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Thread: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

  1. #1
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    [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    About once a year since Breezy Badger, I've tried to get MIDI to do nothing more than playback in/on Ubuntu. It ain't happenin'.

    This year (2008), I find some guy who says he's got it working and I get all excited to try it. (I can't seem to learn from my previous mistakes here) ...

    So, from Linuxtechie's 'blog:

    How To: Ubuntu MIDI Playback with Audacious
    http://linuxtechie.wordpress.com/200...ith-audacious/

    I get a warm fuzzy feeling and the next thing you know, my terminal is open and I'm trying his "thing". Boy oh! Boy -- it sure looks good. Not a lot of instructions, etc. So I'm busy getting Audacious in the plug-ins/extras when I have to stop, mid-stream, and get a Sound Font (I'm not a musician, I only want MIDI playback), whatever that is. So, reading further someone has set a link to Fluid3. I download and un-archive that file. I don't know where the contents of the archive are supposed to go, but for my own ease sake, I make a directory called: soundfont. In it goes and then, I discover it's got it's own compressed file format.

    That takes me to another page: sfArk SoundFont Compression
    http://melodymachine.com/sfark.htm and while this page is kind enough to offer a method to uncompress the soundfont file, the author gives no model or example of the command line structure to do so. Why? I download the (again) compressed file. It's all of 35 kilo bytes, so is another compressed file really necessary? Then I try to extract it into my soundfont directory. I look in the directory and Lo! and Behold!, the extracted directory has the padlock icon symbol on it. Why? I'm not a computer techie, so I have to find the chown code to make it useful. Again, why has this happened. Nothing is simple as it should be. MIDI is the only place in all of Linux where Microsoft is better. (That does point out how bad MS is, but that's another story).

    I try again, and the program to extract the soundfont has been extracted from the compressed directory with the padlock symbol on it. The name of this is:

    sfarkxtc

    and the file properties show it as an "executable". Does that mean .exe, as in Microsoft? I can't tell. So I highlight the icon and right-click. It offers to open under Wine. I decline that. I'm sure I downloaded the Linux version of this.

    More confoundingly, the file name for the Fluid soundfont has a blank space (a touch of the space bar) in the file name. I don't recall how you do that in Linux either. Worse, the explanation of how to use the decompression tools reads:

    Installing and removing
    Simply copy the contents of the distribution archive to the folder of your choice (typically the "applications" folder). In addition you may want set sfArkXT to be the "Open with application" used by Finder to open sfArk files. There are some minor complications here.. see "sfArk File Extensions" below. To remove the program, simply delete it.

    Basic Use
    Select a sfArk file to decompress using "File, Open" from the main menu. Then press "start" to decompress the file. The uncompressed SoundFont plus notes and license files (if included) will be created in the same directory as the source sfArk file. Note that decompression may take several minutes if the file is large and sfArk's "maximum compression" mode was used to create the file. For sfArk's "standard" compression mode, decompression will normally run at around 1 megabyte per second (depending on the speed of your Mac of course).


    Once again, I'm back where I started.

    So, if you are probably the nicest person on the face of God's Green Earth, and have read all the way to here, and still want to help me. Go ahead. I'll try anything. I got into MIDI in Microsoft through VanBasco's MIDI player. Why it's not been ported into Linux I'll never understand. And it won't run under Wine. I've tried for over 3 years with that. Soooooo, if you have time and lots of patience, and you can understand how to get MIDI to work with the above method, kindly let me know how to do that, too.

    Looking into Synaptic Pkg. Mgr. I see some soundfonts and such, but as I won't know where they are installed, I won't be able to use Audacious Preferences config to point it at those soundfonts. Yikes. Way to complicated for a non-tech guy.

    Thanks, community.
    AMD FX-6300, 8gig ddr3, MSI 970 Gaming, 256G WD blue SSD, GeForce GT710, HP LJ Pro M277-fdw

  2. #2
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    Question Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    So, what was the solution?

  3. #3
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    I'm at the same point in the hunt for a simple solution to getting a midi keyboard working in Ubuntu 10.10, and seeing the Solved heading my heart leapt...for long enough to read the thread.
    I, too, not a techie, have downloaded lots of software that others recommend, all of which show gui's that are mind-numbingly complex, and with little or no overall picture of how to start.

    Is it worth starting a new thread, I ask myself, but no answer came the reply.


    John
    It's like doing jigsaw puzzles in the dark.

  4. #4
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    What for, Frances, just my little rant ?
    John
    It's like doing jigsaw puzzles in the dark.

  5. #5
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    Quote Originally Posted by grey1beard View Post
    What for, Frances, just my little rant ?
    John
    It's a spam account, I wouldn't worry.

  6. #6
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    Thanks Grenage. It's nice to know that at least the thread is being read
    It's like doing jigsaw puzzles in the dark.

  7. #7
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    Here's what I did to get MIDI playing back from .mid files in Audacious on Lubuntu.

    It's August of 2012 and I'm running Lubuntu 12.04 (the Precise Pangolin (on a Pangolin computer from System 76, coincidentally)) with Audacious 3.2.1-2. This is the version showing in Synaptic for the Audacious package that I currently have downloaded. I didn't do anything special to get that version; it came with the version of Lubuntu that I'm running. I mention the specific version of Audacious just because the look of it differs from what some guide out there from 2008 or so shows.

    Now are a couple of steps I actually took, but that I do not think are necessary.

    sudo apt-get install timidity-interfaces-extra
    # Is a separate tool
    # that plays MIDI, but does not enable playing from Audacious.

    sudo apt-get install audacious-plugins # Already installed?

    Here are the steps I took that I think are necessary:

    sudo apt-get install musescore-soundfont-gm
    # May be smaller than the alternative mentioned elsewhere.

    Go into Audacious and from the File menu, open Preferences. Choose Plugins.
    Choose Input, then AMIDI-Plug (click on the row without unticking the box).
    Click Preferences on the bottom.
    Switch to FluidSynth.
    Choose FluidSynth on the left to change its settings.
    Click the button to add a sound font file. That brings up a file navigator;
    navigate that to /usr/share/sounds/sf2/TimGM6mb.sf2 exactly.
    Maybe up the gain a little in the synthesizer settings (I raised it from .2 to .4).

    Having done the above steps, I find I can open a .mid file from Audacious and play it.

  8. #8
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    Hi Jack.
    My first reading of your post gives me the impression that you can now play .mid files OK, but does this also mean that this has enabled a midi keyboard ?

    Still early in the morning for me, so I'm a bit slow on the uptake till the second cup kicks in

    John
    It's like doing jigsaw puzzles in the dark.

  9. #9
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    Sorry, grey1beard, but I do not own a MIDI keyboard and so I haven't tested a procedure to get one to work.

  10. #10
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    Re: [SOLVED] Why is MIDI such a headache in Linux & Ubuntu?

    I want to address specifically this quote from the original post: "Looking into Synaptic Pkg. Mgr. I see some soundfonts and such, but as I won't know where they are installed, I won't be able to use Audacious Preferences config to point it at those soundfonts."

    In Synaptic, when you are looking at a package that you have installed, you can bring up Properties on the package (right click on the row of text about the package). One of the tabs in the Properties will list for you the installed files. The file whose name ends in ".sf2" is the sound-font file, and that's what you have to navigate to in Audacious prefs.

    Yes, I know, things are more complex than they ought to be just to get things going. It would seem reasonable to me if the packagers of Lubuntu would include the smaller sound-font file (referenced in my post above) and pre-configure Audacious to use it.

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