Win95, cheap sound card, and cheap midi keyboard

Discussion in 'comp.music.midi' started by Franc Zabkar, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    I'm not a musician but am considering purchasing a cheap midi keyboard
    to hook up to the midi port of a cheap sound card in a Win95 system.
    All I want is to have the PC play pre-recorded midi tunes on the
    keyboard, much like a pianola. Can anyone suggest suitable software,
    freeware if possible, and sites that have free downloadable music? All
    I seem to find on the Net are .mid files that play through the
    speakers attached to the sound card. BTW, I have already built a midi
    breakout box, so I don't believe I need any other hardware.


    -- Franc Zabkar

    Please remove one 's' from my address when replying by email.
  2. >I'm not a musician but am considering purchasing a cheap midi keyboard
    >to hook up to the midi port of a cheap sound card in a Win95 system.
    >All I want is to have the PC play pre-recorded midi tunes on the
    >keyboard, much like a pianola. Can anyone suggest suitable software,
    >freeware if possible, and sites that have free downloadable music? All
    >I seem to find on the Net are .mid files that play through the
    >speakers attached to the sound card. BTW, I have already built a midi
    >breakout box, so I don't believe I need any other hardware.
    >
    >


    A cheap sound card will include a midi port, and will have on-board
    midi sounds comparable or better than those on a cheap external
    keyboard. Why do things the hard way?

    CubaseFAQ page www.laurencepayne.co.uk/CubaseFAQ.htm
  3. Al Stevens

    Al Stevens Guest

    "Franc Zabkar" <fzabkar@optussnet.com.au> wrote in message
    news:9p3gfvkgmh3j8nfn5q72h099cchhtbj5n3@4ax.com...
    > I'm not a musician but am considering purchasing a cheap midi keyboard
    > to hook up to the midi port of a cheap sound card in a Win95 system.
    > All I want is to have the PC play pre-recorded midi tunes on the
    > keyboard, much like a pianola. Can anyone suggest suitable software,
    > freeware if possible, and sites that have free downloadable music? All
    > I seem to find on the Net are .mid files that play through the
    > speakers attached to the sound card. BTW, I have already built a midi
    > breakout box, so I don't believe I need any other hardware.


    Assuming you have a MIDI OUT port* on your system and the proper cable, you
    can use Control Panel to tell Windows 95 to send midi output to that port. I
    forget exactly which applet it is in 95, but in 98 it's the Multimedia
    applet, which has a MIDI tab, which allows you to select the default Midi
    output device. Applications such as the Media Player use whichever device is
    currently selected. The device list typically includes the synth on your
    sound card and the midi out port itself. You can also program a combination
    of devices so that selected channels go to selected devices.

    You can find lots of midi files to download by doing a google search on
    "midi." If your keyboard have a polyphonic tone generator and does not
    support play back in multi-timbral mode, not all files will play correctly
    if at all.

    * The sound card usually has a game port. You need an adaptor cable that
    converts this port to Midi in/out ports which you connect to your keyboard's
    midi out/in ports. Such cables are available at computer stores.
  4. >You can find lots of midi files to download by doing a google search on
    >"midi." If your keyboard have a polyphonic tone generator and does not
    >support play back in multi-timbral mode, not all files will play correctly
    >if at all.


    Yes. The files you find on the 'net will be General Midi files,
    designed to play back on a multitimbral midi synth capable of
    responding with different sounds to all 16 midi channels. The synth
    built in to all but the very cheapest sound cards is of this type. An
    external keyboard very likely isn't, and if it is, won't sound any
    better than a soundcard synth.

    CubaseFAQ page www.laurencepayne.co.uk/CubaseFAQ.htm
  5. Al Stevens

    Al Stevens Guest

    "Laurence Payne" <l@laurenceDELETEpayne.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message
    news:16lgfv8mfmqnmlletpq5ubsnvjf21hbi9k@4ax.com...
    > >You can find lots of midi files to download by doing a google search on
    > >"midi." If your keyboard have a polyphonic tone generator and does not
    > >support play back in multi-timbral mode, not all files will play

    correctly
    > >if at all.


