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

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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

  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. 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. 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. 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.

  6. Tip

    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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Things You'll Need

  • Internet connection

About the Author

Jason Parnell is a marketing director and professional writer. He attended Rutgers University for a Bachelor of Arts in musicology and analysis.

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