Resources for the Recording Musician
August 14, 2006

I have questions about midi

Mr. Moderator:

I last wrote you a few months ago and you were extremely helpful in assisting me to pick out some good software.  I decided on Cubsase sx 3 and I'm very happy with it.  I also purchased a Presonus Firepod interface.

Now for a new challenge.  I am not familiar with midi at all.  But I'm gathering that one can do some pretty incredible things with it.

So here are my assumptions and questions - please correct me if I'm wrong.

It seems that with midi and Cubase (and any other sequencer)  if one makes a midi track, adds some keyboards (which must be a midi keyboard?) can one then use something like the Minimonsta software synth (or any other synth software you can download off off the internet)  to manipulate the sound once it's recorded?  Or can one take any keyboard with a midi output, run it through the Firepod, and play in real time through synth software?

Many, many silly questions,  but I know you'll set me straight.


They are not silly questions for a beginner who has never worked with MIDI before.

The main thing you have to understand is that MIDI is DATA.  MIDI is NOT Audio.  MIDI is just a series of commands that tells a MIDI device what to do.  When working with keyboards and synths, MIDI is used to send Note On and Note Off commands along with timing and other data.  This note and other DATA can be recorded in a MIDI sequencer, such as Cubase.  When you properly assign the output of a MIDI track to a MIDI device, such as a physical keyboard or synth, OR a software synth (such as Minimonsta), you can make that synth generate sound from the MIDI data, as long as you have the audio outputs of that device hooked up to something.

Since MIDI is NOT audio, you can edit it much more easily and extensively than you can audio.  For example, if you played a wrong note in a chord, you can go in and edit just that note within the chord and fix your mistake.  This would not be possible with an audio track (you can't single out one note of a chord in an audio file).  You can also fix the timing very easily if you are a sloppy player (or want precise timing for electronica type music).

But, rather than go into all the details here, do a simple search on Google for "MIDI vs Audio" and you can find several good beginner tutorials.

In answer to your last question... yes, you need a keyboard with  MIDI output (or just a controller keyboard with MIDI out or direct USB connection with MIDI drivers for it) and then you can transmit that MIDI data through the MIDI Input on the fireport into Cubase, set up a MIDI track in Cubase to record the MIDI data (if desired) and route the output to any software synth or even another keyboard or hardware synth (through the MIDI output of the Firepod).

If you are confused about how to route MIDI ins/outs with your software and your hardware interface, do some specific internet searches and you should have no problems finding the answers.

Good luck!

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