Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 6, last updated 6/25/2013
translates to 65 in decimal. By the MIDI standard, note 60 on the keyboard is middle C, C4.
Thus, 65 is five semitones above middle C, which is F4. The second data byte gives the velocity
of 0x5B, which in decimal translates to 91 (out of a maximum 127).
Figure 6.16 Note On message with data bytes
Synthesizers vs. Samplers 6.1.6
As we’ve emphasized from the beginning, MIDI is a symbolic encoding of messages. These
messages have a standard way of being interpreted, so you have some assurance that your MIDI
file generates a similar performance no matter where it’s played in the sense that the instruments
played are standardized. How “good” or “authentic” those instruments sound all comes down to
the synthesizer and the way it creates sounds in response to the messages you’ve recorded.
We find it convenient to define synthesizer as any hardware or software system that
generates sound electronically based on user input. Some sources distinguish between samplers
and synthesizers, defining the latter as devices that use subtractive, additive AM, FM, or some
other method of synthesis as opposed to having recourse to stored “banks” of samples. Our usage
of the term is diagrammed in Figure 6.17
Figure 6.17 Types of synthesizers
A sampler is a hardware or software device that can store large numbers of sound clips for
different notes played on different instruments. These clips are called samples (a different use
from this term, to be distinguished from individual digital audio samples). A repertoire of
samples stored in memory is called a sample bank. When you play a MIDI data stream via a
sampler, these samples are pulled out of memory and played – a C on a piano, an F on a cello, or