It is really an amazing combination when you have a mouse and keyboard that lets you compute applications and manage your music library at great speed while browsing the internet. It all gets better when these two input devices are used to pilot music software with a MIDI keyboard, your experience automatically becomes enriched and creative.
Before diving into how to use a MIDI keyboard, let’s get through the meaning of the acronym. MIDI means Musical Instrument Digital Interface, an industrial standard protocol that’s been in use for up to 25 years.
Back in the day, MIDI was for the connection of different external hardware boxes like sequencers and synths. Music novice with computer only knew that the MIDI lets you send input information directly to a computer from the controller. In this recent time, you do not need any external hardware for the connection of the MIDI device, the controllers you find on sales can simply be connected to a PC through USB.
Generally, MIDI is a helpful tool that helps create music through signals sent by a keyboard to a smartphone or PC. The MIDI keyboard is a digital piano that holds different possibilities of adding sound effects to music without built-in speakers. There are many control buttons and commands on the MIDI keyboard to get it working. This might seem a bit of a hefty job but I’ll take you through some easy steps that can help you use a MIDI keyboard. Let’s first look at the things we can do with MIDI.
Things to Do with MIDI
The MIDI transports mainly information rather than sound production or effect
The MIDI clips determine the notes played by the plugins when they are being used on a digital audio workstation to make music.
The MIDI device info is being fed when the keyboard is linked to a DAW to play real-time instruments. This is also applied to when the DAW is used to sequence the MIDI to deliver information to other external devices like the synthesizer or sampler.
MIDI lets you regulate the articulation performance or alter the sounds played through it.
The tool awesomely allows for changing of patches on both soft and hardware tools.
How To Use a MIDI Keyboard
Connecting the MIDI Keyboard to a Smartphone
Conventional MIDI convertors came with only standard DIN pin jacks, the contemporary MIDI keyboards are also equipped with the DIN connectors but also with USB ports that allow for connection with all audio devices. Moreso, these portable keyboards let you have a wireless connection that can be used anytime.
With the wireless connection, you can connect your smartphone to the MIDI keyboard to create an awesome traffic jam for music production wherever you are. Moreover, when using a PC to work with the MIDI keyboard, the Digital Audio Workstation needs to be set up. There are different mobile apps you can use for this course.
Using any of these countless apps while connecting to your smartphone, you can create a number of fantastic music just when you sit by your computer. There is also a wide choice of modern apps to choose for the MIDI synths and the others in the category.
It might interest you to note, however, that you would need a connection kit for the conversion of the lightning connector into a USB in order to connect the MIDI keyboard to your iPad or smartphone. This device helps power up the MIDI converter just as indicated by the light functionality.
Suggested Mobile Apps for the MIDI Keyboard
Some MIDI mobile apps make work easier for you by offering many options without having to work with DAW on a computer. These apps are supported by a number of smartphones and Apple devices. The only device needed for the connection of these apps to the MIDI keyboard is a USB cable. Here’s the list:
Touch DAW– This app found its way to the top because of its efficiency and the numerous possibilities it provides. Its features might seem a bit complicated but thankfully, it comes with an instruction manual that makes the operation easier. The app corresponds with all necessary workstations and completely controls every music you try to create.
Wireless Mixer– The app comes with twelve different channels with 3 control knobs and 2 buttons for sound recording and modifications. There are also level sliders that give you the option of many other amazing functions.
– This is a dual app as it can be used for both a piano keyboard and a MIDI signal transmitter. The only setback of this app is that it doesn’t support a wireless connection. You can only connect it through a USB cable.
MIDI Commander – This app allows for customization and button function set up to your taste. You can control options like the tempo, frequency, velocity, and other sound features in the music you are creating.
DJ Control- The app is specifically made for the MIDI keyboard, it also lets you regulate the tempo and control the pitch. Moreso, it lets you transfer MIDI files through WiFi. It has a master volume control and also with channel-level sliders.
Connecting the MIDI Keyboard to Other Devices
Some other devices can serve as a receiver for MIDI signals aside from just the smartphone or PC. For some experts in music and the MIDI connection, A MIDI keyboard can be connected to another to get several creative musical performances. This can easily be done by setting each keyboard to a different sound module and playing at them one after the other by using the control MIDI. This way, there is a combination of all of the instrument sounds including the electric bass and piano.
More so, you can produce, receive, and listen to all of your fantastic creations through a hardware synthesizer. You might need to break your bank a little to get these quality instruments because they can be pricey. Some audiophiles do not mind these exorbitant prices because the combination lets you play instruments with no worries of software alternatives.
The Right Software for the Keyboard
Some users of the MIDI keyboard prefer to connect the device to their PC and easily work on the bigger screen. Regardless, appropriate software is needed for this act because most software shares the same basic features, their programs differ. You should get familiar with the DAW you are using and endeavor to buy the full version to select the program that suits your need as a musician.
With your experience with the MIDI keyboard, you’ll probably want the software that lets you regulate and control all the notes in the piece you work on. As mentioned earlier, your software should have essential virtual instruments like the synthesizer, drum, and sampler that lets you produce music immediately you connect your MIDI Keyboard.
Another feature you should watch out for in your software is a library with pre-recorded MIDI files with a series of notes and chords that can be added to your piece.
The MIDI Sound Modules
This is a portable device that has all the features of a soundbank. This includes the receiving of the MIDI signals from the keyboard, the conversion to a digital format, and the record-keeping of the piece. Moreover, it can be used as an output device that lets you reproduce digital signals into audible sounds. You can easily listen to all the pieces you have created with no stress.
The MIDI sound modules hold USB ports for several keyboards connection. If you search well on sale, you can get some models that come with a USB output jack together with a headphone jack. The sound quality is reasonable but for more sound, you can add a separate speaker if needed.
Music Production Features at Your Fingertips
In music production, the MIDI keyboard is quite important, some of which come with models with other gadgets inclusion. Each of these features has its functions to record, control, and adjust parameters. Explore the amazing features of your MIDI keyboard and learn to use each and every one of them appropriately. The controllers include:
- Knobs: Used for encoding and potentiometers
- Pads: For the definition of tempo and regulation of speed
- Breath controller: Refining vocals and enhancing the singing quality
- Faders: Equalization control
- Buttons: For easy access to the settings, menus, and octave change
- Screen: Display of activities on screen
- Piano pedals: Regular piano pedals mimic
- MIDI stompbox: Guitar pedal for playing chords
- Others include the foot controllers, expression pedals, and organ foot pedal keyboards.
Creating Original Sequences
You can easily create different pieces of music with pre-recorded MIDI sequences and templates. When doing this, do not let the sound pass through many digital modifications as this could cause it to sound metallic and artificial. Endeavor to create and compose original sequences with little effects and equalizers. Manually change the MIDI notes on your keyboard to get a unique and personal arrangement. Other effects that can be added to your piece include boosting the bass, combining past patterns into a new style, and adding velocity to the tune.
If you have decided to go on your musical journey with a MIDI keyboard, then you should use the device correctly. With it, you get a fantastic musical experience and create music pieces to your taste. You may deliberate on a computer keyboard together with a mouse, but if you have decided on a MIDI keyboard, then you sure are on the right track.