How to record MIDI, part 4: Playing your MIDI recordings

Red Dot Forever can only play what you just recorded, it cannot load existing MIDI files. To play MIDI files, use any of these programs:

If you like to fiddle with sheet music notation, you’ll find that most notation programs can also import MIDI files and convert them to sheet music. However, unless you played perfectly in time, you’ll need to perform some manual cleanup to make your score look good.


As I mentioned before, MIDI is just information about which notes to play. To turn MIDI data into sound, you need a “synthesizer”.

A synthesizer can either be a hardware device — such as your digital piano or keyboard, or other MIDI-capable equipment such as a special “sound module” — or a piece of software.

Your computer comes with a software synthesizer. It’s not a very good one, and it is the reason why many people don’t like the sound of MIDI files. On my computer it is called “Microsoft GS Wavetable Software”.

If you choose this as your MIDI Output device in Red Dot Forever (or in any other program), MIDI music will be played back through this built-in synthesizer.

NOTE: If you don’t hear anything, make sure the synthesizer is not muted in the Volume Control Panel. On my computer it is called “SW-Synthesizer”.

Windows has a control panel for “Sounds and Audio Devices”. The “Audio” tab contains an option for setting the device that will be used to play back MIDI music.

By default this is set to the software synthesizer, but you can also choose your instrument’s MIDI ports here. From then on, any music player will play MIDI on your instrument.

Usually that I what I do: first I record my playing as MIDI on the computer, then later I’ll use the VanBasco player to play these recordings back on my digital piano.

Unfortunately, the standard synthesizer doesn’t sound very pretty. Read more about making MIDI sound good.

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. Frank says:

    Cantabile Lite 2.0 does not have record or playback features. You have to buy the SOLO version for $49.00. Anyone know of another free program out there that supports VST plug -in and records and plays midi files; or just plays midi files?

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