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Cacodemon345

So,how did the MIDI standards decline in modern operating systems?

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Well, MIDI playback on Linux is a bit of a pain, last I knew Windows could still play MIDI files out of the box just fine, though?

Short answer, though, storage space (on both hard drives and portable media) got a lot bigger, formats like MP3 got popular, and most didn't see a point to continue using MIDI any more when there was space for CD-quality audio.

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My biggest regret about migrating from XP to Win7 is that some midis are buggy now (e.g. instruments missing). Really sucks and I don't know what to do about it.

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Hard drives got bigger. Like, the very first HD I had was for 80 megabytes. No typo. A few years later I replaced it with one that was ten times larger: 800 megabytes. A few years later, hard drive sizes started being counted in gigabytes. Today, we have reached the terabytes.

 

At the same time, you also had a similar change in capacity for distribution medium. It used to be floppies (at 1.44 megabyte max); then we got CD-ROMs (around 650 megabytes); then briefly DVD-ROMs but now it's digital downloads anyway.

 

Anyways, this dramatic increase in storage space meant that you could put streamed music (like MP3 files) that takes a lot more space but is often of higher quality and, more importantly, will not sound so drastically differently depending on which soundcard is used. And yes, it also meant that you no longer had to deal with the hassle of having to take into account two or three different kinds of MIDI synths. During the MIDI soundtrack era, several games had a separate files for OPL synth and wavetable synth. (Plus sometimes an additional variant for the MT-32; which doesn't use the same instrument mapping as the General MIDI standard, and had some interesting features not included in General MIDI.)

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6 minutes ago, Gez said:

Anyways, this dramatic increase in storage space meant that you could put streamed music (like MP3 files) that takes a lot more space but is often of higher quality and, more importantly, will not sound so drastically differently depending on which soundcard is used. And yes, it also meant that you no longer had to deal with the hassle of having to take into account two or three different kinds of MIDI synths. During the MIDI soundtrack era, several games had a separate files for OPL synth and wavetable synth. (Plus sometimes an additional variant for the MT-32; which doesn't use the same instrument mapping as the General MIDI standard, and had some interesting features not included in General MIDI.)

But why did it decline? (as opposed to staying the same)

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Do you understand the distinction I'm making? Couldn't it stay the same without being important? Why does it get a little more fucked up with every iteration of the operating system? What's causing it to be tampered with at all?

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Two possibilities off the top of my head:

 

One, the midi code has barely changed, but the code it relied on has. Thus, the code isn't being tampered with at all, but it's being affected by everything else changing, much like how old games often run into compatability issues in later versions of the OS.

 

Two, either because of the above or due to not wanting to leave around old code, the midi code you remember isn't there in the slightest. Midi support was rewritten from scratch, but since midis are pretty irrelevant nowadays, they just went with barebones support for it since doing anything else would take time, effort, and money away from things that matter to 99% of the userbase, especially since to almost all of that 99%, midi support is completely pointless.

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The only "decline" I know of with regards to operating systems is Microsoft's implementation of it getting more and more lax. You used to be able to directly change the driver MIDI data would be sent to directly from the Control Panel; that's been excised, so you have to use a third-party tool (or toy with the registry) to change that value. Windows 98 MSGS actually supports GS instruments like Sine Wave (instrument #80 (Square Lead), bank #8), if you set up the bank select controllers (0 and 32) properly; that no longer works with Windows 7 or 10, to the best of my knowledge. This can generally be attributed to what Gez has already said - users no longer cared, and because users no longer cared, Microsoft didn't care much either, so features of it went on the chopping block as they continued to add features into/take unneeded cruft out of Windows.

 

I can't attest for Macintosh or Linux, however.

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I guess because hardly anyone but us wants it? lol. People who export MIDIs from daws probably don't even need a lot of basic stuff like GM instrument mappings unless they are making the midi for something that specifically requires it, which they usually aren't since the midis are generally designed for VSTs (once again unless they are a part of this community or trying to make demake covers of non midi songs or something), so support for that doesn't really need to be considered that much. Also because of that no one typically feels the need to change from their default MIDI device which is probably the reason why win8+ doesn't allow you to change it.

 

So basically I assume the main reason why midi is fucked up these days is because hardly anyone besides electronic musicians even remotely cares about it and even then people who make midis these days don't even care about most of the standard so that part of the OS gets neglected and starts screwing up 

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But Midi is still somehwat important (looking at all those Guitar Tabs) :D ? They should work on it at least a little bit.

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To elaborate on the Linux situation, out of the box you can't play MIDI files at all, even on a distro like Mint that typically has better than average multimedia support.  You have to install either Timidity (the older option) or FluidSynth, and you additionally need to install samples/soundfonts in order for them to work.  Then other programs (like games) that want to play back MIDI have to hook into one of those.

