How to record MIDI, part 3: Recording with Red Dot Forever

If everything is set up, you will need to get a program to record MIDI. There are many available, commercial and free, but I prefer to use Red Dot Forever.

This is my favorite program because:

  1. it is very simple to use
  2. it is free
  3. and I wrote it myself ;-)

Click here to download the latest version of Red Dot Forever (1.04)

This is what it looks like:

Red Dot Forever main screen

First, click the OPTIONS button to get the Options screen:

Red Dot Forever options screen

Here you choose which MIDI Input to use (for recording) and which MIDI Output (for playback). These fields show the MIDI hardware that is currently attached to your computer. If your instrument shows up here, everything is ready to go!

Choose your instrument’s MIDI devices for both Input and Output and click Close to return to the main screen.

Make sure your piano or keyboard is on and that the cables are connected, and press REC. Play some funky stuff. Press STOP to stop recording, and then PLAY to hear your piano (or the computer) play back what you just recorded. If you are not happy with your recording, press REC again.

If you are satisfied with your recording, press SAVE to write the recording as a MIDI file (also called “SMF file” or Standard MIDI File) to your computer.

NOTE: If your piano stops making sound when recording, you may have to enable “Local Control” on your instrument. On some instruments an active MIDI connection will turn off the sound, but Local Control will turn it back on again. There may be a switch at the back of your instrument or it may be an option somewhere. See your manual for details.

You can also enable Echo input while recording in the Options menu. This will send the notes you just played back to the device chosen for MIDI Output, but they may have a small delay, depending on your computer.

In its current form, Red Dot Forever cannot be used to edit your recordings. If you need to make changes to your MIDI files, I recommend the free Anvil Studio.

Most keyboards will let you configure MIDI output and input into the tiniest of details. If something doesn’t work like it should, check out the MIDI section of your manual.

Red Dot Forever is open source software. That means the source code is available for anyone to download and extend. Visit the SourceForge Project Page or download the source code.

If you enjoy using Red Dot Forever, you are welcome to make a donation to help me continue to develop and support this fine program. Thank you!

After you’ve recorded your masterpiece, it’s time to play it back.

Read more articles on Piano Clues:

Basic Theory

Chords and Harmony

The Circle of Fifths

Arrangement, Improvisation and Composition

Reading Music and Sheet Music

How to Record Piano

Software and Virtual Instruments

Scales and Exercises

Digital Pianos

Links and Other Stuff


  1. Wilson says:

    The RED DOT FOREVER it´s fantastic……………..
    I would like to know if some exists version of RED DOT FOREVER with edition. do she exist, which would the cost of that program be?
    I await an answer. . . Thank you. . . Wilson

  2. admin says:

    Hi, sorry for the slow answer. :-) There is currently no version of Red Dot Forever that allows you to edit your recordings. For a free MIDI editing program you can use Anvil Studio or REAPER.

  3. Scovid says:


    I have a Yamaha SR290 and an M-Audio USB cable. When sending from the keyboard to Red Dot, only an occasional note is received. I’ve been able to send MIDI to the keyboard with the cable, but not the other way around. Do you think the problem is with Red Dot or the hardware?


  4. admin says:

    Try recording with another MIDI program such as Anvil Studio and see if that works. If that doesn’t work either, then it’s either a problem with the hardware or with the software drivers. Also make sure your cables are plugged in the right way (MIDI IN to MIDI OUT, MIDI OUT to MIDI IN). :-)

  5. 1nd1g0 says:

    Great and simple soft! Thanks a lot!

    Any plans ’bout multi-tracking?

    The only 2 things needed to be included for ideal soft 4 many people:

    1) tuneable metronome with accented beats (every 4, 3 etc. beats)

    1.1) possible optional aligning the recorded notes’ starts to the tempo greed

    2) background midi play withwithout mixing to output midi file. (VERY useful!)

    And that’s all. Your application will turn to an professional tool rather than “one voice toy”.

    P.S.: editor would be fine too =) =)

  6. lidzen says:

    this website is great! i learned many things since im new in recording,
    but can someone tell me please how to avoid delay,cz it sucks, everytime i try to record,the sound lags,and some notes are played with a higher volume!:S what should i do?or what soundcard should i have?

  7. Lee says:

    Absolutely terrific, having been trying to aquire a program to record using MIDI. The moment i record and played back it was very satisfying, I’ll be sure to use this program when recording now.

