Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The power of Black MIDI

A recent article was published by IFL Science about the wonders of something called “Black MIDI” and the effect it has on our brains. The example song cited is a popular Christmas favorite performed by Mariah Carey. In this article, they talk about how our brains perceive information as a result of listening to this song in the Black MIDI format.

"MIDI" is a computer file format containing digital information that, in the case of an electronic musical instrument, tells that instrument what music notes to play and how to play them.

“Black MIDI” takes the MIDI file protocol a bit further. Composers can start with a standard MIDI file and expand their composition by adding a larger than traditional number of notes to the song. When viewed as standard music notation, these black MIDI songs start to appear black as a result of laying multiple notes one on top of each other. Those who compose in this style are referred to as “blackers”. The final compositions are judged by peers on perceived beauty, complexity of melodies and the number of individual notes they contain. The presentation of these songs are almost exclusively on YouTube where they incorporate visual elements during playback of the song.

The use of this new style is considered by some to be the next step in avant-garde music composition. Many of these unique and unusual creations have made it to the world of video games and some of the videos demonstrating this technique have gone viral.

Not unlike the early “Atonal” music of the early 20th century, black MIDI may represent another offshoot in the evolution of music composition utilizing technology and moving away from traditional forms. Granted, this style isn’t for everyone but for those seeking an alternative way to be inspired and compose, this trend is worth consideration. The resultant sound of a Black MIDI song was described by Newsweek as, “something like Guitar Hero on overdrive, and sounds more Tokyo pachinko parlor than Carnegie Hall.”

For those that prefer a traditional version of this MIDI Song, it is available here from the Yamaha MusicSoft website.

Do you have new, unique or unconventional ways of making music? Please share in the comments below.

- Happy Holidays from the Yamaha MusicSoft team!