below although the EIII allows you to assign controllers and
destinations to any Continuous Controller channel.
PWH = Pitch Wheel
CHP = Pressure
1 = Modulation Wheel
2 = Breath Controller
3 = (Pressure on Rev. 1 DX7)
4 = Foot Pedal
5 = Portamento Time
6 = Data Entry
7 = Volume
8 = Balance
10 = Pan
11 = Expression Controller
16-19 = General purpose controllers 1-4 (High Res.)
64 = Sustain Switch (on/off)
65 = Portamento Switch (on/off)
66 = Sustenuto (chord hold)
67 = Soft Pedal (on/off)
69 = Hold Pedal 2 (on/off)
80-83 = General purpose controllers 5-8 (Low Res.)
91 = External Effects Depth
92 = Tremolo Depth
93 = Chorus Depth
94 = Detune
95 = Phaser Depth
96 = Data Increment
97 = Data Decrement
Created by saving the current contents of the buffer. MIDIEX is a standard format
containing raw MIDI data without a header (a line identifying the program).
Microsoft's utility program, which can help in remapping patch, channel, etc.
MIDI Pitch Wheel Switch
Determines whether continuous controller information (e.g., note on, key
pressure, control change, program change...) will be recorded.
MIDI Sound Generator
For authentic reproduction of acoustical instruments. It uses samples--instrument
sounds stored as digitized audio. This is actually another term for
synthesizer--converting MIDI events into real audio sound.
One of three ports (connections): MIDI In, MIDI Out, and MIDI Thru. MIDI In receives
information from other equipment. MIDI Out sends information to other equipment. MIDI Thru
duplicates the information, and sends it to other equipment. By means of the latter, a
synthesizer can echo messages to other synthesizers.
In music, one usually thinks of modulating as passing from one key to another--by
means of intermediate chords. In MIDI, modulation usually means applying a vibrato effect
to a sound.
The depth of modulation when performing frequency modulation.
The screen that displays information about what module is currently activated.
A musical instrument that is only capable of playing one note at a time. Music with only
one voice part.
The reference is to a standard interface. (It derives from Roland's initial
design.) Importance: MS DOS MIDI software often supports this user base, but not always.
In sequencing, a multi- timbral sound module can play several parts on different
channels simultaneously. A multi-timbral device is one that is prepared to sound like more
than one instrument at a time.
A way to record a complex musical piece by dividing it into simple tracks, and combining
the tracks during playback.
Normally, one records on a single track ("Normal Mode" recording).
Multi-track recording is feasible, however. Example: From a guitar, with each string on a
A setting on a multi-timbral tone generator (such as a keyboard) for receiving
multiple MIDI channels, each channel having a different voice (instrument).
Most often, the written copy of a musical composition. Compose in MIDI, print the
notation, and (voila!) there it is.
A sequencer command to turn off specified tracks. Reason: So you can listen
exclusively to one track. [See also: SOLO.]
That disturbance of a signal that might occur if your MIDI cables are too
long--exceeding 15 meters in length, for example.
When a (controller) keyboard has this setting (as contrasted with split, or
fingered modes), the sounds are all of one voice--from the lowest note to the highest. In
this mode, the resemblance is to an acoustical instrument. [See also: SPLIT MODE, FINGERED
A digital processing function that increases the amplitude of a sound file until the peak
amplitude of its loudest sample reaches 100% of full scale.
MIDI software and electronic keyboards use notations like F4 to represent the
specific note (F) located in the 4th octave of an acoustical piano.
Loads an existing disk file.
Distortion which is caused by exceeding the dynamic range of a circuit.
(Sometimes "Multi-pads"). On keyboards-- where you store percussive
To pan is to move the sound between full left and full right in a stereo sound
field. It resembles the "balance" function of a stereo receiver- amplifier.
To move an audio signal from one output to the other. Panning a sound between two speakers
changes the apparent position of the sound.
To put a copy of the contents of the clipboard (whatever was last copied or cut) in at the
specified insertion point.
A computer interface in which data is passed simultaneously over many wires. A Parallel
Interface is usually much faster than a serial interface. The SCSI Interface on the
Emulator III is an example of a Parallel Interface.
A tough word to define. In mathematics, it's a variable or an arbitrary constant.
In MIDI, it's a value assigned at the beginning of an operation. Examples: pitch bend,
sustain, voice number, volume, reverb...
Referring to a particular sound created on a synthesizer. Comes from the use of patch
cords on the original modular synthesizers.
A potential source of trouble for MIDI users. Manufacturers of synthesizers have
not standardized the correspondence between patches and numbers. On a Roland keyboard, the
Celeste patch number might be 24; on a Yamaha 09. Microsoft's MIDI Mapper is designed to
help rectify this. [See also: MIDI MAPPER.]
