If you’re looking to record electronic music and haven’t gotten knee-deep in MIDI files, what’s holding you back? So important but widely misunderstood by first-time recorders, we’re here to clear to the air about why MIDIs matter so much.
Rather than “start from scratch” for each and every recording, we’ve outlined the four biggest myths about MIDI files for new artists and the truth behind them. Furthermore, we’ve also outlined the benefits which signal just why having an arsenal of MIDI files on deck is so important for aspiring digital musicians.
Awesome sounds don’t necessarily have to come with a massive price tag. While there are certainly a lot of premium packs out there, there are also tons of free downloadable MIDI files for artists looking to build up their base of sounds. The more files you have on deck, the more room you have to experiment with new compositions.
They Don’t Sound Realistic
Despite popular belief, you can make MIDI tracks sounds more realistic in the case of acoustic instruments. Granted it’s going to take some time to mix and edit such tracks, very few people can tell programmed drums from the real deal on a recording.
Understanding elements of sound editing such as velocity, reverb and EQ ultimately make all the difference for those looking for a more “realistic” sound. If you’re dabbling primarily in electronic samples, this criticism is mostly moot anyway.
They’re a Crutch
This criticism perhaps requires you to rethink what creativity means to you.
Does downloading MIDI files somehow make you less of an artist? Absolutely not. Think about staples of electronic music such as DJ Shadow’s 1996 album Entroducing… which is made up almost entirely of samples. Implementing the work and compositions of other artists in your own does not somehow make you less “creative.”
Sure, MIDIs can take a lot of the legwork out of making but they aren’t your be-all, end-all of your creativity. They’re a tool, not a crutch. How you use that tool is totally up to you.
Many musicians assume that MIDIs are inherently complicated, perhaps given the slew of acronyms we deal with in our space such as DAW, VST and so on. MIDIs are about as “plug and play” as you can possibly get, though. Finding the right sound with your files might take a bit of tweaking, but many MIDIs sound amazing right out of the box.
Breaking Down the Benefits
Okay, so now that we’ve gotten some of the primary critcisms of MIDI files for skeptics, let’s also spend a bit of time discussing the benefits:
- You can diversify your sound in an instant: with instant access to new instruments, drums and templates, coming up with song structures is easier than ever
- They save you tons of time: speeding up the songwriting process is always a plus for those of us who are always working against the clock
- You learn more about songwriting: the act of pieces MIDI files together in and of itself is a massive lesson in songwriting, structure and editing which comes in handy when it comes time to compose your own tracks.
If you’ve been resistant to relying on MIDI files in the past, perhaps it’s time to second-guess your songwriting strategy. Rather than assume MIDIs will stifle your creativity, instead consider how they can result in a greater songwriting output while expanding your sonic repertoire.