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Control and SequenceMIDI Music and Technology
Written by Seungwoo John Koh | Published. 2020.11.17 13:35 | Count : 216
[Photo of the writer using MIDI synthesizer to compose music. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]

I started playing the piano at a very young age, but I never found my talent. I have not won any accolades or prizes, and I have never even entered a competition. I was just another typical Korean child, learning the piano because my mother wanted me to. The more I spent in front of those black and white keys, the more I realized this was not meant for me. Yes, playing a piece of music made me proud, but that was where it stopped. It was just a hobby, nothing more. However, I never saw music, specifically popular music, as a hobby. To me, popular music was part of my life: from the quiet Jazz that lifts my foul moods to hip hop music that motivates me in my work. Music is always with me.

[Photo of the writer using MIDI synthesizer to compose music. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]

Because of this love and passion for music, I began to lay my hands on the piano again. Not because I wanted to play a classical piece, but because of MIDI music. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface which can be understood as a language for music. Each byte stores information like how each word in the English language contains meaning. What is interesting about the use of MIDI is that it is not audio. There is no discernible sound connected with the language. It does not create sounds, rather it formulates a sequence which a computer can use to trigger different sounds. When MIDI was first introduced to the world, the machines involved were complicated to use. Today, though, the only tool required to make music is a keyboard and a computer.

When I first encountered MIDI, I thought that it was just a step in creating hip hop music. While this is true to a certain point, MIDI is actually a method to shorten the time required for music composition. If people had to carry their basses, cellos, and harps to the studio in order to create single song, how much time would be wasted on simply setting them up? Also how long would it take to find a professional musician capable of playing those instruments at a high level? Using MIDI, one can create music with just a piano. A computer takes on all the other details of music.

[Photo of the writer using MIDI synthesizer to compose music. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]

I was able to take my first step in MIDI music-making through an instructor, Kangsun Shin, who has worked with many major music labels in Korea. From my lessons with instructor Shin, I learned how to select the proper beats per minute and harmonics for each genre of music. I was confused in my first few lessons as playing the keyboard in MIDI was different from what I learned from playing the classical piano. After a few more lessons with a MIDI professional, my skills improved significantly and I was able to adjust to the new techniques involved in MIDI music-making. While I thoroughly enjoyed my lessons and the new knowledge I gained, I felt that more people should learn about this technology. While I am only a beginner in MIDI music, I have created a short-term goal: spreading my love of music at school through MIDI. I know that it is hard to adjust from playing regular piano to playing the MIDI keyboard. With this ambitious goal of spreading MIDI to students of our school, I have created a Graphic Arts Club to teach other students about the true beauty of MIDI music. I hope that everybody will have a chance to try MIDI and realize how simple it is to make music today.






Seungwoo John Koh
Grade 10
Stevenson School (CA)

Seungwoo John Koh  student_reporter@dherald.com

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