How to make Midi Files

How to Make MIDI Files: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

How to make MIDI files? It’s easier than you think! With our step-by-step guide, you’ll be creating versatile music like a pro in no time. Stick around for some keyboard puns!

How to make MIDI files? It’s a question that many music producers, especially beginners, ask themselves. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating MIDI files, from understanding what MIDI is to exporting your finished product. Plus, we’ll throw in some keyboard puns to keep things light-hearted!

Understanding MIDI

To begin, let’s define what MIDI is. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It’s a protocol that allows electronic musical instruments, computers, and other devices to communicate with each other. MIDI is not audio; instead, it consists of data that tells devices what notes to play, at what volume, and for how long. We’ll also cover the different types of MIDI messages and their functions.

What makes a MIDI file different from an audio file?

MIDI files contain pure musical data, while audio files contain actual recorded sounds. An audio file of a guitar solo will always be a recording of the solo, whereas a corresponding MIDI file will only contain the notes played, their tempo and other musical data. This means that you can use the MIDI file to make any instrument play the notes of the solo.

Unlike audio files, MIDI files don’t contain any sound. Therefore, MIDI files aren’t a specific sound source, but rather a set of instructions that can be used to program any sound source. Creating MIDI files has become easier with the advent of digital audio workstations (DAWs) and digital MIDI editors, making them the best tools for creating MIDI files today.

Setting up Your MIDI Environment

To start making MIDI files, you’ll need a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that supports MIDI, a MIDI controller, and a MIDI interface. We’ll go over how to set up your MIDI environment and how to use a midi keyboard, including choosing a DAW that supports MIDI, installing and configuring your MIDI controller, and setting up your MIDI preferences in your DAW.

Creating Your MIDI Tracks

Now that your MIDI environment is set up, it’s time to start creating your MIDI tracks. We’ll cover choosing your virtual instruments, setting up your MIDI tracks, and recording and editing your MIDI notes. This section will also cover some essential keyboard shortcuts and techniques to help you work more efficiently.

Creating a MIDI file using a DAW

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is the ideal tool for creating MIDI files. MIDI information is usually displayed in a piano roll, which allows you to visualise the notes, tempo, velocity and other parameters of the file. Here are some simple steps to create a MIDI file using a DAW:

  • Open the editor: Open your favourite DAW and create a new MIDI file.
  • Select an instrument: Select an instrument such as a digital piano or sine wave to start. You can change it later.
  • Record: Press Record and play a few notes using a MIDI controller or laptop keyboard.
  • Edit: MIDI files can be rearranged and reprogrammed. You can edit notes, velocities and even add new MIDI parameters.
  • Quantize: Press Ctrl+U to quantize MIDI information and fix rhythmic imperfections.

Using a DAW to create MIDI files is one of the easiest and most versatile ways to make music. With a little creativity and clever editing, you can turn any mediocre performance into a stunning masterpiece. For FL Studio users we have an extra article about midi files in which we show how to connect a MIDI keyboard to FL Studio.

Creating a MIDI file using a MIDI editor

Creating a MIDI file using a MIDI editor is a great option for those looking for a simpler and more accessible approach to MIDI. Unlike DAWs, MIDI editors are usually free and easy to use. There are several free MIDI editors available, including MixPad, MuseScore and Aria Maestosa. Here are the steps to create a MIDI file using a MIDI editor:

First, choose and open your preferred MIDI editor. If you’re using a MIDI controller, it’s best to connect it before opening the MIDI editor. Next, you can create a new MIDI file in the MIDI editor by pressing record or programming a few notes. In MuseScore, for example, you can create a new MIDI file simply by right-clicking and selecting ‘Create new score’.

MIDI editors offer a smaller range of options than DAWs

When it comes to playable instruments, MIDI editors offer fewer options than DAWs. However, most MIDI editors offer some sort of basic playable instrument, and some MIDI editors, such as MixPad, even allow you to load VST instruments, which means you can play around with your favourite virtual instruments and software synthesizers.

