MIDI Manufacturers Association Releases MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) Spec

MPE brings new levels of expression to MIDI instruments and interfaces that ultimately enables notes to have their own, independent MIDI channel messages and expressive gestures. It's a big deal...  

Following on from our report on how MMA adopted CI and MPE at NAMM 2018, the MIDI Manufacturer's Association has now released the spec for MPE. This is an important move for instrument, synth and MIDI controller makers.

There are a growing number of MPE-supported devices already available. To backtrack quickly, MPE in a nutshell adds multi-dimensional expression to keys, pads, etc that you'd push or manipulate in order to send MIDI triggers to play a note and control specified parameters like filter cuttoff at the same time.

Some of the MPE-compatible devices include ROLI Blocks, ROLI Seaboard, LinnStrument, Polyend and Dreadbox Medusa (announced at Superbooth18), Haken Audio Continuum, Joué, and Keith McMille nK-Board Pro 4. There are more in production as I type!

In this short video Geert Bevin (Moog apps, Linnstrument) explains why MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) is so focused and limited, but why it's so important that the standard exists and is widely available:

Here's more about the release of MPE spec, which will give developers an official standard by which to move forward on from the MMA press release:

Los Angeles, CA, May 7, 2018 – The MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) has released the MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) specification that was adopted by the organization at the 2018 Winter NAMM show. It is available for download at www.midi.org.
 
MPE allows electronic instruments such as synthesizers to attain a level of expressiveness typically possible only with acoustic instruments. In MPE, each note is assigned its own MIDI Channel so that Channel-wide messages (such as Pitch Bend, filter cutoff and other control changes) can be applied to each note individually.
 
Prior to MPE, expressive gestures—such as adding vibrato—often affected all notes being played. With MPE, every note a musician plays can be articulated individually for much greater expressiveness. New instruments take advantage of MPE so that musicians can send multiple dimensions of finger movement control - not only from left or right, but also up, down, pressure, and beyond.
 
“The adoption of MPE as a new MIDI standard will durably impact musicians’ workflow,” said Jean-Baptiste Thiebaut of ROLI. “2018 is going to be an exciting year for MIDI".
 
Tom White, President of the MMA added “MPE is an important step forward in increased MIDI expressiveness. We expect that in the near future, we also will be releasing the MIDI Capability Inquiry specification that was adopted at Winter NAMM. The MMA and its Japanese counter part, the Association of Musical Electronics Industry (AMEI) are working closely on a number of major MIDI initiatives in 2018.”

About the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA)

The MIDI Manufacturers Association is an international group of hardware and software companies working together to develop new MIDI specifications and promote MIDI technology. For more information on the MMA corporate membership benefits and cost, please visit www.midi.org/about-the-mma.

The MMA also supports “The MIDI Association”, a global community of over 15,000 people who work, play, and create with MIDI technology at www.midi.org. To stay up to date with the latest MIDI news and stories, access current MIDI specifications and receive the MIDI Association newsletter, sign up for free at: www.midi.org/midi-signup

Learn everything you need to know about MIDI, but were afraid to ask: https://ask.audio/academy?nleloc=course/1198/midi-demystified

Web: https://www.midi.org/specifications-old/item/the-midi-1-0-specification (link to MPE spec requires free signup, link at bottom of MIDI.org page)

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & the macProVideo Hub. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic (and a self-confessed Mac fanatic) he's taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training pro... Read More

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