Network Musical Performance and Cloud MIDI-Bridge

Remote musical MIDI collaboration has been an interesting academic research area for years, but has not been explored by many casual musicians. One reason is that the complexity of software that brings MIDI and Networking together makes it a little bit of a daunting endeavor. We think it’s time to open exploration to more people and make remote MIDI collaboration as easy as joining a Hangout.

What is Network MIDI?

Back in 2001, a group of researchers at Berkeley began to experiment with remote musical collaboration [1]. The idea was see if musicians separated by some distance could collaborate in real time over a high-speed network. Rather than sending real-time audio signals, MIDI events were transmitted between instruments at two different locations.

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Yamaha MD-BT01 Bluetooth MIDI adapter to Raspberry Pi

The Yamaha MD-BT01 is a nifty little MIDI 5-pin DIN to Bluetooth adapter.  It plugs into the MIDI In/Out ports of MIDI controllers to connect wirelessly to a computer with Bluetooth.  A typical use for this adapter is to connect legacy MIDI keyboards to a computer without using a 5-pin MIDI to USB adapter on the computer.  Since most computers have Bluetooth built in these days, this makes for a tidy work-area since it eliminates at least one of the cables in your MIDI studio.

The MD-BT01 has a very smart appearance – it consists of just two large plugs connected by a single wire.  It runs off of the current already provided by the 5-pin MIDI signal.  Just plug it in, and it advertises itself as a Bluetooth MIDI connection point.    Since it uses the Bluetooth MIDI standard, it can connect to many different devices.  We tested it with Raspberry Pi and it works fine with Raspbian Stretch.  If you have followed the steps in our previous article ( then your Pi is ready to go.
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Korg Microkey Air 37 Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard with Raspberry Pi

Do you want to have even more fun with your musical Raspberry Pi? Use an external Bluetooth MIDI keyboard with it! For this project, you need to download and compile a new version of the Bluetooth drivers for Linux. If you don’t already have compilation tools installed, you’ll need those too.

We will tell you how to compile and install the necessary Bluetooth driver, and then describe how to pair a Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard.


You should have a Raspberry Pi 3 with built-in Bluetooth adaptor.
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Our new Pi Organ Synth

We’ve been inspired to be creators ever since we got our first Raspberry Pi.  It makes possible so much invention and experimentation for not a lot of money.  One of the things we’ve wanted is an easy-to-use, dead simple tone generator for using the Raspberry Pi as a MIDI instrument.
Our just-released Organ synthesizer makes it easy for anyone to get started with using a Raspberry Pi as a musical instrument.  Plug a MIDI keyboard into the USB port and play.  Or grab a MIDI file and experiment with different sounds.  It’s fun, and it’s easy.  And best of all, it was designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi!


System Requirements

  • requires a Raspberry Pi 3B or 3B+
  • use the internal sound chip, or select an external USB sound card for better results

Download for Free here

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.)