    Well done =)

  8. Asher says:

    Thanks so much! Finally a clear, helpful teacher to walk me through creating a basic set-up for recording music.

    Excellent, SIMPLE software and information.

    You rock.

  9. danzack says:


    i have problem…i have yamaha keyboard and red dot records what i am playing on the keyboard, but nothing else from keyboard, which has about hundred of midi files ???

    • admin says:

      It looks like your keyboard does not send its built-in files out over MIDI when you play them back. That appears to be a common thing, by the way.

  10. The Key says:

    When I try to record my keyboard, Red Dot Forever says ‘Could not open MIDI input for recording’.
    My keyboard (Roland RO-150) is connected to my soundcard’s gameport, the MIDI In cable is connected to MIDI Out on the keyboard and MIDI out to MIDI in… any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    • admin says:

      Does Red Dot Forever show anything in the MIDI Input box on the Options screen? If not, you may have to install a driver for the MIDI on your soundcard.

  11. The Key says:

    It says ‘MPU 401’… I think that’s something wrong with either the cable or the keyboard, but I’m not sure. The weird thing with the cable is that it has two gameport outputs, one male and one female, but only the male one fits in the slot, there is no slot for the female output…
    Thanks for helping

  12. Zach says:

    I connected my Roland r8 drum machine to the computer with the midi connected as you said and the triggers for recording, stopping and playing show that they are working, but no sound plays on my computer. Please help so that my $10.42 were not for nothing.

    • admin says:

      When you record MIDI, you don’t actually record sound. Instead, you record messages that say which notes should be played. If you actually want to hear sound, then you should send the recorded MIDI to a device that can turn MIDI messages into sound. For example, you can send the MIDI back to your Roland R8 and it will play the sounds you recorded.

      If you want to record the actual sound into the computer, then you’ll have to hook up the R8’s audio outputs to the computer. There are some other articles on this site that tell you how to do that. You cannot use MIDI for that.

  13. The Key says:

    Can you give a link to those articles please?

  14. The Key says:

    Nevermind, I already found it.

  15. Rob says:


    Ik have the following problem. When I record something I’m playing on my keyboard (MIDI -> USB connection), only the first note is recorded. This note sustains until it’s gone, and then the note which I was playing at the time (so not the second note, but whatever note I’m playing when the sustain ends)is recorded and sustains until gone.

    I’ve tried my best googling the answer but can’t seem to find it. I hope you can help.


  16. Osea Nelson says:

    I just found you, and I want to say instructions and your Red Dot Forever are the coolest things I’ve run across in a long time!! Wow! Absolutely cool. I just recorded my first .mp3 and can now send out some of my writings to friends. Previously, I’d had to use a camcorder to record myself, and the files were so huge I had to learn from my son to use Dropbox.

    Do you have a name? Could you write me back?

    Anyway, thanks a million!!!!!

  17. Osea says:

    Great stuff! Thanks.

    I wanted to send an e-mail, but I hope you read this!

  18. Tim says:

    Hey, im having trouble :(
    i’ve connected my roland fp-4 to my computer through a direct cable connection. but the thing is, red dot forever is unable to detect my piano, hence, unable to record.

    i tried installing the drivers and etc.. but it still doesnt work
    any ideas? :O

    • admin says:

      Did you use a MIDI cable or an audio cable? Red Dot Forever only records MIDI, not audio.

      Do any other programs see your Piano? (Such as Anvil Studio?)

  19. Lieuwke says:

    I have the same problem as Tim. ^

    I have tried to connected my Medeli Stage Piano to my computer but it won’t connect. I have used a midi cable. Do I need to both plug in “IN” and “OUT”? I have got only one cable so I have only plugged in “OUT” at the moment. Could that be why it isn’t working?

    Thanks in advance!

    • admin says:

      To record you just need the OUT on your piano, and you connect it to the IN on your computer. Install the software drivers, and if Red Dot Forever doesn’t see your piano, try it with Anvil Studio.

  20. saudibrit says:

    Hey.. i am having trouble with this.. I connected my midi connecter and everything seemed fine but when I play a note on my yamaha piano no sound comes out neither do I hear anything when I playback what I recorded.. help soon plz

    • admin says:

      Go into the settings of your Yamaha and set “Local Control” to off. It may be called slightly differently on your piano, but it will have a setting like that. If it’s on, your piano won’t make any sound (so you can use it to control another sound module).

