MIDI, the term stands for the Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This protocol was developed back in 1983 that would give control to a synthesizer to play another with the aid of control data. It is more truly termed as a computer with controls of recording, playback and other control options with the aid of which musicians can create music in a unique way. A correct combination of software and hardware is implied to make this interface run well along various channels. With the aid of this interface, a composer can create different parts of music with varied styles all by himself.
What MIDI controller actually does is that this combination of hardware and software produces and transmits data to devices that are MIDI enabled and it is used to control all the parameters for a particular performance or production. One MIDI controller includes a number of knobs, sliders, sensors and other buttons along with an optional keyboard system. MIDI devices include keyboards, sound modules and controllers that are designed to send and receive data through varied channels. Each of the channel can be used to control a unique device and can be assigned a different instrument. For example if MIDI controller as 16 channels, you can connect and control 16 different instruments.
Common MIDI Controllers:
Usually the most common type of MIDI controllers are piano-keyboards of different sizes. Controllers today do not include a sound generation system but they act as an input for other devices such as a synth, computer with VST instrument, digital sampler or sound generating software. These keyboard controllers include knobs and sliders that control sound from a synth in real-time. Keyboards may have different ranges and sizes in the form of number of keys. You can find 88 weighted keys keyboards and some portable 25 keys keyboards too. Depending upon your use and performance requirement, you can select any controller.
How to Start Using a MIDI Controller:
Before beginning to use these controllers, user would need to install the driver software that are included with the hardware. Follow all the instructions that would be mentioned for proper installation and use of this software and hardware interface.
- Begin with plugging USB cable’s square side in to your MIDI controller whereas the other side should be connected to the USB port of your computer system.
- Most of the controllers get their power when you connect them to the USB port of your computer however if the model you have doesn’t get power support from computer; you may need to connect the controller to a functional power source.
- Now you are all set to launch your controller Live. You can set preferences and setting by pressing Control and comma and then click on MIDI/Sync tab.
- If you follow these steps properly, you will be able to set up your controller for use. As your controller is set up, you will see I/O entries in the Ports Section of your controller. Turn on the Track Switch and you are now all set to connect your instruments and play them Live with the use of your MIDI controller. You will be able to check connection of instruments with the yellow light that would begin to flash in up-right corner.
MIDI Controllers Supporting Instant Mapping:
Your MIDI controller would most probably support Instant Mappings for live support of instruments. This support would enable adjustment of live built-in devices and as you will select a new device; system will automatically reassign Live with new device.
In order to confirm if your controller offers support to this function, follow these simple steps:
- Go to MIDI/Sync tab again in Preference and check the Control Surface drop down column menu.
- When you have selected your control surface, select the port it is connected with.
- Each of the controllers may have different functions related to instant mapping.
- By selecting your control surface, you will be able to find the devices that would be automatically mapped to the controller.
- If your controller doesn’t support Instant Mapping, you would need to do manually map devices.
MIDI Controller Manual Mapping:
Manual mapping enables you to customize and set controls for a live setting. Follow these simple steps:
- Go to MIDI/Sync tab again in Preference and check the Remote Controller input port.
- This would enable you to control any instrument or device with your controller.
- To control any instrument, just click the MIDI switch that you can find in upper right corner.
- Select the instrument/device that you want to control and move the knob over surface of control.
- Then check MIDI again.
- With these simple steps, you will now be able to easily control the device that you have just manually mapped with your MIDI controller.
- Sometimes, your computer may be unable to detect your MIDI controller. If you can’t find MIDI input, make sure that the controller is properly connected and if it is turned on or not. Try reconnecting if it is still not detected by your computer system.
- Similar method should be followed for any device that you have mapped but controller is not displaying or if the device is not responding with controller. Wait for the device to be connected or try to scan the device again.
A variety of studio instruments can be controlled with the use of a MIDI controller and it proves to be an essential component of recording systems. So it is important for every musician to understand MIDI controllers and how they can be used to bring in creativity and versatility to music. These controllers gives you liberty of using multiple devices on one ramp and that is the beauty of using this device for music composition and production.