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Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.

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The Fooles Troupe 17 Apr 04 - 03:19 AM
Jim McLean 17 Apr 04 - 02:26 PM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Apr 04 - 03:01 PM
Mark Clark 17 Apr 04 - 03:02 PM
Mark Clark 17 Apr 04 - 03:10 PM
JohnInKansas 17 Apr 04 - 03:14 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Apr 04 - 05:11 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Apr 04 - 06:37 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Apr 04 - 04:09 AM
pavane 21 Apr 04 - 04:28 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Apr 04 - 05:29 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Apr 04 - 05:35 AM
Pied Piper 21 Apr 04 - 05:40 AM
pavane 21 Apr 04 - 06:05 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Apr 04 - 06:25 AM
Jim McLean 21 Apr 04 - 06:41 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Apr 04 - 07:00 AM
pavane 21 Apr 04 - 07:41 AM
JohnInKansas 21 Apr 04 - 08:43 AM
Jim McLean 21 Apr 04 - 08:47 AM
vectis 21 Apr 04 - 05:25 PM
John in Brisbane 23 Apr 04 - 02:35 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Apr 04 - 02:44 AM
pavane 23 Apr 04 - 02:53 AM
JohnInKansas 23 Apr 04 - 04:17 AM
Hyperabid 24 Apr 04 - 06:08 PM
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Subject: TECH: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:19 AM

There is a gadget that allows entry of midi piano keyboard info to a PC. I wonder if anybody has tried it yet, as I am thinking of getting one.

Prodikeys

A "normal looking" PC text keyboard with a piano keyboard in front, which can be covered to simulate a wrist rest pad. It has 37 piano keys (F-f) with octave shifting, pitch shifting and note sustain, PS/2 connection, CD player controls, web shortcut and programmable buttons. It also comes with s/w, drivers and allows saving in .wav, .mp3, or .mid formats, as well as some "tutoring" music stuff, rhythms, tunes, etc.

About AUD$199.00
its Australian site is here, but there may be overseas sites too.

Note: a 37 key piano keyboard is within the range of a standard piano accordion keyboard, as in full size 120 bass instruments they range from about 34-41 keys.

I don't know if there are versions for other OSes.

Please let me know if there are other similar gadgets, or any info on connecting a midi piano keyboard to a PC.

Robin


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Subject: RE: TECH: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Jim McLean
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 02:26 PM

I have a old keyboard which has a MIDI OUT socket. I bought a Yamaha USB MIDI interface cable and downloaded Logic Fun 4.8 from Emagic which is free. I can play and save as WAV files etc.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:01 PM

I bought a relatively cheap ($50) keyboard for the sole purpose of making midi files faster. I was very disappointed with it and never use it.

I like my midi files to look "clean," that is, the notation is as written. When you make a midi from a keyboard, the notation can look very exotic, even though it sounds OK. I thought surely I could adjust the snap, resolution, trim, etc. so that I could at least input simple tunes via the keyboard and then add to the midi file. For some reason it just didn't work out. I don't know if the keyboard was inferior because it was cheap (slight delay in milliseconds between striking the note and hearing the sound), or if my inability to precisely play on the beat (due to MS) even in a simple song like Row, Row, Row Your Boat...or whatever....anyway, the notation is just not acceptable. It's just easier for me to notate by hand.

I looked at your link and didn't see anything that looked like a piano keyboard or a PC keyboard. My version of Cakewalk allows entry of notes via the PC keyboard (step sequencing I think), but it's just faster for me to notate on the staff because I read music quickly.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:02 PM

For that money (148.374 USD) you can probably just buy a real MIDI keyboard and the Y adaptor that lets it plug into your PC's game port. If you want it primarily for computer input, you don't really care about the quality of its built-in sounds, you just want standard General MIDI and maybe pressure sensitivity. You don't care about how many drum machine rhythms are built in.

Just a thought.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:10 PM

I must have been composing as Mary was posting. Yes, Mary's description is what often happens. High end software like Finale gives you the ability to turn a performance into a score automatically and still have the notes and measures come out the way you'd like. Finale is expensive, though, and takes a lot of time and work to learn.

I think the ABCMidi utilities that come with ABC+ can do a pretty good job as well but you have to learn to use all the available command line parameters to control the conversion from MIDI to ABC.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 03:14 PM

Although many of the older "keyboards" omitted a decent MIDI output, almost any of the ones commonly available now are equipped, and are pretty easy to plug in to do the same thing the "PC Keyboards" do. With the "cheapo" ones, you usually get an internal audio system so that you can probably figure out some things to do with them that don't involve hooking to your PC.

You can probably get a "Casio" or similar at Walmart that will do everything the more specialized one does for closer to $100 (US) than the $200 (US) for the typical "PC board." I'm not sure what the US/AUS conversion rates are, but a couple of PC Keyboards that showed up a year or two ago here were in the $200 (US) range. At least two have been "discontinued by manufacturer" and a couple of others pretty much disappeared from my local outlets.

