I guess many people know that the MIDI 2 standard is out now. Here is a brief overview of the MIDI 2 main specs if your not yet up to speed:
- It is bidirectional - meaning that the DAW and the MIDI device can talk both ways.
- It's got 32bit resolution meaning we are no longer confined to 128 degrees of velocity - millions of shades instead.
- It's backwards compatible with MI(DI 1 and will enhance MID 1 Instruments (I am not sure how).
- Its got 'profiles'. Common Classic instruments such as piano, drawbar organ, drums etc, will have a standard mapping, hopefully meaning one can simpllify set up. I understand Violin will come with a list of articulations.
- Then there is 'property exchange', where states of the instrument can be sent from DAW to instrument and back. Automapping controllers should get easier, even instantaneous.
The MIDI 2.0 Protocol uses the architecture of MIDI 1.0 Protocol to maintain backward compatibility and easy translation while offering expanded features.
- Extends the data resolution for all Channel Voice Messages.
- Makes some messages easier to use by aggregating combination messages into one atomic message.
- Adds new properties for several Channel Voice Messages.
- Adds several new Channel Voice Messages to provide increased Per-Note control and musical expression.
- Adds New data messages include System Exclusive 8 and Mixed Data Set. The System Exclusive 8 message is very similar to MIDI 1.0 System Exclusive but with 8-bit data format. The Mixed Data Set Message is used to transfer large data sets, including non-MIDI data.
- Keeps all System messages the same as in MIDI 1.0.
Building off MIDI CI, Property Exchange lets one device ask another device what parameters it’s got that are available to access. Parameter lists, controller mappings, synthesis parameters, and information about presets are a few of the details that can be communicated - and communicated using meaningful names rather abstract, generic numbers.
I am not sure how much of this can be accessed on a standard MIDI 1 instrument simply by writing a new driver. There seems to be a device called a " Bomes MIDI Translator" which translates MIDI 1 to MIDi" messages and back. I am not sure how it fits in but it may make it possible to use MIDI 1 devices more effectively with MIDI 2, whwn it starts to take a grip of the VST market.
For me, in orchestral terms I have always been frustrated by Orchestral VSTs. I find them all lame. I play many acoustic instruments and keyboards. I play brass and woodwinds. When I play sax for example, I get an ongoing humanised vibrato in every extended note, this is part of the sound, but its very difficult to achieve using MIDI controllers. Using hte Yamama and ROland controllers did not do that much for me, I went back to using keyboard, but that is not good too. Same with Violin, the vibrato on a note is mission critical and should be crafted ituitively by the user, rather than having the same vibrato for each note.
Then there is the issue of articulations. Violin in particular has over 50 different types of articulations, sometimes these articulations blend into eachother and sometimes one articulation (say Staccato) is very very different in different settings. The length of staccato notes vary widely and this is insitctively addressed by the player without it being notated.MIDI 2 has new attribute for note on/off2 , Attribute Type and Attribute data field. I think this may possibly enable choice of attack.
Let's consider the sound of a trumpet. It is vastly different when heard playing Purcell's trumpet voluntary then when Chet Baker or Maynard Ferguson plays it. Same with Sax, Stan Getz's tone is a world away from Parker or Webster.
There seems to be Four issues when trying to emulate sounds on a computer system.
- First the mode of entry, the "instrument interface", (keyboard/drumpad/other) must be capable of controlling the sound.
- Secondly the sound must be available within the VST.
- Thirdly the whole process should be easy to set up, or even no set up at all.
- It MUST sound right
I wonder what people's opinions are about teh impact of MIDI 2 on these issues. Where will it take us on this crucial matter? What will the new generation of orchestral VSTs be like?