Digital Accompaniments 2: MIDI to MP3. This presentation by Terry B. Ewell presents an overview of MIDI files. It provides instructions for converting MIDI files to MP3. It also introduces the largest repository of MIDI files for bassoonists with additional files for oboists and other double reed players.  BDP #280,

[Music: Hummel Bassoon Concerto]

Welcome, I am Terry Ewell. This video will explain in more detail the differences between MIDI and audio files. I will detail where to find media files, particularly for bassoonists. Then I provide some quick methods to convert MIDI to mp3 or other audio formats.

What is a MIDI file?

It is important to remember that MIDI files are digital instructions not sound. Sound files such as wave, aif, mp3, or ogg files are digital encodings of sound waves. MIDI files are codes that indicate the timing, loudness, pitch, and instrumentation of each note. Because MIDI files are coded information, it is easy to transform them by changing tempos or instruments. This was explained in the last video.

How are MIDI files created?

Many music graphics programs such as Finale, Sibelius, or MuseScore allow music graphic files to be imported into the program and then exported to MIDI.
Entering music notation by hand, however, is certainly a labor of love. Finale does, however, allow for scanning music into the application, but in my work with that around 2015, I found the results need a great amount editing after the scan. Perhaps the process is more accurate now and it will serve your purposes.

Some applications avoid the music notation altogether and instead process MIDI only with a graphic interface. MIDI sequencers such as Aria Maestosa allow for point and click entries of MIDI notes. To illustrate this, here is a portion of a demonstration I made in 2013 for one of my university courses:

There we go. F3 and then G3. There it is working now. It seems to work better when it is just left on eighth note. I don’t know why. OK. F3, G3 and then what was my last..? C3 is down here for two beats. It still doesn’t like me! There we go. C3, OK. Then you can repeat that through there…

However, this is quite a tedious way to create a MIDI file especially if the music has hundreds of notes.

The best solution that I have found to rapidly generate MIDI files is to record them on a Yamaha Clavinova and to save the MIDI information on a thumb drive. Since I often accompany my students in their lessons, my familiarity with the piano parts makes this method of MIDI input convenient for me.

I record the accompaniments at a slow tempo, one that I can read with minimal errors. My results aren’t perfect, but they do provide for passable practice files for students. Along the way I have been more interested in quantities of accompaniments rather than a few note-perfect accompaniments.

Where Can I Get MIDI files?

I host what I think is the largest collection of MIDI files with accompaniments and practice files for the bassoon.  I have made these available to the double reed community for free. Most of the files were created by me, but some were donated by other colleagues. This collection was built over a period of about 25 years. This site also includes some files for other double reed instruments. I continue to add to this collection as the needs arise in my studio.

Two other large collections of MIDI files are available on midiworld and classicalmidiconnection.

These might provide some files that you are interested in or you can search the Web for other sites.

What Can I Do with a MIDI file?

Even if the MIDI file has all of the parts included, it is an easy matter to edit out one of the voices, such as the bassoon part, provided that the MIDI file is imported with separate voices.

Here is a MIDI file of Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant” that I have imported into MuseScore.

[Music Example]

Let’s delete the trumpet part from here. I select the first note or rest in that line, page down to the end, then press the shift key and select one of the last notes. Now the whole line is select. Then I use cut to delete the notes. This version is now ready for me to perform the trumpet parts to the accompaniment, if I wanted.

Decades ago web browsers would allow you to directly play the MIDI file on a computer. Most often, however, you need to download the file and then play it on your computer.

If, however, you want to play the accompaniment on your smart phone there are many ways to convert MIDI files to mp3 files. As demonstrated in the last video, MuseScore3 will convert to mp3 files. Finale and other software do as well. A quick note, however. Many of these applications do not come preloaded with the mp3 file converter. This is due to copyright restrictions on that application. You may need to download the LAME encoder, save it in the proper location, and then point the application to the LAME program. Here is some information that you might find useful:

Information for MuseScore:

Information for Audacity:

The simplest method of conversion is available online. If the file is at a tempo and with instrumentation you want, the application Zamzar will convert the MIDI file to mp3.

Add files, choose your option—mp3 here. You can put in an email address where a link will be sent. Or when the process is completed online you can download it to your computer or cell phone.

My website has some MIDI files already converted to mp3 format on this

However, this page does not contain mp3 versions of all of the MIDI files on the website. That is not a problem for you, right? You now know how to convert the MIDI files to mp3 audio files.
Happy Practicing! Bye.

[Music: Hummel Bassoon Concerto]