A midi keyboard is a digital instrument interface. It sends and receives musical parameters such as pitch, tempo etc, to and from a midi equipped device. For example, when you press a key or soft pad on your midi keyboard, the information is sent via USB or MIDI cable and received by your DAW, creating a digital signal that can be interpreted by a Virtual Instrument.
Some MIDI keyboards have additional faders, soft pads etc that are all programmable, giving you more flexibility in the studio.
It’s important to remember, MIDI isn’t audio: its data…. figures and numbers. MIDI creates no sound, it’s a computer language that triggers a sound.
Midi keyboards connect to your computer via USB or 5pin MIDI cable. Using a USB cable is more common practice because it can provide bus power to your keyboard or controller (meaning that you won’t need to use an external power supply) and it also irradiates multiple cables.
Common MIDI Controller Messages
Normally on the far left of your midi keyboard you will find pitch. This wheel or lever can be moved up or down to change the pitch of a note or chord that is played on the keyboard.
This wheel or lever will typically add vibrato, but it can also be assigned to control anything in your DAW, like opening and closing a filter.
This is generally found at the back of the keyboard and is used to connect a foot switch that can control sustain, like a piano’s sustain pedal.