The SMF file extension stands for Standard MIDI File, which is a file format used to store music composition information that can be played back by electronic instruments or music software. This file format imposes a standardized way to store the sequence of MIDI messages alongside timing information, allowing various software and hardware to interpret and playback the MIDI sequences consistently.
History of SMF Format
The development of the SMF format can be traced back to the 1980s, where a need arose to create a universal file format to share and distribute musical sequences across different electronic instruments and computers. The format was developed by the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) and has since been the standard for MIDI data exchange.
How SMF Works
The SMF format encapsulates MIDI messages such as note on/off, program changes, and controller messages, along with the timing information necessary to play the sequence. It contains one or more tracks; each can hold messages for a separate instrument or voice, facilitating complex compositions featuring multiple instrumental parts.
Software that Utilizes SMF
Various music production software, such as Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), synthesizers, and sequencers, rely on the SMF format for importing and exporting MIDI data. Prominent software like Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic Pro X supports the SMF format for collaboration and making music production versatile across various platforms.
Alternatives to SMF
While SMF is a widely accepted standard for MIDI files, there are alternative file formats like RIFF-based MIDI (.rmi) and Karaoke MIDI (.kar), which are variations that cater to specific needs. However, these formats are not as universally supported as SMF, which remains the preferred choice for MIDI file interchange.