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Preparing for MIDI recording

Preparing for MIDI recording

Operating at 31,250 bits per second, it’s time to go back to the future! MIDI has been an industry standard since the 1980s and has changed the face of music production. Back in 1968, Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind recorded “Switched-On Bach”, the first album consisting entirely of synthetic music. Because of the early synthesizers used, the album was entirely monophonic. Today we’ll show you the best way to prepare for MIDI recording. But we’ll be showing you how to make polyphonic recordings.

Basically, MIDI data is recorded in the same way as audio data in Samplitude. With each recording you create an object which defines the MIDI synthesizer, the sound and the sound parameters that will be used for playback. You can arrange and edit the generated MIDI object in a variety of ways.

Step 1: To prepare the track for MIDI recording, click on the “MIDI” button in the track editor.

prepare the track for the midi recording

This opens the MIDI section of the track.

the midi selection of the track
Step 2: Indicate to Samplitude which MIDI input device the program should use. Select the input device in the MIDI In slot (e.g. MIDI keyboard) to do this.

If you have multiple MIDI input devices connected to your system, you can also select <ALL> as the MIDI input device for a track.

select the option all for the preparing of midi recording
Step 3: Select the MIDI port you want to use for the playback device (MIDI Output Device) through the MIDI Out slot (e.g. MIDI Out of your sound card or a VST instrument).

select the midi port for the preparing of the recording
If you don’t hear a sound when you press the keys on the input device, you probably need to activate the monitoring. Activate this with the loudspeaker button (MIDI thru) for the respective MIDI track.

activate the loudspeaker button for hearing your midi
Step 4: By right-clicking the “Mon” button in the transport console you can access a menu for adjusting the behavior of the “Record” and “Monitoring” button. If you activate the options “Automatic MIDI record switch on current track” and “Automatic MIDI monitoring (Thru)“, the selected MIDI tracks will be immediately activated for the recording and monitoring will be switched on for the input signal. If you want to record multiple MIDI tracks simultaneously, deactivate the option “Automatic MIDI record switch on current track“.

deactivate the option automatic midi record swich on current track
If you still don’t hear anything when you play the keys, make sure that the MIDI out channel of the MIDI keyboard matches the “channel in” slot in the track editor for the selected MIDI track.

select the channel in for the midi recording
Step 5: Make sure that your MIDI synthesizer is sending to the same MIDI channel that you have selected in the “channel out” slot in the track editor. To be certain, set the Out channel to “All”. Now you should hear all of the synthesizers no matter what channel they are on.

set the channel out to all for hearing alll synthesizers
Note: Many drum machines send to MIDI channel 10, since this is preferably used as the percussion channel and is even specified as such according to the General MIDI (GM1) specifications.

Step 6: If you want to use a VST instrument, open the selection menu of the MIDI Out slot and move the mouse pointer over “New Instrument” to display a list of the virtual instruments. Here we’ll select Samplitude’s very own “Vita” synthesizer.

select the correct vst instrument
This opens the graphical display of the selected VST instrument.

Step 7: We can open the routing settings in the VSTi Manager in the docker. This dialog is where the routing is set for the integrated software instrument.

the routing settings in the vsti manager
Here you can add software instruments to the current track, separate the audio track from the MIDI track for multitimbral synthesizers or add multiple new tracks for instrument outputs in Multi-Channel Mode.

For our example we’ll choose the option “Simple: Audio and MIDI together in one track”. In this case, the same track sends MIDI commands to the instrument and receives the audio signal from the instrument.

Step 8: We can now see that the MIDI out of our VST instrument is selected and lit up, which tells us that the VSTi has been loaded. You can also find the corresponding entry in the plug-in panel and in the track header.

select the correct midi in the vsti manager
By left-clicking on the corresponding entry you can deactivate the plug-in. If you click again, it will reactivate the VSTi.

Click on the “Close” cross on the VSTi interface to hide the VSTi window.

close the vsti window
Right-clicking on the entry in the track editor opens the VST interface again.

Step 9: We want to record a section eight bars in length. To do this we’re going to draw a range in the Grid and Marker bar.

drawing a range in the grid and the marker bar
Step 10: We want to record multiple processes in a MIDI object and mix them, so we’ll switch the MIDI recording mode in the transport console from “Normal” to “Overdub”.

swich the transport console to overdub
Step 11: Activate Loop Mode so that the range plays in a loop.

activate the loop mode
Step 12: Click on the “Click” button to activate the metronome.

activate the metronome by clicking the click button
When playback begins you will hear the metronome click at the set tempo.

Step 13: By right-clicking on the “Click” button you can change the metronome settings.

the metronome settings

  • Select “Active during Playback” as well as “Active during Recording” and set the Precount to 2 measures. Use the fader set a suitable volume for the metronome.
  • By clicking on the folder symbols you can access alternative metronome samples for the first beat and general beat respectively.
  • After we’ve made all the preparations we are ready to make our first recording.

Step 14: Click on the track header of the MIDI track you want to record in

click to the track header for recording
and start the MIDI recording using the keyboard shortcut “R” or with the record button in the transport console. After ending recording with the “Stop” button, you will be asked whether you want to keep or delete the recording. After confirming this with “OK”, your newly recorded material will appear as a “MIDI take” in the VIP.

the recorded track will appear in the midi take in the vip
Next time we will take a closer look at recording MIDI-drums. Have fun preparing your MIDI/VSTi recordings in Samplitude!

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