With our routing sorted, it’s time to record some MIDI!
In May 2022’s workshop, we got stuck in with making MIDI connections in Studio One. We learned how to set up external instruments, delved into keyboards and knob controllers, and discovered that MIDI tracks are called Instrument tracks in PreSonus‑world. But now that we have our MIDI hardware connected, let’s look into how we can start recording MIDI notes and examine all the tools that enable us to do that.
So, hit that Record button and you will be capturing MIDI notes the moment you start playing. Studio One doesn’t stand on ceremony: it immediately leaps into recording when the button is clicked or you use the * (asterisk) shortcut on the numeric keypad. You’ll see little lines in the block of colour being generated on the track as you play. These are an overview of the notes you’re playing. You might also see wiggly lines from modulation or aftertouch being picked up from your performance.
You can press Stop or bump the space bar to stop recording. Hit the Return to Zero back arrow and then play back the notes you’ve recorded. The key thing to remember is that it’s the notes you played that have been recorded, not the sound of the synthesizer or instrument you were hearing as you played. These are MIDI notes, and the beauty of them is that you can edit them and direct them to any instrument you like for playback. You can check this out by changing the preset on the software or hardware synth you’re using and then playing your recorded MIDI notes back again.
If you create another Instrument track alongside the existing one, you can record more notes to play a different instrument while the original one is playing back. It’s important to note that the ability to play back different sounds at once is not a universal trait in MIDI instruments. With software instruments, you can simply create another instance of the plug‑in and have different presets loaded on each. With a hardware synthesizer, you probably only have one of any given model, and the capabilities can vary enormously between synths when it comes to playing back more than one sound. The ability to playback more than one sound is known as being ‘multitimbral’, and is most often a feature of digital synthesizers. Most hardware analogue synths can only play the sound that is currently set on their front panel.
So, by using another hardware synth, or loading up more instances of plug‑ins, you can record tracks of MIDI notes side by side, and your composition will start to emerge.
The key thing to remember is that it’s the notes you played that have been recorded, not the sound of the synthesizer or instrument you were hearing as you played.