How to turn your 32 bit notebook into Boston Symphony Orchestra?

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  • This topic has 6 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated Nov 4-2:50 pm by Robin.
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  • #92256
    Member
    Robin

      What you can do with most recent antiX 22 on an 18 years old 32 bit notebook.

      Part 2: How to turn your so called “deprecated” device into a real philharmonic orchestra you can let play for you whatever you like?

      Again, this is about real high quality sound once more, as before when learning how to make a Steinway grand piano of it. Everybody who has read this article knows the basics, so I will not repeat it. You know meanwhile how to download and install a Soundfont on your system. (For all who don’t know what a Soundfont is at all: Think of it like a letter font you can choose to format the writing in e.g. Libreoffice with, you know, you can choose different typographic styles to change the visual result of writing or printing a text you’ve written. Well, the soundfont actually allows you mostly this kind of formatting for audible sound events, you can format a note you’ve written down, using the different instruments of a specific soundfont to change the timbre and characteristic tone of any musical note you have written down, when it is processed for playing.)

      So, this time please download a fully General MIDI Soundfont instead of the specialised grand piano one we have used last time, e.g. HD orchestrals soundfont collection ver. 3.0 from a “Young Composers Forum”, store it to /usr/share/sounds/sf2 system folder. Start qsynth from antiX menu and load the new soundfont into memory. Since it it an sfarked file, you need to extract it from this archive format. The default antiX archive manager can’t do this for you, a special sondfont archiver is needed here:
      sudo apt get install sfarkxtc
      and
      sfarkxtc './HQ Orchestral Soundfont Collection v3.0.sfArk'
      This command will uncompress the file to the sf2 type soundfont you can load into fluidsynth. Be aware, it’s a huge file, decompression will take some time.

      Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall 01
      Image: Steven Pisano, Peter Matthews. Vienna Symphony Orchestra, March 6, 2019 Carnegie Hall, Mahler’s “Ninth Symphony”, Cond. Michael Tilson-Thomas. License: CC-BY 2.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

      The advantage of this soundfont above the default fluid-soundfont-gm or fluid-soundfont-gs soundfont from the repos is: It contains multiple sets of samples for a single instrument, e.g. for arco, pizzicato, straccato, tremolo etc. and also multiple layers of velocity, which are used as needed. You have seen the effect of this in the Steinway grand piano soundfont (and the other single instrument soundfonts) already. This is necessary, since a musical instrument doesn’t simply play „loud” or „low”. When playing low, it has a completely different timbre than when playing loud. This makes it different from the volume slider on your technical audio equipment. It’s all physics, depending on the spectrum of overtones (harmonics), and the so called formanten (which exist in instruments as well as in the human voice). Ok, I won’t bother you with this music theoretical background stuff, just let me say: In simple soundfont sets all these parameters are computed for most notes/tones of the instruments range, while only a few true sounds were sampled. In high quality and professional sets there are all notes and velocities sampled individually and carefully selected from multiple recordings to give a consistent result. That makes it extremely hard to create them, and you need to do this process for each single instrument type present in the orchestra. You see, this is why it is way easier to get a nice Steinway soundfont than a full orchestra. There are many poor orchestral soundfonts out in the web, but I’ve found only a few realy good ones. The above mentioned is one of them. (you will find the accordions not ready still in it, and the tuba sounds quite unnatural in this font), but it has a very realistic acoustic nylon guitar for example, and also a really nice violin, viola, cello, to make up a string quartett or string trio. (try pressing the keys in different duration, you will notice the sound changes to a slight vibrato after some short time, not to much, but quite realistic. And try the “Anschlag” dynamic slider in vmpk, it will change not only the volume, but also the timbre, given the soundfont provides different velocity, pressure and displacement layer sets.). By adding the one of the outstanding grand piano sound fonts from last time you’ll even have a complete piano trio at your hand (while the HQ orchestral soundfont from above already contains a very fine Steinway D sample you can use as well, having different characteristics). As you might have guessed from the before said: In most cases you’ll need to select specific instruments from different sound fonts to get completely happy. (This is possible, you can merge instruments from one soundfont into another one, so you have all you need in a single font in the end, avoiding to fill your memory with instruments you never or rarely need, so then still you can load them when you really need them once. There exists some software to do this merging, e.g. swami, sudo apt-get install swami)

      Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall 02
      Image: Steven Pisano, Peter Matthews. Vienna Symphony Orchestra, March 6, 2019 Carnegie Hall, Mahler’s “Ninth Symphony”, Cond. Michael Tilson-Thomas. License: CC-BY 2.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

      Once installed the soundfont and loaded into Fludisynth memory, you can check the instruments individually already with vmpk. In some sets for some reason you need to set the “Connection of MIDI-Output” in “MIDI Settings” to “FLUID Synth (qsynth):2” instead of “FLUID Synth (qsynth):0” in order to have the instruments listed under “Program” in vmpk main window set properly. (In some soundfonts they won’t match at all, you’d need to create an individual instrument table file then.) And when you want to play along with your virtual piano the solo part in a piano concerto, you will need to set the midi channel to a different one than the one used by the playback application for general midi, so the instrument selection programming won’t conflict.

