MIDI - A Comprehensive Introduction
With a title like this, and a price tag of £25 for a 220-page hardback, it's fair to expect a lot from this book, and to be fair, it does live up to expectations. From the moment you start reading the overview, you are aware that Joseph Rothstein is not an author to mince his words. Comments about MIDI delays and an admission of the fact that the MIDI Specification doesn't describe exactly what MIDI devices must do, are rarely seen in MIDI books, let alone in the first chapter. But that is precisely how Rothstein chooses to get things underway here.
In some ways, I feel the book has missed out by not including the word 'music' in its title, because it has one of the best chapters on acoustics that I've seen in any book outside of specialist ones. It delves deep into the theory of sound, including explanations of timbre and resonance, and follows up with an excellent chapter on digital audio, with detailed explanations of resolution and sampling rates. Even in its plundering of such technical depths, however, the book remains eminently readable, and stands as a credit to its author.
The two chapters on MIDI Hardware and Software are very comprehensive, although the mention of various pieces of equipment and computer programs does mean that the book will need to be updated in little more than a year's time. It will be interesting to see whether such an update takes place, as many American books tend to be allowed to lapse into obscurity through lack of revision.
The fact that the book is American is rather graphically illustrated by its choice of computer program screen shots which are exclusively PC and Mac in origin. As such, ST readers may perhaps find them a little difficult to relate to. But sequencing functions are covered in detail, including rather obscure functions like track-merging and tap-sync timing, and practically the entire MIDI File Specification is reproduced verbatim(!). It's also nice to see that the 'heavyweight' MIDI stuff is put off until chapter eight and followed by a substantial helping of Synchronisation.
On a practical level, the book is well illustrated and succeeds in putting across various important points, especially concerning the backing up of disks ("do it!") and the planning of your MIDI system. It's a book which certainly deserves to bear the title 'comprehensive', but at the price, it is likely to prove beyond the means of those who need it most. A pity - it really is quite excellent.
Price: £25 RRP
More from: Oxford University Press, (Contact Details)
Review by Vic Lennard
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