Beyond MIDI

Beyond MIDI

The Handbook of Musical Codes

Edited by Eleanor Selfridge-Field





The establishment of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) in the late 1980s allowed hobbyists and musicians to experiment with sound control in ways that previously had been possible only in research studios. MIDI is now the most prevalent representation of music, but what it represents is based on hardware control protocols for sound synthesis. Programs that support sound input for graphics output necessarily span a gamut of representational categories. What is most likely to be lost is any sense of the musical work. Thus, for those involved in pedagogy, analysis, simulation, notation, and music theory, the nature of the representation matters a great deal. An understanding of the data requirements of different applications is fundamental to the creation of interchange codes. The contributors to Beyond MIDI present a broad range of schemes, illustrating a wide variety of approaches to music representation. Generally, each chapter describes the history and intended purposes of the code, a description of the representation of the primary attributes of music (pitch, duration, articulation, ornamentation, dynamics, and timbre), a description of the file organization, some mention of existing data in the format, resources for further information, and at least one encoded example. The book also shows how intended applications influence the kinds of musical information that are encoded.

ContributorsDavid Bainbridge, Ulf Berggren, Roger D. Boyle, Donald Byrd, David Cooper, Edmund Correia, Jr., David Cottle, Tim Crawford, J. Stephen Dydo, Brent A. Field, Roger Firman, John Gibson, Cindy Grande, Lippold Haken, Thomas Hall, David Halperin, Philip Hazel, Walter B. Hewlett, John Howard, David Huron, Werner Icking, David Jaffe, Bettye Krolick, Max V. Mathews, Toshiaki Matsushima, Steven R. Newcomb, Kia-Chuan Ng, Kjell E. Nordli, Sile O'Modhrain, Perry Roland, Helmut Schaffrath, Bill Schottstaedt, Eleanor Selfrdige-Field, Peer Sitter, Donald Sloan, Leland Smith, Andranick Tanguiane, Lynn M. Trowbridge, Frans Wiering


$15.75 X ISBN: 9780262193948 448 pp. | 7.4 in x 9.2 in


Eleanor Selfridge-Field

Eleanor Selfridge-Field is Professor of Music and Symbolic Systems at Stanford University and a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities.


  • As a reference book on musical codes, I think 'one-stop shopping' is worthwhile. Having the codes explained in terms of sound, notation, and analysis, and in one source will be very valuable. The primary audience are those persons who are interested in codes enabling storage, manipulation, and retrieval for musical scholarship, for MIDI development, and for composition. I know of no other such comprehensive project or publication.

    Gary Wittlich

    Professor of Music Theory, School of Music; Associate Dean, Office of the Vice President for Information Technology, Indiana University

  • Eleanor Selfridge-Field is a very well known authority in the field of computational music who has occupied a position of leadership in this general area for years. Her book is timely and addresses concerns that will be of significant interest to a diversity of individuals who are involved in computational aspects of music: composers, teachers, music theorists, musicologists, designers of music software, etc. The book is very well put together, reflecting the editor's command of the field and her superior vision of the contemporary situation with respect to possible developments.

    Allen Forte

    Battell Professor of the Theory of Music, Yale University

  • Beyond MIDI is a well written, thoroughly documented, and clearly presented description of the diverse ways in which music is currently represented in digital form. This book will surely provide an indispensable reference and guide for anyone interested in computers and music.

    Dave Cope

    Professor of Music, Porter College, University of California

  • This volume, likely to become a standard reference work, describes anextraordinary number of approaches to the representation of musicalinformation for purposes of computer processing. It is a considerableachievement, for it sorts and orders work in a confusing and sometimesembattled field, analyzing each encoding method in logical sequence and inlight of the specific purposes for which it was designed.

    Raymond Erickson

    Dean of Arts and Humanities, Queens College, CUNY;author of DARMS: A Reference Manual