In the first installment in our short series, “Working with MIDI”, we focused on the basic concept of MIDI. This time round, we discuss how to prepare for recording. To do this, you need to make sure your MIDI connections correspond with certain settings.
If you’ve stumbled across this article and the term MIDI isn’t part of your repertoire of musical terms, check out our “What is MIDI?” article now!
Recording and editing MIDI data is possible with any standard DAW, for instance MAGIX Music Maker or Samplitude Music Studio. If you’re going to operate the software synths included in these programs using MIDI commands, you don’t have to take any further steps.
Things are different if you want to use MIDI hardware, e.g. a MIDI keyboard, to play something. Have a look at the information that comes with your MIDI hardware to find out how to configure it. Usually, you connect a MIDI keyboard to your computer or an external sound card by running a MIDI cable from the keyboard MIDI output port to the MIDI input port on the MIDI interface.
If the keyboard has an internal sound source, it’s important to prevent it from generating sounds directly from its own keyboard. Instead, the sounds generated should come from within the program via the MIDI cable. This function is generally referred to as “Local OFF” and can be directly adjusted on your keyboard. Have a look at the manual for your keyboard for further help.
Using Music Maker as a example, here’s how you open the MIDI options. This applies to other DAWs too, since their logical setup is usually very similar.
Select “Program settings” in the “File” menu and then the “Audio/MIDI” tab. In the top right area you’ll see “Input device’ and “Output device”.
If your keyboard is already connected it should be listed under “Input device”.
Under “Output device”, you can control a connected external synthesizer.
If you’re using Samplitude Music Studio, there are a range of additional options for MIDI configuration under “MIDI” in the “System options” (shortcut key Y).
You should also have a read of our more detailed article on “Audio devices, settings and buffers in Music Maker”. Check it out now to get a more in-depth overview!
MIDI recording in Music Maker
For a MIDI recording, you’ll first need a MIDI keyboard. You’ll need to connect this to your computer or sound card and then set the correct settings. (As a reminder: this process is also outlined in the second part of the series.)
Choose a recording track that you want to record onto. Here, you can set whether audio or MIDI should be recorded. Double click on the red REC button in the track and “MIDI REC” will appear on the indicator. If you click once, you’ll adjust the settings for “AUDIO REC”. But this would be for audio recording, which we don’t need in this case. Here’s a clarification of this:
The track is now ready for MIDI recording. Next, click on the record button in the transport console and start recording. A new MIDI object will be written into the track during recording.
MIDI recording in Samplitude Music Studio
If you’re using Samplitude Music Studio, you can use and record several MIDI devices simultaneously. Here you can individually set in each track which device should be recorded. The Track Editor gives you the quickest access to the track’s MIDI options. In the “MIDI” tab, you can find all the major control and routing options for MIDI devices. Here’s a help graphic:
The “TRACK SETTINGS” is another way of configuring in Samplitude Music Studio, which can also be opened using the key combination “Alt + I” In the “MIDI” section, recording and playback devices can be configured . This is how the menu looks:
You can set a metronome with a count-in. With equal strokes, the metronome gives you the tempo in quarter notes and can guide you. You can find the metronome settings under “SYSTEM OPTIONS” or with the key shortcut “Y” under the item “METRONOME”. You can choose whether the metronome should be active in recording or playback. If you don’t like the sound of the metronome, you can change it. It’s also recommended to set a count-in for the recording. This way, everyone involved will be given an appropriate preparation time before the recording. After the recording has been activated, the play cursor will first spring to before the recording point and starts the recording only after the preset count-in time.
Recording with takes in Samplitude Music Studio
It can often happen that you’re not happy with a recording and want to start again. To do this, you can just delete the first recording and start the recording process again from the beginning. However, this will mean that the recording material will be deleted before you can determine whether you will actually get a better recording the second time.
To avoid this problem, you can record several “takes” in Samplitude Music Studio, one after the other, and then decide which take to use after the last recording.
To do this, just record the same section again without deleting the object on the track beforehand. Then select the object and go to “OBJECT” in the program menu and then “TAKE MANAGER” or use the shortcut “Ctrl + Alt + Shift + T”: This is how this looks:
In the take manager you’ll find all the individual recording passes listed vertically. You can choose a take by putting a check mark next to it. Compare your recordings and decide which one you prefer. Takes remain saved in the object unless you manually delete them. With this, you can always return to alternative recordings.
There are three different MIDI recording modes to choose from:
- – NORMAL: With each recording process, a new object will be created over the existing object. The old object will remain saved as a take. This corresponds with the audio recording mode.
- OVERDUB: The recording will be saved in the existing object. New MIDI files will be mixed together with existing ones.
- REPLACE: The recording will be saved in the existing object and existing MIDI files will be overwritten. This recording mode is an option for users that aren’t trained keyboard players. You can start with few notes and add more with each further recording, until a complex melody is formed.
The recording mode can be set in the transport console.
In the third part of our MIDI series, we’ll show you how you can edit the finished MIDI recordings in the MIDI editor!