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Technical Grammy Award for Development of MIDI Technology

Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi

The Recording Academy announced its Special Merit Awards recipients, and this year’s honorees included Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi and Dave Smith as Technical Grammy Award recipients for their contributions to the development of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology. Technical Grammy Award recipients are determined by vote of The Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, as well as The Academy’s Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.

In 1983, Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland Corporation, and Dave Smith, president of Sequential Circuits, unveiled MIDI. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of MIDI, a standard that motivated the cooperation of an entire industry and helped move music technology into a new era. In a nearly unprecedented collaboration between competing manufacturers, what would soon prove an inescapable new technology was born when two competing manufacturers’ electronic keyboards were connected, enabling them to “talk” to one another using a new communication standard. The announcement ultimately revolutionized the music world. Today, MIDI is ubiquitous in the musical equipment industry, and it is the de facto standard feature on virtually every electronic music product made by every manufacturer.

Dave Smith currently oversees Dave Smith Instruments (DSI) in San Francisco

“Each year, The Academy has the distinct privilege of honoring those who have greatly contributed to our industry and cultural heritage, and this year we have a gifted and brilliant group of honorees,” says Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “Their exceptional accomplishments, contributions and artistry will continue to influence and inspire generations to come.”

“It’s already been 30 years since the debut of MIDI protocol in 1983, but it seems to me that those years have passed so quickly. Electronic musical instruments have become very popular all over the world through this time, and it is my great pleasure that MIDI played a significant role in their prevalence,” says Kakehashi. “This year’s Technical Grammy Award is the result of the cooperation by the companies who worked towards the same dream—growth of electronic musical instruments. I would like to share this acknowledgement with Mr. Tadao Kikumoto, former R&D manager of Roland Corporation, the engineering staff and all who were involved in creating and designing the MIDI concept and system.”

Kakehashi currently contributes as Chairman of the Roland Foundation, a valuable role based on decades of experience and the vast network of people and resources he has built since Roland’s founding.

A special invitation-only ceremony will be held during Grammy Week on Saturday, February 9, 2013, and a formal acknowledgment will be made during the 55th Annual Grammy Awards telecast, which will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 10, 2013, and broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.

For more information about the development of MIDI, watch ‘Dave Smith and the MIDI Specification’, in which former Mix magazine editor George Petersen talks to synthesizer pioneer and Sequential Circuits founder Dave Smith about his role in the development of the MIDI Specification, and read the 2006 TECnology Hall of Fame write-up, ‘1983 Dave Smith, Sequential Circuits MIDI Specification‘.

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