How to setup a MIDI Keyboard in Ableton Live

Check out our previous post for setting up an audio interface with Ableton.

A little tip before we start. Ableton allows you to use your computers keyboard to play in MIDI notes. If you want to do that, just hit Caps lock, and you’ll get an on-screen keyboard representation of how your computer keyboard maps to keyboard notes. This is great for “on the move” recording of ideas, but it’s not an ideal way of recording notes into Live. For that, you need some sort of physical controller. The most common is of course the MIDI keyboard. However, there are a multitude of other MIDI devices out there to connect up.

We’ll quickly just go through how to connect your keyboard up and start recording MIDI notes into live. It is common to connect your MIDI controller using the USB connection on your computer. It is also possible to connect using the MIDI inputs on a sound card, most controllers will have the option for both.

  1. Connect MIDI controller
  2. Go to Live -> Preferences -> MIDI Sync 
  3. Select the Track button for your device
  4. Ableton will now receive MIDI from the device
  5. Check the box at top right of the screen when you hit a note. It should flash yellow
  6. Arm the MIDI channel you want to record

The MIDI keyboard is now set up to play and record notes into Ableton. We’ll cover more complex MIDI controllers and MIDI mapping in later posts.

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