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Anti-MIDI: de tegenstanders aan het woord.

Midi heeft van bij het begin in de wereld van de 'ernstige' experimentele kompositie heel wat weerstand en tegenkanting gekend. Om dit te illustreren geven we hier een 'anti'-reaktie, geplukt uit een internet diskussiegroep over het onderwerp:

>> And, yes, MIDI does find its way into everything.

>> Just to make things interesting: why would you think that is?


>MIDI will go down in history as the last capitalist experiment in cooperation. (MAI notwithstanding)


According to papers recently released by British Intelligence under its '50-year-sometime-maybe-never' rule, MIDI was invented in 1937 by scientists from Germany and the Soviet Union in a secret pact aimed at joint world domination. It was based on the strict control and regimentation of all music into standard uniform units called 'notes'. A vast bureaucracy was to be created which would licence and monitor all musical performances and compositions within the combined Soviet-Third Reich 'Zone'. No music would be permitted within the Zone which could not be expressed with a handful of 8-bit numbers. Militaristic models would prevail at all times ("Note ON, Note OFF, Note ON, Note OFF, LINKS, RECHT, etc.) All phrasing, dynamics, articulation and every other nuance was to be reduced to the range 0-127. The hope was that, eventually, all artists who used sound in any way would be robbed of the power of creative thought, and thus their threat to the system would be eliminated. George Orwell later parodied this system with his idea of Big Brother's monosyllabic 'Newspeak' ("velocity 127" = "double plus good"). The system was adopted with enthusiasm by the SS (Musikalische Ideologie und Denkfreiheit Inanspruchnahme), who regularly tortured victims by repeatedly playing them a MIDI version of 'Tristan und Isolde', and who's favourite code-name for the plan to annihilate the Jews was 'All Notes Off'.

After the war, the CIA recruited former Nazi computer musicians to work on a domestic version of the system, and forced Japanese manufacturers to cooperate as go-betweens. Working outside government control (a status euphemistically know as 'system exclusive') they used a combination of bribery and threats to force MIDI to be adopted as part of all electronic and computer music devices. Money from covert drug operations in Vietnam was channeled into projects such as the Moog MIDI retro-fit. Even kidnappings were not unknown (witness the disappearance of Barry Vercoe in first three months of 1986, and the subsequent appearance of MIDI operators in Csound).

General MIDI marked the beginning of the third phase of the operation, with all music being reduced to 127 sounds. Phase 4 will move beyond the musical domain, with TV being reduced to 127 colours, food to 127 flavours, house numbers limited to the range 0-127, etc. Especially worried are the scriptwriters of soap operas who will be forced to increase the number of generic plotlines used to 127.

However, all is not yet lost. In 1943, under the noses of the occupying forces, the French Resistance successfully planted their agent 'Pierre' within French Radio to begin a musical fight-back. By 1948 he was producing music which defied every known MIDI convention. His work was terminated in the sixties when he was assissinated and replaced by a doppelganger who continually ranted against electroacoustic music, but others took his place, and by the time MIDI was 'invented' by CIA stooges, the work of the Groupe Résistance à MIDI (as it came to be known) had spread across the globe. Now there are cells of resistance fighters in ever country, but there are also double agents. These people look and sound like genuine electroacoustic composers, but the trained eye can spot the tell-tale signs. For example, they are all aged between 0 and 127, they make between 0 and 127 postings a day on the merits of MIDI (though they will not always be so stupid as to actually use the word itself), and their musings make full use of the combined power of all 127 of their braincells.


Andrew Lewis

Music Department

University of Wales Bangor, UK


Filedate: 971125

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