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Working with MIDI Files on Android

written by: George Garza•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 11/7/2013

You have a set of data on a text file and you are told that it can be used to make sounds. But you have no idea how. You've heard of MP3, and WAV files, but now you are told that MIDI can generate sounds that are stored in MP3 or WAV formats. How is that possible, and how do Android MIDI apps work?

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    What is a MIDI system?

    Let's start with what MIDI is not. It is not music or a file that contains sounds, and it is not a digital music format like MP3 or WAV. So what is it? MIDI is a data instruction set. It stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The instruction set contains a list of messages that tells an electronic device, like a musical instrument, or a computer sound card, or cell phone how to generate a certain sound. That's it. Here are some examples of some MIDI messages.

    • Note On translates that a key has been pressed or a note on another instrument.
    • Note Off translates that the key has been released or the note is done playing.
    • Polyphonic Key Pressure translates into a measurement on how hard a key is pressed once it bottoms out.
    • The Control Change message means that a controller has been pressed or turned on.
    • Pitch Wheel Change translates that the pitch of the note has been bent with the keyboard's pitch wheel.

    MIDIs often work with OSCs a messaging format. That is Open Sound Control. It works with computers, sound synthesizers, and other multimedia devices.

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    FingerPlay Midi

    FingerPlay MIDI is a MIDI controller for Android. With it, if there are any changes that you make to the controllers on your phone they are transmitted over the Wi-Fi network to a receiving computer using either OSC messages or its own FingerPlay format. The MIDI messages can then be sent to any music software capable of receiving MIDI input. Cost: Free.

    FingerPlay MIDI 

    Ups and Downs

    Ups: Good control of the sound system.

    Downs: The drum pads seem to send the same note, and it could use a "MIDI learn" option.

    [Download Link]

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    Midi Super Mario

    Remember Mario Brothers? Of course you do. You are 106 years old. Any way it was a video game that enjoyed much success and spawned many other video games. Now there is an Android MIDI app that lets you incorporate the sound effects into your Android phone. You can relive those good old days when this game was all the rage. Cost: Free.

    Super-Mario-Midi 

    Ups and Downs

    Ups: Deja vu, brings back the old days.

    Downs: That's all it does.

    [Download Link]

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    Budgerigar - Midi Sequencer

    This Android MIDI app is a sequencer. So what is a music sequencer? It is software or hardware designed to create and manage computer-generated music. In this case it can manage 16 tracks (16 channels) of music. It handles 128 instruments and a drum set. Cost: $4.25.

    Budgerigar-Midi-Sequencer 

    Ups and Downs

    Ups: Does what it is supposed to do.

    Downs: A barebones system.

    [Download Link]

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    Cadeli Drum Machine

    This is an audio sequencer for Android. Its range of functions include a pan and level mixer, a pattern-based step sequencer, pattern play-list, randomizer and both WAV and MIDI export functions. Cost: Free.

    Cadeli-Step-Sequencer Ups and Downs

    Ups: Configurable pattern length and time signature, and you can export WAV configurations.

    Downs: Hard to work with on a small screen.

    [Download Link]

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    More MIDI Apps

    EMC Racktor: This app is $4.06, but also has a free trial version available to download. You can connect the app to your computer through bluetooth. The app contains numerous features such as four presets, controller midi-mapping and smart focus. Download it here.

    Midi Sheet Music: Not only will this app play MIDI files, but it actually helps you learn how to play music by highlighting piano keys and notes on sheet music. This app is completely free and highly rated in the play store. Download it here.

    Do you know of any additional great MIDI apps? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

References

  • Images:Finger Play MIDI - http://thesundancekid.net/blog/fingerplay-midi/; Midi Super Mario - http://www.androidzoom.com/android_themes/ringtones/midi-super-maro_onbu.html; Budgerigar - Midi Sequencer - http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/music_and_audio/budgerigar-midi-sequencer_jvmz.html; Cadeli Drum Machine - http://cadeli-drummachine.blogspot.com/