How to Convert a Computer Keyboard to a MIDI Keyboard

Written by michael carroll
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How to Convert a Computer Keyboard to a MIDI Keyboard
You can play your computer's keyboard like a piano using free software. (keyboard image by Fyerne from

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a protocol designed to permit various digital music tools, both physical and virtual, to communicate with each other. MIDI facilitates the programmatic control of digital instruments, time synchronisation among various sequencers and the storage of musical information. One common use for MIDI is to control various digital synthesizers or other sound devices using a single keyboard. MIDI keyboards can be expensive, however, so several software tools exist that allow you to control MIDI devices using the buttons on your computer's keyboard instead of a traditional musical keyboard.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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    Sweet Little Piano

  1. 1

    Download and install the Sweet Little Piano software. See the Resources section for a link.

  2. 2

    Run Sweet Little Piano from your Start Menu or Desktop. The program's interface appears with a graphical representation of your keyboard using note names instead of the regular letters.

  3. 3

    Click the "Devices" menu. Then choose the device to which you want to send the MIDI information from your keyboard. This might be a MIDI hardware interface if you have one connected and installed or a virtual MIDI port that will route the information to a software synthesizer or other MIDI-compatible program on your computer.

  4. 4

    Press keys on the keyboard to play it like a musical keyboard. Each key played will briefly turn black in the main interface to show it was pressed, and if you chose a hardware or software synthesizer in the previous step, you will hear the notes as you play them.

    Mouse Keyboard

  1. 1

    Download and install Mouse Keyboard. See the Resources section for a link.

  2. 2

    Run Mouse Keyboard from your Start Menu or Desktop. Dismiss any registration messages if they appear. The program's interface appears with a picture of a musical keyboard and other common MIDI information.

  3. 3

    Click the "Midi Out" menu; then select a hardware or software MIDI port to route the MIDI signal to.

  4. 4

    Play your computer's keyboard. The keys in the picture in the main interface depress like real piano keys to show feedback of your playing. If you chose a synthesizer in the previous step, the notes sound as you play them.

  5. 5

    Send Florian a postcard or make an online payment to remove the nagging message that appears when you run Mouse Keyboard. Click "How to Purchase" in the "Help" menu for details.

    MIDI Keyboard

  1. 1

    Download MIDI Keyboard. See the Resources section for a link.

  2. 2

    Expand the ZIP file you downloaded, and run "MidiKeyboard.exe." The program's main interface appears, consisting simply of a line of text to display note information as you play.

  3. 3

    Press the Esc key; then choose a MIDI device to connect to using the drop-down menu that appears. Click "OK" to confirm your selection.

  4. 4

    Play your computer keyboard, and the note names will be displayed in the main interface as you press the keys. If you routed the MIDI information to a synthesizer, the notes will sound as you play.

Tips and warnings

  • Ensure that the program you're using has focus by clicking on its window before playing. Otherwise, the keys you press will be received by another program, and you won't hear any sound.
  • Use Maple Virtual Midi Cable to create software MIDI ports to send the signals from your keyboard program to other MIDI-compatible software on your computer. See the Resources section for a link.

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