PC Publishing MIDI Survival Guide
By Vic Lennard
You'd think there were enough books about MIDI on the market wouldn't you? Well here's another one. It's written by Vic Lennard, Technical Consultant on our sister magazine Home & Studio Recording and the man behind the UK MIDI Association.
He's also, of course, ex-Technical Editor of this magazine but at least we can't now be accused of nepotism - which is just as well because this a rather good book.
As MIDI is essentially about numbers, it's surprising - but refreshing - to see so few of them in this book. That alone makes it pretty unique. It's actually a hands-on guide to connecting your MIDI equipment together and getting it working - a subject still guaranteed to confuse the hell out of many musicians.
There's plenty of advice to help you select equipment without any references to specific products (thus ensuring that the book doesn't date), plus some budgeting guidelines which should be of use when working out what to buy. There's also a wealth of basic, but essential, information such as what the In, Out and Thru sockets do, the difference between voices and notes (in a polyphonic sense), using MIDI Thru units, devices with multiple Outs and General MIDI.
A chapter on MIDI Switchers and Mergers explains why you may need them, and how to use them and there are also sections on drum machines and synchronisation - the latter explaining all those lovely acronyms such as FSK, smart FSK, SMPTE, MTC and MMC. MIDI Implementation Charts - those columns of Os and Xs that most people ignore - are also explained (it's nice to find out exactly what your equipment can do) and there's a short chapter about transferring songs to different sequencers, plus a trouble-shooting guide.
The Appendix contains Program Change lists in numeric format and Bank format (the one which uses letters, popular on Roland equipment), so it's easy to see which sound a certain Program Change number will select. There's also a Control Change Table and a short Glossary. The book is replete with lots of excellent diagrams showing how various MIDI setups are wired - though I'd have to say that some areas could do with a bit more detail and explanation. But then, I am a glutton for information.
The real strength of the MIDI Survival Guide is the way it tells you how to actually set up and use your equipment without resorting to lists of numbers and MIDI messages. Recommended for beginners and anyone with two or more pieces of MIDI gear to connect together.
|Usefulness||Could be a life-saver|
|Value for money||A snip|
|Star Quality||Worthy but glamour-free|
|More from||PC Publishing, (Contact Details)|
Review by Ian Waugh
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