Need your help, looking to learn the Piano, MIDI, and digital music making

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by SteveMobs, Dec 25, 2008.

  1. SteveMobs macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Washington D.C.
    #1
    Thanks for clicking in and listening to what I have to say.

    I've been wanting to learn how to play the piano for a while now, and finally feel like I have the time to do so. I think it is a beautiful instrument, also the most versatile, and can be used to play any mood.

    Along with that I've had an interest in learning to use applications such as Garage Band and Pro Tools, mainly Garage Band though. I just got my 2.4 MB, but have horsed around with Garage Band before. What exactly is the little on screen keyboard for? It's a MIDI controller right? I can use it to change the sounds of the instruments to make the sounds even more custom, correct?

    So I was looking to find a keyboard that I could use for both. 1) Use as a keyboard/piano with which I could learn to play the traditional piano. And 2) Use the keyboard to get creative with Garage Band.

    I'm looking to spend around US$100. One particular keyboard that looks fitting is the M-Audio KeyStudio 49.

    Is what I'm looking for even possible? Does such a versatile keyboard exist, that I can use as both a regular keyboard and MIDI controller? It doesn't need to be stand-alone, I don't mind having to turn my computer on to use the Keyboard, but if there's one with which I wouldn't have to, that'd be great.

    Well, thanks for reading this far, any advice is greatly appreciated,
    -Steve
     
  2. SteveMobs thread starter macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    #2
    I quickly looked further into the subject and found that if I wanted to be able to just play the MIDI Controller like a piano I'd need a built-in Audio Interface. Any more info?

    Thanks,
    -Steve
     
  3. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    #3
    1) Use as a keyboard/piano with which I could learn to play the traditional piano.

    While connected to a computer right?

    Connect the M-Audio KeyStudio 49 to your Macbook. Open garageband. Select Grand Piano and start playing.
     
  4. SteveMobs thread starter macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    Washington D.C.
    #4
    Ok, cool.

    I would be able to play just the piano if I have my M-Audio Keystudio 49 plugged into Garage Band, that's good to know. But is there any way I could play it without using a computer? As a standalone keyboard/piano?

    Thanks again,
    -Steve
     
  5. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    #5
    Nope. That is going to cost you more. There are no speakers on the Keystudio.
     
  6. SteveMobs thread starter macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

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    #6
    Ah, well I'm willing to spend a little more if there is one in a nearby price range, that does have speakers, and can be used alone.
    Any brands or models that you know of?

    Thanks for all the help,
    -Steve
     
  7. SteveMobs thread starter macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
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    Washington D.C.
    #7
    Anybody? Any ideas on various MIDI controllers/keyboards that would suit my needs? I've been researching but there is a lot of things I'm failing to understand. I called M-Audio today, to ask about their Keystudios but they're out for the holidays.

    Thanks again for any help,
    -Steve
     
  8. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

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    #8
    How much did you want to spend? How many keys did you want?
     
  9. SteveMobs thread starter macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    #9
    Well originally, I was looking to spend around US$100. But I'd like one that has both the MIDI Controller and the ability to be played, by itself without a computer. So, as far as price is concerned, maybe $200.

    I like the idea of the M-Audio 49 key models, just because that looks to represent a nice range of keys found on a normal piano.

    Thanks,
    -Steve
     
  10. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #10
    imho, if you want to learn piano, you should get a piano. they're rentable, fwiw, and for a pretty reasonable price.
     
  11. SteveMobs thread starter macrumors 6502

    SteveMobs

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    #11
    Yeah, I thought about that too. Maybe buying a used piano keyboard on craigslist or something and then buying that $99 Keystudio for MIDI stuff. But then I thought, I might as well get a good one that I can start with, that's quality.
     
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #12
    The reason he says this is because piano keys are "weighted" and have a feel to them because of the hammer mechanics. Low end electronic keyboards just have springs under each key. But there are better electronic keyboards that have weighted keys and even better ones that have actual hammer mechanics under the keys. Today (I think) all keys are velocity sensitive, and "semi-weighted is common and not really expensive. So you can compromise

    "better" is really the wrong term because some styles of music do not try to sound like piano music. The obvious example is if you wanted to play an organ you would not want the hammer mechanics at all. What if you are using the keyboard to control a synthetic brass or woodwind instrument?

    OK I'm a beginner also. My opinion is to start out low cost then move where you need to be later. If you buy a $100 used keyboard you can sell it later for $80 and you can learn a lot for $20.

    Look here for some ideas
    http://www.sweetwater.com/c500--Portable_Arranger_Keyboards/low2high
     
  13. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #13
    pretty much, yes. i took "piano" literally and not to mean "i want to learn to play keyboards."

    this is just my humble opinion, but if someone wants to learn the instrument to play, say, Beethoven or Debussy, one will want an actual piano will all its feel, sound, vibrations, pedal action, subtleties, positioning, expressiveness, delicacy, power and overall musical experience.

    some weighted keyboards are very good, but imho they're not good enough.
     