The PC keyboard may fit a little more conveniently on/under/near your PC keyboard, but if you get a "music box" style keyboard that you've confirmed does have MIDI output you'll probably find it more versatile over the long run - and maybe a little cheaper.

I do have a 48 key "MIDI" keyboard, no audio, PC or MIDI box required, $100 (US) about 3 years ago; and it has worked well for music input to my PC, but can't be used for anything without a separate MIDI sound system (or PC soundcard). I have it because my old clunker CASIO "rock and roller" dates back to before MIDI outputs were a common thing.

I haven't looked in detail, but a couple of the Yamaha/Casio etc $300+ (US) keyboards I've seen recently appear to be equipped to record MIDI to a floppy drive in the keyboard so that you can just plug the floppy disk into your PC to transfer the MIDI file. This should be great if you're only interested in making the "playbackable" MIDI, but most people find that "playing the keyboard" doesn't result in usable notation - if your need is just to get notes on paper.

Summary: The device described may be just what you need, but you probably should look at what else is easily available to do the same thing. Learn what a MIDI jack looks like, and look at some of the cheap stuff at the local outlets before you decide that this is "your best solution."

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 05:11 PM

Thanks for what you have given so far.

My current PC has on-board sound, and no game port. The USB/midi gadget I have not heard of before, but that isn't surprising to me as I have not been keeping up. I suppose you can get a gameport/USB gadget too? I do have a Joystick, but I had no real option when acquiring the new box - something to do with generosity of friends.

I am not too impressed with my current sound when trying to record from a mic, as it seems to have large amounts of static - but then, as I mentioned in another thread, the input level of my cheapie PC mike is very low.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Apr 04 - 06:37 PM

The advert I read did not have the correct full address to the page for the product. It was buried in the site.

Prodikeys


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 04:09 AM

There used to be "PC Game Port to MIDI Interface kits" around. I'm handy with a soldering iron, but can anybody advise where I can get the necessary circuit diagram to build my own? I suppose I'll have to track down the Australian suppliers of the parts myself.

Thanks
Robin


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: pavane
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 04:28 AM

HARMONY can now do direct MIDI keyboard to score (since 3.2.7), and, of course, export to abc, but only in step-time, i.e. one note at a time, and not polyphonic.

Capturing real-time keyboard input is not very successful whatever software is used, I understand, and why not just capture to a MIDI file, and process that?

By the way, although the normal games port does support MIDI via two spare pins, I understand that the USB games port adaptors do not.

Not sure if you can get it where you are, but in the UK, Maplins stock a book with the circuit for a games port to MIDI adaptor. I think the only special part is the optical isolator called for by the MIDI spec.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 05:29 AM

Thanks pavane

I know this is a bit off the original topic, but your USB/Game Port comments originated this thought...

I have some older games I enjoy, but haven't played for a while, since my sound card died on the old machine, and it was a rather slow box anyway... I have a game port joystck. I know there are new USB joysticks. I assume Dos Games won't work with the USB joysticks, and not sure whether 'Windows Games' 95+ will talk to them, or whether windows will sort out the drivers internally (I assume DirectX games will be alright), so not sure whether to bother trying to get a Games port on this box. o just buy a USB one.....

Also how do I connect Midi if I have no Gameport? No 'midi port' currently exists. Will most new sound cards have even a physical connector that I can plumb out?

My 'new' PC threw tantrums about not wanting to recognise the USB mouse when loading 98SE, so we had to get the PS2 connector!... The IntelliPoint Mouse S/W may have fixed that, but that didn't arrive till after we got the box alive...

This backwards compatability is a pain, and I still have to move to XP home yet...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 05:35 AM

BTW, I just found a card with Native DOS Game Support without software Emulation built in, that may fix one question.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Pied Piper
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 05:40 AM

If your thinking of getting a good value for money Keyboard for use with your computer and on it's own I would have a look at the Casio WK3000 £230 or WK3500 (same but with a floppy drive)£300. I'm thinking of getting one of these, as the MIDI spec is great and it also sounds very good, much better than earlier Casinos.
It has a USB port so you can attach it directly to your computer and MIDI ports.

PP


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: pavane
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 06:05 AM

You CAN get USB MIDI adaptors, but I am told that they may not be suitable for all purposes.

Apparently, USB is not a full duplex protocol (Unlike firewire?), and can only send in one direction at a time. This can cause 'jitter' or timing errors, if using both MIDI IN and MIDI OUT at the same time.

Don't know how true this is, as I haven't tried it myself.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 06:25 AM

A quick web search shows Casio WK3000 units priced at around AU$1,139.00.00 which is a bit rich for me, I think...

Thanks anyway...


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Jim McLean
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 06:41 AM

If you enter UX16 into Google you'll get an explanation of the USB MIDI interface which I use.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 07:00 AM

Thanks Jim,

Looks good, and I assume it might work with non-yamaha products, but it doesn't mention XP drivers compatability on the few sites I looked at. I currently have 98, but am in the process of upgrading. I have enough old incompatible junk around, so want to be sure it will work on XP. :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: pavane
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 07:41 AM

According to documentation with most USB devices, they don't need a driver for anything newer than WIN98.

