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A MIDI controller is any hardware or software that generates and transmits Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) data to electronic or digital MIDI-enabled devices, typically to trigger sounds and control parameters of an electronic music performance. MIDI controllers usually do not create or produce musical sounds by themselves. MIDI controllers typically have some type of interface which the performer presses, strikes, blows or touches. This action generates MIDI data (e.g., on what note was played, for how long, and with which rhythm), which can then be transmitted to a MIDI-compatible sound module or synth using a MIDI cable. The sound module or synth in turn produces a sound which is amplified through a loudspeaker.
The most commonly used MIDI controller is the electronic musical keyboard MIDI controller. When the keys are played, the MIDI controller sends MIDI data about the pitch of the note, the velocity and duration, which can be used to trigger sounds from a MIDI-compatible sound module or synthesizer. Other common MIDI controllers are wind controllers, which a musician blows into and presses keys to transmit MIDI data, and electronic drums, which are typically struck with sticks to create MIDI data.