MidiFormer, initially called MacsOutiL, are patches developed at Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) interfaced with Max/Msp software. Were born from the idea of using MIDI technology for real-time applications designed for the needs of those who were engaged in the context of Musique Concrète.

Brief history – With the technological progress of the nineties, also the GRM is affected by an increasing development of new tools. Among these, over the Acousmographe and GRM Tools, we also find Midiformer. Initially called MacsOutiL, MidiFormer were developed to work with the software Max/Msp.[1] The idea, by Serge Delaubier (composer and developer), was to combine the real-time potential of Max/Msp with capabilities of MIDI systems.

MIDI – Delaubier, acting on the individual notes of a synthesizer or a sampler, thought to take advantage of MIDI systems for the generation of complex sound structures. In this way, then, through MidiFormer could adopt an approach based on sound events.[2]

Technical features – MidiFormer were developed for Macintosh computers. Each patch was characterized by a graphical control similar to that adopted by Syter. By exploiting some of MIDI features, such as Pitch Control, you returned the feeling of having a continuous control over sound parameters such as, for example, frequency and amplitude.[2] The MidiFormer were distributed free since 1992 and until the late nineties, when it stops searching and the development of this technology.[2] MidiFormer were designed for use with a keyboard and a bank of 8 MIDI faders. Over the years a total of five different patches were made: Rebond, Hasard, Launcer, Grain-Glisse and Metro.[2]

Rebond – This patch allows to simulate the throwing objects. The degree of realism could be modified by acting on parameters such as gravity and sensitivity, controllable via mouse or via faders.

Hasard – Generated streams of MIDI notes, whose values of frequency, velocity and density could modify and control in real time.

Lanceur – Allowed to generate sound events by simulating the operation of the wheel of fortune. The latter could control the speed of rotation by moving the fader.

Grain-Glisse – Based on granular approach, this patch allow different types of control over sound material performed in a continuous loop. It was possible to simultaneously execute up to 8 loops and each loop could be controlled by adjusting microtonal, density and speed of movement.

Metro – The latest patch, however, allowed the use of echo with a metronome control. Through the keyboard, is determined notes velocity played in echo.


For this topic I’ve read:

[1] Serge de Laubier, Daniel Teruggi, MIDI Generation of Sound Morphologies, Proceedings of International Computer Music Conference, 1991, McGill University.
[2] Daniel Teruggi, Technology and musique concrète: the technical developments of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales and their implication in musical composition, Organised Sound, Vol. 12 [3], 2007.

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