Glossary MIDI Links Help Index
In-Different Styles Global Surveyor

This is a personal list of recommended links dealing with MIDI, an Industry Standard for transmitting Musical Data. Last Link Check: 2010-01-10

Algorithmic MIDI Composition Software

Click on pics for links.

Algorithmic Film Soundtrack System (AFSTS)

AFSTS Screenshot

... by Christian Banasik (Freeware for Atari computers) - MIDI is a platform-independent protocol, so you can record the output of this beautiful program directly into your PC or Mac sequencer. At last this worked in my studio. AFSTS is especially good in designing homogenous sound structures within user-given time brackets.


Improvise Logo... by David Pannett (Shareware for Win3.11 and higher) - The best algorithmic simulation of jazz and/or new music rhythm structures I found.

The Music in the Numbers (MusiNum)

MusiNum Logo... by Lars Kindermann (Freeware for Win3.11 and higher)- Easy-to-use application. Its structure-generating capabilities are very limited, but this didn't bother me because of the playful concept. Good for beginners in algorithmic composition.

Music Mouse

Music Mouse

... by Laurie Spiegel (Shareware for Mac/Atari/Amiga computers) - One can use Music Mouse intuitively without any specialist knowledge except how to move a computer mouse around the screen. The musical output always sounds "interesting", but if you don't work on it really hard, you will get bored very soon. The diffculty here is not to produce musical structures that make "sense", but to compose something out of all the material the mouse is "suggesting".

Style Morpher

Style Morpher

... by Russian software company NTONYX (Shareware for Win98SE and higher) has an original approach to generating music: It processes a given SMF by transforming its metric, rhyhtmic and harmonic structure, thus outputting a new SMF. NTONYX says nothing about the underlying heuristic (?) algorithms, but my experience with the progam's output indicates they may be not that ingenious. Especially when the input SMF is rather complex, Style Morpher simplifies its rhythmic and harmonic content in a quite predictable way. But may be you have to go the other way round... Apart from this, the program's full version is absurdly expensive ($49,00).


Tangent ... by Paul Whalley (Shareware for Win95 and higher) - Be patient! It takes some time to get something interesting out of it, but once you got the concept, its capability of creating melodic variations on a user-given scale is impressing. Unfortunately, Paul's homepage disappeared recently, so you have to google for the software.


Shareware Music MachineA good place to look for more MIDI-based algorithmic composition tools is the "Computer Aided Composition" section of Hitsquad's Shareware Music Machine (but don't forget to turn on your WebFilter, the ads are annoying!).

Tim's Atari MIDI WorldIf you are using an ancient Atari computer (the ideal MIDI platform!), you must have a look at Tim Conrardy's Atari MIDI World. Tim's a REAL expert in detecting kewl algorithmic composition programs from the 1980s (his list comprises e. g. Laurie Spiegel's Music Mouse, Clarence Barlow's Autobusk or Christian Banasik's AFSTS).


MIDI Utilities

mf2t / t2mf

Piet van Oostrum's small, but brilliant DOS utility converts SMFs to ASCII-Text and vice versa. You can edit the ASCIIfied SMF easily in a text editor (Notepad e.g.). This is especially useful for entering copyright or title data in the file header.

GN MIDI DOS Commandline Utilities

These tiny programs by Günter Nagler convert SMFs to / from Formats 0, 1 or 2, recognize a file's format etc. There's also a utility to insert a count in at the beginning of an SMF.

MIDI File (Dis)Assembler

Jeff Glatt's small windows program works like mf2t, but also provides some basic "repair" functions, e.g. muting stuck notes :-) Its ASCII output is much more detailed than that of mf2t, which, in my opinion, makes it rather hard to edit :-(


Jamie O'Connell made this free MIDI Patch Cable driver. He describes it as following: "MIDI Yoke is used to connect any Windows MIDI application outputs to any other applications inputs. The MIDI data stream is passed directly from output to input [...] This allows you to connect the MIDI output from one program to the MIDI input of a different program. MIDI Yoke can be configured to provide a varying number of MIDI Ports (from 1 to 16). In addition, each port allows multiple opens of both input and outputs: up to 4 openings per port." For me, MIDI Yoke works fine under Windows XP to route Winamp's MIDI output to Vienna Ensemble :-)


MIDI Players


Mark Fontana's DOS-based (sic!) software is still unbeatable when it comes to processing Format 0 SMFs containing Keyboard Music on a GS Device. It runs in Fullscreen mode and has a timeless design that doesn't suck.


Malaysian programmer Fong Chee Keat released this software in the late 90s. It is a Windows MIDI player with a remarkably rich display, which is especially good for watching controller movements in realtime. It works fine under Windows 98 with MIDI Files for SC88Pro.


Essays on MIDI & related issues


Contemporary Music composers using MIDI

Christian Banasik (Germany) - He developed AFSTS, a MIDI-based Algorithmic Film Sound Track System for ATARI ST. Read more about AFSTS here.

Clarence Barlow and a MIDI-propelled Player PianoClarence Barlow (USA) - Read an article in Paul A. R. Timmermanns' online journal P-ART. Be sure to check out Barlow's MIDI-based real-time pitch and rhythm generator AUTOBUSK for ATARI computers. Read an essay on AUTOBUSK by German composer Georg Hajdu (PDF, in German). Listen to an extensive interview Barlow gave to Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar in 1997 (in Real Audio, unfortunately): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Barlow did film music and a sound installation with AUTOBUSK. Watch a one-hour interview with Jeremy Haladyna (2007). Read a 2007 interview with Bob Gilmore.

Dennis Báthory-Kitsz (USA) - A very prolific composer living in Vermont. A lot of his work can be downloaded as SMFs.

Laurie Spiegel, ca. 1970Laurie Spiegel - The New-York-based composer programmed the legendary Music Mouse, an Intelligent MIDI Instrument for Mac/Amiga/Atari.


Original MIDI Data

... for SC88Pro

... for GM Sound Devices