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Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

It is not a kind of electronic music, despite .midi tune files appearing on computers. It is actually a protocol for synchronising and controlling electronic musical Instruments.

A midi signal contains information about what to play and how to play it and is often used with Synthesisers and Drum Machines but can also incorporate Computers, Controllers and Sequencers. In a normal music signal such as .wav or .mp3, the actual sound is encoded digitally from a single (or stereo) complex waveform whereas with Midi, the file contains instructions about the notes to play, the volume and tempo etc so that an instrument or software will obey the instructions and 'play' the tune as given rather than simply reproduce it. This means that (unless the instrument is specified in the file) you can change the instrument the tune is played on. Think of it as a sophisticated modern digital piano roll.

In a computer, software takes the part of a MIDI instrument to generate or playback .midi files.