Establishing a pattern, e.g., a bass drum beat, then embellishing it.
Pulse code modulation--a process of digital recording.
A percussive instrument is sounded by striking or shaking. Examples: Bass drum,
snare, bongo, cymbal, high-hat... By extension, the term also encompasses so-called
"background sounds," like wind chimes, thunder, voices...
A common notation used for editing by many sequencers. The notes of each track
are shown as horizontal bars--the vertical position representing pitch; the horizontal
length representing duration of the note (or chord). [See also: EDIT; EVENT LIST EDITOR.]
The property of a musical tone--determined by frequency.
Pitch bend wheel
A wheel on the keyboard that allows notes to be bent up or down. (Example: a
sliding trombone sound.) "Pitch bend" is a MIDI message.
Computer hardware. Some MIDI software will run on one platform (e.g., IBM PC's)
but not on another (e.g., Macintosh).
In the realm of MIDI-computing, the sequencer is still the Virtuoso. But MIDI
players are prominent too. They play the sound files. They compile Play Lists of songs,
and sometimes group them into albums.
A list of tunes to be performed in succession. The sequence is pre-programmed.
From the Greek, meaning variety of tones. In MIDI, the question is: "How
many notes can be played simultaneously?" Maximum polyphony cannot be exceeded.
It's a location in hardware where data is passed in and out. In setting up MIDI,
one must make port assignments, so that channels can be correctly addressed.
Port Address and Interrupt Settings
Addresses are locations within the computer. These addresses are used by devices
(such as a MIDI keyboard) to communicate with the software. An interrupt setting signals
when the device is ready to send or receive data. Addresses and interrupts must be unique
for each device.
Pulses per quarter-note. A measurement of time resolution.
A preprogrammed sound and control setup on a sampler or synthesizer. Presets can be made
up in advance of a performance, stored in memory, then recalled instantly when desired.
The ability of an instrument to respond to pressure applied to the keyboard after the
initial depression of a key. Sometimes called aftertouch.
Like controller change, this event will be displayed in the Event List Editor. An
illustrative program change would be the introduction of a new voice (instrument). [See
also: CONTROLLER CHANGE.]
When cartioid microphones are placed very close to the sound source, a boosting of the
bass frequencies occurs which is known as the proximity effect.
The tick of a computer clock is sometimes referred to as a "pulse."
Example: One clock pulse might be defined as 1/240th of a quarter-note.
A feature that allows automatic on-off recording at specified points.
When recording, punching in over-writes a previously recorded track starting at the punch
When recording, punching out stops the recording process started by a punch in, thus
preserving the previously recorded track starting at the punch out point.
The figure expressing a filter's resonance. Varying Q varies the sharpness of the filter
A function on some sequencers which modifies the information in its memory to improve the
rhythmic accuracy and correct playing errors.
A small circle in a menu display. When it is pressed (clicked), it will activate
Acronym for Random Access Memory. The memory in a computer in a computer that stores data
temporarily while you are working on it. Data stored in RAM is lost forever when power is
interrupted to the machine if it has not been saved to another medium, such as floppy or
In MIDI, there are two types of recording procedures: (1) real-time; (2)
step-time. The former resembles traditional recording--as with a tape recorder. Step-time
recording is really sequential: note-by-note, chord-by-chord.
Occurring in actual time or live.
In the world of sound, to register something reproducible on a disk, like a
phonograph record, or on magnetic tape. Traditional recording captures the amplitude
(height) and frequency (number) of wave forms. MIDI-computing does not really
"record." It encodes messages, digitally--by means of numbers. Because of
established usage, however, the words "record" and "recording" often
appear in MIDI- computing, along with "play," "rewind," "fast
forward," etc. In MIDI-computing, these words are really metaphors. A typical
sequencer will "record" all of the MIDI events received, along with the time
they were received.
Keyboards, like computers, sometimes "lock up." To restore normal
operation, the System Reset is used. There is another meaning in MIDI software: Reset
means to return to the first measure.
A frequency at which a material object will vibrate. In a filter with resonance, a signal
will be accentuated at the cutoff frequency. See Q.
In music, a rhythmic silence. Examples: a 2-beat rest, a quarter-note rest.
Retarding. A direction to slow down gradually.
A high-speed serial communication port which allows data to be transferred to and from an
external computer at a very high rate (500K baud).
Emulating the sound of an acoustical instrument by digitizing (converting to
digital sound) the waveforms produced by the instrument.
When digitally sampling a signal, the rate at which level measurements of the signal are
If no filename has yet been assigned, this is the command to use. If your MIDI file has
already been christened, and you have edited it, the appropriate command is Save.
