Types of MIDI Devices — MIDI Devicesmusic Tech Alliance

Types of MIDI Devices — MIDI Devicesmusic Tech Alliance

Types of MIDI Devices — MIDI Devices|Music Tech Alliance

MIDI is a standard protocol between music devices. It can make devices communicate by sending out and receiving datas through MIDI cables.

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There are many types of MIDI devices. They play different role in making music. This post explains the roles in MIDI devices.


Controller is a MIDI devices sending out MIDI messages like keyboard. A saxophone has a breath sensor is also one kind of MIDI controller. There are two special MIDI controllers I want to introduce below.

The first one is Zendrum which originated from drumitar. Drumtar is an instrument like a guitar but it consists of many buttons similar to a drum machine.

Futureman is a member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and he is good at playing drumitar.

The other one is Buchla Lightning which includes two sticks. It generates the sound based on the speed and the scope of whipping sticks, detected by infrared sensors.


Responders is a MIDI device which receives MIDI data and send out audio signals. After a responder gets the signals, it can make a sound. The sound modules are the basic examples.

The other example like LEMUR GuitarBot which is a machine including four strings. It can receive MIDI datas and play a song.

Responder is not certainly a device of making a sound. Just like this video below, the output can be a light bulb without sound.


Sequencers is a tool you can compose, record and edit the notes like DAW software (e.g. Logic Pro, Reaper). The more explanation or spec, please read WIki.


Each MIDI hardware has an interface like MIDI In and MIDI Out. It’s also very common to have USB port. Some of devices even have more than 8 MIDI in and MIDI out ports to handle a complicate setup. They are all interfaces.

Virtual Device

The last one type of MIDI device is virtual device in computer. As the picture below, clicking the virtual keyboard will send out MIDI note messages. It’s very basic functionality in DAW software.

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By operating those kinds of MIDI devices, we transfers MIDI data and make music we want.