      Give all of these instruments available a try, it is worth it, some surprising world music instruments are present (as also in the default sound font from the repos), such as sitar, bagpipes, fiddle, shakuhachi, whistle (yes, really!), Kalimba, Agogo, and Seashore etc. Some of them sound unexpected natural, when listening to, connected your line out to good quality HiFi home stereo amplifier equipment and quality speakers. It doesn’t count if your equipment is 40 or 50 years old already, in those days they have engeneered very high end linear sound output already. (My own amplifier dates from the early 1980s, it’s a Telefunken HA870, mass sold as mainstram home equipment those days. There is hardly a recent amplifier in the mainstream market which could do it any better, so no need at all to replace it.)

      Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall 03
      Image: Steven Pisano, Peter Matthews. Vienna Symphony Orchestra, March 6, 2019 Carnegie Hall, Mahler’s “Ninth Symphony”, Cond. Michael Tilson-Thomas. License: CC-BY 2.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

      OK, this time we have to deal with multiple instruments at a time, so Frescobaldi comes to its limits, a program which is perfectly fine when you want to engrave manually and do know its syntax. I’ve tried, but it chews endless on importing a complex full orchestra midi file, so let’s advance to something more comfortable: Rosegarden. This program is something you could use already in a semiprofessional or professional audio studio. Don’t let you confuse by its many options and functions it comes with. Try them one by one, it is really worth it, they are very handy and useful once you’ve got it.

      Given you’ve still installed the programs from last time (the steinway thing), it is enough to add now rosegarden.
      sudo apt-get install rosegarden

      (If you are on an antX live system make sure to remaster, so you don’t have the huge soundfont and the fresh install filling up your RAM, you’ll need it to actually load the soundfont instead of storing it there)

      Now download a big symphony, e.g. Lucarellis MIDI version of Beethovens Pastorale symphony from Kunst der Fuge (there you’ll find the next movements of this masterpiece as well, and also some different interpretations, and many more high quality midi stuff to try.)

      Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall 04
      Image: Steven Pisano, Peter Matthews. Vienna Symphony Orchestra, March 6, 2019 Carnegie Hall, Mahler’s “Ninth Symphony”, Cond. Michael Tilson-Thomas. License: CC-BY 2.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

      Start Rosegarden from antiX system menu, open the symphony_6_1_(c)lucarelli.mid file you’ve just downloaded. You’ll find a separate player field where you can start and stop playing, and a main program window, where you can select individual tracks to play, set for record, or mute them. By default all tracks are activated for playing, so when pressing now the “Play” button the symphony will start to play. The outline of the individual voices (tracks) move by while playing, so you can observe which instruments are playing the very moment. OK, the sound is really natural, while the interpretation is not precisely Boston Symphonic or Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim or Riccardo Muti. But it sounds not bad, so when you want to listen to your own compositions before having a chance to get them played by professional musicians (or at all), this is the perfect tool. You will immediately notice the difference in dynamics compared with the default sound font from the debian repos (fluid-soundfont-gm or fluid-soundfont-gs), which lacks of some additional velocity levels, so there are noticeable leaps in loudness when not using a high quality set.

      Rosegarden Main Windows

      When opening the channel list in qsynth while playing, you can observe how the different instruments are accessed, and when using a high quality soundfont you will notice these are many more than the 11 (which is since these soundfonts contain multiple sets for a single instrument used for different timbres and musical expression.)

      […]

      Windows is like a submarine. Open a window and serious problems will start.

      #92285
      Member
      Robin

        […]
        Now comes the really interesting part, which you wouldn’t guess when seeing its surface, reminding of a true professional audio recording studio: Rosegarden even handles note engraving. Yes, you can see the notes live while playing, this works fine even on 32 bit hardware. For this select a voice by clicking its name (e.g, “Violoncello”) so its line is highlighted, then click the third icon from left in second icon menu line, it shows two 1/16 notes balked together. In the new window displaying some notes click the second icon from the left of second icon menu line to add line breaks. Make the window full screen.