  21. saudibrit says:

    Thanks very much I followed instructions and I was able to record finally.. another question I have is how to do it the other way around.. meaning how to transfer midi songs from pc to piano and where to save them as my keyboard doesn’t contain a slot for a flash drive or usb

    and if I managed to save the songs on the system, then how do I go about mixing my recording with the song..

    I am very new to this but I play well.. Is there a way that i could get only the background of a song that I want to play (music without the actual piano playing) so I could play using that? isnt that what midi files are all about? sorry if I sounded like a complete newbie but I really am and any help would enrich my knowledge of midi immensely.. thx

  22. saudibrit says:

    Hey just recorded something for the first time and when I played it back the song was completely out of tune it sounded nothing like the original song :( I will try it with anvil studio and see if there s any improvement ..

  23. saudibrit says:

    Anvil studio didnt work either the song was completely messed up i dont know what to do anymore I thought after long days of online searching that I’ve come to the right software but now that I am completely out of softwares as I’ve tried audacity magix this one and many more you name it, I am starting to think of returning my ux16 yamaha and go back to recording songs using my camera :((

  24. Tom says:

    Thanks for the info but… how about recording with the sustain pedal? As far as I know, a normal sustain pedal won’t be recorded. Only the notes will be recorded.

    How does one go about doing that?

    • Matthijs says:

      MIDI will record not only notes but also “controller” events. Controllers can be any of the buttons, sliders and knobs on your digital piano or keyboard. The sustain pedal is also a controller. So there should be no problem recording the sustain pedal if you’re recording MIDI (unless your keyboard does not support it, perhaps). It never has been a problem in any of my recordings…

  25. kyuu says:

    Thanks a million for the help!

  26. Osea Nelson says:

    I don’t know if I wrote last year, but I gotta say it again–this is one cool app, dude. Thanks 200 million.

  27. gary says:

    i really appreciated your instructions, very clear. my question is will red dot work with windows 7? also, in the instructions for my casio privia tx 330 it says it will only work with windows xp, it cautions not to hook to any other oper sys or it will damage the computer. what do you say about this. thanks so much

  28. gary says:

    i really like your software red dot, can you recommend software, just as easy to use that will convert the red dot to an mp3 file? thanks

  29. Dominic says:


    Is this program windows 7 64 bit compatable?


    • Matthijs says:

      Hi Dominic, I have no idea. I haven’t tried it on Windows 7 and it’s unlikely that I will any time soon as I switched to using a Mac computer. Try it out, and let me know if it works for you. :-)

  30. caey says:

    Hi there. this is really helpfull especially for newbies like me. Thank you very much. God bless you & have a nice day! ^.^

  31. Katabu says:

    YOU ARE GREAT!!! This is what I needed, nothing more. Simple and free. Gorgous, thank you!!!

  32. Anja says:

    All of my music turned up wrong :(
    Apart from the just piano parts.

    • Matthijs says:

      @Anja What do you mean by “turned up wrong”?

  33. I believe the issue that Anja is referring to is that the only sound it recorded was “piano”. That even though it sounded like a flute on the keyboard speakers, it sounds like standard piano on the computer.

    I’m curious about this myself, actually. I’m new to this whole thing, so I’m not sure what to do either. Why does it only sound like piano? o.0

  34. V says:

    I got a Optimus MD-1200 and the sound doesn’t get recorded properly, I even downloaded Anvil and a couple of other programs, but they give me other types of problems, I was hoping to get a program I can use since my keyboard has 200 different sounds. Thanks for the help.

    • Matthijs says:

      @V You cannot record the sounds of your piano using MIDI. To record the sounds, you need to record the audio coming out of your piano’s Line Out or Headphone jacket. See the first section on

  35. Tommy says:

    Thankyou so much for this, after weeks of searching for midi recorders and trying these really complicated things I can’t seem to understand red dot forever is just perfect congrats on the amazing program ^.^

  36. Martin Nuc says:

    Thanks for this app. Its exactly what I was looking for and it works great!

  37. Anna says:

    I have a problem recording the piano with the sustain pedal. There is an additional parallel sound on playback in the places where I press sustain pedal. How to get rid of it? The sound of note E instead of pedal.

  38. Great software! I was looking for a simple program like that over all internet and no one knows it.

    Simple and efficient. Awesome!

  39. Pingback: Le Wiz Piano Update 7, new cover, my life, recording set-up. - Le Wiz Piano

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