Friday, 11 March 2011

iPad GarageBand with MIDI gear

There's lots of opinions about GarageBand hitting the net so I'm not planning to rant about missing features or whatever. I just want to talk about my experiences of hooking up some MIDI gear to it.

I have tested my Behringer UMA25s keyboard over USB via the Camera Connection Kit and my Novation Remote 49 via a cheapo USB MIDI interface into the CCK. The Novation also has sustain and expression pedals plugged in.

First up, both were recognised perfectly and proceeded to play notes on GB's virtual synths and even the drumsets. Velocity sensitivity was transmitted properly (anyone else find the accelerometer "velocity" really hit and miss?). I really like many of the built-in patches, and playing them via a real keyboard is a joy.

As you'd expect, pitch wheel and mod wheel both worked just fine, their effect being dependent on the particular patch. Knobs and rotaries were more hit and miss. With a General MIDI setup loaded into each keyboard, the only rotaries that changed anything were the pan control and volume. I was hoping filters, chorus, reverb and ADSR would match the GM spec. Not sure if there is a MIDI mapping table anywhere on the web.

A less successful test was the arpeggiator. When switched on, incoming MIDI notes do not go to the arpeggiator. I like to use arpeggiators a lot (due to a lack of playing talent and a tendency to twiddle controls during playing) so this was a disappointment.

A big surprise, however, was the recognition of the expression pedal from the Novation (and the sustain pedal - less surprisingly) and seemingly the channel aftertouch, which had me squealing filters using the key pressure.

Overall, despite many criticisms from people, I am very happy with Garage Band for keyboard and MIDI. Oh, ok, it could use a piano roll :o)


  1. Glad to see this reported. I had not gotten around to trying it yet. I plan to see if Apple snuck in Akai Synthstation25 support, too (I doubt it).

  2. iPad GarageBand MIDI keyboard map by David Ward 14-MAR-11
    Tested with:
    iPad (1) 32GB/3G/WIFI iOS4.3
    Akai LPK25 two octave USB MIDI mini-keyboard
    Apple Camera Connection Kit (non-powered USB works fine)

    1. DRUMS

    Classic Studio, Vintage, and Live Rock Kits

    C1 Bass Drum BD
    F1 Low Tom LT
    C2 Mid Tom MT
    A1 High Tom HT
    D1 Snare Drum SD
    C#1 Side Stick SS
    D#1 or E1 Rim Shot RS
    Bb1 Open Hi-Hat OHH
    F#1 Closed Hi-Hat CHH
    G#1 Pedal Hi-Hat PHH
    C#1 Crash Cymbal CC (two finger cymbal only)
    D#2 Ride Cymbal RC
    F2 Ride Bell RB

    Drum Machines (Top left > bottom right in 4x3 grid)

    C#2 Crash
    D2 MT
    F1 LT (Classic, Hip Hop)), B1 (House)
    G#1 Ride (Classic), Bb1 (House), D#2 (Hip Hop)
    Bb1 OHH
    F#1 CHH
    D#1 or E1 Clap
    D#2 Cowbell (Classic), D#2 FX (House), G#1 PHH (Hip Hop)
    F2 Shaker
    C#1 Claves (Classic, House), SS (Hip Hop)
    D1 SD
    C1 BD

    G1 and B1 unknown Toms
    F#2 on House has an unknown Cymbal/Rim Shot combination

    No two finger tap equivalent


    Octave = 0, C2-C4 (just follow keys as any MIDI keyboard)
    No iPad Arpeggio, but built-in Arpeggio function works on LPK25
    iPad keyboard works independently and simultaneously
    iPad Sustain works on LPK25 as Sustain
    No function for iPad Glissando/Scroll/Pitch
    Velocity sensitivity works on LPK25


    Octave = 0, C2-C4 (just follow keys to strum notes except below for chords)
    Strums chords = E-2 through D0 (I can't tell whether these are major or minor, chord strum quite harsh)
    No String bend

  3. See this video using GarageBand for iPad to record keyboard MIDI via Camera Connection Kit & EMU Xmidi 1x1 USB MIDI Cable:-