New releases – Raspberry Pi 4 and Ubuntu 19

Along with the recent release of McLaren Labs rtpmidi version 0.5.0, we have new ports to Raspberry Pi 4 Raspbian OS “Buster” and also Ubuntu 19.10 “Eoan Ermine”.

We are especially excited to release the port to Raspbian “Buster!” The Raspberry Pi 4 has more computing power and higher bandwidth connectivity. This makes the Raspberry Pi 4 even more exciting for music and media creation. And now, with McLaren Labs rtpmidi you can send MIDI messages over Ethernet and WiFi to a Raspberry Pi 4.

See https://mclarenlabs.com/rtpmidi

McLaren Labs rtpmidi Version 0.5.0

This month McLaren Labs releases rtpmidi version 0.5.0 for Ubuntu and Raspberry Pi. This release brings some great new features, and also provides a few performance and installation improvements.

More MIDI message types … including SysEx

McLaren Labs rtpmidi has always supported the following message types with full Journal capability for sending and receiving. (Note: The Journal is part of the error correction mechanism that recovers lost messages that occur when sent over a network.)

  • Note On, Note Off
  • Control Change
  • Program Change
  • Pitchwheel
  • System Reset

With this release, we also add the following to provide a complete set of MIDI message types including System Exclusive.

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The State of Network MIDI (2019)

Network MIDI was invented sometime around 2004 to send MIDI messages over an IP network. To handle network loss, a protocol known as RTP-MIDI was created and documented as RFC-4695. Network MIDI is built into OSX computers and iOS devices. Apple music creators think nothing of connecting MIDI equipment using Ethernet and WiFi, instead of MIDI cables.

Sometime around 2009, Network MIDI was built into iPads and iPhones. This made building touch-based control surface Apps easy, and ensured they integrated with MIDI Workstations over WiFi. While this capability created many cool demos, the unpredictable latency and jitter of WiFi made MIDI-over-WiFi not attractive where timing is important. MIDI-over-Bluetooth became a standard in the last few years, and seems to be the preferred method for sending MIDI over wireless links.

But Network MIDI persists, and new implementations of the protocol as software pop up, as do new hardware products implementing the protocol. This article is a round-up of some of the implementations available in 2019.

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rtpmidi in action

The animated screen capture below illustrates the rtpmidi program in action.  The rtpmidi program allows two computers to share musical MIDI events in real time over a network connection.  The RTP-MIDI protocol is a standard implemented on Mac, Windows and Linux computers.  You can use McLaren Labs’ implementation of the RTP-MIDI protocol to create musical networks of computers.
What we see is the following.

  • A remote computer named “Ubuntu Laptop” appears on the network.  (See the left panel.)
  • The remote computer creates a new session with us and becomes a “Participant” in our network.  (See the “Participants” panel.)
  • The two computers synchronize.  (Note how the new participant changes from Yellow to Green.)
  • The remote computer begins sending MIDI Note information to us.  (See the latency graph in the bottom right.)