If you want to compose MIDI then it's even worse, since you have to deal with the composition program being based on JACK while just about everything else audio-related is based on PulseAudio and these two systems do not get along well at all.  It's a quagmire and I typically end up just taking sound editing tasks to one of my systems that has a Windows on it.

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1 hour ago, Shadow Hog said:

Windows 98 MSGS actually supports GS instruments like Sine Wave (instrument #80 (Square Lead), bank #8), if you set up the bank select controllers (0 and 32) properly; that no longer works with Windows 7 or 10, to the best of my knowledge.

FMOD Ex supports GS instruments in versions of (G)Zdoom before the switch to OpenAL.  They are also present in soundfonts based on MSGS (e.g. sc-55.sf2 and the like).  It's a bummer that they don't work otherwise.

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2 hours ago, 40oz said:

Do you understand the distinction I'm making? Couldn't it stay the same without being important? Why does it get a little more fucked up with every iteration of the operating system? What's causing it to be tampered with at all?

The OS itself changes. Moving from XP to Vista, the entire way drivers work was changed, forcing all drivers to be rewritten. That includes audio drivers.

 

1 hour ago, rodster said:

But Midi is still somehwat important (looking at all those Guitar Tabs) :D ? They should work on it at least a little bit.

MIDI is still important to audio professionals and hobbyists, but those are the kind of people who will install dedicated software for that instead of using whatever stuff is provided with the OS. MIDI isn't important for the general public, the people who're just gonna use whatever out-of-the-box preinstalled software is there in case they ever stumble upon a MIDI file. And they do still work a little bit, it still works just well enough for casually testing canyon.mid and noticing that sound comes out of the media player. Beyond that, they just don't care anymore.

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I would like to hear Clint of Lazy Game Reviews talk about this.

 

Mostly because I love his buttery silky smoov voice, but it's also an interesting topic.

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The major issue with MIDI in modern times is Microsoft GS.

It's a heavily gimped and modified version of a Roland softsynth from 1996. It has only the absolute basic MIDI functions, lacking greater functions such as reverb/delay/chorus and instrument modification events. This pitiful excuse of a MIDI softsynth that's been included with Windows for 2 decades has never seen any improvements aside from periodical increases in polyphony, up to a max of 64. Modern MIDI softsynths have a much higher (and adjustable) polyphony limit. Add to that the compatibility breaks in OS updates that MS never bothered to deal with and you have a synth that gets worse with each new OS.

Microsoft GS has given people the impression that MIDI is a super-limited format that sounds like shit. It's far more than that.

Edited by minigunner

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On 12/23/2017 at 1:32 AM, ETTiNGRiNDER said:

To elaborate on the Linux situation, out of the box you can't play MIDI files at all, even on a distro like Mint that typically has better than average multimedia support.  You have to install either Timidity (the older option) or FluidSynth, and you additionally need to install samples/soundfonts in order for them to work.  Then other programs (like games) that want to play back MIDI have to hook into one of those.

If you want to compose MIDI then it's even worse, since you have to deal with the composition program being based on JACK while just about everything else audio-related is based on PulseAudio and these two systems do not get along well at all.  It's a quagmire and I typically end up just taking sound editing tasks to one of my systems that has a Windows on it.

Even worse, you can't use VSTis in the linux way. Doing so requires Wine, but you will be unable to open input/output ports from Wine, so you can't compose MIDIs properly in Linux.

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Effectively, we let Mac OS monopolize the music production industry, and that's why. Just about anybody in music production is doing it all on Macs even to this day. So MIDI is unimportant anywhere else platform-wise. The whole "hard drives got bigger" thing immediately shows you why - if people thought MIDI was meant for listening to music from your computer, that's about 1/16th of what it's actually useful for. MIDI is actually a synthesizer control language and data transport, to tie together musical instruments. Since nobody wants to do that with a Linux or Windows PC, why should those OSes bother supporting logical concepts like MIDI ports or devices? Or so goes the thinking of those with a say in the matter. Those of us that actually did have interest in using our PCs this way have gotten the big fat finger over and over again.

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Posted (edited)
On 1/5/2018 at 2:28 PM, Quasar said:

Effectively, we let Mac OS monopolize the music production industry, and that's why. Just about anybody in music production is doing it all on Macs even to this day. So MIDI is unimportant anywhere else platform-wise. The whole "hard drives got bigger" thing immediately shows you why - if people thought MIDI was meant for listening to music from your computer, that's about 1/16th of what it's actually useful for. MIDI is actually a synthesizer control language and data transport, to tie together musical instruments. Since nobody wants to do that with a Linux or Windows PC, why should those OSes bother supporting logical concepts like MIDI ports or devices? Or so goes the thinking of those with a say in the matter. Those of us that actually did have interest in using our PCs this way have gotten the big fat finger over and over again.

Apple is eating musicians money!

@Quasar, VSTis are also available for Windows.

