MusicXML vs. MIDI

MusicXML and MIDI handle note representation and sound differently.

Advantages of MusicXML

MIDI tracks contain MIDI notes and other MIDI data. A MIDI note in Cubase is only defined by its position, length, pitch, and velocity. This is not enough information to determine how the note is displayed in a score. For a correct representation, Cubase also needs the following information:

  • Stem direction and beaming

  • Expression marks (staccato, accent, ties, and slurs)

  • Information about the instrument in the score

  • Key and basic rhythm of the piece

  • Grouping of notes

MusicXML can save a great part of this information. However, you must adjust the scores with the tools available in the Score Editor.

Advantages of MIDI

Although MusicXML has obvious advantages in the representation of musical scores, there are also restrictions in sound. This is because MusicXML as a music notation format has a graphical background and is designed for exchanging representation, not sound.

When playing back MusicXML files in Cubase, the following parameters, among others, are not considered:

  • On and Off velocities

  • Dynamics

  • Controller data

  • SysEx

  • Standard MIDI file meta events

  • Audio

  • All Cubase-specific data like automation, MIDI effects, Input Transformer, etc.