What’s the difference between MIDI vs MusicXML? As PlayScore 2 can convert sheet music to MIDI or MusicXML for import into music notation software, we’re going to tell you a bit more about MIDI vs MusicXML in this blog and how you can use them.


The term MIDI (short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) describes an interface that connects a range of digitised instruments, computers and audio devices in order to play, edit and record music. MIDI contains the instructions that tell electronic devices the parameters of notes, i.e. what, where and when they should occur.

What’s unique about MIDI is that it transmits information via messages, meaning that they allow communication between devices or instruments. For example, playing a MIDI keyboard triggers a series of messages that generate sounds, and that are then heard through an amplifier. This data can be used in other ways such as:

  • recording to a sequencer or DAW (Digital audio workstation) for editing or playback.
  • programming drum tracks or a drum machine
  • using a controller to play another ‘virtual’ instrument (e.g., a synthesizer, MIDI-based wind instruments).

The PlayScore 2 app has the facility to export sheet music or a PDF score into a MIDI file. This is useful, say, if you want to make an instant music track so your choir or band members can learn their individual parts or any combination of parts.  However, MIDI files are limited in sound because they’re not designed to indicate the finer details of musical scores (e.g., instrumentation, expression, stem direction, beaming). This is why MusicXML was invented.


MusicXML is an interchange format that transfers musical information from a file into a more accurate and richer representation of the music. What’s more, MusicXML was specifically designed for the Internet so that the information from online sheet music could be transferred into music notation software. Whereas a MIDI file mainly describes the notes, a MusicXML file captures the actual notation and layout. It means that you don’t have to do all the editing you would have to do with a MIDI file. This is why we recommend converting your scores to a MusicXML file with PlayScore 2 rather than MIDI, if you want to import your music into a scorewriter.

MusicXML more or less has everything a MIDI file does. It can describe how the music sounds as well as how it is laid out. The creator of MusicXML Michael Good explains that MusicXML is designed to be useful over a range of music notation applications. The format is left open so that the software can make decisions that make sense in the particular context, for example, in the number of bars per system.

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The App That Sight Reads Sheet Music.