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Thread MIDI: The Most Basic Newbie Questions Possible

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1 MIDI: The Most Basic Newbie Questions Possible
I’m only posting this because someone here once said the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

I’m a mainly acoustic musician. I’m intrigued by the idea of laying down a synthesized bass track in my recordings with a keyboard, as well as playing around with adding other instruments and sounds too.

My computer audio setup: P4 at 3.0+ GHz, w/HT technology; Sonar 3 studio; Aardvark Direct Pro LX6 audio interface; Tapco active monitors; Behringer UB 1202 mixer. Because the LX6 doesn’t have onboard synths, I play midi files through my SB Audigy 2 card and send that signal through the LX6.

I’ve scanned through a few books and web sites, but I can’t get a clear explanation of what I need to have in order to get into midi and music synthesizing.

I know I need a MIDI interface, and my LX6 sound card has a MIDI in and out. So that’s covered.

I know I need a MIDI controller, but is that something that is usually part of a standard MIDI keyboard? Or are controllers part of a software program like Sonar?

I know I need a keyboard, but what kind exactly? Do I need a synthesizer per se, or do I simply need a keyboard that can control software on my computer, and the synthesizer is actually software?

Put another way: If I went out and bought an entry-level MIDI keyboard/controller, would I be able to plug it into my LX6 sound card and use it to control MIDI synthesized instruments through a program like Sonar? Would I actually be able to program synthesized sounds through Sonar in this way, or would I need another program to make this music come out of my speakers?

And by the way, if you can recommend a specific keyboard that would do for my purposes, please do.

If there is a clearly written online discussion of this for absolute beginners, please feel free to just direct me to that. Otherwise, pretend you’re talking to a 12-year-old. The more basic – and practical -- the better.

Thanks.

Paul S.
2
[code]I know I need a MIDI controller, but is that something that is usually part of a standard MIDI keyboard? Or are controllers part of a software program like Sonar? [/code]
MIDI is nothing more than a standard for a "change" signal sent and received by MIDI devices. Press a key - MIDI says "This key has been changed to 'ON'." and will not transmit any other data until you let go - "This key has been changed to 'OFF'." (This example does not take Aftertouch or Velocity into account, but that's another story.) The same is true of a pitch-bend wheel. If you roll it half way up, MIDI transmits the changes made in its position until you stop moving it. If you leave it in the middle, no more MIDI signals will be sent until you move it again. So, a MIDI keyboard IS a MIDI controller.
Some keyboards come with a few sliders on them (Control Sliders) that you can use to control different parameters for different effects, such as volume, delay time, an EQ band's gain, etc. These sliders are assigned controller numbers, and are programmed accordingly. Very handy stuff once you get used to it. You will find some devices called MIDI controllers that are simply a board of sliders and/or pots that work as described above. Since you have a dedicated mixer, this may be overkill for you. Find a small MIDI keyboard with a few control sliders on-board, and you're set.
[code]Do I simply need a keyboard that can control software on my computer, and the synthesizer is actually software? [/code]
Exactly. Any MIDI keyboard should do.

[code]If I went out and bought an entry-level MIDI keyboard/controller, would I be able to plug it into my LX6 sound card and use it to control MIDI synthesized instruments through a program like Sonar? [/code]
You got it...

[code]And by the way, if you can recommend a specific keyboard that would do for my purposes, please do.[/code]

This link should keep you busy.
https://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/sid=040406222019209026106165210718/g=key/search/d=tp?q=midi+controller


Hope this helps, Samo.