What exactly is Midi Sequencing?

You might have heard this term before. Midi sequencing (aka “sequencing”) is the act of playing, editing, and recording music in a way that can be manipulated. These days this usually involves a midi keyboard which connects to a sequencing program on the computer. The term “midi” essentially means that the keyboard and computer can communicate and send information back and forth. The term “sequencer” implies that you can record a sequence, or passage, of notes. Midi sequencing allows one person to record multiple times, perhaps playing a different instrument each time. If the musician has ideas about what every instrument should play, they can play each of these ideas, one at a time, and stack them up. You could record any size ensemble in any style, from a rock band to a full orchestra.

A sequencer is different from a mere CD recording- the sequencer keeps track of the individual notes you play. These notes can be changed later on. You can make them longer, shorter, change the note itself, change the sound of the note, and so on. There is a lot of literature on this subject, but that is the general idea.

Midi sequencing has its pros and cons. Once the equipment is set up, it is more cost effective than hiring musicians and a recording studio. Unfortunately, this takes away a lot of work from other musicians (unless they also learn how to do midi sequencing). Low budget film and video projects almost always end up requiring a musician to do midi sequencing. However, the acoustic/orchestral sounds are not always very realistic, and all of the musical work falls on the shoulders of the one musician doing the sequencing. In fact, you are limited to their skill set and musicality.

For projects that do have a budget, sequencing is still very useful. In the world of professional film scoring, a lot of composers will create midi demos of their pieces (called “mockups”). This allows the film director to get a rough idea of what the music will sound like. Then, the director and composer can work out any revisions that are necessary ahead of time before the recording session, saving valuable studio time.

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