To record MIDI information in a MIDI editor, check your MIDI inputs. In MuseScore, for example, any score (i.e. MIDI track) can easily be armed by pressing N to enter input mode. If you don’t have a MIDI controller, you can still create a MIDI file by drawing the notes on a piano roll (as in MixPad) or a digital sheet of music (as in Aria Maestosa).

Once you have your MIDI file, you can edit it to correct imperfections, add notes and adjust the recorded velocity and modulation data. You can also export the MIDI file and load it into another piece of software. MIDI is a standard form of musical communication, which means it’s integrated into virtually all digital music production tools and software.

Editing Your MIDI Files

Once you’ve recorded your MIDI notes, it’s time to edit them. In this section, we’ll cover understanding the piano roll view, editing MIDI notes, adjusting velocity and timing, and quantizing your MIDI notes. We’ll also cover some useful tips and tricks to help you make your MIDI tracks sound more natural.

Editing MIDI files is an essential part of the music production process. It allows you to correct errors, add notes, adjust timing and even change the sound of an instrument. By editing your MIDI files, you can refine your music to make it sound more polished and professional.

One of the most common ways to edit MIDI files is from the Piano Roll view. This view provides a visual representation of the notes in your MIDI sequence. You can easily manipulate these notes by dragging them up or down, left or right, to change their pitch or timing. The Piano Roll view lets you see the entire song on a single screen, so you can quickly spot errors or make changes to individual notes.

Velocity and timing

When editing your MIDI file, pay close attention to the velocity and timing of each note. Velocity determines how hard or soft the note is played, while timing determines when the note is played. You can adjust the velocity and timing of each note to add dynamics and groove to your music. For example, increasing the velocity of a snare drum hit can make it sound more aggressive, while slightly delaying the timing of a hi-hat hit can make it sound more relaxed.

MIDI quantization

Another useful feature of MIDI editing is quantization. Quantization is the process of snapping notes to a grid to ensure they are played at the correct timing. This is particularly useful for correcting mistakes or making sure your MIDI tracks are perfectly in time. However, be careful not to over-quantize your music as this can make it sound robotic and lifeless.

When editing your MIDI file, remember that the goal is to make your music sound as natural as possible. Use techniques such as adjusting the velocity and timing of your notes to give your music a human feel. Experiment with different sounds, rhythms and effects to create a unique sound that stands out.

In conclusion, editing MIDI files is an essential part of the music production process. With the right tools and techniques, you can take your MIDI tracks to the next level and create professional-sounding music. Keep experimenting, be creative and have fun!

Exporting Your MIDI Files

Congratulations, you’ve created your MIDI track! Now it’s time to export it. In this section, we’ll cover choosing the correct file format for your needs, exporting your MIDI file from your DAW, and testing and playing your MIDI file. We’ll also cover some tips on how to use your MIDI files in different contexts, such as importing them into other software or using them in live performances.

Now that you’ve done all the work to create your MIDI track, it’s time to export it and share it with the world. Exporting your MIDI track can seem daunting at first, but it’s actually a straightforward process. In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps of exporting your MIDI file from your DAW, choosing the right file format, and playing it back to make sure everything is working correctly.

Choosing the right file format

When exporting your MIDI file, the first thing you’ll need to consider is the file format. MIDI files come in a number of different formats, including Standard MIDI File (SMF) and MIDI Karaoke File (KAR). SMF is the most common format, and it’s compatible with virtually all digital music production tools and software. KAR, on the other hand, is mainly used for karaoke machines and contains lyrics as well as MIDI data.

Before exporting, it’s a good idea to check which format your software supports, as some DAWs have additional export options. You may also want to consider exporting multiple versions of your MIDI file in different formats to give you more flexibility in how you use it.

Export from your DAW

Once you’ve chosen your file format, the next step is to export your MIDI file from your DAW. Most DAWs have a specific export option, often found under the File menu. In some cases, you may need to select the tracks or clips you want to export first.

