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Ruby Gold

Serious newbie trying to figure out how to make a song...

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@InstrEd now you’re scaring me. A $600 keyboard 🎹

I have used a Roland 49 key controller since 1985. First one died a few years ago so replaced with the latest model A 49.  $130. Nice and compact. Runs on buss power or a standard 9 volt adapter. Has both  Din midi and usb and I love how it plays something that people don’t think about if they are not keyboard players. 
best of all it comes with a good midi driver.  I find this is important. I never have issues with the Roland. I can turn it on with a project open and Cake asks if I want to use it. I also have an Akai key station 25 it uses generic drivers and is always disconnecting and requires rebooting Cakewalk to connect. I believe in only buying gear that comes with real drivers be it midi or ASIO. 

Edited by John Vere

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Sorry. I don't know if he/she wanted a weighted piano type keyboard. If he does he could kill two birds with one stone as they say.  Piano and audio interface.

There is also the  IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O 49 for $299 with a audio interface too. No built in sounds but you get tons of sounds with the included software vsti bundle. I have one and I like it.  Plus it gets you into all the deals from IK-Multimedia at the crossgrade prices :)

I would love to find myself a 37 size keyboard that is just a simple MIDI board.  I will have to venture out to Samash in January to check some out.

 

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Thanks all for all this! My keyboard is a Yamaha PSR E403 to answer that question, and my guess is you're right about the USB port on it not being able to transmit midi data.  Like I said, it is an antique, and I bought it for creating little musical snippets for videos I was producing back in the mid-2000s.  I use Windows 10. 

My singing voice is fairly sucky, but I have an okay mike anyway and decent headphones. Looks like I'm going to need to invest in some more stuff to make this song work. I'm not really a songwriter - but this one song just kind of came to me, first as a riff, then a whole melody line and then words - so I feel compelled to build it out into a real song, which is why I downloaded CW and am trying to learn it. Complicated! Especially for someone who's not really a musician nor versed in DAWs.  Thanks for all your suggestions and I'm open to any additional ones that occur to you. 

I'd love to get a keyboard that is as close to a plug and play kind of situation as possible. I'm reasonably tech savvie - but not a sound/music production specialist - so, easier/less is better. Just something to help me get better sounding virtual instruments recorded directly  into  CW that I can than edit in piano roll and mix with other tracks, etc.

PS John didn't scare me away, and I am a her not a him.  😉

Edited by Ruby Gold

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Welcome to the forum.
Some stuff from the manual, and a link to the manual:

Connect the instrument’s USB terminal to the USB terminal of a computer, and you can transfer performance
data and song files between the two (page 86). To use
the USB data-transfer features you’ll need to do the following:
• First, make sure the POWER switch on the instrument is set to OFF, then use a USB cable to connect the instrument to the computer. After making
the connections, turn on the power of the instrument.
• Install the USB MIDI driver on your computer.
Installation of the USB MIDI driver is described on
page 94.
■Installing the USB-MIDI Driver● ● ● ●
In order to be able to communicate with and use
MIDI devices connected to your computer, the
appropriate driver software must be properly
installed on your computer.
The USB-MIDI driver allows sequence software
and similar applications on your computer to transmit and receive MIDI data to and from MIDI
devices via a USB cab
https://usa.yamaha.com/files/download/other_assets/3/334403/psre403_en_om.pdf
 

I started with a Yamaha keyboard back in 2001, but it didn't have USB. Hopefully you can get this working and enjoy it and Cakewalk as much as I did.

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USB Connectivity

The Yamaha PSR-E403 has a true USB connection, so, there is no more messing with buying a MIDI to USB converter to connect to your PC or notebook. However, you will need to install the USB-MIDI driver that's bundled with the Accessory CD on your computer in order to communicate with your computer and keyboard, which, is a simple process.

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This was all stated in about the 6 th post by me   
I said go to the Yamaha web site and look for the model and see if there are any downloads. The op seems to have bought it second hand so manual and  CD might not have been there 

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Thanks again for all the response  and links. Much appreciated. I will report back if it works! Happy New Year everyone.

Ruby

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Hi all and thanks so much for the great suggestions. They worked! But it's a bit of a good news/bad news situation. I installed the correct driver as instructed and then was able to select the Yamaha as input on an instrument track and record what I was playing live into a track as midi data! YAY!!!! Thanks so much for all the help to get me that far you guys!  Now - problem is, there is no audio data being recorded. Since I don't have an audio interface, Mike's instructional vid on how to get the audio track from the played keyboard's midi data isn't possible. 

Is it possible without an audio interface to convert the recorded midi data to an audio track so I can hear it through my headphones/speakers and mix it with the other tracks to create my song?  Thanks in advance for your help!

Ruby

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Just to make sure (I am not sure how new you are so do not take offense), MIDI data is simply note information (no audio), so to be able to hear it, you will need to output that MIDI track into a "soft synth," which takes in MIDI and outputs audio. That soft synth is an important middle man to the process. When you record MIDI, that is all you will get (MIDI), but you can then bounce that information to another track (with it being played by a soft synth), which will create an audio track of the performance. You can also create an Aux Track listening to the soft synth, which will allow you to record the soft synth output (real-time).

When you record MIDI, you can use that to drive any soft synth (so you can change just the instrument on the synth without affecting performance), so "just recording MIDI" is not a bad thing.

Did you use an "Instrument Track" when you recorded your performance, or were you listening to the keyboard output? Based on what you are doing you may want to research "instrument tracks" to get a better feel for how they work.

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There are lots of tutorials in my signature is a link to my midi tutorials. The first parts are about working with a download file and later on I cover using you keyboards to create your own 

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1 hour ago, Ruby Gold said:

Hi all and thanks so much for the great suggestions. They worked! But it's a bit of a good news/bad news situation. I installed the correct driver as instructed and then was able to select the Yamaha as input on an instrument track and record what I was playing live into a track as midi data! YAY!!!! Thanks so much for all the help to get me that far you guys!  Now - problem is, there is no audio data being recorded. Since I don't have an audio interface, Mike's instructional vid on how to get the audio track from the played keyboard's midi data isn't possible. 

Is it possible without an audio interface to convert the recorded midi data to an audio track so I can hear it through my headphones/speakers and mix it with the other tracks to create my song?  Thanks in advance for your help!

Ruby

Look for tutorials on Cakewalk TTS-1 which is a GM softsynth that is included in CW. 

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1 hour ago, mettelus said:

Just to make sure (I am not sure how new you are so do not take offense), MIDI data is simply note information (no audio), so to be able to hear it, you will need to output that MIDI track into a "soft synth," which takes in MIDI and outputs audio. That soft synth is an important middle man to the process. When you record MIDI, that is all you will get (MIDI), but you can then bounce that information to another track (with it being played by a soft synth), which will create an audio track of the performance. You can also create an Aux Track listening to the soft synth, which will allow you to record the soft synth output (real-time).

When you record MIDI, you can use that to drive any soft synth (so you can change just the instrument on the synth without affecting performance), so "just recording MIDI" is not a bad thing.

Did you use an "Instrument Track" when you recorded your performance, or were you listening to the keyboard output? Based on what you are doing you may want to research "instrument tracks" to get a better feel for how they work.

Thanks Mettelus. I'm not offended - I'm a rock bottom newbie! I did use Instrument track when I recorded the line I played on the keyboard. Totally get it about the middle-man concept - but how do I output the midi track into the "soft synth" (not sure what that is) and then output the audio  so it can be mixed, heard, etc? Also the point for me of getting the Yamaha keyboard input was to capture better sound/nuance etc than just using a virtual instrument - but is that what a soft synth is? Sorry - I warned you I'm a newbie. 🙂 And - deeply appreciate all the help being offered!

 

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Posted (edited)

The soft synth is the instrument you assign the midi notes to - if you have recorded a midi track insert a soft synth in the track below it - go up to the menu along the top of the screen  and click on  insert then  hover over soft synth - that will give you a list of the soft synths you have installed. Click on the one you want. Then click on your midi track  - at the bottom left of the screen you should see a small rectangular box with the letter 'o' in it - this is your midi track's output - click on the dropdown arrow to reveal the instrument you want to output to.

Hope this helps a little!

Edited by JoeGBradford
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I just ran through the mechanics, and part of it may be in how you are setting up/recording the instrument track. Try this and see if it works for you...

  1. Right click in the left pane of the Track View and select "Insert Instrument..." (this "instrument" is the soft synth I mentioned earlier)
  2. In the "Add Track" popup, it defaults to TTS-1 as the Instrument, and Omni as the input. Leave those as is for now, but expand the "Advanced" area at the bottom and choose "Split Instrument Track." What this does is separate the instrument into its MIDI (input) and soft synth (audio output) components. Select "Create" to close that.
  3. TTS-1 will open and you will have two tracks, the audio output (icon with MIDI port and keyboard) and below that the MIDI track (icon of only a MIDI port).
  4. The Arm (Record) buttons in those tracks are independent, so can record the audio, MIDI, or both. Arm both tracks and play the keyboard to ensure you have sound from the TTS-1.
  5. Hit the Record button on the transport (at the top), and record a bit. You should see the upper track recording an audio waveform, and the lower (MIDI) track light up after the first note is played. Stop the transport.
  6. That upper track is recorded audio, which I think is what you were seeking?

If that works...

  1. You can delete the clips in the tracks of what you just recorded (select the clip contents and use the delete key to delete them).
  2. Next select your MIDI track from previously (the one you asked about earlier with no audio), and shift-drag (shift preserves the timing ) that MIDI into the lower instrument track (the MIDI track).
  3. Arm the upper TTS-1 (the audio) track only, then hit the record button on the transport (top of window).
  4. As it plays the MIDI, the audio waveform will record at the top. Play it through till the end, and stop. That top track is now an audio file.
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Thanks again Mettelus for the step by step. Look forward to trying it out. Appreciate your help!!

 

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1 hour ago, JoeGBradford said:

The soft synth is the instrument you assign the midi notes to - if you have recorded a midi track insert a soft synth in the track below it - go up to the menu along the top of the screen  and click on  insert then  hover over soft synth - that will give you a list of the soft synths you have installed. Click on the one you want. Then click on your midi track  - at the bottom left of the screen you should see a small rectangular box with the letter 'o' in it - this is your midi track's output - click on the dropdown arrow to reveal the instrument you want to output to.

Hope this helps a little!

Thanks Joe - I'll take a look at this. Appreciate the help!

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'Soft synth' is short for software synthesizer.
Your Yamaha has a hardware synth which makes it possible to hear what you play.
A soft synth is, as the name implies, software which can take the played/recorded MIDI data and output as audio.
Although you may not have an audio interface (yet; highly recommended if you want recording satisfaction), your computer almost certainly has a sound card that can be used to listen to your songs.

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21 hours ago, mettelus said:

I just ran through the mechanics, and part of it may be in how you are setting up/recording the instrument track. Try this and see if it works for you...

  1. Right click in the left pane of the Track View and select "Insert Instrument..." (this "instrument" is the soft synth I mentioned earlier)
  2. In the "Add Track" popup, it defaults to TTS-1 as the Instrument, and Omni as the input. Leave those as is for now, but expand the "Advanced" area at the bottom and choose "Split Instrument Track." What this does is separate the instrument into its MIDI (input) and soft synth (audio output) components. Select "Create" to close that.
  3. TTS-1 will open and you will have two tracks, the audio output (icon with MIDI port and keyboard) and below that the MIDI track (icon of only a MIDI port).
  4. The Arm (Record) buttons in those tracks are independent, so can record the audio, MIDI, or both. Arm both tracks and play the keyboard to ensure you have sound from the TTS-1.
  5. Hit the Record button on the transport (at the top), and record a bit. You should see the upper track recording an audio waveform, and the lower (MIDI) track light up after the first note is played. Stop the transport.
  6. That upper track is recorded audio, which I think is what you were seeking?

If that works...

  1. You can delete the clips in the tracks of what you just recorded (select the clip contents and use the delete key to delete them).
  2. Next select your MIDI track from previously (the one you asked about earlier with no audio), and shift-drag (shift preserves the timing ) that MIDI into the lower instrument track (the MIDI track).
  3. Arm the upper TTS-1 (the audio) track only, then hit the record button on the transport (top of window).
  4. As it plays the MIDI, the audio waveform will record at the top. Play it through till the end, and stop. That top track is now an audio file.

Hi again Mettelus. I went through  your steps above, and was able to get the 'audio' track along with the midi recorded out of the Yamaha keyboard. THANK YOU!!!!

The "audio" track (with the icon of the MIDI port and the keyboard) doesn't look like a normal waveform though - it's flat compared with other audio waveforms. Can you help me understand why? And... can that flat audio track be mixed, have effects put on it, exported, etc? Or does it need further conversion of some type until it looks like a normal waveform?  Thanks!

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Does the track sound okay and just "look" flatter? If you expand the height of that track, there is a zoom on the left edge of the waveform section. You can expand the waveform visually there  (I forget what it defaults to, but you can click and drag the displayed dB level vertically).

As far as mixing, yes it is same as any audio track. In fact, most just add FX to that track without "printing" it first to allow them to adjust the MIDI performance. This means the soft synth needs to run each time to get its audio output, but may be preferred depending on the situation.

In cases where the CPU is getting taxed (some soft synths are CPU heavy), you can also "freeze" a track which is similar to what you just did (makes an audio file from the MIDI/soft synth and disables the soft synth to free up the CPU).

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