[LAU] Synths (software vs hardware, speed)

Simon Williams simon at systemparadox.co.uk
Wed Aug 22 16:51:19 EDT 2007

Dave Robillard wrote:
> On Wed, 2007-22-08 at 13:22 +0100, Simon Williams wrote:
>> I'm now at the point where I can play midi files, and I have a midi 
>> keyboard connected and can play sounds to and from that.
>> Timidity is rubbish, frankly, so I'm using fluidsynth, which works fine. 
>> However, for some reason I can't get qsynth to work.
>> Qsynth1: Failed to create the MIDI driver (alsa_seq). No MIDI input will 
>> be available.
>> No matter what settings I try, it always fails. The only useful message 
>> I ever got was for alsa_raw, when it said that the device didn't exist. 
>> For some reason I have /dev/snd/midiC1D0, but not /dev/snd/midiC0D0. So 
>> I temporarily symlinked them, but that didn't help- it wasn't 
>> complaining about a missing device any more, but it still couldn't 
>> create the midi driver and still wouldn't tell me why not.
>> Also, both fluidsynth and timidity are too slow. Midi events are routed 
>> around instantly (tested with vkeybd and the keyboard I have plugged 
>> in), but there is a delay in playing anything sent to fluidsynth or 
>> timidity- about half a second or so.
> Use a smaller (audio) buffer size.

Adding the '-a jack' option to fluidsynth fixed it. I also added '-r 
48000' to get the periods to match which probably helped.

Now that I know I can play midi in realtime, how do I start doing 
interesting things with it? Sure I've got fluidsynth, but my current 
keyboard only has 8 instrument buttons, and fluidsynth isn't much good 
for changing the instrument on the fly.
So far I have 2 options:
1. Use the selectors on my keyboard to get whatever the first 8 
instruments are in my soundfont.
2. Use another program to pick the instrument- but so far I haven't 
found anything that will let me pick a selection of instruments- I can 
only pick one and then the selectors on my keyboard don't do anything.

Also, I would love to be able to mix together two or more instruments- 
and be able to specify the range, volume and fading of each one.
As an example, so that I could have something like:
1. Piano sound- for everything except the last octave
2. Bass guitar- Mainly on lower half of the keyboard, fades out towards 
the middle
3. Flute or something- just on the last octave

Also, when I get my hands on a decent midi controller keyboard I want to 
be able to use the extra buttons, knobs and sliders to control the 
mixing above, and things like auto drum accompaniment and other synth 
effects, but as yet I haven't seen any software which will let me do this.

Any suggestions?


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