Archive 2018: MIDI sequencing in Virtual Reality

Step (drum) Sequencer

I’m not a gadget freak, I’m rather slow when it comes down to purchasing hardware. Finally, I’ve got myself a Vive VR headset. All the previous tests are done in edit mode or build to PC, Mac or iOS with Leap, or Kinnect sensors. To my surprise I didn’t need that much time to get used to the headset, with just 3 hours of gaming and playing around, I switched to ‘developer mode’ and it was time to …

Get lost and explore

Soon a little challenge to create a simple interactive prototype was born.

  • Build upon my older idea of creating musical instruments in VR
  • Triggering, respond to the slightest touch.
  • Create a UI that use some of the functions from the Vive controllers
  • Let’s push it further, try MIDI sequencing in VR


The MIDI protocol is the basic container that can hold all the musical data (notes, velocity, volume, tempo, sequencing, …) Notes (time, pitch, velocity) are the basic building stones for music. If we can’t capture that, we are not creating musical instruments, only something that makes noise. So using MIDI is paramount.

Some background:

In 1980, Roland introduced the DIN sync interface to synchronize different electronic musical instruments. It was introduced with the Roland TR-808 in 1980. In 1981 Roland proposed the idea of standardization to Tom Oberheim, who then discussed it with Sequential Circuits president Dave Smith. The standard was then discussed and modified by representatives of Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Kawai, and Sequential Circuits and was named “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” MIDI. (Notice the absence of Moog, perhaps lack of vision already at that time ?)

The standard allowed different instruments to “speak” with each other and with computers, and this spurred a rapid expansion of the sales and production of electronic instruments and music software.

MIDI helped establish home recording. The typical musical instruments of the era of home recording I want to bring back to life in Virtual Reality.