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Meet MIDI 2.0

Meet MIDI 2.0 – The Second Generation Is Here

In the previous post from 2018 What Is MIDI?, we met MIDI and got acquainted. To sum up, MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface has been standard for computer music since it was first released in 1983. Unlike many other technological innovations and inventions in the digital world, MIDI has managed to stay relevant and useful for musicians since the beginning. It has become a staple tool for music creation, film scoring, interactive live music performance, DJing, VJiing, as well as stage lighting and production. After 37 years, the second generation of MIDI has been adopted! And, music creators, performers and other technologically inclined creatives are ready to see what's new. Let's meet the newest member of the MIDI family.

MIDI 2.0 was made official at the Winter NAMM 2020 (National Association of Music Merchants) that was held in Anaheim, CA January 16 to 19, 2020. During the Annual Meeting of the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA), the MIDI 2.0 specifications were adopted unanimously by the attending members. Although MIDI 2.0 is not a new idea. It has been a long time in the making with the developers starting the process back in 2005. Prototyping of MIDI 2.0 was announced last January by MMA and the Japanese Music Electronics Industry (AMEI). The MIDI 2.0 specifications are now being edited into their final format for official signing by AMEI, and once that occurs, they will be available for public download.

What Is It?

Originally, MIDI messages were sent from a transmitter to a receiver. This relates to the MIDI IN, MIDI OUT, and MIDI THRU ports that you may be familiar with. MIDI device setup could be a daunting process for the music creator, spending time trying to get all of their gear to "talk" to each other. Since each message were sent in one direction, they were like a monologue where one voice is speaking the message. In MIDI 2.0, with the new MIDI-CI (Capability Inquiry) messages, devices talk to one another and can auto-configure themselves to work together.

Additionally, music creators can set up profiles for their devices that configure it for a specific use. This allows for quicker set up. Also, once a device is configured you can recall previous setups. This will be especially when combining hardware and software gear. For example, you can save your hardware synthesizers and recall as you would a software synthesizer.

How Will MIDI Improve Musicality?

MIDI allows for more artistic nuance and personal expression—and therefore, more natural musicality. In the past, many of the of intricacies of human musical performance were lost were the data was entered into MIDI as the specification was limited to 7-bit values. (This is why you will see velocities (dynamics) that range between 0 and 127 for example.) Now 32-bit resolution provides controls a "smooth, continuous, analog" feel and articulation, pitch, and velocity response has been improved.

What About Old Tech?

Since MIDI 2.0 communicates two-ways, it is able to tell if your gear is MIDI 1.0 or 2.0. So that, MIDI 2.0 has backwards compatibility with your existing MIDI 1.0 devices and programs. When it sense a 1.0 device, it will simply use 1.0. Also, there is more accurate timing in MIDI 2.0, and it is compatible with MIDI 1.0 devices as well.

Looking to Learn More?

I encourage all budding composers and music creators to join the MIDI Association for free and receive the latest updates. And, as always, you are invited to email me at to learn more about private music technology, composition, and theory lessons.


Further Reading

MIDI Association

MIDI Association – MIDI 2.0

National Association of Music Merchants


Janae J. Almen is a professional music instructor, composer, sound artist, and writer. She has a BA in Music/Education from Judson University and a MM in Computer Music/Composition from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. She is passionate about tea and creating our own daily rituals. Visit for more about music lessons and for more about a variety of wellness related topics including tea, sound healing, and more. Contact her via for questions about tea, ceremony, music composition, sound art, arts wellness, writing, photography, or other relevant topics.



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