The Wire


Mad Skills: MIDI And Music Technology In The Twentieth Century by Ryan Alexander Diduck

Mad Skills: MIDI And Music Technology In The Twentieth Century by Ryan Alexander Diduck

Published by Repeater Books. Paperback, 300 pages, 2017

Price: £10.99
Postage and packing:
UK – free
Overseas airmail – £2
Subscribers to The Wire get a discount of £2 off each copy

Part rigorous history, part insightful commentary and part memoir, Mad Skills tells the story behind MIDI, through the 20th century’s kaleidoscopic lens.

Guiding us across 100 years of musical instruments and the music made with them, it recounts the technical and creative innovations that led to the making of the most vital, longstanding, ubiquitous and yet invisible music technology of our time.

Ryan Alexander Diduck is an author, scholar, lecturer and critic. His 2015 doctoral dissertation "Global Controller" was the first cultural history of MIDI – the Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Diduck’s writing has appeared in The Wire, The Quietus and Fact Magazine. He lives in Montréal.

Praise for Mad Skills:

“Do you like electronic music and Marxism? You’re in luck… great for gearheads and anyone who resents the rise of black-boxed control mechanisms” – Pitchfork

“Blending technical knowledge, business history and cultural polemic, Mad Skills is a sharp study of a human invention that stamped its post-human character over an entire era of pop” – Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania and Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture

“… a deep, clear read on the historical and social development of machine music; wisdom about MIDI finally” – Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never

“Through deep dives into archives, original interviews and an aptitude for the Marxian archaeology of electronics, Diduck opens the black box of MIDI for all to see and hear” – Benjamin Tausig, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, Stony Brook University