Playing External Keyboard Presets in Ableton



So I've successfully connected my external keyboard to ableton.  Both my computer and ableton recognize the yamaha keyboard, and I am able to record MIDI notes from my keyboard into ableton.  


The problem I'm having is getting the yamaha presets themselves to play in ableton.  Whenever I play back the notes in ableton, I only get piano-sounding notes, even though the preset on my yamaha might be a saw, trumpet, or bell noise.


So obviously after I've recorded notes into ableton with my keyboard there's no sound at all b/c I haven't dropped an instrument into the insturment rack, but when I click on "external instrument" and use the yamaha keyboard, it ONLY plays back with a piano-like sound, while completely ignoring any presets I've selected.


Any suggestions?


(I'm aware that I could drop analog or operator onto the MIDI notes I've created, but I really enjoy the presets that come with my external yamaha keyboard, so I'd prefer to use those rather than create my own sounds.)


Yamaha Portable Grand DGX-230 is the keyboard i use, fyi   = ) 


nxixcxk 5 years ago | 0 comments

3 answers

  • michael.j.mclaughlin20
    240 answers
    270 votes received
    5 votes

    Ok,  so there are a whole bunch of things that are going on with this, I am going to try to answer all of them the best that I can, but I do not have the keyboard in front of me, so I am not sure that all of the answers will be perfect.

    First order of business, is to download the manual. I found it here:

    Next order of business, from your description of your situation, it did not seem that you understood the difference between midi and analog audio. The case may be exactly the opposite, and I may be giving you some useless information, but for anyone else that comes along with a similar problem, this is for them as well.

    1. Midi - Digital signal that caries a hexadecimal code for every command that a midi device can send to be processed, or recorded. There is no sound that travels in this signal. Only a code that tells the computer or synth which note to play, or which control to change, or which program to access.
    2. Audio - This is where the sound is housed. In an audio signal, usually transmitted  through a 1/4, 1/8th inch cable, or any other cable such as a mic cable, or digitally, as it would be stored on a computer.

    It is important to know the difference between these two, and I am sorry, in advance if I have insulted your intelligence... you just never know. :)

    Ok, now we can answer your questions.

    1. In order to get the sounds, the presets from your keyboard to your computer, you will have to connect your keyboard through a 1/4 inch cable to a sound card or audio interface. I have included a link below to a few that might suit your needs if you are only using a keyboard.

    You will need to connect the keyboard's headphone/output jack to the input of your soundcard (or you can just use your built in one on your computer/laptop/whatever you have. And you should be able to record anything that comes through that cable if you have the correct drivers for the sound card you are using.

    Being able to record midi notes is definitely a good start, but I'm guessing that you are using the midi output or the usb output. That does not send audio data, just the midi data that triggers the audio clips.

    Hint! I often record both the midi data and the patch that I am accessing at once, so that if I ever mess up my performance, I will just be able to feed the midi data back into whatever synth/workstation I am using and have a perfectly recorded audio performance.

    So, it's actually, a good thing that you have been able to play notes from Ableton and have had them play on your keyboard. That means that you just need a little tweaking to get the sounds that you want. Specifically, you need to change a setting in the midi track that you are accessing. Now, I have not gone through the entire manual, and most keyboards generally work the same way, but I am going to leave it up to you to know the ins and outs of your keyboard by reading the entire manual. If you are already this far, then all you should have to do is go into ableton, find the midi clip you are playing back, and change a setting under the notes section labeled "Pgm change". This is called a program change and is basically like a preset caller. When a synth or a keyboard that has multiple presets on it gets midi notes sent to it, it is also sent a preset that it should access so that it plays the correct sound.

    You can find the list that corresponds to the various presets that you have on your keyboard by looking in the manual from that hyperlink I provided you with at the top of this post and going to page 100. There you will find a table of all of the presets and the program numbers that they correspond to. For example, you were probably transmitting on 0-112-001, which corresponds to the MSB, LSB, and program change in the manual, or the Bank, SubBank, and Pgm Change in Ableton, I believe that is the default for ableton when it transmits midi data. However, if you want to change it to another preset, such as trumpets, you will need to change it to 0-112-57 in ableton so:

    Bank = 0, SubBank = 112, Pgm Change = 57

    Hope this helps. Post back with what you find.

    5 years ago | 1 comment
  • nxixcxk
    1 answer
    1 vote received
    1 vote

    Btw, your suggestion worked : ) .


    I must say though that the sound quality isn't as good as I'd like it to be.  For instance, when I plug in my headphones to my keyboard, the sounds are nice and crisp--but after putting it thru the audio interface--the scarlet 2i2--it's difficult for me to achieve an acceptable level of volume for the preset sounds w/o a lot of distortion.


    Anyhow, I never did appropriately thank you for all this great advice.  It was and is MUCH appreciated!

    2 years ago | 1 comment
  • ndebello13
    6 answers
    11 votes received
    1 vote
    nxixcxk, maybe this PDF could be of some help!
    2 years ago | 0 comments

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