MIDI and Home Computers For Music Production

Before laptops and tablets (and tablets for seniors) were even introduced into the music scene, the use of analog equipment were the first ones that play in the music scene. It was gradually replaced by digital devices in the first half of the 1980s and the standardized MIDI interface for electronic musical instruments, computers, and additional devices was introduced in 1983, it was also possible to turn individual inexpensive components into a complex system for music production.

Home and Personal Computers in Developing Music

The home and personal computers that have been in use since the early 1980s play an important role in this. The first home computer that was also widely used in the music sector with the introduction of the MIDI standard was the C64 developed by the American company Commodore in 1982. This device with a working memory of 64 kB was used even by professional users.

The first software companies such as C-Lab or Steinberg, which specialized in the music sector, were able to establish themselves. In Europe in particular, the C64 was replaced in the second half of the 1980s by the ST series from the American manufacturer Atari, which was already equipped with MIDI connections at the factory. The successor to the C64 from 1985 was the Amiga, which had also become very popular.

Both the C64 and the Atari-ST computers have internal sound generators so that they can be used as synthesizers with the help of special software and possible hardware extensions, Drum computer or sampler was at least possible at home.

Demos and Track

Both computer systems have motivated young people in particular to create program codes for sounding structures, which are still used today as demo coders and tracker form a very creative subculture of their own kind.

The masters of this art make it with tricky programming in assembler code to six to ten-minute sound structures, to which the screens provide a firework of visual effects, and do not need more than 250 to 300 Kb. Recoded into the well-known multimedia formats would take several Mbytes. These visual-sound structures are called “demos” because they demonstrate the programming skills of their authors.

The tracker scene, on the other hand, is more focused on the generated result, which they call “track”. The software used allows sound manipulation with direct music-oriented possibilities a music-related work but differs from real music software in that it represents a pure tool for script programming.

In the United States, the most commonly used computers for musical applications come from Apple Corp. The professional Alpha Syntauri system used, for example, HERBIE HANCOCK on his LP Future Shock.

The Use of Computers in Music Development

Programs such as SoundDesigner or Turbo-synth from Digidesign were initially created for the Apple Macintosh, which were later transferred to Atari computers and set standards for other software companies. In the meantime, in addition to the Apple models, the personal computers of the American group International Business Machines, which have been leading the industry since 1981, have also become established in the music sector.

An agreement between the two manufacturers in 1991 is intended, among other things, to ensure closer cooperation. The use of computers has fundamentally changed the composition, production, distribution, and reception of music.

Arrangements are prepared on the computer with the help of MIDI instruments, the sheet music is printed on the home PC. Home recording, which has increasingly taken on professional dimensions due to technical developments and now allows the production of high-quality recordings, has become an important aspect of music development, which has made the apartment a laboratory for the development of new musical ideas.

This also includes the availability of all published music on digital data media, so that its reproducibility with the aid of sampling is possible without any loss of quality.