Acronym for Small Computer Systems Interface. An industry standard interface that provides
high-speed access to peripheral devices such as hard disk drives, optical discs, WORM
The port on the back of the EIII to which SCSI devices are connected.
Appearing in succession--one at a time. MIDI messages, for instance, as displayed
in an Event List.
A computer interface in which data is passed over a single line, one bit at a time. The
MIDI interface is an example of a serial interface.
A device which steps through a series of events. A digital sequencer may record keyboard
data, program changes, or realtime modulation data to be played back later much like a
tape recorder or player piano. Digital sequencers use memory on the basis of events (key
on, key off, etc.) while a tape recorder uses memory (tape) on the basis of time.
It is in RAM (Random Access Memory). It is measured in the number of events that
can be accommodated.
The art of modifying an existing sound through the use of electronic circuitry.
An input-device to increase or decrease volume. Also refers to an on-screen image
(like a button control) that one can move with a mouse.
A grid consists of two sets of lines that crisscross. A snap-to-grid feature
facilitates step-entry of notes.
Usually indicates a standardized time code developed by the Society of Motion
Picture and Television Engineers. The time code is used in the MIDI world as a way of
synchronizing MIDI to external events.
If you want to listen exclusively to one track, you can mute all other tracks.
Alternative: Select a track to "solo" (a feature that some sequencing programs
offer). [See also: MUTE.]
To erase the contents of all tracks. [See also: TRACK CLEAR.]
Any device is part of the system's hardware. Examples: a printer, mouse, modem,
etc. A sound device might be, for instance, a MIDI synthesizer, a CD-ROM drive, a
Device drivers are software that control communication between devices (a mouse,
printer, modem...) and the computer. A sound-driver controls the sound card or the sound
device, such as a MIDI-compatible synthesizer. The sound driver must be correctly
configured for your computer.
The component in a device (such as a keyboard) that produces the sound (e.g., a violin
melody, a drum rhythm). This is another term for MIDI sound generator.
MIDI information which allows equipment to remain in sync even if the master device has
been fast forwarded. MIDI Song Pointer (sometimes called MIDI Song Position Pointer) is an
internal register (in the sequencer or autolocator) which holds the number of MIDI beats
since the start of the song.
Microsoft's Windows accessory that can play, record, and edit sound files in the
WAVE (non-MIDI) format.
Perhaps the most important capacity of a sequencer. Tempo can be changed without
affecting pitch. Thus, a difficult passage can be recorded slowly, then played at a faster
tempo--with no change in pitch.
Divides a keyboard into two sections, each of which can play a different
instrument. Example: From the split-point (like C#3), the left hand can be producing the
sounds of an organ, while the right hand plays a flute melody line. [See also: NORMAL
In a split mode, the location on a keyboard where one voice (instrument) is
differentiated from another. G2, for example, might be set to allow one voice (say, choir)
in the left hand, another voice (say, violin) in the right hand. [See also: NORMAL MODE.]
Standard MIDI File
Identified by its extension (.MID, sometimes .MFF or .SMF), this is a file that
can store MIDI messages, such as songs. The data in a MIDI file can be played,
manipulated, edited... A MIDI file comprises actions performed on an instrument (keys
pressed, how hard...) There is a standard MIDI file format. A principal advantage of a
MIDI file: It uses comparatively little disk space, but, more importantly, it is a
standard across platforms and sequencers.
In a MIDI message, this announces what kind of message is being sent, e.g.,
"note-on." [See also: DATA BYTES.]
Plural of staff--those horizontal lines and spaces.
A sequencer mode where events are entered one at a time.
Floor pedals for enhancing tones, used principally by guitarists.
The process of constructing a sound by starting with a complex sound and then removing
harmonics with a filter. A low pass filter is most commonly used. The cutoff frequency of
the filter is usually dynamically varied, which changes the harmonics that are removed.
Using the low pass filter on the Emulator III to alter the sound is a form of subtractive
An Emulator III MIDI function designed to enhance the Sequencer/MIDI interface. It maps
data occurring on a specific MIDI channel to a specific preset within the bank. Similar to
standard MIDI Omni Off/Mono mode, but more flexible. Each channel can contain polyphonic
To sustain is to hold a note (or a chord). The musical tones fade out gradually.
[See also: DAMPER.]
To make synchronous or simultaneous. Example: to synchronize a drum pattern to
play with melodies and chords on a synthesizer. MIDI synchronization is a coordinating
function--involving a sync signal.
Changing a regular metrical accent, e.g., by coming in early or late on a beat.
It is a form of rhythmic improvisation. [See also: JAZZ.]
