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Playing Music with Your Computer Keyboard

You can play and record Software Instruments using an external MIDI music keyboard, the onscreen keyboard, or musical typing. In the exercises for this lesson, you’ll use musical typing to turn your Mac computer’s keyboard into a fully functional MIDI keyboard.

The Musical Typing keyboard shows which musical keys correspond with the keys on your computer keyboard. Notice that the Tab key works as a sustain pedal. The Z and X keys will modulate the octave lower and higher, respectively, while C and V lower and raise the velocity (the relative volume is based on how hard you strike the key). You can click the keys on the Musical Typing window with your cursor or play them on your computer keyboard.

  1. Choose Window > Show Musical Typing or press Command-K. The Musical Typing window appears over your workspace. Luckily, it is a floating window so you can move it anywhere you’d like on your screen.

  2. Drag the Musical Typing window below the Fingerstyle Bass track header so that you can still see the Fingerstyle Bass region in the track and the notes in the Score Editor.

  3. Start playback. The notes on the Musical Typing keyboard darken as they are played. Watch carefully to see the pattern of the notes that are played.

    The good news is that I intentionally composed this part so it would be easy to play and remember. All you have to do is play the middle keys on your computer keyboard sequentially: A, S, D, F, G, H, J, K, L. They correspond with the musical notes (the first eight white piano keys) shown on the Musical Typing keyboard: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

  4. Stop playback. Press each of the keys on your keyboard in order: A, S, D, F, G, H, J, K, L. Now that you’ve played the notes, you can practice the timing.
  5. Click the Metronome button in the toolbar to turn on the click track.

  6. Start playback and practice along with the prerecorded bass part. You can use the audio of the Fingerstyle Bass track and the visual of the playhead moving over notes in the Score Editor as guides. Unsolo the Fingerstyle Bass track and practice a few times with the full song. When you are ready to record, stop playback.

It’s time to lay down a track. That’s musician-speak for recording an instrument onto a track.

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