I did consider getting a USB MIDI interface, but the price of c$40 becomes 47 pounds in UK - DOUBLE the price. I should get someone to mail me one from the US.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 08:43 AM

Most USB devices are Plug-And-Play, and WinXP will find a driver appropriate to connect them. An appropriate driver is still needed, it's just that the WinXP setup includes, in the .CAB files, a collection of drivers it can usually use. The drivers didn't come with the Win98 package, so you had to get one from the device manufacturer. A few USB devices may still have unique requirements that the "generic" drivers in WinXP won't handle, so you may still get better performance with one from the device mfr - specific to the device. Most digital cameras, for example, work better with the camera mfr's driver than with a generic one. Most USB scanners require a specific driver that you need to get from the scanner mfr.

Common glitch #1: If the right driver isn't available before you boot with the USB device attached, WinXP will hook it up with whatever it "guesses" it should use. If you do need a device specific driver, you usually need to install the driver before you connect the device for the first time.

Common glitch #2: Each USB device should have its own "port." Quite a few newer machines may have more than one connector connected to a single port - front and back access to a single port is common. The 2-port, with each port having both front and back connectors (4 connectors total) often shows up. In better (higher priced) machines, each connector should be a separate port. You may get a couple of devices to share, if they're both plugged into the same port, but conflicts can be tough to resolve.

Also note that USB comes in multiple flavors. The older "plain vanilla" USB is pretty slow. USB-2 is "almost as fast as firewire." You can mix devices of these two kinds, but if you have to get accessories (like maybe a USB hub) you should make sure you get the later version. A new "super USB" spec is supposedly coming soon, but I haven't seen it on the shelf at my suppliers yet.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Jim McLean
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 08:47 AM

I have installed in on two PCs, one running XP and one running Win98SE and it works fine.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: vectis
Date: 21 Apr 04 - 05:25 PM

Logitech do a standard PC keyboard with a midi keyboard built in for about £60 here in the UK. Like the one you described the midi can be covered and the cover takes the place of a wrist support. There is another one on the market as well but I can't remember who makes it.
I've seen one in action and it worked very sweetly.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 02:35 AM

I haven't examined the minute detail re USB in this thread because I'm not too familiar, bur regarding the older tecnology, which works:

- I bought a fancy Yamaha MIDI type Keyboard yesterday for $75 AUD, Strophairs Auctions in Fairfield. You'll find a number of suitable units in Cash Converters etal, but you do need to shop around - pricing typically $150 - $300 AUD.

- Almost all modern soundcards have a Gameport socket on them and they're easy to instal if you have a spare slot.. Let me know if you'd like a free one. The MIDI input quality appears to be independent of the MIDI Out and/or the AUDIO Input. In other words you can probably get away with a crap Soundcard for MIDI Input.

- The only item which appears disproportionately expensive is the specialist cable which connects between your Yamaha etc keyboard and the Gameport on your soundcard. Borrow mine before spending the %50 AUD if you'd prefer.

Re the virtues of keyboard input vs direct notation - if I have the score I would never muck around with the MIDI keyboard input, however where I have the tune in my head alone then I follow the MIDI Input approcah - particularly if the timing is a bit quirky. I don't have a universal answer for fixing the timing issues, but I do like to see the answer expressed as ABC notation: in that way 61/64th's of a note value tends to stick out like 'dogs'.

Best Wishes,
John


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 02:44 AM

There used to be a kit you could make your own midi-gameport adapter.


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: pavane
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 02:53 AM

MIDI input quality WILL be independent of sound card, because it is not music. It is just a binary file of commands to play music, and will be copied in the same way as, say, a text document.

This also applies to the MIDI output. You can plug the MIDI OUT to an external sound module and the sound quality will depend only on THAT. It is only the AUDIO output which will be of variable quality.

(Btw, The Game port kit was mentioned earlier in the thread)


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 04:17 AM

There was a mention of concern about whether a "particular" MIDI device would be XP compatible. The MIDI signal normally goes into your soundcard, and its the soundcard that's plugged in - in your machine - that needs to be XP compatible. WinXP shouldn't care what the MIDI source is, if it produces "legal" MIDI output, since MIDI is "just a string of numbers," and the numbers are the same regardless of where, or what kind of device, they come from.

Also, as commented before, some of the newest soundcards are dropping the MIDI connector on the main faceplate in order to mount multiple (usually 5, but up to 7) "surround sound" speaker jacks. Nearly all "older," not necessarily very old, soundcards should have a MIDI jack on the slot plate attached to the card, or be wired to the "second" Joystick/Mouse jack, possibly needing an adapter. With some new soundcards, you may have to use another slot to mount a "piggyback" slot plate to get an external MIDI connector of any kind, since the only place provided for making a MIDI input is a connector on the card (i.e. inside the computer).

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: PC MIDI piano keyboards, etc.
From: Hyperabid
Date: 24 Apr 04 - 06:08 PM

A USB or MIDI keyboard with full size velocity sensity keys and aftertouch would cost considerably less. Unless you're really cramped for space. Go for one of these.

Rgds

Hyp


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