What's wrong with MIDI on Mac OS?

• Nov 24, 2013 - 18:12

I know this is a bit off-topic. On the other hand, I've had trouble getting good answers. Doubtlessly someone on this forum will know the answer, and other subscribers might be interested.

I have a number of older MIDI files on my hard drive. Some were downloaded from the Classical MIDI Archives website. I also have a number of .kar files, downloaded before the copyright police removed them from the internet. These are MIDI files with an added trick for the lyrics. If I try to play these on my Macintosh, I'm prompted to download and install QT 7. Even then, they don't play normally. The volume is far too low and the sound quality is poor. The same thing happens with most third-party MIDI software, perhaps all.

I've discovered these MIDI files play normally when I import them into MuseScore, but then I realized MuseScore isn't a MIDI player. It's probably translating the MIDI into MuseScore format and making musical sounds with SoundFonts. If I understand correctly, MuseScore is quantizing the MIDI, which is why the score looks kinda crazy sometimes.

What is wrong with MIDI on the Mac? Aside from importing it into MuseScore, how can I get these files to play normally?


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Now I'm confused. As far as I know, MIDI files do not contain notation data. But when I import MIDI files into MuseScore, I see the notation displayed. What kind of magic makes this happen?

EDIT: Oohhh…. Maybe I'm getting it now… MuseScore is trying to make notation out of MIDI data without any attempt at quantizing. Is that correct?

Anybody working on a quantizing plug-in for MuseScore? Or is there a third-party app that will pre-quantize MIDI data prior to MuseScore import?

Still wondering about what's wrong with MIDI on the Mac OS.

In reply to by Timborino

It quantizes for display purposes - that's what the dialog you see about "shortest note on import" is asking you. So if can decide whether to round off the display to the nearest eighth, sixteenth, or whatever. So it may look crazy, but only as crazy as whatever value you choose. And in any event, I believe that's just for display - playback retains the original timing, I think.

Oh, also, part of the craziness you see not a timing issue but a multiple voice issue. MIDI is happy to let note values overlap - so one note starts before the previous one stopped - but notating that properly requires multiple voices, and a MIDI file contains no information that would help MuseScore sort that out. So you end up with a whole bunch of chords in one voice but with some notes tied and other bizarre things like that. Plus of course, the whole "which hand played what" issue for "keyboard" parts.

Anyhow, MIDI import is being completely revamped for 2.0. Feel free to try out a nightly build. Should work a lot better in terms of producing readable results, but you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear.

As for what's wrong with MIDI on MacOS, I don't think it's MacOS in general. More likely something about your specific system configuration.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for the interesting information on MIDI in MuseScore. I'm getting it now.

MuseScore does a pretty good job of playing MIDI files, though the notation often looks insane.

As for MIDI on the Mac OS, there is some broad problem. Apple's user support forums are full of questions and complaints, but I've never been able to understand the root of the problem, or what to do about it.

EDIT: This is really confusing! I have a MIDI file of a Beethoven Piano Sonata. It doesn't play normally in Quicktime 7 or other common MIDI apps, including Rondo, or when I open it with MuseScore.

OTOH, I have an old .kar file. It doesn't play normally in QT 7, but it plays normally in Rondo, which I think is a MIDI player, and sounds pretty good with MuseScore.

VLC doesn't play MIDI.


As someone who uses Mac and QuickTime Player 7 (QuickTime X is useless for me in a number of areas, including this), I found a number of issues with it (about the volume, maybe click to another part and then play the beginning?). I can't remember if it works in VLC, but it might be a better choice for playing MIDI :)?

Also see this . I believe the MIDI import process will continue to be improved by trig-ger , but I suppose there's only so much you can do :).

Have you tried a nightly build ?

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