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What is a Virtual MIDI keyboard?
A Virtual MIDI keyboard is where you can trigger MIDI notes which your computer keyboard and mouse. It will typically have a keyboard display on screen and you will be able to adjust knobs which control volume, panning and modulation. This is extremely useful for people who want to make music but don't have a real music keyboard.
The music software Fruity Loops uses a virtual MIDI keyboard and I know many people who make professional tracks without using a real keyboard. Playing music from your computer keyboard will of course not register the strength / velocity of the key but that can easily be edited afterwards.
There are many sources where you can obtain free Virtual MIDI keyboards if you look around the net. Most have a freeware license so can be freely distributed. Most Virtual MIDI keyboards don't actually produce any sound themselves. They need to be linked to a software sequencing program.
A virtual keyboard maybe fine for programming drums, making simple melodies and putting samples together. However there comes a limit. If you really want to do anything that sounds musical or anything with complexity e.g. chords it will be almost impossible to use a computer keyboard. You may as well spend $100 - $300 and invest in a MIDI input keyboard.
Remember MIDI controller keyboards have no on board sounds, they work by triggering notes and sending them to your Audio interface. Some higher end MIDI controller keyboards are even velocity sensitive like a real keyboard. e.g. The loudness depends on how hard you press the keys.
FL Studio 10 is a complete software music mixing and production environment. Everything you need in one package to compose, arrange, record, edit and master your productions. FL Studio also has a nice built in Virtual Keyboard.
- VMPK. Virtual MIDI Piano Keyboard
A virtual MIDI keyboard that requires MIDI software sequencer player to hear the sounds. Very user friendly. A good one to try is Fluidsynth or Qsynth.
- Granucon - Music Software - Virtual MIDI Keyboard
A very easy to use keyboard which has five knobs to control the shape of the output sound