MIDI Pure Data exercise:

objective: discover how MIDI works


1. make sure your MIDI keyboard is plugged in and on

  • Note: nothing in this exercise makes sound


2. open Pd-0.48-1 (search for it in spotlight or in the applications folder)

  • click the "Yes" button when asked "Do you want Pd to create a documents directory ..."


3. use the keyboard shortcut    command+N    to start a new patch


4. use the keyboard shortcut    command+1    to "Put" a new "Object" on the patch canvas


5. type "notein" into the dotted bordered box that makes up the new "Object"

  • then click the mouse anywhere in the new patch except on the new "Object" in order to finalize the object creation


6. you should now have this:









7. right click on the [notein] object you created and click on "Help"


8. from the "Media" menu at the top of the screen, choose "MIDI Settings..."

  • choose the MIDI keyboard hooked to your computer under "Input Devices"
    • you may have to click on "none" for the keyboard to be revealed
  • click the "Save All Settings" button
  • click the "OK" button


9. discover all you can about MIDI protocol:

  • monitor the values displayed as you experiment with all parts of the MIDI keyboard controller (keys, notebend, faders, knobs, etc.)
  • be ready to discuss what you discovered


--  wait for instructions on what to do next

Notation + Sequencing Exercise:


download Elgar's score

download Finale Speedy Entry Keyboard Shortcuts


Open Finale:

1. input the first six measures of the violin part into Finale using Speedy Entry

2. add a slur over the first four notes of the first bar


3. choose File > Export > MIDI File ...

  • save to the desktop
  • then it will ask you to choose the MIDI File Type ... choose Format 1 - All Instruments Saved to Separate Tracks


4. choose File > Export > MusicXML ...

  • save to the desktop


5. choose File > Export > Audio File ...

  • choose WAV as the format
  • save to the desktop


6. choose File > Export > Audio File ...

  • choose MP3 as the format
  • save to the desktop


7. find out the file size differences between MIDI, MusicXML, WAV, and MP3


8. open both the MIDI (File > Open...) and the MusicXML (File > Import > MusicXML ...) files back into Finale


9. internally reflect on what you have learned:

  • what are the differences between the MIDI,  MusicXML, and audio files?


10. view the MusicXML file in BBEdit (just drag it into BBEdit)


11. view the MIDI file in BBEdit (click File > Hex Dump File ... and click on          to choose the file then press "Dump")


12. internally reflect on what you have learned: what are the differences between the MIDI and MusicXML files?




Open GarageBand ... (open an "empty project" ... add an audio track)

1. drag and drop the Elgar MIDI file you exported from Finale into a blank location below the default track

  • this should create a new track out of the MIDI file
  • change the timbre (the instrument) of the track (to violin or anything) ... this is changing the MIDI program or patch

2. add more!

  • record the cello line into GarageBand using the MIDI keyboard ... then quantize it
  • edit notes in the piano roll (make them longer, move them around, add some notes with the pointer)
  • add other harmonies from Elgar's score into GarageBand ... even add a drummer track (this is really cool)
  • edit and add controller data
  • keep discovering what MIDI can do in GarageBand through experimentation ... you are MIDI sequencing


NOTE: If you want to save your MIDI sequence to an audio file, go to the "Share" menu ... notice the different types of audio files you are able to use and that saving as MIDI and MusicXML files are not available:

- uncompressed (lossless, but large files) = AIFF and WAV

- compress (lossy, but small files) = AAC and MP3




*For composers who have already done a great deal with MIDI in GarageBand, work with MIDI in Pure Data following this tutorial to begin with.

Google Slides from today