12 Home Studio Necessities #9 – MIDI Controller


Not every home studio owner is a keyboard player. But almost every home studio owner will want to put keyboard parts into their recordings at some point. Hence the need for a MIDI controller, or MIDI keyboard.

The reason I call it a MIDI controller as opposed to just a keyboard is that not everyone needs a big expensive keyboard with lots of sounds. Most recording software you can get today comes with all sorts of free virtual instruments, like keyboards, strings, organs, drums, etc.

Obviously you’ll need some sort of keyboard to actually play these sounds that are living inside your software. That’s where a MIDI controller comes in.

What is MIDI?

MIDI is a communication language. It’s the way different devices (particularly keyboards and sound modules) talk to each other.

MIDI is used in all sorts of ways. It can allow one keyboard to play the sounds off of several keyboards. It can control lighting. It can change settings on an effects unit. It can do your laundry and make your bed, too. (more…)

Day 18 – Take Advantage of MIDI [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 18 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

We’ve talked about recording instruments with microphones quite a bit, but what about virtual instruments?

What if your song needs a piano, and you don’t own one?

What if you need an orchestra, but you don’t have the cash to hire the Nashville Symphony?

Then it’s time to take a trip to MIDI Town.

I Know What You’re Thinking…

Are you a recording snob? “MIDI is lame and sounds fake.”

I know. I kinda used to be a recording snob, too. Then I just tried out some of the virtual instruments out there. The truth is…a lot of them sound amazing.

If you mix them right, and if you factor in the cost of finding/hiring that weird instrument you’re looking for, virtual instruments make a lot of sense for most home studio folks.


Intro to MIDI

A lot of us home studio owners focus on microphones, preamps, converters, monitors, etc. But what happens if we need a piano part, but we don’t have a piano to record?

Or perhaps we want a drum kit, but we don’t have the equipment to record one ourselves, and we can’t afford to hire out a professional studio?

That’s where MIDI comes in. I’ve talked about MIDI quite a bit here on HSC. I’ve even posted on MIDI Frequently Asked Questions, but I’ve never done a proper overview of it. So here it is!

Here’s an Intro to MIDI video. It’s taken from the Week 3 content of the HSC Production Club. Enjoy!


MIDI: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve recently received a few questions regarding MIDI, and I realized that I haven’t discussed MIDI all that much here on Home Studio Corner. While the majority of articles and videos deal with recording, mixing, productivity, etc., I would imagine most of us will utilize MIDI to some degree in our home studio setups.

Rather than do an exhaustive series of posts on MIDI, I thought it would be helpful to do address some of the most frequently asked questions. After all, if you’ve never used MIDI before, it’s a pretty mysterious new territory.

What does MIDI stand for?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

What is MIDI?


Video: Using an Instrument Track to Build Background Vocals

Background vocals. They can make such a big difference in your music. However, a good background vocal takes some planning, especially if you’re doing a three- or four-part harmony. 

It’s best to figure out the arrangement before you begin recording. Otherwise, you’ll end up recording eight tracks of BGVs, only to decide that you don’t like the note choices. Suddenly you’re back at square one.

In this video I show you how to use an instrument track to build great background vocals. And yes, in this video I’m using Logic! You may have read my article on why I use Pro Tools, but for this video, I dug through the archives for a song I recorded in Logic that showcases this particular technique.

The same concept applies whether your on Pro Tools or anything else. Enjoy!


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