Re: [linux-audio-user] MIDI question

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Subject: Re: [linux-audio-user] MIDI question
From: Samuel S Chessman (
Date: Thu Mar 14 2002 - 12:49:46 EET

On Wed, 13 Mar 2002, Gavin Stevens wrote:

> Although I have experienced a steep learning curve with Debian, once I
> got X running, sound has been very easy to use. I have been able to play
> CDs, mp3s etc. with no problem. I have yet to get MIDI working & I would
> greatly appreciate any thoughts on whether or how this is possible.
> My Debian box is a Pentium 200 with 64 MB RAM. I am using a SB 16 PCI
> card. I know they are not the latest or greatest, but I use the same in
> my Windows machine & it does what I want with no hassle.
> I tried Rosegarden, but it didn't work & wouldn't let me alter anything
> in the Config section (it was showing /null or something similar).
> Rosegarden is also way too big for my monitor, which would make using it
> difficult, even if it worked.
> Is there a way to set up MIDI from the command
> line? Or do I have some software missing? Alternatively, is the SB 16
> PCI supported for MIDI in Linux?
> Thanks,
> Gavin.

Your sb16 will do midi in and out in linux with the caveat that the
mpu hardware has a small fifo so incoming midievents can be problematic.
For output it's a reasonable card. My guess is you want softsynth, then
you need a wavetable synthesizer such as timidity, pd, csound, etc.

These can be made to work with OSS-Free, but if you are going to invest
your time in learning linux audio, then you really should setup alsa.

There are multiple ways to do audio with debian. The most effective (ALSA)
requires you to compile and install drivers. The default drivers with 2.4
linux are the OSS-Free drivers, which work but are not as current as alsa.
The default drivers with 2.5 linux are now ALSA 0.9.0-current but this
is not recommended for people unfamiliar with the bleeding edge of linux
kernel development, and you probably want to stay at 2.4.recent for
some time.

See the QuickToots page which has a couple tutorials about midi and linux.
The sequencer and softsynth tutorial may be helpful.

I personally use pmidi with alsa on debian, pmidi is a good command line
midi player and it can be added with
apt-get install pmidi-0.9
but it requires alsa 0.9 to be installed, and I don't see a recent debian
package. Debian testing is currently at 0.9+0beta10-6 and ALSA is at
0.9.0-beta12. You really want the current one.

pmidi can drive my Kawai K4 out the midi port, my SBAWE card synthesizer,
and timidity, pd, and other softsynths.

So join the fun, download the alsa tarball and have at it.
see for more info.

   Sam Chessman                                     
    First do what's necessary, then what's possible, finally the impossible.

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