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Dave Smith, the Father of MIDI, has died (1950–2022)

Yesterday saw the sad announcement of the passing of synthesiser luminary Dave Smith aged 72 (1950–2022), creator of arguably one of the most important synthesisers of all time – the Prophet 5.

In terms of aural significance, its use was found in everything from the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis – another recent loss to the industry – to seminal albums such as Michael Jackson ‘Thriller‘ and Madonna ‘Like A Virgin‘. An ageless machine, it was the signature sound behind Radiohead’s electronic revolution ‘Kid A’.

Smith’s influence did not stop there, the creation of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface technology alongside Chet Wood, revolutionised music production with a standard that is absolutely ubiquitous. While many producers may not have had a chance to use his more aspirational synthesisers, but they have absolutely encountered MIDI.

Such was the weight of Smith’s name, he was one of the few people in history whose name could be associated with an instrument and add significant gravitas. Before regaining the Sequential brand from Yamaha in 2015, the Dave Smith signature could be found emblazoned across machines like the Tempest drum machine, the collaboration with Oberheim on the OB-6, and even into the realm of mass market DJ boxes by lending his signature filter sound to Pioneers first sampler – the Toraiz SP-16. In essence – a Dave Smith signature was a sign of quality that carried with it legacy.

Across social media, musicians far and wide have been paying their respects, an often faceless industry has lost one of its greatest faces.