I'm just curious how people write music in DAW when they have no input MIDI devices. Piano roll isn't particularly convenient to write music, and built-in score editors seem to be so so, too.

I used to write notes in Guitar Pro and then export it as midi and import in my DAW. However, I find this approach increasingly inconvenient as I'd like to be able to edit notes in place.

I've heard one can use external editors by means of VST and synchronize data between them and DAW.

So how do you usually write down your notes when you have no real input device? Do you use piano roll or built-in score editor or something? And what DAWs do you find the most convenient for this process?

  • 1
    I suggest you edit your title to include the "no midi input" part because that's probably a very small subset of people compared to all people that write music in a DAW. That said, the obvious answer to me—if the piano roll and score editors don't work for you—is to buy a MIDI keyboard. Even if you don't have much of a budget there are some really cheap ones that will work in a pinch.
    – user37496
    Aug 14, 2018 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


Maybe there's a 'virtual keyboard'. Else you'll just have to do what musicians have always had to do, write marks on the (virtual) paper. As you say, all sequencers have a 'piano roll' method, some have a notation one. Would an 'external editor' offer anything that wasn't in a good DAW?

  • Actually I've just tried Cubase Elements 9 and it's much better than anything else I've tried before, it has a decent score editor and a very convenient drum editor, I think I'll stick to it
    – olegst
    Aug 16, 2018 at 9:19

basically my workflow is simple,

  1. Chords,
  2. Melody,
  3. Layering the melody and chords,
  4. Adding main drums on it,
  5. Put some fx,
  6. Mixing
  7. if overall is good, Mastering

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