        Rosegarden Mixing Desks

        (Note to self: I urgently need to fix my broken extermal 21” monitor, these are way to much functional windows for a single screen, even when it is relatively big (17”) for a notebook already…)

        Make sure, the second icon from the left side in first icon menu line is ticked (“view follows playback”). Start playback (there is a start button in the very line, you don’t need to switch to the playback or main window for this).

        A moving vertical bar will show you the very recent position in note text of what you hear. OK, it’s a clear advantage here if you can read musical notation as I do 🙂 If you want to hear what the single voice is actually playing, click the third icon from the right in first icon line marked “S”, meaning solo. You can move back or forth Takt by Takt (=bar? measure?) or note by note with the buttons while playing, or stop it. When stopped you can pick a note with the mouse cursor and move it simply around while hearing it’s recent sound on the line where you put it. This is way more easy handling as what you’ve seen in frescobaldi last time, where you had to learn the lilypond engraving language to get some useful result. Here everything works graphicaly. And what I wouldn’t believe myself if not seeing it: It works fast and fluent now on this 18 years so called deprecated hardware, no functional difference to any most recent PC you can buy.
        When clicking with the mouse on the head of any note, it will play the very note as it is written there.
        Rosegarden Note Engraver

        You can write notes in the editor to an empty track yourselve and listen while writing immediately how your composition sounds like when playing with real instruments. This way you can e.g. add one voice after the other to your composition, ending up in a complex playback. But be warned, not everything you can do here will be playable on true instruments, which are limited by the physical and technical aspects of playing. It needs a deep knowledge about each instrument to know when writing a voice what you can do and what you can’t do. Rosegarden gives you some hints already, e.g. marking notes out of range for a specific instrument. To add dynamics and Midi controller commands, chose one of the controller lineals from the icon menu bar. The most important rulers are those for expression and velocity. You can set the values for each note individually by dragging with the mouse.

        When connecting the Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard (vmpk) to rosegarden midi in, you can even simply play on this keyboard, the notes will appear from thin air in the sheet. Midi management console works here like a patchboard, you can connect whichever MIDI source to whichever MIDI Target, or pass through. Btw, after switching between soundfonts in qsynth you need to reconnect the Midi devices to fluidsynth (since its respective sound module was restarted), both in the virtual keyboard (menu “edit → MIDI-connections”, set it once to “midi through”, then close the menu, reopen it and set it back to “FLUIDSYNTH (qsynth):2)” and in rosegarden (Menu: „Studio → Manage MIDI devices”), simply reselect “128:0 Synth input port (qsynth:0) (write)” instead of “no connection”.

        Rosegarden MIDI patchboard

        What else left? There are 10-band stereo equalizers available, and many other filters you can apply to each track separately. This is a small sound recording studio already, right at your hand in your living room, running perfectly fine already on a so called “deprecated” 32bit notebook. Not even a real time kernel was installed (which would be advisable if using it for more than testing). It’s simply antiX magic, which makes this possible. Try this on other OS, Windows wouldn’t even come up on this device, same goes for ubuntu & co.
        Here you can learn something about efficiency in resource using, and what makes the true difference of antiX.

        Remember, we are running on plain alsa still, no pulseaudio was installed.

        When using the example file from above you’ll notice you have 11 instruments used. When looking into the menu “tracks → choose instrument for track → general midi” you can see, the instruments 1-6 are assigned to the wind set, while 11-15 are assigned to the strings. These instrument numbers you’ll find in the midi equalizer, so there you can mute the instruments 7-10 and 15. And with all the others faders, the resulting sound impression and the overall sound of the full soundbody, the orchestra can be influenced during playback.

        Rosegarden Master Mixer desk

        So, now you are your own audio engineer, in charge of all the switches and sliders. You can andjust the timbre of the output sound to what you find to suit best, e.g. by adding hall, lowering an instrument which is too much present, or rising another one too much in the background. You even can reposition each instrument freely in the stereo sound field. But that’s advanced stuff you need not to bother about in the beginning.

