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How To Create a MIDI File?

While creating a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) file can seem difficult, especially if you're new to music creation, contrary to it, you can do it quite easily with the correct tools and a step-by-step technique. In this detailed guide, we will lead you through the entire process of creating a MIDI file.

How to Setup MIDI

Selecting the Right Software

The first thing that you need to take care of before you start on the journey to create a MIDI file is to find a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software that supports MIDI and gives you all the features that you are looking for. Some popular options include Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic Pro. Choose the one that suits your preferences and budget.

Similar: FL Studio vs Ableton

Setting Up Your DAW

Now that your DAW is in place open it and configure your MIDI controller to work in coherence with the software. You can also use your computer keyboard or mouse as a controller for basic input. For issues with connecting with fl studio, you can check the midi keyboard to fl studio guide which might help you sort it.


How to Create MIDI File

Once you have set up your MIDI and your DAW, the following section will tell you how to get creative and develop your MIDI composition.

Step 1: Choosing Instruments

The first thing you must do is select the virtual instruments you want to use in your composition. You can choose from various instruments like synthesizers, drum kits, or any other sound you desire.

Although most DAWs usually come with various built-in instruments, users can also add third-party plugins to add more textures to the sound. For example, instead of using the inbuilt piano, we can use Addictive keys or Kontakt keyscape.


Step 2: Composing Notes

Begin composing by adding notes to your project. Click or input notes in the piano roll or MIDI editor. Experiment with melodies, chords, and rhythms to create your unique musical piece.


Step 3: Velocity and Dynamics

Adjust the velocity of each note to control its volume and intensity. This is crucial for creating expressive and dynamic MIDI performances. Once you start experimenting with the velocity and dynamics, you will realize how these factors humanize the melodies you have created.


Step 4: Modulation and Effects.

While modulating and using certain effects isn’t a necessary step in creating a MIDI file, modulation and effects can undoubtedly help you add depth and character to your composition.

Other than that, depending on your MIDI device and your DAW, you can also work around features like reverb, chorus, and vibrato that can help you enhance the sound of your MIDI instruments.


Step 5: Quantization

Quantization will help you align your notes to a grid, ensuring precision in your rhythm. Remember that you should rarely be afraid to leave some notes slightly off the grid so that your creation feels human and not something too digitized.


Step 6: Polishing Your Composition

Once you have everything in place, based on our first-hand experience, we would suggest that you spend some time perfecting your MIDI composition by deleting unnecessary notes, adjusting timing, and fine-tuning dynamics to achieve your desired sound.

Step 7: Saving Your MIDI File

Now that you have polished your MIDI creation and are satisfied with your composition save it in the MIDI file format (usually .midi or .mid). This format is universally recognized and can be imported into various DAWs and music software.


Tips and Tricks While Creating MIDI Files

Organize Your Workflow

This tip belongs not solely to this section but can be applied to almost anything regarding work. Always organize your workflow before diving into the composition. Plan your project and organize your ideas, instrument choices, and structure. Speaking from our years of experience, all of this will help you to save a tremendous amount of time and even maintain a clear vision.

Use Quality Virtual Instruments

High-quality virtual instruments will certainly add a significant difference to the sound of your MIDI compositions. While there is no limit to upgrades, we suggest you get the best MIDI devices that your budget can support.

Quantize with Caution

While quantization can help correct timing issues, don't overuse it, as it will distort the balance between human feel and precision, hampering the natural groove of your music. Guide to quantization in fl studio has been shared by my already.

Save Regularly

For any artist, MIDI data is as valuable as gold, and we have all experienced technical issues popping up at the worst of times. This is why one should always save work regularly to avoid data loss.

Master MIDI Shortcuts

If you create MIDI files frequently, we suggest you familiarize yourself with keyboard shortcuts and DAW-specific features that can streamline your workflow and save time.

Keep Your Devices Updated

Always make sure that your software and virtual instruments are up-to-date at all times. This will ensure you can make the most out of them as new updates constantly bring improvements, bug fixes, and new features and effects.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Latency Problems

Suppose you are experiencing latency between hitting a key on your MIDI controller and hearing the sound. In that case, you should try adjusting your audio buffer size in your DAW to reduce latency. But remember that lower buffer sizes decrease latency but may require more processing power.

No Sound Output

Not able to hear any sound output? Check your MIDI routing and ensure the correct instrument is selected in your DAW. Also, ensure that all the connections are securely placed in the hardware.

MIDI Controller Not Recognized

One of the most common issues musicians worldwide face when working with a new MIDI controller is that your computer doesn't recognize it. To troubleshoot this issue, ensure you've installed the necessary drivers and the controller is properly connected. Also, keep your drivers updated at all times.

File Compatibility

If you're experiencing issues with MIDI file compatibility, ensure you use the standard MIDI format (SMF) when sharing files across different software and platforms.


In summary, creating MIDI files is a gateway to endless musical creativity. Understanding MIDI's fundamentals, step-by-step composition process, and its role in electronic music production is key. With the right software and configuration, you can bring your musical ideas to life, experimenting with various instruments, dynamics, and effects.

- Joseph SARDIN - Founder of - About - Contact

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