[sdiy] MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) specification

rsdio at audiobanshee.com rsdio at audiobanshee.com
Sun May 6 19:09:30 CEST 2018

On May 6, 2018, at 8:27 AM, Tom Wiltshire <tom at electricdruid.net> wrote:
> On 6 May 2018, at 13:28, Michael Zacherl <sdiy-mz01 at blauwurf.info> wrote:
>> On 6 May 2018, at 11:17, Tom Wiltshire <tom at electricdruid.net> wrote:
>>> The plan is to give each note it’s own MIDI channel, until you run out of channels, at which point you start having multiple notes on each channel. 
>> So after sixteen notes it starts over with channel one adding a second note to it and continues with channel two and so on?
>> What Problem are they trying to solve?
>> m. (not into MIDI that much)
> They’re playing catch-up with things like the Roli Seaboard and the Continuum controller and so forth, which offer far more control than a MIDI-based controller can manage.

Roli is the company that spearheaded MPE and sat at the head of the working group that wrote the specification. They weren’t playing catch-up with themselves, they were trying to educate the market because the existing MIDI features were apparently too obscure for the industry to adopt consistently.

As I mentioned in a longer email, the Soundplane was demonstrated several years before MPE started, using existing MIDI messages. Granted, there aren’t many MIDI controllers that enable this much expression, but the protocol is not the problem. It is a situation that begs for multiple MIDI cables just to ensure that the bandwidth limitations are less of an issue. However, in the latter case we could just as easily use RTP-MIDI over gigabit ethernet or WiFi without inventing any new standards.

> Really, they should bite the bullet and do the job properly and design MIDI 2.0. They’ve clearly reached the limit of the original specification. I think it’s been a remarkable success. The degree of integration between different manufacturer’s bits of kit is frankly amazing, and the lifespan it’s managed to achieve is also something incredible.

There are a number of working groups within the MIDI Manufacturer’s Association working on MIDI 2.0, although it’s not called that in every case. They’ve got some great ideas, and they’re not merely “faster MIDI."

The Catch-22 is that as soon as MIDI goes beyond the limits of classic MIDI, you won’t have anywhere near the same level of interoperability. I hope MIDI can survive being “improved."

Meanwhile, my belief is that RTP-MIDI should solve nearly all of the problems people are having, but without requiring an incompatible change. I’d like to use it more, but I don't really use MIDI very much at this particular time.


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