The ZIPI Music Parameter Description Language (MPDL), developed by Zeta Music systems (until 2011 a supplier of electric violins, cellos, and bass guitars in Oakland, CA) and personnel of CNMAT (UC Berkeley) in the 1990s, was a proposed successor to MIDI, which proved to be a crippled tool in many electronic-music situations. Keith MacMillan, David Wessel, and Matthew Wright were its developers. It addressed such issues as brightness, articulation, and the inability of MIDI to treat series of notes as a group. MPDL was the first tier of an conjectured system in which other capabilities could be added. Like MIDI, ZIPI was a message-based system, as it was intended to work exclusively in interactive contexts. Unlike MIDI (an 8-bit system), it was a 16-bit system. Thus it could accommodate a much larger palette of virtual instruments and timbres. It could also provide support for more finite semitones than MIDI's equal-tempered half step. MIDI note numbers were embedded in a ZIPI byte. ZIPI also supported input from string (bowed or plucked) and wind instruments, so that those wishing to "record" their works were not limited to an electronic keyboard. Its network protocols would have enabled more than 200 devices (connected peer-to-peer) to collaborate.
Return to ADAM