How do I test instruments with a computer keyboard?

Hi, sorry for asking a pretty simple question, but:

In LMMS, there is a keyboard shown beneath instruments that allows you to type on the computer keyboard to test out notes:

Does this feature exist in Ardour? If not, what is the best way to test out a synth while tuning the settings?

Thank you for your time.

There’s jack_keyboard (or jack-keyboard) and vkeybd. I think both of those have default mappings to your computer keyboard.

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Synthpod [1] ships a simple keyboard LV2 plugin you can drop anywhere in a strip for testing purposes (mouse-only for now, adding key handling support in the future is possible, though)


We don’t integrate a keyboard into the plugin GUI/editor window. There is a keyboard in every MIDI track in the editor, if you make the track a bit taller than the default. (It is called the “scroomer” because it comes with a slider that can be used to both zoom and scroll). That isn’t quite as integrated as putting it inside the plugin window. We may consider adding something like in a future version.

Others have noted that you can also connect an external virtual keyboard to Ardour. If you use current/recent versions of Ardour, its input will be automatically connected to the first selected MIDI track by default (and thus to the instrument plugin in that track, if there is one).

jack-keyboard is the solution that is most likely present already, ‘grabbing’ the keyboard does seldom work, so it’s best to ‘keep on top’ the keyboard window and activate it again and again. I also like LMMS’ interface(s) a lot for swift MIDI composing, I think it’s a good example in that regard. But in Ardour, expanding the track vertically and clicking on the note keys also allows very simple testing.
What I’d love to see (or maybe eventually write myself, but I’m still lacking expertise) one day is a program that can isolate a cheap USB keybord from the nearest car boot sale, i.e. by its vendor & product id, and use it as a dedicated virtual MIDI keyboard rather than merging it with other input devices.
I’ve begun reading up on X and udev once when I wondered how feasible it was to have a US and a Spanish keyboard using their respective layouts side by side, but didn’t get anywhere with my current skill level, but yes, feasible it seemed.

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Yes Absolutely…

there’s also the “Midi Sequencer 8x8”(type “8x” in the search plugin list), it loops itself while simulating the event of sending midi notes.