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WAV/MP3 to MIDI Conversion?

Discussion in 'Multimedia' started by DoubleHelix, Jul 11, 2006.

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  1. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned Thread Starter

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    Admittedly I don't know much about the MIDI format, but the ring tones on my cell phone are in this form. Is it possible to convert WAVs or MP3s to MIDI? I searched the web for a while and came across a few paid programs but haven't downloaded any demos. Is there freeware for this? Or maybe just a couple of links on the MIDI format?
     
  2. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    I've never seen freeware for this particular conversion. It's not nearly as simple as going the other way.
     
  3. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned Thread Starter

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    That's what I figured given the search results. Maybe I'll give one of the demos a shot.
     
  4. 04GT

    04GT

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    Do you have a Blackberry 7100i? Thats what I have and this non mp3/wav support sucks! Hopefully they will integrate it into the next OS update. If you look in your manual it says the phone is WAV compatible. haha Nope it's really not!
     
  5. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned Thread Starter

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    No, I don't have a BlackBerry. I can use WAVs and MP3s. I was just wondering about MIDIs and conversion.
     
  6. VegasACF

    VegasACF

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    A MIDI file is the digital equivalent of the roll of paper in a player piano (this is an oversimplification--it would really be the equivalent of a roll of paper in a player piano plus approximately 100 rolls of paper in approximately 100 other instruments [and sound-creating devices] ranging from piano to violin to sitar and everywhere in between). Basically, the MIDI file tells these individual virtual instruments what notes to play, for how long, how loud, etc. In the case of "non-pitched" instruments (I include in this the various sorts of drums, though most of those are actually "pitched" instruments), the sounds of the instruments have been assigned to keys on a virtual keyboard (C1 = kick drum, D1 = snare, closed hi hat = F#1, pedal hi hat = G#1, open hi hat = A#1, etc. [at least in a General MIDI standard layout--Korg has it's own clunky layout that it chooses to use when not in GM mode, but most manufacturers adhere to the "standard" layout for their drum patches]). Though these sounds are not (typically) sustained sounds, they have been assigned to keystrikes that enable software to adequately reproduce the sounds.

    A WAV file or MP3 file is (typically) a two-track stereo mix-down of the audio recording of separate real instruments (the key there is "real", meaning an instrument capable, on its own [or through amplification], of producing sounds) for playback on an analog (at least at the end phase--until Apple perfects iPod docks to be implanted in our heads) system. The individual instruments have been (lovingly) laid and blended amongst themselves before you in a sonic spectrum going from right to left (or left to right, if you swing that way), or in the case of software that has been available for over a decade now, the sound of an instrument has been sent, to varying degrees, to different positions in that stereo field based upon the frequencies it creates. All of this has been done by human ears, controlling inhuman circuits. But the end result is the same: a blend of frequencies across spectra of time and space. So far computers (that we can afford) are unable to keep up (on their own), or are unable to make sense of anything that our brains perceive as individual from within those spectra.

    There is (high-end, relatively expensive, and, in my experience, rather lackluster) software that will interpret audio recordings and create a MIDI file therefrom, but the only semi-reliable (extra emphasis on "semi") results are from a single monophonic instrument (such as an oboe or flute) playing a reasonably simple melodic line, God willing within the tempo and rhythm set out by the computer doing the interpretation (have you ever seen a half note tied to a quarter note, tied to an eighth note, tied to a sixteenth note, tied to a thirty-second note, tied to a sixty-fourth note, tied to a 128th note, tied to a 256th note, tied to a 512th note, tied to a 1024th note?.. I have. It's called "not holding that whole note out quite long enough", and let me assure you it really screws with music notation! Thank God for quantization--another story for another day).

    When two melodic lines are presented all bets are off. And when something akin to an ensemble (a band, a choir, etc.) is presented you'd be better off going to Radio Shack, getting a crappy MIDI-equipped keyboard and picking out the melody you wish to hear on your phone by itself--even if you're certifiably tone deaf (I don't know if certification is available in tone deafness, but if it is you'd be as able as your computer to create a MIDI file based on a recording of a "band").

    The human ear, when paired with the human brain, is capable of discerning what instruments are being played in such a mix, and attributing the associated sounds with the associated instruments (based largely upon the "attack" of the sound--the sound created by that instrument when intially creating that sound--a sustained oboe part and a sustained tuba part [using a wild and unrealistic example because of the scarcity of sounds the two can similarly produce--one is far too low, the other is far too high] sound amazingly (unidentifiably?) similar (to a computer, at least--though similar experiments with such disparate instruments as a piano and a clarinet achieved similar results with a human ear) when the initiation of that sound is truncated, the harmonic frequencies produced by the individual instruments notwithstanding (the "attack" phase of an instrument's sound imparts characteristic harmonics to that sound that the sustain does not continue, and it is those initial sounds (the sound of a bow on the strings, the sound of a hammer striking a key, the sound of a pick on a guitar string, the puff of air on a flute or piccolo [the register being the only reasonable way to distinguish those two] or any other such initiation of an instruments' sound) which allow our brains to attribute sounds to an individual instrument (of course if something sounds like a guitar string being plucked but is lower than what we have become accustomed to associating with a guitar we will automatically associate that sound with a bass).

    So far the computers and software we have readily (and affordably) among us are unable to make such distinctions. But I'm sure that time is coming. And then all of us who actually set into motion sound waves from the vibration of a string, skin, reed or what have you will be out of work, so long as the computer can reproduce such a sound pleasingly enough for the human ear, the ultimate consumer of such sounds (computers make no sounds for their own amusement). This brings us to the differences in timing between a computer keeping time and a human keeping time, the latter being all too faulty, but yet somehow more pleasing to the (faulty?) ear of the human perceiving it, but that's yet another story for still a different day.

    As far as I've ever seen (I can recount my expertise in this field should you desire, but until then I'll just give you the distillation of my experience), software is unable to distinguish an individual sound in a mix from any other sound that happens to fall within that same register (or, in physics [and computer terms], range of frequencies).

    If your phone is only able to reproduce MIDI files your only recourse (at the current state of technological advances) is to find a MIDI file of the song you wish to use as your ringtone. Preferably you will have to pay for that MIDI file ringtone, as someone, somewhere, had to listen to that recording of "Since You've Been Gone" by whatshername from American Idol and had to recreate the individual parts on a keyboard (most likely) in an unimaginably labor-intensive feat of interpretation-come-regurgitation, save it as a MIDI file, and turn it over to some other service for use as a ringtone. I fear this will become a last vestige of employment for a whole host of talented, but nameless, musicians who cannot catch the eye of TV or record producers. C'est la vie.

    I'm sure you didn't want a dissertation on the subject (that would be available at a charge of $30 (US), payable by check or money order to me--but be warned, you'll get this same verbiage, double spaced, repeated fifteen times ;)), but I hope that my little foray into the state of the art of sound imparted a little bit of knowledge. I didn't write the book on the subject. Far from it. But I've spent enough time in the field to give you a Readers' Digest Condensed version. Hope it helped.

    [Edited to fix some typos and to add a few more layers of parentheticals just to make things a bit more confusing!]
     
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