Midi and Daw newbie Q


New member

I'm brand new to DAWs and midi and just need to clear a thing or two up before I decide what to go for as the way it works is a bit of a mystery to me.

In the past I've always done bass and keyboards on instuments through a line in to my recorder, but I'd now like to be able to tap out bass lines on a virtual synth and record as I play. I don't have a touch screen PC so I assume I would be best off buying a midi controller with physical keys?

If I did this, can i then go into the track and edit individual notes in the sequence ( am i right in thinking that it will appear as a grid even if I've done it through an external midi controller? )

My route of working would be to sequence a drum pattern in the DAW although sometimes be importing one as a WAV file if sequencing one on my phone in an android DAW. I'd then be adding guitars, then bass, keyboard, vocals.

Lastly, if you don't have a touch screen, dont have a physical keyboard and cant read music / have little grasp of theory...how do you go about entering notes in the sequence for a midi part? Is it purely trial and error?



Well-known member
What DAW are you using?

When recording MIDI with a controller, you are just recording the data. That data appears on a grid that shows you what note was played and for how long. The sound is usually from either a keyboard with an analog output or some plugin to convert the MIDI data to sound. The data can be musical notes or hits in case of percussion type instruments.

Some DAWs convert the MIDI signals to music notation. The one I use does not. Once the data is recorded you can edit the data, change plug ins, run the MIDI data back out to a full sound keyboard and then record the analog back in using conventional recording.

MIDI has been around for over 35 years, it is simple, flexible, but there are some fundamentals that you have to understand.

I didn't read all of the way through it, but try this: Beginner's Guide To MIDI


New member
I'm probably going to use reaper but not got it yet. I've been using the bandlab android app which has some useful midi effects and the benefit of being able to hit keys on my phones touchscreen.

If a DAW comes loaded with midi instruments / plug ins, how do you play it to actually get the notes in the grid if your pc isn't touchscreen?


rob aylestone

Well-known member
If you are serious, you'll get a cheap MIDI master keyboard. Touch screens are NOT how you make music. Nor, from my experience are phones. Tablets with external hardware can do a little - but real workstations need a computer for access to the many gigabytes of audio samples you start to collect, and they all work best with a mouse and a big screen. Drums and keys might just be doable from a touch screen, if it's capacitive and can handle more than one note at a time, but the inaccuracies of touchscreens will drive you made. To move notes about, even with a touch screen, a mouse is better, and for any form of editing, touch screens (assuming mine is typical) are just not nice to use. With most DAWs on a computer, you can enter notes with a music keyboard, or a mouse quite happily. Drum editors can be great with the touchscreen, but I still use the mouse.

If you play the music keyboard, you can then edit and put right wrong notes, alter timing and copy and paste = everyday stuff in all DAWs.