No, this isn't a place with heaps of MIDI files or lots of advanced technical information. Who reads MIDI pages in these .mp3-times, anyway? Well, keep on reading, but first a few words about my own humble doings.
I don't use a ! I have one, but I'm not a good enough player to make it sing (deep sigh). Therefore, I use a . Yes, you may call me 'a MIDI mouse musician'. I use software that suits my slow fingers (and rapid mouse). Real-time sequencing is not my way of doing things. My need is software with good notation power and plenty of arranging tools. I have used three programs, and here they are:
NoteWorthy Composer, a shareware program - cheap and cheerful, as the saying goes. Not a bad notation program, by the way, that means you can produce rather pretty note sheets for your orchestra or band (or dusty binders).
Procyon Pro, made by Evolution, came bundled with my hardware. Excellent drum editor! Too bad they've terminated this program.
Today I do most of my work using Emagic Logic Audio - a very good choice for an amateur trying to learn the tricks. Not fully professional on the notation side, perhaps, but I can live with that. Far worse is the fact that Emagic har terminated their Windows line, so sooner or later I have to migrate ...
Oh, I'm sorry - I haven't explained what MIDI is, but since you're here I guess you already know. To make it very simple: A MIDI file is a list of commands telling a sound card or a similar device which notes to play, how loud and for how long they shall sound, and what instrument they shall sound like. Only instruments, by the way, not human voices.
On the Net you'll find several news-groups with MIDI as their main theme. You can post questions there, or you can sit in silence and only read what other people write. Even the newbiest newbie seems to get decent answers on elementary questions there. If you want advice from someone who really know what MIDI is you'll have to google a bit. (Sorry, no url's here, I haven't got time to check if they're still alive.)
When you have produced your first MIDI song - using mouse or keys, you should lift off the lid and take a look at the code lines in the file. Try to find out what each code will do with the sound. And what you can do with these codes. There's lot of room for tweaking. Save different versions of your song and compare them. Soon you'll start to see the light - or hear The Music. A few hints:
First volume: There are two volume settings - one for each note, and one for each track. If all the notes have the same volume (a fixed value between 0 and 127), then the music will sound flat. Put in some crescendos and decrescendos by varying these numbers, and the music will sound much better.
Next, panning the instruments: A stereo effect can be produced by using the pan control, which applies to the whole track. Here too the values run from 0 (far left) to 127 (far right). Place the instruments in a semicircle until you get a balanced sound.
Last, but not least, put some color to each instruments: You have several track controls at your disposal - chorus depth, reverb, expression and tremolo, to name some of them. Try to give one of those controls a higher value than the track volume and listen. High chorus depth or reverb value makes the instrument sound more distant.
Now the time has come to have a look at - and listen to! - what other people in this game can do. There must be thousands and thousands of MIDI files on the Net. They range fairly simple noices (like mine ...) to very beautiful music. Copy down files and listen to them, lift off the hood and take a look at the code. After a while you will know how to produce nice MIDI noise. You want a star to aim at? Then listen to the MIDIs made by Michael Walthius. They don't come better!
Your skills with the MIDI code will soon improve, but there's another thing that sooner or later will catch your attention: The soundcard. Getting a better card can lift your music to new heights, but will probably send you back to the keyboard again. The MIDI code only says - 'Play this notes using a nylon-stringed guitar!', but that guitar may sound quite different when you move from a cheap card to one of high quality. Not to mention pan flutes!
Yes, I'm talking from my own experience. Buying a Creative Audigy sound card put entirely new - and better - sounds between my ears. It also gave me a vast array of new possibilities: I could transform my MIDI music into audio files ready for burning on a CD. Here are some stages in this process:
1. In the song file of my MIDI program I select the 'SB Audigy Synth' for every track. After that I create a MIDI file containing all the tracks in the song file.
2. I start one of the programs that came bundled with the sound card - the 'MediaSource Player'. There I open my MIDI file and pick the 'Environmental Audio' setting that gives the best result.
3. Before I make a .wav file I play the song fram start to end to check and adjust the volume level. After that I make a .wav file, pick it up in Creative WaveStudio or Audacity, and start using the tools you can find there. A fine fade-out is allways needed.
4. The .wav files are very big, but they can be compressed into a .mp3 file, which takes much less room. I use MusicMatch Jukebox for this conversion.
5. Audio CDs are filled with .wav files. Do you have a CD burner? Fine. When you have transformed the humble MIDI-files into great-sounding .wav files, then the next logical step should be making your own CD. With a good soundcard you can even put your voice to the music before you do that.
If your music makes great impact around you, buy sun glasses and get ready for fame.