#DataPlusMusic 2022 | 02 | MIDI Music Analysis

Let's analyze MIDI files

This month’s #DataPlusMusic topic is the first topic that will require a bit of coding but we’re taking baby-steps. It’s just 4 lines of code in R – and we’ll be there to help you along the way. 

We? Yes! I’m so excited to be collaborating with the data ladies of @HerDataJennifer Dawes & Dinushki Delivera!

MIDI Music Analysis

What is MIDI? It stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. According to a LiveWire.com article

Unlike regular audio files like MP3s or WAVs, these don’t contain actual audio data and are therefore much smaller in size. They instead explain what notes are played, when they’re played, and how long or loud each note should be. Files in this format are basically instructions that explain how the sound should be produced once attached to a playback device or loaded into a particular software program that knows how to interpret the data.

“Interpret the data” is the key phrase there. Tableau does a great job of interpreting data but MIDI files are not a data connection type – we first have to manipulate it into something usable. Thankfully there’s an R library that does just that. More on that in a bit…

Need some inspiration?

One of my all-time favorite Tableau Public vizzes uses a MIDI file. You probably remember Dinushki’s IronViz feeder entry “Firebird Suite”

There are some many things to love about this – I’ve never seen music visualized like this. Jennifer has also used MIDI files to visualize a couple of her favorite songs and even earned a viz of the day for “Song Bird”

Are you ready to get started?

Check out Dinushki’s excellent tutorial blog post about how to get a MIDI file ready for analysis in Tableau! You will need to have access to R and/or R Studio to get your data ready. It’s just 4 lines of code! How great is that! 

The best part?

Don’t let this topic stop your creativity. If you have an idea for a killer music viz, the best time to put it out there is NOW! 

Some housekeeping items

When you finish you viz: 

  • tag it with #DataPlusMusic on social media and/or Tableau Public
  • Tag us (@HipsterVizNinja, @DeeVizable, @jreevers5)
  • Submit to the tracker (there may be some special surprises for those who fill out the tracker 😉 )



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