Black MIDI songs will kill your brain and your computer

Have you ever been listening to a normal song
and thought, “I wish this normal song had 280 million notes and took up 1.1 terabytes
of data and was literally unplayable on any computer?” Of course, you’re only human. MIDI is a shared digital language that lets electronic
instruments communicate with computers, invented in the early 1980s to provide a technical
standard in the burgeoning field of electronic music. MIDI used to sound like this. Now MIDI is literally at the core of all pop
music — it’s how keyboards and laptops and samplers make Katy Perry records. It’s how
your ring tone works. It’s how you use a tiny plastic guitar to play the “Freebird” solo
on Expert. It’s basically digital music air. It is in everything. Black MIDI is a sequenced MIDI file so dense
with notes, it literally just appears to be jet black. So instead of sounding like this
– It sounds like this – Uploaded on February 6th, 2011, that piece
of hypnotic mayhem from kakakakaito1998 is the first-ever Black MIDI. Although these
files were being traded online as early as 2009 in Japan, kakakakaito1998 an original
“blacker.” Because naturally his subculture has bad-ass lingo. These songs are created — or “blacked” as
the bad-ass lingo goes — by initially layering multiple MIDI files on top of each other,
shortening the notes, and then presumably offering some sacrifice to the pagan Gods
of yore because seriously this shit is insane and no one who does it seems eager to divulge
the secret sauce. The visual side of black MIDI is as mesmerizing
as the notes themselves — of which that song has 7.67 million. There is an element of technical
braggadocio and one ups-manship to not only the number of notes, but the presentation.
The description of that video is simply “My graphics card has enough memory to run this
without invisible notes :D.” Why? Why? Why? Bullet hell. The most popular blackened MIDIs all originate
with the Touhou project, a one-man enterprise that has seen the release of 21 bullet hell
games in as many years. The quintessential Japanese shoot ’em ups, Touhou games feature
an unending reign of enemy fire and big tunes. That, for example, is a 2003 Touhou game called
Perfect Cherry Blossom. And this is “Necrofantasia,” a popular song from Perfect Cherry Blossom. In fact, the 10 largest black MIDIs, according
to the Impossible Music Wiki’s leaderboard, are all Touhou project songs. But it’s YouTube
so of course someone did “What Does the Fox Say.” But in the end, the best part of any of these
songs is when the computer just gives up and barfs pure black. That was Jingle Bells. When Adrian Chen wrote about black MIDI for
Gawker, he joked that we should expect Rihanna to be stealing it within three months. What
do you think? Could this blow up all weirdly mainstream like sea punk? Like us know in
the comments, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes of This Exists every week. Happy

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