MIDI Controller in GarageBand-GUIDE

GarageBand, considered to be one of the top Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software in the world, is extremely user friendly when it comes to manoeuvring through the interface and understanding the various options that the application has to offer to users. The GarageBand music production software is developed by Apple INC and is readily available to download from the Apple Store. Windows users can download it with the help of an iOS emulator. The importance of using a MIDI keyboard cannot be less stressed upon. Known as a music producer’s best friend, a MIDI keyboard is where all the magic takes place. One MIDI keyboard is enough to replace an entire band. GarageBand provides exceptional MIDI keyboard support to facilitate the production of good music.


With the age of technology coming into play, music produced electronically has overpowered the conventional process of recording and merging tracks to create songs. While this new technique has been criticised by many as aiding the loss of musical talent, electronic music can be produced faster and the end product always tends to have greater audience attraction. MIDI Keyboards are key to producing electronic music. A MIDI keyboard is essentially a one or two-octave keyboard with no audio output whatsoever. Commonly known as a controller keyboard, it sends electronic signals to the device it is connected with (usually a Digital Audio Workstation). Whatever you play on the MIDI keyboard will be heard from the audio output of your device. The keyboard as such has no tones. The tones and styles of playing will be determined from the music production application that you are using. From a grand piano piece to making funky electronic beats, a MIDI keyboard can be used for both purposes and anything in between. MIDIs are connected with either a 5pin MIDI connector or with the help of a USB. When it comes to GarageBand, the app provides users with comprehensive MIDI support, irrespective of the model of the MIDI or the connectivity type being used.


How to Connect MIDI keyboard to your GarageBand?

  1. MIDI keyboards, or any such electronic device like beat-makers or audio interfaces, need to connect physically to the GarageBand application via the device you are using GarageBand from.
  2. There are two different options to connect a keyboard to your Digital Audio Workstation. Depending on the MIDI model you are using and the connectivity settings, you will either have to work with a USB connector or a MIDI connector.
  3. If your MIDI works with USB, connect the USB from the keyboard to the computer. The later and more recent MIDI versions also have USB C type cable connectivity.
  4. If your MIDI has a MIDI connector attached to it, it will be a 5-pin connector. In that case, you will require a MIDI interface as a mediator between the computer and the keyboard. Firstly, establish a connection between the MIDI in and MIDI Out ports of the interface. Once done, connect the MIDI In port of the MIDI keyboard you are using to the MIDI Out port of the MIDI interface.
  5. A MIDI interface normally has USB connectivity. After you have patched up connections between the MIDI interface and the MIDI keyboard, plug the USB from the MIDI interface into your computer.
  6. You are all set to use the MIDI keyboard to produce songs. To check whether a proper connection has been established, go to the MIDI option from the GarageBand application and set an instrument type and tone for the MIDI. On pressing keys on the keyboard, you will be able to hear the sound you set from your device’s audio output.
  7. Even though this is the general setting that is used to connect a MIDI keyboard to GarageBand, some models may vary and some others might even need specific drivers to function properly. There it becomes very important to go through the user guide that is given along with the instrument as well as the manufacturer’s website before you start connecting. Similarly, if you are using a MIDI interface that most music producers are quite commonly using these days, you will have to make sure you read the user guide thoroughly and only then move on with connecting your MIDI set up with a device.

GUIDE- MIDI Settings in GarageBand

GarageBand has a full-fledged MIDI setup already present with the software. Known as the Musical Typing feature that works with all external electronic instruments, the features here make life very simple for producers while using a MIDI. After you have successfully connected the MIDI, go to Preferences, and check whether the MIDI keyboard is identified by GarageBand. If the instrument is not identified, try unplugging the connection and setting it over again. Click on the Musical Typing option from the menu bar and select MIDI instrument. The keyboard layout will appear on your screen.


This is a doubly useful option as you can also play with the help of your keyboard by following the keys as mentioned in the layout. Whichever notes you play on your MIDI keyboard will be highlighted graphically on the virtual keyboard. There will a tone column on the left side of the window. This column will contain tones of various instruments starting from pianos to lead guitars to accordions to drums as well as synth pads and layer sounds. You will even be able to provide choir type effects from your MIDI by playing around with the tones.

If you want to use the various controls of the MIDI keyboard like modulation, pitch bend, or the sustain options among others, you will have the option of either accessing the buttons on your MIDI keyboard physically or by simply tapping on the keys on the virtual keyboard layout. Every virtual key of the keyboard will have a single letter assigned to it in case users want to use the laptop or a desktop keyboard as a MIDI. These letters can be changed through a quite sophisticated process. Higher-end MIDI keyboards will have knobs on its interface. Normally keyboards have not more than 3 knobs. These knobs act as a small mixer of sorts. Various audio functionalities can be assigned to those knobs. For example, you can set Knob 1 as reverb, Knob 2 as audio gain, and knob 3 as volume. Thereafter adjusting the reverb knob physically will let you control the reverb and so on for the other knobs. All the knobs can be set from the GarageBand application itself.

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As GarageBand is compatible with the Logic Pro X remote that is an accessory provided by Logic Pro X, electronic devices like an iPad or an iPhone can also be used as MIDI keyboards. The main function of the Logic Pro remote is to provide wireless connectivity with connected Apple devices. Whatever changes that are made to GarageBand projects on your iPad or iPhone will be replicated across all other devices. If you are using a virtual MIDI keyboard from your iPad, you will be able to play and record your tracks into GarageBand. The settings will remain the same as mentioned above. If required, you can always change the keys on the layout provided.