a virtual midi keyboard

As I wrote before, I will talk about some different programs I use for audio live performances. After having JACK installed it’s time to start working with it. Most audio programs will have some interface to MIDI signals to give us control over what they are doing. Think of it more like a generic control device than just a piano keyboard, because MIDI signals are used as well to start or stop something, to change effects… You might know that. My point is, that if you don’t have an external MIDI keyboard it comes handy to use the computer’s keyboard. The most basic program which achieves that is vkeybd which is a standard package on debian based linux systems (such as ubuntu). The following picture shows its rather ascetic window: screenshot vkeybd
Three octaves are available, although only one was accessible in my standard installation. I added a few lines in the file ~/.vkeybdmap, which is kind of self explaining, but one has to know how to call those weird keys on localized keyboards (which I don’t). After you start JACK and vkeybd a “readable client” shows up in the connection window’s tab named ALSA (if you use QjackCtl; see picture).
screenshot connection window with vkeybd ports
You can even start up more than one keyboard and its name is given in the command line with vkeybd --name "2nd keyboard". Then one marks the desired ports (in my screenshot no other program is running) and click on connect. Press keys (with focus on vkeybd) and see how they change colors ;). That’s it. Have fun!

Advice: I’m not sure but it could be that libmidisport has to be installed. I’ll find out about that later.


2 Responses to “a virtual midi keyboard”

  1. 1 Mike Reeves May 10, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks for this. I really didn’t know how good vkeybd is. It looked a bit disappointing when I first installed it. I had no idea it was so configurable on the command line.
    Your post has opened up a whole new world. I’d just been messing around with JACK+Hexter+VKeyBD.
    Running on Ubuntu 8.10 by the way.
    Best regards and thanks for the info.

  1. 1 vkeybd « rakko-style Trackback on June 18, 2009 at 1:18 am

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