How To Become A Midi File Arranger

What is a Midi File?

MIDI refers to “musical instrument digital interface”. This is the industries standard which enables electronic musical instruments to communicate with each other. Midi protocol was defined throughout the music industry in 1982.

How can I begin to arrange without knowing how to write music?

Working with midi information is as easy as copying letters from a page. All that will be required is the knowledge of the names of the notes and you will be able to copy and place these notes on your own score to make your first midi arrangement. You are basically copying someone else’s arrangement and re-arranging it to suit your own personal needs.

What equipment will I need to begin?

The purchase of software is required but before you start shaking in your budgetary boots, let me assure you that your first purchase and possibly your only purchase will be easy on your pocket book. If you own a computer, your only expense could be a program called Finale Songwriter which costs $49.95.

Where can I find good Midi Files?

The Internet is full of easy as well as very complex midi arrangements which will fill all of your needs. Every style is represented and I have little doubt that any song you would like to arrange will be available to you free of charge. Some of these arrangements are wonderful and some are not worth downloading, but as you gain experience in midi arranging, you will be able to sort the good from the bad very quickly.

Can I legally use someone else’s Midi files?

Midi files are available to the public free of charge and there are no restrictions on their use. There are restrictions on the original composition which you should be aware of. A composer has the right to a portion of the profits made from the sale of his/her composition under the United States and International copyright laws. This is to protect the composer from any loss or infringement on the use of his/her composition. As an example- If I wrote a composition and have registered it with the copyright office, I own the rights and control of that composition for an agreed amount of time. Anyone wishing to make a profit from my composition must have in writing my approval for this action. If on the other hand a person would like to perform my composition on a program where no profit has been or will be made, approval would not be necessary. Copyright laws are also affected by material which is used for educational purposes as well as a limited amount of the original material for study purposes. Copyright laws are enforced for the protection of the creator’s rights to his/her own material. There are no controls placed on a person’s arrangement of such material and for that reason, you may use material from someone else’s arrangement at your will but if you intend to make a profit on a copyrighted material, you are expected and required to have the composer’s and/or publishers written approval to do so.

What we are doing in this exercise is using someone’s arrangement to be used for our own purposes and this is absolutely within the law. If, on the other hand, you intend to make money from the sale of your arrangement, you are required to have the written permission from the original composer of the number. If you have no intention in selling your arrangement, you have no obligation to the original composer of the piece.

How difficult is it to learn Midi arranging?

If you can recognize the names of notes in both treble and bass clef, you will have no trouble rearranging midi files to suit your needs. I will walk you through your first few arrangements step by step. Within a short time you will be able to rearrange any midi number you like. In my next posting you will be required to have a program which will support midi files and also be able to edit and play back these files. I have listed three programs which would serve you in all of our subsequent exercises. Any of these would work well for your sequencing needs.

$600/academic $350

Finale Make Music Allegro

Finale Song Writer

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

2 thoughts on “How To Become A Midi File Arranger

  1. podkłady

    I’ve noticed some songs from movies online as midi files, which were most likely not midis to begin with. How would someone create a midi like that, and is it possible for everyone to do?.

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