I wish to make a complaint. And a confession.
I freely admit that I have not been assiduous in my composing. Part of it is being busy riding infuriating theme park rides, part of it is laziness, but—and here’s the complaint—a very large part of it is my keyboard.
It’s an M-Audio eKeys-49, a little 49-key keyboard controller. That is, it cannot produce sound on its own; it merely sends data to some other device when you play it. In my case, it sends data to the music notation software Finale.1
The problem is that it has stopped sending data to Finale. Or to SimpleSynth, the nifty little piece of software that I can use if I’m just noodling around and need sound out of the thing. Or to the computer’s MIDI Audio Setup app, which allows me to hook up this kind of thing or to check why it’s not hooked up.
It started getting flaky last year when I was working on A Christmas Carol, so much so that after I was done with that I really really avoided getting back on track with composing. It was too frustrating: I could input about five or six notes before the keyboard just lost its connection.
Today, as I started to work on a new song for Mike Funt because he really thinks I’m going to get that finished soon when in fact I started today, the keyboard completely lost it. I could play one chord, and not only would it drop off the map it also produced a “hung note,” requiring me to get to the menu to “turn off all notes.”
Blergh, as we say in the business.
Sometimes, especially with updates to the operating system and/or to Finale, it’s an issue of the driver needing to be updated. (That’s a tiny snippet of software that the system uses to make the equipment in question go.)
A brief moment on the googles was enough to show that M-Audio no longer supports the eKeys-49. Not only that, but a simple USB-connected keyboard usually doesn’t even need a driver.
tl;dr: my keyboard is officially an ex-keyboard.
What to do? I thought I would stop by Musicology to see if those guys had any recommendations for a keyboard controller that was affordable, but they don’t open till noon. I emailed them.
In the meantime, I went to the FacePlace and asked the hive mind, and within ten minutes I had some guidance. I found and have ordered the Korg microKEY2, 49-key version.2
Free shipping, it will be here Thursday, and then I can get back to whining about how hard it is to write Mike’s song.3
1 Finale has its own issues. Grrr.
2 Just so you know, there are buttons on a 49-key keyboard that allow you to play the lower or upper octaves.
3 I mean, what do I know from Dixieland/gospel?