I have been using an ancient DOS program, Cakewalk Live, to play .mid MIDI files for live performances. The program is so old that I need to use laptops with a serial port and outdated versions of windows (pre-2000), these laptops don't last long. I'm looking for something that will run on a modern laptop with Windows 7, but I can't find anything with the simple features I need.

I need the ability to cue up the next MIDI file while the current one is playing. Cakewalk Live lets me do this easily and quickly in a few seconds. It can't take longer than that because I'm performing live. I can't just make a playlist and stick to it because I take requests, etc.

Also, I need MIDI output (I want to use an M Audio Uno Usb-to-MIDI converter). I don't want to have software synth audio out. It would be easy enough to have a media player with a playlist feature do software synth out of my laptop's audio jack, but I want MIDI out, not audio.

Out of desperation I've even tried writing my own program to do this, but I can't find MIDI libraries in Python, Javascript, or C++ which allow me to both open a .mid file and to play it to a MIDI device. There are a handful that do one or the other.

In summary: I'm having great difficulty finding software that can play .mid files as MIDI out of my USB port, has support for playlists, and can let me queue up the next song live. There are a lot of composing programs, but they're designed to play a single song, not a queue-able playlist.

Thank you for your help.


It's not exactly what you asked for, but are you aware of DosBox (http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Main_Page) which emulates DOS on more modern systems?

  • I was doubtful that DosBox would be able to emulate the MIDI drivers, but it ended up working great. – Ain Britain Feb 10 '15 at 15:53

Ableton Live seems like the closest match for your requirements. It allows you to import and cue up MIDI files and it supports MIDI output to external devices. I cannot give the step-by-step instructions, but I definitely think learning to use Ableton (it is large and feature-rich) would be faster than creating your own program.

This shows that Ableton can send MIDI to external devices. https://www.ableton.com/en/articles/using-external-synthesizers-live/

Most of this is not relevant to you as it is about playing the MIDI file using an internal software synth, but it does show that MIDI files can be played with Ableton


too funny, I use the old DOS Cakewalk also, its just the best program for midi, however I too have a hard time finding old laptops that work using a midiator as an interface via serial interface. If you use cakewalk pro 9 it will run on xp and use the usb out to a motu midi xpress 128. Nothing changes for you except no midi lag. that will solve your problem cheap. No changes required to the cakewalk .wrk files. Cakewalk 9 has a virtual jukebox for live performance just like the old cakelive in dos. good luck.


I use Cakewalk version 3.0 for Windows 3.1. It works fine in Windows 10 with USB midi ports, and has the Playlist feature that I think Cakewalk Live was built on. However, it is a 16 bit application. The latest machines are all 64 bit, and won't run 16 bit any longer. My days are numbered. I will try DosBox as mentioned above. I wonder how stable it is as I will be using this live too.

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