If you don’t have a digital piano, you might wonder how to use your keyboard as a MIDI controller. The MIDI interface provides vast functionality, and, if you don’t have a professional instrument like a 25-keys MIDI controller, for example, you still can access the MIDI options through your keyboard. You can enjoy the sound of the grand pianos, classical rock instruments, apply modern futuristic techno sounds, etc. And all that even without having a piano at all. The regular keyboard serving as a MIDI controller enables you to choose out of thousands of the recorded samples in the DAW interface and combine them in the way you like.

Aside from virtual instruments, you can use your PC keyboard for recording music or sound samples to your PC. Further on, you can switch the tempo, the volume, the coloration, and the note itself, as well as apply presets to create a different sound.

Using the keyboard as a MIDI controller, you can map it to the piano keys and play simple compositions. You can quickly play and record any song that comes to mind, then process it further in the DAW.

Read on to find out how to turn a keyboard into a MIDI controller!

How to Use a Keyboard as a MIDI Controller

  1. In order to start expanding your keyboard possibilities, you need to have working DAW software on your PC. There are multiple brands and versions. I’d recommend starting with free “Light” versions (with reduced functionality and basic options). They usually provide a lot of samples and versatility while letting you understand if it’s handy to work with it. The DAW also lets you record the sound you produce and modify it with multiple tools available (changing timbre, volume, aftertaste, coloration, sound duration).
  2. Download a virtual MIDI software to the PC or the laptop (e.g. a Vanilin MIDI Keyboard). This program lets you install the necessary drivers and use your keyboard buttons as the MIDI controller buttons and knobs.
  3. Enter the settings of the virtual MIDI software. The further actions depend on the type of the sound card installed on your PC. If you’ve got a standard model built into a chipset, the software will detect it automatically. When you click on the “Device” menu in the software, two submenus will appear: “MIDI reassignment device” and “Sound synth software”. In order to use a computer keyboard as a MIDI controller, click on the “MIDI reassignment device” line.
  4. Fold the window and run the DAW software. Access the “Options” menu and find the “MIDI settings” submenu. Browse the submenu to find the “Outputs” options. Select the option “MIDI reassignment device”. This should activate the MIDI signal generation by the buttons on your keyboard.
  5. Create an instrument within the DAW and press any letter button on the keyboard. If you hear the sound, the virtual MIDI controller is ready to work. The DAW also lets you access some of the virtual instrument libraries for free or at least have free access to a part of them. Through the DAW, you can map the keys on your keyboard for different sounds or controls, which can be quite handy for sound editing tasks.

Are you still trying to figure out how to use a computer keyboard as a MIDI controller? Here’s one more tip. You can save or share records via virtual instruments like email, messenger, cloud store space, and so on. Besides, within the PC interface, you can combine and use the sounds recorded from other connected digital instruments.