How to Do a One-Pass Recording on the Keyboard - dummies

How to Do a One-Pass Recording on the Keyboard

By Holly Day, Jerry Kovarksy, Blake Neely, David Pearl, Michael Pilhofer

The most basic form of recording is to capture a keyboard performance as it happens. Whether it’s one person playing solo on a single instrument, a small group, the playback of your electronic keyboard that has drums and accompaniment, or a symphony orchestra doesn’t matter. You set up the recording system as needed, press record, and it all happens at the same time — in one pass.

Tackling audio recording in one pass

The ability to record one complete audio performance from your keyboard is becoming a more common feature on many digital pianos, stage pianos, arrangers, and workstations. Basically, with this option, anything that can be produced by the keyboard all at once can be recorded.

Typically, the keyboard has a USB port that you can connect a memory stick or drive to; that’s what the keyboard records the digital audio onto. (Note that some workstations and arrangers have an internal hard drive that can be used as the recording medium.)

The recording is made as a stereo wave file (abbreviated as WAV or .wav), which is the most common digital audio format for use on computers. Without getting too technical, the settings for this wave file will be at the right resolution to be able to listen to on any device, to burn a CD from, and to share with anyone you want.

Recording a one-pass audio track doesn’t require a complicated setup:

  1. Make sure your keyboard is in the right mode (single sound, multisound, accompaniment playback, or whatever).

  2. Choose the audio recording feature.

    This function may be a dedicated button, but you may have to select Record and then choose audio as the format. The method of choosing varies from product to product; read your owner’s manual.

  3. Select where to record to: internal hard drive, USB stick or drive, and so on.

    Your owner’s manual will tell you what to do.

  4. Press Record or Start and begin playing (or sit back while the keyboards plays).

  5. Press Stop when you’ve recorded what you want.

    Your wave file is now on your memory stick or hard drive, ready to be listened to, shared, or brought into your computer.

One-pass audio recording is a great way to capture your practicing or playing so you can listen back to yourself. Hearing your recorded playing once in a while is a good idea because it lets you evaluate how you sound and how your practicing is progressing.

You hear yourself differently this way compared to when you’re involved in the act of playing. Plus, it’s a fun way to share your music with friends and family or share your child’s progress with others.

Grabbing a one pass MIDI recording

Being able to record one pass of MIDI is even more common than audio recording on today’s keyboards. You often don’t even know your recording function is MIDI recording; many digital pianos and stage pianos just call it a music recorder and don’t bother to explain the technology. On most keyboards, though, the MIDI recorder is called a sequencer.

Recording a one pass MIDI track is straightforward and simple for live playing. Your keyboard may have a simple Record button and a Start/Stop button, or it may have a more complete set of buttons called transport controls. These controls are copied from the buttons that were used to operate tape recorders and digital recorders.

[Credit:  Image courtesy of M-Audio]
Credit: Image courtesy of M-Audio

Here’s how to make a one pass MIDI recording:

  1. Select the sound you want to use.

  2. Choose the recording feature.

    This capability may be a dedicated button, or you may have to select Record and then choose MIDI as the format. It varies from product to product, so check out your owner’s manual.

  3. Press Record or Start.

    Note: Some products don’t start recording the moment you press Record. They go into a record-ready state and usually start a click rhythm so you can listen to the current tempo to get ready to play. You typically must press Start or Play before it begins recording. (For some products, you start recording from this wait mode the moment you play a note.)

    In general, MIDI recorders default to playing a click when recording so that the recorded data can be matched up to bars and beats for later editing. So you should set the tempo of the click/recording before you start. You can easily do so during the record-ready time by pressing Record and using the front panel tempo controls to set the speed.

  4. When you’re ready, press the Start or Play button, or just play away!

  5. Press Stop when you’re finished.

  6. Relocate to the beginning of the recording.

    For some keyboards, you do so by pressing Stop twice. For others, you have to hold the Rewind button.

  7. Press Play to listen to your recording.

    If you don’t like what you played, you can just do it over by pressing Record (and perhaps Start or Play) and trying again. You can rerecord as many times as you want; each new recording erases the previous one.

Most workstations, higher-end portables, and mid-to-high-end arrangers have to be in sequencer mode to do any MIDI recording. For these products, you have to set up a sound on the first recording part or track and often have to copy it with its effects to sound like it did when you were just playing the sound. Look to your owner’s manual for more info.