How to use a VST plugin instrument along with a keyboard

Category: VST and Keyboards

Vst instruments play the midi information routed through them. To make the midi information, a keyboard can be used. It could be a Midi Keyboard Controller (does not produce sounds, just midi) or any keyboard which has midi out facility.

When connected correctly,

  • playing the notes on a keyboard will
  • make the midi information
  • that is routed through our selected VST plugin (within a sequencer)
  • and the VST instrument produces the sound
  • according to the notes we play on the keyboard.

The keyboard should be connected to the sound card or audio interface or midi interface.

  1. Connect the keyboard to the interface.
  2. Open the sequencer we work with. This sequencer should have the needed VST plugin installed.
  3. Load the VST instrument. The exact procedure to load a vst plugin will differ according to the sequencer. For example, in Nuendo or Cubase, press F11 to open the VST rack. Click on one of the Vst instrument slots and load the VST plugin.
  4. Open a midi channel in the sequencer. Sequencers have options when adding a new track – audio, midi, group, effects, folder etc. Add a midi channel.
  5. Select  the keyboard as the input for the midi channel.
  6. Select the VST plugin as the output for the midi channel.
    • Note: Any midi channel should have an input and output option. If you can't find our keyboard listed as possible input, check the sequencer manual or search in the respective sequencer's forum about enabling and activating midi devices for the sequencer. You could try a google seach too : e.g. "<your sequencer name> midi keyboard not detected problem".
    • Once the keyboard in is selected as the input for the midi channel, and the vst plugin is selected as the output, when you play a note on the midi keyboard, the vst plugin should sound.
  7. If you want to record, start recording in the sequencer and you will be able to play and record the midi live by playing the notes on the keyboard.
  8. Most sequencers have good midi editing options, step recording options etc. Check them out to improve the recordings, correct timings, velocity, lengths etc…

Remember that midi is just information about the characteristics of the note (pitch, length etc) and the playing (how hard or soft, after touch etc). It does not have any sounds of its own. When midi information is passed through a sound module or vst instrument plugin, the midi starts sounding according to the sound chosen in the module or plugin.

If you want an external keyboard or sound module to be played with the midi information from the sequencer, use a midi cable to connect midi out from the sound card or midi interface to the midi in of the external sound device. Now you can send midi information from the sequencer to the sound module or keyboard and play the patch chosen in that external device.

Midi opens up a lot of possibilities. For e.g. it allows us to include flute and string arrangements which were before accessible and practical only for very few.

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