Edited by Cacodemon345

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On 1/5/2018 at 9:28 AM, Quasar said:

Effectively, we let Mac OS monopolize the music production industry, and that's why. Just about anybody in music production is doing it all on Macs even to this day. So MIDI is unimportant anywhere else platform-wise. The whole "hard drives got bigger" thing immediately shows you why - if people thought MIDI was meant for listening to music from your computer, that's about 1/16th of what it's actually useful for. MIDI is actually a synthesizer control language and data transport, to tie together musical instruments. Since nobody wants to do that with a Linux or Windows PC, why should those OSes bother supporting logical concepts like MIDI ports or devices? Or so goes the thinking of those with a say in the matter. Those of us that actually did have interest in using our PCs this way have gotten the big fat finger over and over again.

 

While there are a lot of macs in the music industry there are also many who use PC's, me included. As Apple shifted towards Intel processors, the difference between the two for music production means aren't that big anymore. All DAWs are capable of the mostly the same things and as Apple hasn't upgraded their professional workstation lines for quite some time, there's a trend of shifting towards PCs. MIDI is very much alive but only for those who use it for their original purpose, synth control and music sequencing within a DAW. MIDI file playback within an OS is an archaic technology only of interest to retro gamers and other old school computing enthusiasts and with superior audio formats which can reproduce sound 100% correctly there's no real reason for OS programmers to waste their time on it. Add your reverb and effects in the DAW, bounce it to an mp3 file. Problem solved.

 

It's a bit like being angry with your friends for not being able to receive your faxes. I mean send a text ffs.

 

Also VST is Steinberg Cubase's proprietary DAW plug-in format used for instruments and effect inserts and has nothing to do with Apple. Logic uses audio units(AU), Pro tools AAX. Ableton supports both AU and VST.

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21 minutes ago, RightField said:

It's a bit like being angry with your friends for not being able to receive your faxes. I mean send a text ffs.

On that note, why are fax machines still in use today? It's so pointless! I'd think emailing documents would've taken over entirely by now, guess not.

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the topic is too ambiguous. Has MIDI really declined? Or do you mean, native OS support for playing MIDI? which really means, shipping a software synthesisers with the OS.  Even on modern Windows, MIDI is still well used by professional musicians for connecting things together and routing music-related signals.

 

The bundling of a software MIDI synthesizer and the integration of that has probably dropped off because very few consumers are actually using that anymore, or have been for a long time. The vast majority of games moved away from MIDI over 20 years ago. And back then, hardware midi synthesizers in consumer sound cards were more common too.

 

17 hours ago, Cacodemon345 said:

Does MacOS even has that good MIDI support?

 

It's pretty good, yes, for MIDI routing and interconnects. I can't recall whether it has a software synth anymore. I think you can use GarageBand as one if you really wanted to.

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17 hours ago, Cacodemon345 said:

Does MacOS even has that good MIDI support?

 

It's pretty good, yes.

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56 minutes ago, Blastfrog said:

On that note, why are fax machines still in use today? It's so pointless! I'd think emailing documents would've taken over entirely by now, guess not.

lol good timing, i just watched this yesterday:

 

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1 hour ago, RightField said:

MIDI file playback within an OS is an archaic technology only of interest to retro gamers and other old school computing enthusiasts

Most, if not all, Doomers here listen to Doom music through a SW synth, either MSGS or Timidity++/fluidsynth using Roland SC-55 soundfont.

As for the topic, Timidity++/fluidsynth also contains badly-written code, so using soundfonts making full use of SF2 format will sound bad in Timidity++ and Fluidsynth also have a track record for crashing with certain soundfonts.

@rehelekretep, I am surprised to see that people still use fax machines to this day.

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Use of faxes is actually legally mandated for some things, particularly in the medical field :) For whatever lovely reason, electronic prescription of medications always involves a fax being sent to the pharmacy as the main transmission step.

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On 1/19/2018 at 11:46 AM, Jon said:

the topic is too ambiguous. Has MIDI really declined? Or do you mean, native OS support for playing MIDI? which really means, shipping a software synthesisers with the OS.  Even on modern Windows, MIDI is still well used by professional musicians for connecting things together and routing music-related signals.

 

A closer look at the MIDI API in Windows clearly tells us that it was never really designed for software playback, it has such weird requirements on setting up the data which only make sense if its use with external hardware is required.

 

 

On 1/19/2018 at 11:46 AM, Jon said:

 

The bundling of a software MIDI synthesizer and the integration of that has probably dropped off because very few consumers are actually using that anymore, or have been for a long time. The vast majority of games moved away from MIDI over 20 years ago. And back then, hardware midi synthesizers in consumer sound cards were more common too.

 

The last PC game I remember that used MIDI for its soundtrack was Hexen 2, and that was even considered anachronistic at the time of release. Effectively MIDI had a very short lifespan as a viable music format - roughly from 1993-1997. Considering that it is amazing that Windows still supports it, however broken it actually is.

 

 

 

 

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