The MIDI Protocol: System Messages

An overview of MIDI System messages and how they can support MIDI programming and synchronization in your studio.

I ran away from an explanation of system messages in my previous video on MIDI Messages, instead focusing entirely on channel messages. In this video, though, I’m back to talk about System Exclusive Messages, System Common Messages, and System Realtime Messages, and how you can implement them for additional musical control.

0:00 Introduction
0:22 Quick Review of bits and bytes
0:57 Channel vs. System Messages
1:59 Categories of System Messages
2:36 System Exclusive (SysEx) Messages
4:50 System Common Messages
5:08 Song Select, Song Position Pointer
6:38 MIDI Time Code
7:31 Time Code Quarter Frame Message
9:10 Tune Request Message
9:58 System Real Time Messages
10:41 Active Sensing
11:25 Reset Message
11:56 MIDI Clock, Start, Continue, & Stop
12:39 MIDI Sync Demo in Max
13:06 MIDI Sync Demo in Logic Pro X
13:26 Wrap-up

MIDI Protocol 1: Bits, Bytes, and Binary

MIDI Protocol 2: MIDI Messages

Pure Data Patch from Scratch: Simple FM Synthesis Sequencer

A quick and easy Pure Data patch-from-scratch tutorial building a sequencer that plays dynamically changing timbres for each note though frequency modulation synthesis.

In this patch, we set up a simple sequence of sine wave pitches (frequencies), then a sequence of modulation frequencies of a different length, then a random patterns of deviations, creating a constantly changing series of sounds.

There’s no talking on this one, just building the patch, and listening to it go.

0:00 Sequencing the pitch of a sine wave
1:23 Creating modulation oscillator sequence
2:45 Randomizing the deviation
3:15 Audio math: modulator frequency
3:51 Audio math: deviation
4:09 Audio math: FM synthesis
4:31 Tweaking the numbers
4:52 Commenting the code
5:47 Adding delay (as usual)
6:55 Feedback for the delay
7:17 Listening and more tweaking numbers

More no-talking Pure Data jams and patch-from-scratch videos here:

Chiptune Ambient (“Chip Ambient”)

Over the summer, I put together a video about time-stretching retro video game music in order to create ambient tracks:

I’ve not sure myself if I this is parody or not, but I now have a playlist where you can listen to 8 hours of time-stretched chiptunes that I call “Chip Ambient.”

Not guaranteed to improve your grades.

PlayStation 5, Tempest 3D AudioTech, and HRTF (Sony PS5 Immersive Audio)

The new PS5 audio engine, Tempest 3D AudioTech, creates 3-dimensional sound on any headset by using HRTFs, head-related transfer functions. So what are HRTFs? How does this work? Will it work for everyone? What does this mean for surround-sound setups? What are the five “Types” in the 3D Audio Profile Settings?

This video is a quick overview of what Tempest 3D AudioTech is reportedly doing now at launch (November 2020), and what possibilities and questions there will be in the future.

Reaktor 6 Primary Tutorials

I’ve put together a series of beginner tutorials for getting started designing your own synths in Reaktor 6 Primary.

Over the course of this series, we put together a synth with selectable oscillators, filters, and multiple options for modulation. This can serve as a good hands-on introduction to synthesis in Reaktor or any other synthesis environment.

EDIT (1/4/22): If you’re ready for more, here are some intermediate tutorials too: