A Midi file contains electronic music data. When you record into a Midi file, you record the keys you hit on your electronic keyboard, how hard you hit the key, the “voice” on the keyboard, such as grand piano, and other data. Later, your keyboard can play this music again from this file. But you can do a lot more with a Midi file. For example, using Midi editing software such as Anvil Studio, you can edit the file. For example, you can change the voice, cause a note to be louder or softer, move or delete a note, and so on. You can add tracks to the Midi file, for example, with drums, to generate an orchestral arrangement. You can also automatically generate sheet music from the Midi file. Although this sounds like something for professional musicians, Midi files are easy to generate and anyone can have fun with them. Note that a Midi file is not the same as a normal audio recording that records the sound waves produced as you hit the keys on your keyboard, although you can also make standard audio recordings with your keyboard.
Connecting your Yamaha to your computer
To save to a Midi file, you need to connect your keyboard to your computer. Note that not all keyboards are Midi. I am using as my example a Yamaha PSR E363, but other models will work similarly. In this case, I use the USB Type B (square connection) port on my keyboard and connect it directly to the USB type A (flat connection) on my computer. No sound card is involved. Recording the sound directly is more complex and is explained in an earlier post: (Connect your Yamaha keyboard to your PC to record).
The simplest method
To record the Midi file, you can install recording software such as Anvil Studio or you can use the very handy, browser based, MIDI Recorder. Turn on your keyboard and attach the cable. MIDI Recorder will display your device. If you don’t see it, you may have to unplug and plug back in your cable. Once you see it, just start playing and it will record. Then hit the “save MIDI file” button. Your file will automatically download to your computer. To listen to this file on your computer, you can open any application that can play Midi files, such as Anvil Studio or Audacity.
Using recording software
Using the MIDI Recorder web app is very easy. However, downloading and using special Midi software gives you more options. The basic, free version of Anvil Studio is a good place to start. However, before recording, you may need to set an option on your keyboard. For the Yamaha PSR E363, I need to set the “Initial Send”, InitSend shown on the keyboard, to “yes”. To reach this function, hold down the “FUNCTION” key on the right side of the keyboard and hit the “YES” option multiple times until the InitSend option appears in the display. Then release the FUNCTION button and hit the YES again. The display will show “Sending” and now data will be sent to the computer. This step is not necessary using the web app MIDI Recorder. Also, when using Anvil Studio, this step must be taken immediately after hitting the record button, as explained in the next paragraph.
Recording with Anvil Studio
With Anvil Studio, choose file > new song. Hit the “Rec” record button and it will turn red. Play the music on your keyboard and then hit the “stop” button. Rewind to the start of the song and play it back. Now you have a Midi file and you can play it, edit it, or add tracks to it.
Sending your midi file back to your keyboard
You may want to send your Midi file back to your keyboard to let the keyboard play it later or you may want to send this Midi file to another keyboard. Keyboard models vary on how to do this. With the Yamaha PSR E363, there is a downloadable application to do this – Musicsoft Downloader. You can also use this app to upload to your Yamaha other Midi files you want to hear.