Quite an odd question considering the fact that a MIDI keyboard was the back bone of making beats just a few years back. At least it seemed like it because every time we saw a video with a music producer making the beat in a random studio we saw a key and a drum machine being set to work almost instantly but today seems like all beat makers use is a laptop’s pad and keyboard.
Is this for better or for worse? Is today’s music lacking originality somehow? Let’s try to find out if the ongoing effort of DAW developers to make music production accessible for everyone actually harms the music itself or it’s just a big win for everyone.
What’s a midi keyboard?!
First thing’s first. A MIDI key is a piano style keyboard allowing you to plug it to your computer via USB cable but most of them don’t produce any sounds on their own and you need a VSTi library to produce them while the key acts like a modulator. The name MIDI came in this association because this hardware component is able to send MIDI data to you computer while you’re making the beat.
Basically you’re controlling a software generated by a program and your MIDI keyboard helps you do just that while enabling a better control movement for you.
Can this tool help me when making the beat?
The answer is actually up to you. If you’re an experienced producer and you know your DAW and beat making libraries you have, might as well live without one. Also, if you travel a lot and if you’re a backpack producer you definitely need to get by without one but things don’t stand the same if you just started making beats.
Even if many upcoming producers get into this practice without any gear besides a mouse and a personal computer, a MIDI keyboard should be the next target right after deciding to approach making beats in a more serious way.
Why? Because music production is pure mathematics and a MIDI keyboard will not only help you in understanding that but it will also lead you to the next step: breaking the path, diversifying and creating your very own sound. In other words this type of hardware will motivate you to be really creative, discover and perfect sounds. After all this is all you need if you’re the one making the beat, right?
Wrong and as a matter of fact you need to become something like a self thought engineer because sound crafting is actually a really complex thing to do. That is if you really want to become good at making beats.
Even if most MIDI keys don’t have nothing to do with crafting or perfecting the sound produced by a computer you can actually purchase this type of gear with quite a few options to do so. Some of them have levels, wheels and knobs included and if you’re curious enough to play around with them this will lead you into the next step of music production, engineering. This part is really complicated and it takes a lot to master even the basic principals but keys can actually help you understand how the sound is modified when being processed through additional mixing features. Let’s be clear on this one: you can be the most creative person in the world but if you’re not able to mix and master your creations properly, you won’t be able to make anything that can be used or played as being music. That’s facts.
That’s about it until now but don’t forget about part 2 when we’ll try to find out if you’re actually able to make music without a MIDI keyboard and if this is the right way to go at making beats.