        And now you can use this equipment for training your skills in playing a true instrument together with other voices, when no orchestra or chamber music circle is in reach for you for some reason (e.g. you living at northern Sweden, next neigbour is 100km, or due to some official pandemic lockdown, or whatever). For this, mute the track with your voice/part in main window by unchecking the blue LED of its line and start playback. Take your own real instrument and play along your part. This is just like the “MMO” (=music minus one) editions on vinyl, produced some decades ago for training of students of music (or what you call nowadays “karaoke”). These editions where hardly to find to buy, some libraries have had the one or other exemplar when a musician conservatory was in your city, but you couldn’t set the playback speed or finetune (“pitch”) to your needs as you can nowadays do, using rosegarden. (While you can tune e.g. your Cello to what you find, you can’t tune your piano to match the precise tuning of a recording, and only few record players (I believe you call it turn tables nowadays in English language) allowed fine tuning of their rotation speed, modifying the tune this way along with the speed to match your piano tuning.) So rosegarden on antiX is fine for everybody who wants to improve his musical skills. When using a midi instrument, you can even record what you are playing to a new recording track while playing back the existing tracks, just like in a professional audio studio. You will find sheet music of pieces written by composers of last centuries which are in public domain meanwhile at IMSLP for free download and usage. Be aware the scores might differ slightly from what you get displayed in rosegarden when opening a respective midi file, this is due to the tricks the editor of the MIDI file applied to make it sound right.

        Don’t forget, we are still running all this on what many people call deprecated hardware and would dump it. I really wonder what here could be considered as being deprecated… It matches all most recent reqirements of today. Everything is easily to install and to handle, no freaky nerd needed to set it up right. But I know, the ubiquitous capitalistic mindset of our days demands to create consum artificially, to mask its true nature. It simply needs this kind of wasting natural resources to survive, so using your device for 20, 30 or more years is something considered as bad. It is up to you to find out whether the capitalistic arguments about deprecation, presented like a prayer mill, are not pulled by the hair. Enough of this.

        Jazz session 01
        Image: Tore Sætre. Bjørn Jensen with The Organ Club «Club7 revival» at Cosmopolite in Soria Moria. 26.10.2017. License: CC-by-sa 4.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

        Btw, you can not only use this for classical music as I do, this equipment is fine for all kind of musical styles: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Metal, Funk, Folk, Country or what you like best. Just look out to use a matching sound font of high quality always, tailored according to your needs, covering multiple velocity layers for each note, and each note sampled separately. That’s what counts. You can also load multiple small single instrument sound fonts into a sound module in qsynth and use them combined. And you can run it even perfectly fine on so called “deprecated” hardware, when using antiX.

        Jazz Session 02
        Image: Dangerica. Lafayette Harris Jr, Archie Shepp, PDX Jazz festival 2020. License: CC-by-sa 4.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

        As said in the Steinway thread already: If you have restricted RAM memory just use the “Light” versions of sound fonts (of 20 or 30 MB size instead of 200, 300, 600 MB or even some GB) in order not to exceed your RAM. But then you’ll have to live with slightly less sound quality (but still pretty good). I’m running all these tests on 2GB RAM installed, allowing to load Soundfonts of up to 1 GiB of size or even more into memory, when not running heavy other programs like Firefox parallel. Keep in mind you still need some space left for processing software as well. And for sure, all this works even on 32 bit old as the hills hardware because of having in antiX a rock stable, highly resource efficient, most recent and modern OS at hand.

        Rock concert 01
        Image: Thomas Merker, Privatarchiv von Zara-Thustra. TV-Live-Staging at Eberhard Schöners Klassik-Rock-Nacht in Munich, 9.12.1982; License: CC-by-sa 4.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

        Have fun directing your personal orchestra, piano trio, jazz band, rock group or whatever.

        Regards
        Robin

        Windows is like a submarine. Open a window and serious problems will start.

        #92287
        Member
        PPC

          @Robin – as always – great tutorial. I have a small suggestion to a new, and related one- since most people are more interested in consuming music (and not creating it), a thread on “How to listen to .midi files in antiX”- summing how to install the needed packages, where to download not very large instrument samples, and how to set it all up in order to play midi music files would be great for the average user (me included- playing midi files and an easy way to play some 20+ year’s old games that I have for Windowz is the only things I miss from those Windows XP days, I “jumped ship” before Vista…)

          Edit: I think anticapitalista is going to have a fit when he sees so many high quality pictures of people playing musing on the forum! 🙂

          P.

          • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by PPC.
          #92258
          Member
          Robin

            […]
            Now comes the really interesting part, which you wouldn’t guess when seeing its surface, reminding of a true professional audio recording studio: Rosegarden even handles note engraving. Yes, you can see the notes live while playing, this works fine even on 32 bit hardware. For this select a voice by clicking its name (e.g, “Violoncello”) so its line is highlighted, then click the third icon from left in second icon menu line, it shows two 1/16 notes balked together. In the new window displaying some notes click the second icon from the left of second icon menu line to add line breaks. Make the window full screen.

