How to use your computer keyboard as a MIDI device in protools

Written by jason parnell
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How to use your computer keyboard as a MIDI device in protools
Use your computer keyboard as a MIDI controller in Pro Tools. (keyboard #4 image by Adam Borkowski from

A dedicated MIDI controller keyboard is a great way to work with digital audio in Pro Tools. However, on the go we don't always have room for a bulky MIDI controller keyboard. Using your computer or laptop's own QWERTY keyboard as a MIDI controller is an efficient way to play notes and record in Avid's Pro Tools software. A unique software, Chirp, converts your computer keyboard into a MIDI keyboard for use with Pro Tools on the fly.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Internet connection

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  1. 1

    Download and install Chirp Virtual MIDI Keyboard controller (See Resources) by clicking and running the extracted file. Chirp installs from the Web so an Internet connection is necessary.

  2. 2

    Test your Chirp installation by running the software. Click File and select "MIDI Setup" and set your MIDI Output Device to your default sound device. Touch the keys on your computer keyboard to test playback.

  3. 3

    Set Chirp's MIDI Output Channel to 1 from the MIDI Setup screen's drop-down menu. Change Chirp's MIDI Output Device to Bus 1.

  4. 4

    Select "Always Send Note Data" under Chirp's Preferences tab. Clicking this box allows Chirp to function even when other programs or windows are active.

  5. 5

    Run Pro Tools and create a new blank session with a MIDI or instrument track. Set the Pro Tools MIDI or instrument track to receive all MIDI channel data. Depress "Caps Lock" to turn on Chirp.

Tips and warnings

  • Chirp allows all types of MIDI data, not just notes, to be sent and created from the keyboard.
  • You might need to adjust your MIDI Preferences in Pro Tools.

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