    Meant to say "If your keyboard does not have .... or does not support..."

    >
    > Yes. The files you find on the 'net will be General Midi files,
    > designed to play back on a multitimbral midi synth capable of
    > responding with different sounds to all 16 midi channels.


    Most are. There are lots of solo piano files out there, though, and I
    suspect that's what the original poster is looking for.

    > The synth
    > built in to all but the very cheapest sound cards is of this type. An
    > external keyboard very likely isn't, and if it is, won't sound any
    > better than a soundcard synth.


    Depending on the keyboard and depending on the sound card. The best of the
    consumer-priced sound cards have really crappy acoustic piano sounds. I've
    heard low-end consumer keyboards with pretty good acoustic piano sounds. Not
    great but pretty good. On the other hand, I've heard (and owned) expensive
    rack-mounted hardware synths that have terrible default acoustic piano
    sounds.
  6. Franc Zabkar

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    On Tue, 24 Jun 2003 12:22:12 GMT, "Al Stevens" <nobody@home.com> put
    finger to keyboard and composed:

    >
    >"Franc Zabkar" <fzabkar@optussnet.com.au> wrote in message
    >news:9p3gfvkgmh3j8nfn5q72h099cchhtbj5n3@4ax.com...
    >> I'm not a musician but am considering purchasing a cheap midi keyboard
    >> to hook up to the midi port of a cheap sound card in a Win95 system.
    >> All I want is to have the PC play pre-recorded midi tunes on the
    >> keyboard, much like a pianola. Can anyone suggest suitable software,
    >> freeware if possible, and sites that have free downloadable music? All
    >> I seem to find on the Net are .mid files that play through the
    >> speakers attached to the sound card. BTW, I have already built a midi
    >> breakout box, so I don't believe I need any other hardware.

    >
    >Assuming you have a MIDI OUT port* on your system and the proper cable, you
    >can use Control Panel to tell Windows 95 to send midi output to that port. I
    >forget exactly which applet it is in 95, but in 98 it's the Multimedia
    >applet, which has a MIDI tab, which allows you to select the default Midi
    >output device. Applications such as the Media Player use whichever device is
    >currently selected. The device list typically includes the synth on your
    >sound card and the midi out port itself. You can also program a combination
    >of devices so that selected channels go to selected devices.
    >
    >You can find lots of midi files to download by doing a google search on
    >"midi." If your keyboard have a polyphonic tone generator and does not
    >support play back in multi-timbral mode, not all files will play correctly
    >if at all.
    >
    >* The sound card usually has a game port. You need an adaptor cable that
    >converts this port to Midi in/out ports which you connect to your keyboard's
    >midi out/in ports. Such cables are available at computer stores.


    Thanks to all for your assistance. I've since discovered "The Official
    ALT.MUSIC.MIDI FAQ" (http://home.sc.rr.com/cosmogony/ammfaq.html)
    which has answered all of my questions. In my defence I did search the
    past two months of postings to c.m.m for a FAQ, or reference to same,
    but didn't see one.

    Anyway, it seems my conceptual difficulty was in not realising that
    the same .mid files can be sent to the sound card's synth as well as
    to the sound card's midi port merely by selecting a different midi
    output device driver in Windows' Control Panel Multimedia applet, as
    you have pointed out. Also, the midi tunes play a lot better now that
    I have switched from OPL2/OPL3 FM Synthesis to the C-Media SoftMidi
    Driver.

    I'd still like to purchase a cheap midi keyboard, if only for the
    novelty value. The midi breakout box I referred to in my first post is
    an optically isolated circuit similar to the one on Jeff Glatt's MIDI
    page, so I believe I'm OK as far as hardware is concerned.


    -- Franc Zabkar

    Please remove one 's' from my address when replying by email.

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