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It Was Good Enough to Start

August 28, 2013

What’s the best way to drive a standard?  Go to a completely open area, collaborate in a small team, and then drive volume to the industry.  If you do that well, you won’t have to go beyond version 1.0.  If you don’t believe me, check out this interview with Dave Smith, the co-creator of MIDI.

El Reg: Another school of thought is that experimentation in electronic music has suffered due to the predominance of the MIDI keyboard synth. With modular synths of old there was a process of discovery. What’s your view on the evolution of electronic music in the MIDI era?

Dave Smith: “When MIDI first came out, most academics trashed it, listed all the things it couldn’t do to their satisfaction. But within a few years they started realising how much they could do with it, and started using it in many projects, usually very experimental [ones]. A smart musician uses the tools available to them, and MIDI is simply another tool. It certainly doesn’t prevent anyone from doing something different.”

It’s somewhat of a wonder to me that 30 years of input haven’t found a way to improve on the simple interface… one that didn’t even use all the resources available to it (there remain two undefined pins on a connector).  MIDI remains a well-thought interface that provides enough flexibility to allow music and musicians to keep doing new things.

Now, if we could only make the keytaur a serious instrument again…

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