What is Midi?

Midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) basically is a way of transferring musical information from one keyboard or recording device to another via a standard midi cable or via a USB cable (if supported). A single Midi link can carry up to sixteen channels of information.

The information that midi carries is basically everything except audio. For instance a midi recording could consist of:

  • The notes played and how long they are held on for
  • How hard they are played (velocity)
  • Timing
  • Pedal on / off etc.

But it won’t record the audio. So if you made a midi recording on a particular keyboard, saved it to a midi file and then played it back on another keyboard or PC, it would use the sounds from the second keyboard or computer software for playback - which of course may be better or worse than the original.

A great advantage of recording in midi is the ability to correct mistakes (assuming the editing facilities are available in the keyboard or DAW). For instance:

  • Timing mistake can be corrected by quantizing either at the time of recording or afterwards
  • Bum notes can be corrected with ‘edit event’ feature
  • Velocity and pedal errors can be corrected with ‘edit event’ feature
  • Part of a recording can be corrected using the ‘punch in’ feature
  • Plus much more

Another use for midi is to connect two keyboards which would enable you to play one board and use the sounds from the other.

So what if I want to record in audio?

Many keyboards will have audio recording features which will record exactly what you play using the sounds of your instrument. But if you make an error, or something is not quite right you will need to record again from the beginning.

But if your keyboard or DAW has midi and audio recording, you could first record in midi, then make your corrections, then playback the corrected file as you record it in audio and Bingo you will have an audio recording with the sounds and effects from your keyboard.

If recording audio into a DAW you will need an external audio interface if the facility is not in your keyboard.

If you want to record audio and the facility is not in your keyboard, you can use the free Audacity software which is basic but easy, although you will need an audio interface. Or if you would like a really good free DAW try Cakewalk by BandLab. Stop press - sadly Cakewalk is no longer free,