A cultural history of MIDI (the Musical Instrument Digital Interface), one of the most revolutionary and transformative technologies in the history of music.
A history of electronic music that goes way beyond the Moog.
Part rigorous history, part insightful commentary, and part memoir, Mad Skills tells the story behind MIDI, aka the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, through the twentieth century's kaleidoscopic lens.
Guiding us across one hundred years of musical instruments, and the music made with them, Mad Skills recounts the technical and creative innovations that led to the making of the most vital, long-standing, ubiquitous, and yet invisible music technology of our time.
“Most people have no idea what MIDI is, even though it undergirds and regulates a substantial swathe of the sounds they listen to and love. In Ryan Alexander Diduck’s deeply researched telling — a biography of a technology, with a caustic critical edge — MIDI takes on a personality of its own even as it standardizes global music production to a hitherto unimaginable degree. Blending technical knowledge, business history, and cultural polemic, Mad Skills is a sharp study of a human invention that stamped its post-human character over an entire era of pop. - Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Mad Skills is a history of electronic music technology, of scraps over standards, and of music’s relationship to capital in the twentieth century. Through deep dives into archives, original interviews, and an aptitude for the Marxian archaeology of electronics, Diduck opens the black box of MIDI for all to see and hear. - Benjamin Tausig, Assistant Professor, Ethnomusicology, Stony Brook University. ... a deep, clear read on the historical and social development of machine music; wisdom about MIDI finally. - Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never.”