If I describe MIDI as the first networking protocol I really used, and still continue to use to this day, then it sounds really boring to most people. Almost all people, probably.

But if I describe it as the magic that allows me to play music with instruments spanning 40 years, a way to allow what glimmers of musical talent I might have to be able to shine in ways unimaginable to my grandfather’s generation, then maybe it’s a little bit more interesting.

MIDI was invented as a collaboration between American synthesizer manufacturer Sequential Circuits, and the behemoths of Japanese electronic music Roland, Korg, Yamaha and Kawai back in the 1980s. Timo Peach wrote a little article about it recently and he, Chris and I spoke on the subject on WB-40 recently.

Music is the one creative form where I have a little bit of technical proficiency. Writing and drawing and building things is all winging it, but with music I did my time getting an A Level and taking saxophone up to Grade 8 (a fairly advanced achievement in learning an instrument). But MIDI is how I can make things, not my instrumental skills. MIDI enables me to create things that would be beyond my technical playing abilities. Music that would be beyond any unaided human ability. Things that would be impossible to play.

And whilst these days it’s mostly down to USB connections and the network, there are still devices that I use that depend on the 5-pin DIN sockets, In, Out and Thru, that have been installed on electronic musical instruments since the mid-1990s and can still be found on new instruments today.

The April MIDI Badge resting on a music keyboard.


If you would like a set of the April #SAE badges, and you live in the UK, then all you need to do is post a stamped, self-addressed envelope to me at 78 Holmesdale Road, TW11 9LG. Please make sure that you correctly stamp the one you send to me if your package is greater than 5mm deep, and you will want to use a Large Letter stamp on the return envelope as the badges are about 7mm thick, and please mark it “April”. There are still some of the previous badges available too.

You can find out more about the #SAE project here.

One thought on “#SAE April – MIDI In

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