(Often shortened to synth.) A device driven by a microprocessor, which contains a
programmable chip. Examples of instruments that can control synthesizers: Guitar,
keyboard, wind, string, drum controllers. The keyboard itself does not produce musical
sound. A synthesizer circuit, built into the keyboard, accomplishes this function.
Originally, a synthesizer was so called because it synthesized acoustic instruments.
Nowadays, the term refers to the sound-generating circuitry of any MIDI gear. Another term
is sound module.
Short for a System Exclusive Message. Illustrative data: voices, drum patterns...
A digital signal processing function that fades a sound in or out between two points.
Tapering permanently modifies a sound.
In music, the rate of speed (like allegretto). Electronic keyboards provide
controls to set or change tempo. A quarter-note setting may range from 40 to 240 beats per
minute. Software sequencers also set and change tempo. Examples of tempo settings:
Viennese waltz 190 bpm; disco-rock 104 bpm; swing 166 bpm. Sequencers display the exact
beat (e.g., beat number 29) of the music being recorded or played. [See also: BEAT.]
Also called a terminator. A group of resistors that should be placed on the SCSI cable
before the last device on a SCSI chain. Usually the terminating resistor is built inside
the SCSI device. There should be no more than two terminators in a SCSI chain: one at the
start, built into the EIII, and one at the end.
Tone color. The quality of a sound that distinguishes it from other sounds with the same
pitch and volume.
The number of clock ticks per beat. Illustrative range: 120-768.
In traditional musical notations, this is expressed as a fractional sign, like
3/4. The denominator indicates the unit for the beat; the numerator shows the number of
notes per measure. [See also: METER.]
Essentially, a synthesizer without a keyboard.
A feature of some electronic keyboards, enabling one to control loudness
according to how hard the keys are pressed.
In MIDI, the term "track" designates a location where one records or
plays back a musical message---usually a portion of the total arrangement. To illustrate,
one might record an oboe melody line on Track Two, then record a bowed bass line on Track
Three. When played, the sounds can be simultaneous. Most MIDI software now accommodates 64
tracks of music, enough for a rich orchestral sound. Important: Tracks are purely for
convenience; channels are required. [See also: CHANNEL.]
To erase the contents of a specific track. [See also: SONG CLEAR.]
To merge the contents of two tracks and store in a third track.
Names like "melody line," "bass line," "left hand,"
etc. are assigned to tracks to help determine the instrumentation of a sequence.
The word has been used extensively in music. Example: arranging for some
instrument or voice other than the original. In MIDI, a common usage refers to converting
a MIDI file into musical notation for printing. This is accomplished by notation software.
To perform a musical composition in a different key. Both synthesizers and
sequencers can carry out this function.
A cyclic change in amplitude, usually in the range of 7 to 14 Hz. Usually achieved by
routing a LFO (low frequency oscillator) to a VCA (voltage controlled amplifier).
When manipulating a sample, truncation shortens a sample's length by trimming off parts of
the beginning and/or end.
440 Hertz is the normal tuning value. However, the pitch of a synthesizer can be
altered-- raised or lowered. Changes in the tune value are expressed as plus or minus
A triplet always designated three notes over two beats. The word
"Tuplet" is a generic term-- in fancy language "non-integral duration
values." Think of quintuplets (5) or sextuplets (6). (Notes, not offspring from a
This command could be a life-saver. It reverses your last mistake, such as
inadvertently recording or inserting MIDI data. "REDO" undoes an
A popular "buzzword" in computing. Synonym: Intuitive. It means
directly comprehended. For many users, a method of pointing at icons and clicking is more
"user-friendly" than entering many keystrokes to select menu-items, like
commands. Intuitive programs are more quickly grasped by the "computer-naive"
Voltage Controlled Amplifier. A circuit whose gain is determined by a control voltage.
Voltage Controlled Filter. A filter whose cutoff frequency or resonant frequency is
determined by a control voltage.
A keyboard which can respond to the speed at which a key is depressed; this corresponds to
the dynamics with which the player plays the keyboard. Velocity is an important function
as it helps translate the performer's expression to the music. Velocity can be routed to
many destinations on the Emulator III and is also translated over the MIDI line.
A cyclic change in pitch, usually in the range of 7 to 14 Hz.
Memory which loses its data when power is removed. The RAM memory in the Emulator II is
volatile, the data on the hard disk is non-volatile.
A pedal which outputs a control voltage which is dependant on its position.
A representation of a wave's amplitude over time.
To protect data (either on a disk or in memory) from being written to, although data can
still be read.
The point where the polarity of an electrical or sampled signal changes from positive to
negative (or vice-versa) as it passes through zero. A zero crossing provides a convenient
point to splice two sounds because the levels of the two splice points are the same at
To magnify the image on a monitor screen-- especially useful when editing notes in
Standard MIDI files.