When exporting your MIDI file, it’s important to pay attention to the export settings. For example, you’ll want to make sure you’re exporting the full MIDI data, not just a reference to the original files. You may also want to select a specific tempo or time signature to ensure that the exported file matches your intended playback speed and rhythm.

Test and play your MIDI file

Once you’ve exported your MIDI file, it’s time to test it and make sure it sounds as you intended. You can do this by loading the file into a MIDI player or importing it into another software program.

If you find any problems with the exported file, such as missing or incorrect notes, you may need to go back and make some adjustments to your original MIDI track before exporting again. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make changes to your track until you’re happy with the final result.

Using your MIDI files in different contexts

Finally, it’s worth noting that MIDI files can be used in a variety of contexts beyond digital music production. For example, you can import MIDI files into video editing software to create custom soundtracks for your videos. You can also use MIDI files in live performances by sending MIDI data to a synthesizer or other hardware instrument.

By understanding how to export your MIDI files and use them in different contexts, you’ll have more flexibility and creative options when it comes to sharing and using your music. So don’t be afraid to experiment and explore the many possibilities of MIDI!

Steps to Make MIDI Files
1. Choose a DAW that supports MIDI.
2. Connect a MIDI controller and interface to your computer.
3. Create a new MIDI track in your DAW.
4. Select a virtual instrument or external synthesizer.
5. Play or program notes into the MIDI track.
6. Edit the MIDI notes in the piano roll view.
7. Add expression and dynamics to your MIDI track.
8. Export the MIDI file from your DAW.

Tips for Creating Great MIDI Files

Now that you know the basics of creating MIDI files, here are some tips to help you take your music to the next level:

  • Use Expression and Dynamics – Don’t forget to add expression and dynamics to your MIDI tracks. This can make your music more emotional and engaging.
  • Experiment with Different Virtual Instruments – There are countless virtual instruments available, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different sounds. This can help you find unique combinations and create music that stands out.
  • Try Different Time Signatures and Tempos – Changing the time signature and tempo can add variety and interest to your music. Experiment with different rhythms and see what works best for your track.
  • Use MIDI Effects – Most DAWs come with MIDI effects, such as arpeggiators and chord generators. These can help you create more complex patterns and add more depth to your music.
  • Collaborate with Others – Collaborating with other musicians can be a great way to learn new techniques and create music that is greater than the sum of its parts. Consider working with a vocalist or a guitarist to add new elements to your MIDI tracks.

Using ready-made midi files

Besides creating your own midi, you can also use ready-made mids. There are many sources for free and paid midis on the Internet. In our shop you can find and download royalty free midi files with ready made midi melodies.


In conclusion, creating MIDI files is a fun and rewarding process that can lead to endless possibilities in music production. With a few basic tools and some creativity, anyone can create professional-sounding music in their own home. Remember to keep experimenting and practicing, and don’t be afraid to try new things. With time and patience, you can become a master of MIDI and take your music to new heights.


Can you make your own MIDI?

Yes, you can make your own MIDI files using a digital audio workstation (DAW) that supports MIDI, a MIDI controller, and a MIDI interface.

How do I save a file as MIDI?

To save a file as a MIDI, you need to export it from your DAW in the MIDI file format. Most DAWs have an option to export files as MIDI.

How do I make a MIDI file from a song?

To make a MIDI file from a song, you can use software that can analyze the audio and generate a MIDI file from it. There are several programs available that can do this, such as Melodyne or Ableton Live.

How do I make MIDI tones?

You can make MIDI tones by using a MIDI controller to play virtual instruments in your DAW. You can also create MIDI tones by programming the notes manually in the piano roll view of your DAW.

Can you make music with MIDI?

Yes, you can make music with MIDI. MIDI is not audio, but it’s a way to send data that tells devices what notes to play, at what volume, and for how long. You can use MIDI to create a wide range of musical genres, from classical to electronic music.