What are CONTROLLER and MIDI KEYBOARDS?
Controller, or midi keyboards are used in conjunction with software sample libraries to provide the player/pianist an input source when creating or composing music. Midi is in reference to the (midi) signal that the keyboard sends to the computer software.
A typical setup comprises of keyboard/controller being connected to a PC or laptop via a midi or USB cable. The computer would be running software known as a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) This is essentially a sequencer that will record the sounds that are played with the keyboard.
But where do the sounds come from I hear you ask? Well, most of the time they actually don’t come from the keyboard as generally midi keyboards don’t contain their own sounds, they come from sample libraries which are plugin’s that run within the DAW. Sample libraries dictate the instrument sounds that you hear in your composition, and as you may well imagine there are thousands of them out there covering pretty much any instrument you can think of, and all at very different price ranges. The highest quality and most expensive ones have been made using actual recordings of real instruments, giving them a rich and truly realistic sound.
So to sum up in a nutshell, the keyboard provides the input and the midi signal that the computer understands and in turn associates those signals with which ever sample library is currently selected, and then records them into the DAW or sequencing software. And there you have it, that’s how music is made! Well…. there is of course a little more to it than that, but this short synopsis will hopefully give you a slightly better understanding of how the midi controller interacts with the computer software to create your compositions.
What Type’s Are There?
There are a whole variety of different type’s of controller on the market today, some are really quite small with only a handful of key’s, where as some grant the player with that of a full size grand piano. The number of key’s usually range from around 25 up to 88 and can also be weighted, meaning they give the feel of an actual piano.