MIDI controllers are a type of electronic human interface component that is used to receive input data and then output them to file or MIDI enabled devices. In layman's terms, the most common type of MIDI controller acts as a musical input to a software (usually found installed on a computer), from which the sound can then be mapped to specific instrument tones and sounds – this type of MIDI controller usually takes the form of a musical keyboard with a number of other dials, switches, and knobs to have further control.
MIDI is the acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is a technical standard for a protocol, interface, and connector which allows for intercommunication between electronical musical instruments, computers, and other related and compatible devices.
Quite simply, MIDI brings over the technical parts of a tone to other devices through a MIDI cable, such as the notation, the pitch, the velocity, the vibrato, the volume – all of the specifics that make up the technicality of a tone. This data is then processed in other devices such as a computer with MIDI compatible software where the sound is given the sound of a specific instrument, and then processed for sound generation and other features.
There are several different types of MIDI controllers, some are natively made as a MIDI-only device, some have both MIDI and real-time sound production features, and some are acoustic musical instruments with sensors and devices added to convert the sounds into MIDI signals.
- Human Interface Component: These are devices that are made to natively produce MIDI data and typically do not work independently without any other devices attached. It usually takes the form of a musical MIDI keyboard for convenient sound input along with other switches to control the tone, such as pitch bending.
- Electronic Music Instruments: Most electronic music instruments such as electronic drums, synthesizers, and drum machines, are usually used to play and produce music in real time. But at the same time, it is also able to transmit MIDI data of the playing to computers and other devices.
- Converters These are converters which convert pitch to MIDI data. There are converters that can even convert the human voice into MIDI data and signal.
- Sensors:Traditional acoustic instruments such as drums, pianos, and violins can be decked out with a number of sensors and a computer processor to translate the real time sound and pitch of the instruments into MIDI signals.
- MIDI Sequencers:Devices that can store, retrieve, and send out MIDI data and signals to MIDI enabled instruments and other devices to reproduce a musical performance.
MIDI controllers have changed the way musicians bring their equipment to a stage performance. In the past it used to be having many different instruments as well as many mixing and effect units, but today the same type of sound can be done with the use of these MIDI controllers and other devices mounted on a trolley rack that is easily transported.