Desktop Music Handbook

Last updated on 3/29/2016

Welcome to the World of DESKTOP MUSIC!

Everywhere you turn, you're likely to hear music made with a computer. From the concert hall to the local club, to radio, television and the movies, desktop music can be found all around. Today, making music with a computer is easier and more exciting than ever, and the capabilities you can have are equal in great part to those found in professional recording studios. We've written this primer to help you get going. It looks at the two main music applications found on the desktop today, MIDI and digital audio. Together, these two applications account for the vast majority of sounds in the popular music world, and also have far-reaching applications into many other areas of multimedia. Though it can't cover every subject in great detail, we hope that the primer will give you a good basic understanding of the topics, and will get you started in the right direction. We'll go through the basics of MIDI first, then proceed to digital audio, then conclude with a discussion of how you can combine the two. You'll also find an extensive glossary that covers all the terms mentioned here and many more. There's lots to cover, so let's get started.

Proceed to the Desktop Music Handbook

Table of Contents


  1. History
  2. What is MIDI
  3. How Does it Work
  4. What it Takes
  5. MIDI Channels
  6. MIDI Messages
  7. Note On and Note Off Messages
  8. Program Change Messages
  9. Control Change Messages
  10. System Messages
  11. General MIDI
  12. MIDI Hardware
  13. Synthesizers
  14. General Features of MIDI Hardware
  15. Programability
  16. Samplers
  17. Drum Machines
  18. Guitar and Wind Controllers
  19. MIDI Software
  20. Notation Programs
  21. Patch Editor/Librarians
  22. Integrated Programs

Digital Audio

  1. What is Digital Audio
  2. Recording a Sound
  3. Digital Audio Software
  4. Sound Cards
  5. Putting it Altogether
  6. Synchronization
  7. Integrated Software




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