Piano rolls are overrated.

@320x200 admittedly very cool. also a surprisingly appropriate use of the medium. Conlon Nancarrow was doing this kind of stuff on the real thing decades before MIDI.

From a UX perspective, I still see the piano roll as an overused crutch in DAW design. It's an interface too biased to well... the piano.

@paul sure, I was just teasing you :)

Nancarrow and black midi: true, there is a direct connection, black midi is really at the cross road of net culture, CPU benchmarks, pop music and several decades of experiments with player pianos. I find it quite cool TBH :)

About the piano roll, it's true that it's everywhere, and there are reasons for that which are probably linked to the dominance of MIDI and the synth industry. The split between this industry and the audio tool making subculture of early home computers was particularly flagrant (at least for me at the time) on the Atari ST that somehow had the best of both worlds with MIDI in/out, cubase and samplers, and yet also plethora of awesome chiptune/mod trackers and weird little audio tools freely circulating around.

All this has obvious impact on what's being made, @l03s wrote something about this a while ago, also linking to why FLOSS is specially relevant to this discussion.

With all that said, I am not sure how easy it would be to write good italo disco with IanniX :P

Thanks for the article. What I've read so far really resonates with me.

That split between the audio/music industry and computer hobbyists is still quite visible.

Sorry for coming of as grumpy. I have a bit of a soap box and personal grudge about keyboards in electronic music. Basically, I believe tools for computer generated music has a huge bias towards piano and keyboard instruments, to the point where it has warped (stunted?) our collective perception of the medium's potential. Even supposedly general purpose standards like MIDI are really designed with keyboards-like instruments and interfaces in mind. Keyboards encourage homogeneous polyphony (one instrument, many notes like organ or piano) in a medium where heterogeneous polyphony and multi-monophonic arrangements should be encouraged (many one-note instruments playing together: orchestras, string quartets).

I think it started when Moog slapped a keyboard onto a synthesizer. It made the electronic instrument more familiar and accessible, and it was this move which IMO made Moog the big company it is today.


@paul @320x200 @l03s

MIDI is a nightmare for a lot of historic tunings. For most non-keyboard players G flat and F sharp were not the same note - they were separated in pitch by a 31tet interval. Dropping this distinction is extremely recent.

MIDI specifically does not have the information needed to play these notes correctly and is a step backwards from traditional notation. Computers ~should~ make it more possible to do the right thing with pitches and free us from the constraints of physical keyboard instruments. Instead, it's largely done the opposite.

Fortunately, it is becoming easier and easier these days to live a MIDI-free artistic life. Several things exist now that scratch the various itches where MIDI used to be (usually in better ways): eurorack + CV, OSC, and thriving small music hardware companies like monome that "get" it.

The place of interest for me are the mental models for representing computer music that come after MIDI is gone, which is where my head is at these days.

@320x200 @l03s

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Welcome to, an instance for discussions around cultural freedom, experimental, new media art, net and computational culture, and things like that.