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Midi Recording

MIDI Software
For recording, editing, mixing and
mastering your MIDI tracks.

by Ron Tongue

With of the versatility of MIDI technology, many MIDI software programs have been designed to take advantage of its capabilities. The most common types of software are sequencing, notation, and learning aids (ie. aural theory training, written theory training, auto accompaniment...).

Each type of software is designed with specific purposes in mind.

This session will focus on MIDI sequencer software which is most popular in the home recording studio environment.

MIDI Sequencing Software

Sequencing software is designed primarily for recording and playing back MIDI recorded music. As mentioned in the MIDI basics section, when you record music using a MIDI instrument and software, all that is actually being recorded are numbers. These numbers are then played back through the MIDI instruments telling it which notes to play, how long to play them, how loud or soft to play them, etc.

NOTE!! Many sequencing programs allow unlimited tracks of audio to be played back at once. Keep in mind that most MIDI keyboards can only handle up to 16 different instruments at one time. If you will need more than 16 instruments, then you'll have to add an additional MIDI instrument to your studio setup.

Recording with audio MIDI software allows for very detailed editing of your recorded data.

midi piano roll

For example, if you play a wrong note, you can quickly and easily adjust it to the correct note with a click of a mouse. Or, if one note sticks out because it was played too loud, you can go back and make it softer. Just about any musical element you can think of can be done using sequencing software.

Playing back your MIDI recorded music is also a strength of MIDI control software. Most programs have a mixer view which looks and functions like a traditional audio mixer you might see in a liver performance. It usually has adjustment knobs, volume faders, effects loops, and auxiliary routing options, just to name a few.

midi mixer

This control allows for accurate mixing, panning left or right (or even surround sound mixing), mute channels, solo channels and other playback features that will enhance your overall performance or final recording.

Many sequencing programs also allow you to combine MIDI audio with digital audio. An example would be to record a guitar track with a microphone, which can be played back in sync with your MIDI data, or vice versa.

TIP!! Not only can your MIDI controller software use MIDI data to play your MIDI instrument, but it can also control external devices such as a hard disk recorder.

For example, when you click the record button in your software, if configured properly, your hard disk recorder will also start recording at the same time.

There is one drawback to using sequencing software. Since they focus on recording and playing back music, they tend to lack in the area of music notation. Although there have been many major improvements in this area, if your main objective is to have a nice printed version of your score, you should consider using notational software such as Sibelius for Finale.

Which MIDI software title should I buy?

There are several really good recording MIDI software titles availabe now for MIDI sequencing. I use Digital Performer on the Mac and Sonar on PC. Both programs work great and I highly recommend them both depending on your platform.

For more information about MIDI software, check these sesions out.

Moving Forward
We've covered both the hardware and software end of things for MIDI recording. In the next several sessions, I'll take you step-by-step through several different MIDI setups.

midi last
Next Session

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  1. MIDI Software

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