  14. james-thescalie macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    #14
    yeah i find that weighted keyboards sometimes feel like the keys are bouncy up at you almost after you play them you can pick up a yamaha that has built in speakers and lessons and stuff built in for dirt cheep and it has a midi interface. My little sister has one but I've never used it for midi. Took it to a couple of gigs over the holidays though haha
     
  15. North Bronson macrumors 6502

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    Oct 31, 2007
    Location:
    San José
    #15
    I think that if you want a USB keyboard just for programming loops, then 49 keys might be enough. I was in your exact position: I wanted a USB controller so that I could learn to play piano. I bought the M-Audio 49 because it was only 100 USD and I thought that 49 keys would be plenty. It sits here and collects dust because of the M-Audio 88 that I bought six months later when I realized how badly I wanted the extra octaves. It was only 199 USD and the keys feel *much* better.
     
  16. TheAngusBurger macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    #16
    If you're wanting to learn to play the piano, 49 keys isn't going to be enough. I would also strongly recommend either somehow practicing on a real piano, or at least spending money on a keyboard with weighted keys. The feel of a real piano is completely different to a keyboard. It's hard to explain, but look at it this way; I haven't seen many pianists above Grade 5 who don't own a piano.

    However, if you're just wanting to learn some basic keyboard skills to play software instruments within audio software such as Garageband, to make loops etc., then by all means purchase a smaller keyboard, but don't expect to be able to play pieces above a fairly basic level.
     
  17. Mattaut macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    #17
    From the research I've done I got the feeling M-Audio keyboards are not a great choice, you get what you pay for, they are the cheapest MIDI keyboards for a reason. I was thinking about either the Akai MPK49($400) or the Edirol PCR-800($300 at americanmusical.com) and went with the PCR-800 cause I don't really need the MPC-style pads and I wanted 61 keys instead of 49 cause that's what my old non-MIDI electronic keyboard had. So far I love it, I don't have too much hands-on experience with different MIDI keyboards but to me the pressure sensitive keys work pretty well. I felt that with some software instruments the middle of the velocity range is kinda hard to get, its either soft or loud, but it probably just takes some getting used to and practice. The 61 key is perfect for my bedroom studio setup, anything smaller and I would feel limited and an 88 key would be too big for my current space. It's an over-all solid buy for that price and I won't have to spend money to upgrade for a long long time.
     
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #18
    You can spend anything you want. You can find a $50 keyboard that has it's own sound generation, speakers and MIDI if you hunt eBay ad criag's. If you have $100 then just buy a new one from Yamaha at Sweetwater or Guitar Center or Sam Ash. I forget the model number but it sells for $99.99 "everywhere".

    But you will want more than that. That cheap k/b lacks velocity sensitive keys and every note plays with the same loudness. To get control over the dynamics you will have to spend about $150.

    But then you might want even more. How do the keys "feel"? Are they really soft, weighted or have hammer like a piano? You can go on like this forever but seriously $200 will get you want you need. For example Guitar center has the Yamaha psr-e413 right now for $195.49 But there are other keyboards like it at about the same price. And if you want you could go for that $99 model but "dynamics matter"
     
  19. mcpryon2 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    #19
    I'd suggest either finding somebody you know who has access to a piano to show you a few things, or go take a few piano lessons. This way you can find out if you actually like it, and if you do you may have a better idea of what you want to do with it.

    You may sit down and find out you love classical music and want to get a real piano or an 88-key weighted keyboard later on. You may find that you just like dinking around with a few chords that you can easily do on a smaller midi keyboard.

    If you don't know what you're getting into you could end up with an unused piece of hardware.
     
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #20
    I was thinking the same thing.... Then I found out that you can buy used equipment. What once was a pro-level keyboard 10 or 12 years ago now sells for not much money and can be re-sold for what you paid for it. Hang out on Criag's List for a few days and something will come up.

    The big thing is to get started. Even if you find you don't something you've learned something you didn't know. For example I thought I'd like some kind of software or multimedia instruction. I tried a couple and found that I really prefer paper. I have a 25+ year background in software development but I found I prefer paper because going back and forth to/from a electronic screen was to distracting. My initial guess was wrong.

    What I found was that I just needed good key velocity sensitive keyboard that plays a decent piano sound. I used my first toy-like keyboard for only a few weeks then decided I wanted better sound and more sensitive keys so I bought a Roland e-series k/b for under $100.
     
  21. daflake macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    #21
    First.... slow down.

    If you want to learn piano there is a difference over that and a keyboard. For beginners, there are 88 keys on the piano as well as action of the keys that you should consider. Casio makes one that I found on amazon for a decent price...

    http://www.casio.com/products/Musical_Instruments/Privia_Digital_Pianos/PX-110/

    It is a full keyboard and has hammer style keys that will let you play louder or softer by touch. Most keyboards will not do this with a real feel to it. It also has a MIDI port as well as the ability to add pedals like a full piano.

    My advice, get the proper equipment for what you are wanting to do and separate learning from computing until you are ready. MIDI is fun, but can be costly to setup if you want to do it right.

    or

    You could go the cheap route and we will probably see the stuff on EBay before July because you became frustrated with it and tossed it to the corner. ;)
     
  22. mimister66 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    #22
    Learning Piano

    To learn piano, I would use this book - I use it at college and it is great because it goes over all the theory, chords, and is really straitforward
    http://www.pianomusicguide.com/learnpiano.html
    also has other stuff about piano
     

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