MIDI and Music Technology in the 20th Century
The split title is telling: on one hand
Mad Skills (playful old-school hip-hop) and on the other, MIDI and Music in
the 20th Century, which sounds far more academic. There are lighthearted anecdotes rubbing shoulders with deep sociological implications of technology; it’s a tad jarring. The history of keyboards is a tale worth telling; the story of how MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) came to be is also interesting. A multitude of competing manufacturers managed to implement a system that allows a user to connect various different devices from all manner of companies. It’s pretty unprecedented stuff.
Yet, for all the interesting tidbits, there’s a mountain of tedium. When Diduck gets down to the nitty gritty of MIDI’s adoption, there are pages upon pages of legislative language. As MIDI rose, apparently so too did a plethora of organizations to govern or discuss it, and at points it seems like there are more acronyms than keys on a piano. There’s also a ton of technical jargon — if you’re not familiar with terms like baud rate, analogue modulation, or even octaves and semitones, you might be left scratching your head. Of course, this was never meant to be for the masses; it’s for a niche audience, but a very niche one indeed. In order to fully appreciate the book, you’ll need to have an interest in history, coding, capitalism, legislation, a serious love of musical gear and technology, and believe it or not, sociology. For everyone else, it comes off like a somewhat entertaining academic thesis. (Repeater, repeaterbooks.com)