Preparing for MIDI recording

MIDI has been the foundation of almost all music production for the last 32 years.

Operating at 31,250 bits per second, it's time to go back to the future! MIDI has been an industry standard since the 1980s and has changed the face of music production. Back in 1968, Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind recorded "Switched-On Bach", the first album consisting entirely of synthetic music. Because of the early synthesizers used, the album was entirely monophonic. Today we'll show you the best way to prepare for MIDI recording. But we'll be showing you how to make polyphonic recordings.

Basically, MIDI data is recorded in the same way as audio data in Samplitude. With each recording you create an object which defines the MIDI synthesizer, the sound and the sound parameters that will be used for playback. You can arrange and edit the generated MIDI object in a variety of ways.

Step 1: To prepare the track for MIDI recording, click on the "MIDI" button in the track editor.

This opens the MIDI section of the track.

Step 2: Indicate to Samplitude which MIDI input device the program should use. Select the input device in the MIDI In slot (e.g. MIDI keyboard) to do this.

If you have multiple MIDI input devices connected to your system, you can also select <ALL> as the MIDI input device for a track.

Step 3: Select the MIDI port you want to use for the playback device (MIDI Output Device) through the MIDI Out slot (e.g. MIDI Out of your sound card or a VST instrument).

If you don't hear a sound when you press the keys on the input device, you probably need to activate the monitoring. Activate this with the loudspeaker button (MIDI thru) for the respective MIDI track.

Step 4: By right-clicking the "Mon" button in the transport console you can access a menu for adjusting the behavior of the "Record" and "Monitoring" button. If you activate the options "Automatic MIDI record switch on current track" and "Automatic MIDI monitoring (Thru)", the selected MIDI tracks will be immediately activated for the recording and monitoring will be switched on for the input signal. If you want to record multiple MIDI tracks simultaneously, deactivate the option "Automatic MIDI record switch on current track".

If you still don't hear anything when you play the keys, make sure that the MIDI out channel of the MIDI keyboard matches the "channel in" slot in the track editor for the selected MIDI track.

Step 5: Make sure that your MIDI synthesizer is sending to the same MIDI channel that you have selected in the "channel out" slot in the track editor. To be certain, set the Out channel to "All". Now you should hear all of the synthesizers no matter what channel they are on.

Note: Many drum machines send to MIDI channel 10, since this is preferably used as the percussion channel and is even specified as such according to the General MIDI (GM1) specifications.

Step 6: If you want to use a VST instrument, open the selection menu of the MIDI Out slot and move the mouse pointer over "New Instrument" to display a list of the virtual instruments. Here we'll select Samplitude's very own "Vita" synthesizer.

This opens the graphical display of the selected VST instrument.

Step 7: We can open the routing settings in the VSTi Manager in the docker. This dialog is where the routing is set for the integrated software instrument.

Here you can add software instruments to the current track, separate the audio track from the MIDI track for multitimbral synthesizers or add multiple new tracks for instrument outputs in Multi-Channel Mode.

For our example we'll choose the option "Simple: Audio and MIDI together in one track". In this case, the same track sends MIDI commands to the instrument and receives the audio signal from the instrument.

Step 8: We can now see that the MIDI out of our VST instrument is selected and lit up, which tells us that the VSTi has been loaded. You can also find the corresponding entry in the plug-in panel and in the track header.

By left-clicking on the corresponding entry you can deactivate the plug-in. If you click again, it will reactivate the VSTi.

Click on the "Close" cross on the VSTi interface to hide the VSTi window.

Right-clicking on the entry in the track editor opens the VST interface again.

Step 9: We want to record a section eight bars in length. To do this we're going to draw a range in the Grid and Marker bar.

Step 10: We want to record multiple processes in a MIDI object and mix them, so we'll switch the MIDI recording mode in the transport console from "Normal" to "Overdub".

Step 11: Activate Loop Mode so that the range plays in a loop.

Step 12: Click on the "Click" button to activate the metronome.

When playback begins you will hear the metronome click at the set tempo.

Step 13: By right-clicking on the "Click" button you can change the metronome settings.

  • Select "Active during Playback" as well as "Active during Recording" and set the Precount to 2 measures. Use the fader set a suitable volume for the metronome.
  • By clicking on the folder symbols you can access alternative metronome samples for the first beat and general beat respectively.
  • After we've made all the preparations we are ready to make our first recording.

Step 14: Click on the track header of the MIDI track you want to record in

and start the MIDI recording using the keyboard shortcut "R" or with the record button in the transport console. After ending recording with the "Stop" button, you will be asked whether you want to keep or delete the recording. After confirming this with "OK", your newly recorded material will appear as a "MIDI take" in the VIP.

Next time we will take a closer look at recording MIDI-drums. Have fun preparing your MIDI/VSTi recordings in Samplitude!

The Samplitude team