How to Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio

MIDI Music is a very popular genre of computer-synthesized music. It uses 16 tracks/channels and (General MIDI bank) has over 100 instruments. MIDI files are mostly used in computer games (because of their small size), web-sites (as background music; Again, because of their small size) and, sometimes, in instrument learning/play-along programs, such as Guitar-Pro. While MIDI sequencing seems hard, it is not particularly difficult to make a simple melody, add some accompaniment, a counter-melody, and turn it into pretty cool composition. This guide will teach you how to compose your own music and sequence Midis. We will be using Anvil Studio (Link is in "External Links" Section).


  1. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 1
    Learn some basics about composing and music theory. You should know the basic names of notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and their flats/sharps). Now, there are several types of notes. Standard notes are quarter notes (filled circles with lines). They equal to one beat. Eighths notes (filled circles with line with tail) are smaller. Two eighth notes equal one beat, or quarter note. Sixteenth notes (filled circles with lines with two tails) are even shorter. Four 16th notes equal to one beat. Thirty-Second notes (filled circles with lines with three tails) are the smallest notes used in compositions. Anvil Studio gives you ability to use 64th notes, but officially, 32nd notes are shortest. 8 32nd notes equal one beat. There are also Half notes (hollow circles with lines), that are bigger than quarter notes. One half note equals 2 beats, or quarter notes. And, the longest note is whole note (a hollow circle with no lines, or tails), that equals 4 beats. There are also notes in between these notes. If you add a dot to any note, it adds half of a count to it. For example, dotted eighth note equals to eight note + sixteenth note in one note. Dotted quarter note equals to quarter note plus eighth note in one note. Dotted half note equals to three beats, or quarter notes.
  2. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 2
    Learn some time signatures. Time signatures are usually written at the beginning of compositions and in places where they change. The number on the bottom indicates the type of beat, while the number on the top indicates the number of beats. A very simple time signature is 2/4; this has two quarter note beats per bar. The longest possible note here is a half note. A bar of 3/4 consists of 3 quarter note beats. 4/4 is known as "common time". A less simple time signature is 6/8, which contains six eighth notes. In length, it is equivalent to 3/4 (mathematically, 6/8 reduces to 3/4), but it is counted differently: 6/8 consists of two dotted crotchet beats (or two beats consisting of three eighth notes), while a 3/4 bar contains three quarter note beats . Irregular time signatures may also be used, for example, 5/4, 7/4 and 11/8, although these are less common. Anvil Studio allows you to enter custom time signatures, should the need arise.
  3. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 3
    Learn the key signatures. Key signature (number of flats and sharps) is written right before the time signature. It decides the key that the piece is written in. There just as much keys as there are notes. Flats and sharps also might be used in the middle of the piece. Sometimes, in minors, sharps and flats make the piece sound harmonic/melodic, while in majors, they sound minor and harmonic.
  4. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 4
    Now, let's start composing. Open up anvil studio and create new track (if it isn't created already). Name it "melody" and leave instrument piano. Think of a cool melody in your head. Once you've got it, sing it. As you sing, count. Tap your foot and count in your head. Counting during singing helps you determine what type of notes they are so you can record them. If the note does not fit the count, subdivide quarter beats into eighth/sixteenth/thirty-second beats. Be sure to record each bar as you go on. Record about about 4-5 bars. Now, play your melody. Make adjustments, if it doesn't sound right. Now, make another track named "Sub-melody". Leave the instrument piano for now. Record same melody, except for bring the notes down by 2 (so, if the first note of the melody is E, first note of the sub-melody will be C). Play the melody. If you did everything right, your music should sound really cool. Now, create third track. Name it "bass". Add lower half notes (if you are in 4/4) that go with the melody (even though you wrote the melody in one key, it still changes key as different notes are played. Those keys go with the original keys. Do not change key signature, though). After you added bass melody, play the piece again. Make adjustments, as you go on. Now, click the instrument of "melody" and change it to some other instrument. Change instrument to whatever fits your style. Rock pieces should have lead instrument as distortion guitar, sub-melody as any other type of electric guitar and bass as any electric bass. Brass pieces should have melody in trumpet, sub-melody in trombone and bass in tuba. Orchestras should have melody in violin, sub-melody in viola and bass in... bass (or Contra-Bass). Think of other instrument combination. You might also want to add percussion. Just add beats in different drums that go with the rhythm.
  5. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 5
    Experiment. Combine different instruments. Work with percussion. Discover new ways to bond notes. Read some music theory books. As you practice more in composing, you'll get better. I also suggest you learn how to play piano (or any other instrument). That develops your musical hearing and will help you with the next step.
  6. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 6
    Sequence music that's not yours, but is well-known. You can make it for game, or just for fun. To do that, first get the original song. Listen to it couple times. Then, listen to first 10 seconds. Try to discover the time signature by counting and watching patterns (if you have musical hearing, that should be fairly easy). Now, match the first note of the song so you're in the right key. After you do that, use your musical hearing and newly discovered note lengths (that were found thanks to counting) to compose first 10 seconds of melody. Then, listen to first 10 secs again and try to catch sub-melody and bass. Listen, until you recognize all the instruments and melody. Use same method to continue through entire song. Be sure to play the song often and make adjustments.
  7. Image titled Sequence Midis With Anvil Studio Step 7
    If you don't know what to compose, just click random notes. Random note-lengths. Random key and time signatures. Then, play your song. It, probably, will sound really bad, but you might be able to catch a unique melody. Make adjustments to make it sound more cooler and make the melody stick out. Then, add sub-melody, bass, percussion and any other instruments.


  • In general, MIDI instruments tend to sound very different to their physical counterparts. Don't expect the guitar to sound like a guitar, or the bass to sound like a bass. This means that the guitar (for example) might not be the ideal choice of lead instrument. Experiment with assigning different roles to different instruments. Try using the distortion guitar for some background noise, the bass guitar for the melody, the violin for the accompaniment, etc.
  • If you're having trouble sequencing a song, download/buy a music recognition software and convert mp3 to MIDI. It will probably sound quite bad, but using your sequencing skills you can edit it and change it to a professional MIDI.
  • If you have same instrument playing same music in more then 2 channels, you will get a really cool sound. It won't be realistic, but it will be really cool. Like, distortion of some kind (not just on guitars). Echo sounds are also possible.
  • Don't try to use as many instruments as possible, just for the sake of it. If it sounds good with more instruments, use more; if it sounds good with less instruments, use less.
  • Remember, with MIDI, there aren't many restrictions on what you can do. It can be used to compose music that would be otherwise unplayable for real musicians with real instruments. Take advantage of this.
  • Learn music theory and another instrument. Be sure to practice your musical ear and compose often.
  • Experiment.


  • If you somehow sequence a famous song that can be purchased, do not publish it without proper permission from author.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil Studio
  • Basic Musical Knowledge
  • Piano (optional, but recommended)

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing