Help me stop being a MIDIot
January 23, 2012 2:36 PM   Subscribe

A friend gave me his MIDI keyboard and no instruction on what to do with it... Where do I go from here?

A little background: I have some experience with guitar and keyboard, though not enough to qualify myself as much of a musician. My friend left me his M-Audio Oxygen 49 when he moved away, and it's sat against a wall in my room taunting me ever since. I have no clue where to even start. I'm particularly interested in sampling and using it as a synth, but all I've done is make a few cool sounds and play the Jaws hook while pondering what to do next.

I'm interested in both technical and musical resources, and I don't mind spending a few bucks if it means an increase in quality.

posted by Echobelly to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Plug the keyboard into a usb port.

Download a demo of ableton live. When it loads up, on the left hand side, there's a list of instruments. Drag operator over to the middle. Start playing.
posted by empath at 2:41 PM on January 23, 2012

If you've got a mac, there are piano lessons included with garage band, btw.
posted by empath at 2:42 PM on January 23, 2012

Well... my experience with MIDI instrumentation is probably less than what some on here have; I tend to use hardware synths controlled via MIDI, as opposed to using soft-synths. That said, here's my setup:

For sketching out a song, I will use a small MIDI keyboard connected to Ableton Live 8. I can lay down MIDI notes with this setup, using the preset instruments in the DAW. I can easily map functions to the keyboard's controls if I need to. Then, I take the 'sketch', and remove the MIDI instruments, plug in my hardware synths, and go to town...adjusting settings as needed.

So... I suppose I'd say that, first and foremost, you want a good DAW. Ableton is fantastic, though kind of tough to learn well.
posted by kaseijin at 2:45 PM on January 23, 2012

Watch poipular Youtube tutorials for all major DAW programs for one week.
Choose One.
Buy It.
Watch tutorials for that DAW.
Have fun.... and both could be helpful.


PS: You said you made some simple sounds, what were you triggering than? Garageband?
If you made sound, you are doing OK so far because that means you are getting performance data into your machine and into an instrument.
Keep it up....
posted by Studiogeek at 3:00 PM on January 23, 2012

Given your interests, I'd recommend checking out Reason. It's a little more user-friendly and synth-oriented than Ableton, and the Oxygen 49 is a perfect MIDI controller for it.

The knobs all change parameters on the synth devices by default so you can start geeking out immediately and don't have to get bogged down by MIDI mapping or anything, and there are tons of great tutorial and starter videos, too.

Ableton is similarly awesome, but is aimed more at the Live DJ & Looping crowd, where Reason is aimed at the Synth Geek / Beat Production crowd. Garageband is also great, albeit at a lower level, and combines audio recording and MIDI tracking into a single easy-to-use program that is actually a LOT more powerful than it's Apple-y interface suggests.

Any one of these programs is capable of delivering as much depth and quality as you are likely to desire for quite a while. Garageband is free with Apple systems, Reason runs ~$400US, and Ableton runs ~$600US.
posted by Aquaman at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2012

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