Correct term for making a new MIDI file: is it Create? Encode? Record? Edit?


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When I play music on my MIDI keyboard and save it to my computer, what is the correct term for what I did to create the file?

For lack of a better term, I sometimes say that I, "Recorded," the MIDI, even though I know that what I actually did was save the pitch and timing information, akin to creating a player piano scroll, but with multiple channels and the ability to also include information about dynamics.

When I say, "Record," I mean it in the sense of, "to make a record of," rather than, "to record sound," and this makes people think that I don't actually understand what a MIDI is. I know that, if I used the right word, people would stop explaining to me what a MIDI is every time I ask a question, so I'd really appreciate it if someone would tell me what the correct term is.

It seems to me that saying I 'edited' a MIDI implies that it already existed and I made changes to it (for example, I lengthened or shortened some notes in a DAW). To say that I 'encoded' it sounds like I wrote out code in a programming language, rather than creating it from a performance or exporting it from music notation software. So I am thinking the correct term must be, "Create," but I want to be sure.

Thanks!
 
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SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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I love this question, because it's the sort of thing that I tend to fret about, but which most people don't seem to care enough about to give it any thought. :)

I would say that "create" is the most appropriate term if you're making the MIDI file from scratch, such as opening a MIDI editor and clicking on the buttons and other controls to add notes and other events to a blank "piano roll" view, "automation lane" view, or "event list" view, because you are starting from absolutely nothing and creating something yourself. This also applies to opening a musical notation program and adding notes to a blank staff, then saving the notation to a MIDI file.

I would say that "record" is the most appropriate term if you're using a MIDI device, such as a keyboard, to send MIDI events to a MIDI editor so it can add those events to MIDI tracks. This might also apply to using the computer keyboard to play a virtual musical keyboard within the MIDI editor, although this might be getting into a gray area where "create" would be just as appropriate. In fact, "record" and "create" might be interchangeable in a lot of situations, because when you record something you are "creating a recording," right?

"Edit" is a term which, when used in a general sense-- such as with regard to text files-- can include adding new items, deleting unwanted items, and changing existing items, so in the broadest sense it could mean creating a new file from scratch, although it's generally assumed and implied that if you're "editing" something then that "something" already existed before you started working on it.

Of course, unless you're recording a performance by a virtuoso who's extremely unlikely to make a mistake, or you want to preserve any mistakes in a performance for "authenticity," and you don't want to make alterations of any sort to the recording-- even something as basic as running the recorded track through filters to remove unwanted noises that aren't part of the performance-- then you're very likely going to want to do at least a little bit of editing to the recorded track. So "editing" is almost always going to be part of "creating" or "recording" a MIDI file.

But as far as wanting to use the separate terms "most correctly," I would say that "creating a MIDI file" is when you initially make it yourself from scratch, or what MIDI software does when it records MIDI events to a new file, while "editing a MIDI file" involves all of the changes you make to it once it's been initially created.
 
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I've always been a etymology geek. :)

I think I'm going to use, "Create," simply so people won't think that I think MIDI creates an audio recording.

What I generally do with MIDI, is I either "create" it using my musical notation software, or I "create" it from a performance on my MIDI keyboard (more rarely, as I've been struggling with it due to how legacy ALL my hardware is). I would never quantize (except percussion, but I don't do percussion yet). The hesitations in a real performance give it part of its musicality. I work hard to notate such hesitations and sudden speeding up in my sheet music. The one thing that a live performance is better at, though, is dynamics. Recording still makes me nervous, and I make mistakes, but trying again and again and again is worth it, and if it's just a small mistake here and there, I can fix it in the Piano Roll editor.
 
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You could be using all the terms.

Creating is the dominant overall process.

You Record your playing

Make changes to what you have recorded and you are Editing

You change the format and you are Encoding
 

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