            Rosegarden Mixing Desks

            (Note to self: I urgently need to fix my broken extermal 21” monitor, these are way to much functional windows for a single screen, even when it is relatively big (17”) for a notebook already…)

            Make sure, the second icon from the left side in first icon menu line is ticked (“view follows playback”). Start playback (there is a start button in the very line, you don’t need to switch to the playback or main window for this).

            A moving vertical bar will show you the very recent position in note text of what you hear. OK, it’s a clear advantage here if you can read musical notation as I do 🙂 If you want to hear what the single voice is actually playing, click the third icon from the right in first icon line marked “S”, meaning solo. You can move back or forth Takt by Takt (=bar? measure?) or note by note with the buttons while playing, or stop it. When stopped you can pick a note with the mouse cursor and move it simply around while hearing it’s recent sound on the line where you put it. This is way more easy handling as what you’ve seen in frescobaldi last time, where you had to learn the lilypond engraving language to get some useful result. Here everything works graphicaly. And what I wouldn’t believe myself if not seeing it: It works fast and fluent now on this 18 years so called deprecated hardware, no functional difference to any most recent PC you can buy.
            When clicking with the mouse on the head of any note, it will play the very note as it is written there.
            Rosegarden Note Engraver

            You can write notes in the editor to an empty track yourselve and listen while writing immediately how your composition sounds like when playing with real instruments. This way you can e.g. add one voice after the other to your composition, ending up in a complex playback. But be warned, not everything you can do here will be playable on true instruments, which are limited by the physical and technical aspects of playing. It needs a deep knowledge about each instrument to know when writing a voice what you can do and what you can’t do. Rosegarden gives you some hints already, e.g. marking notes out of range for a specific instrument. To add dynamics and Midi controller commands, chose one of the controller lineals from the icon menu bar. The most important rulers are those for expression and velocity. You can set the values for each note individually by dragging with the mouse.

            When connecting the Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard (vmpk) to rosegarden midi in, you can even simply play on this keyboard, the notes will appear from thin air in the sheet. Midi management console works here like a patchboard, you can connect whichever MIDI source to whichever MIDI Target, or pass through. Btw, after switching between soundfonts in qsynth you need to reconnect the Midi devices to fluidsynth (since its respective sound module was restarted), both in the virtual keyboard (menu “edit → MIDI-connections”, set it once to “midi through”, then close the menu, reopen it and set it back to “FLUIDSYNTH (qsynth):2)” and in rosegarden (Menu: „Studio → Manage MIDI devices”), simply reselect “128:0 Synth input port (qsynth:0) (write)” instead of “no connection”.

            Rosegarden MIDI patchboard

            What else left? There are 10-band stereo equalizers available, and many other filters you can apply to each track separately. This is a small sound recording studio already, right at your hand in your living room, running perfectly fine already on a so called “deprecated” 32bit notebook. Not even a real time kernel was installed (which would be advisable if using it for more than testing). It’s simply antiX magic, which makes this possible. Try this on other OS, Windows wouldn’t even come up on this device, same goes for ubuntu & co.
            Here you can learn something about efficiency in resource using, and what makes the true difference of antiX.

            Remember, we are running on plain alsa still, no pulseaudio was installed.

            When using the example file from above you’ll notice you have 11 instruments used. When looking into the menu “tracks → choose instrument for track → general midi” you can see, the instruments 1-6 are assigned to the wind set, while 11-15 are assigned to the strings. These instrument numbers you’ll find in the midi equalizer, so there you can mute the instruments 7-10 and 15. And with all the others faders, the resulting sound impression and the overall sound of the full soundbody, the orchestra can be influenced during playback.

            Rosegarden Master Mixer desk

            So, now you are your own audio engineer, in charge of all the switches and sliders. You can andjust the timbre of the output sound to what you find to suit best, e.g. by adding hall, lowering an instrument which is too much present, or rising another one too much in the background. You even can reposition each instrument freely in the stereo sound field. But that’s advanced stuff you need not to bother about in the beginning.

            And now you can use this equipment for training your skills in playing a true instrument together with other voices, when no orchestra or chamber music circle is in reach for you for some reason (e.g. you living at northern Sweden, next neigbour is 100km, or due to some official pandemic lockdown, or whatever). For this, mute the track with your voice/part in main window by unchecking the blue LED of its line and start playback. Take your own real instrument and play along your part. This is just like the “MMO” (=music minus one) editions on vinyl, produced some decades ago for training of students of music (or what you call nowadays “karaoke”). These editions where hardly to find to buy, some libraries have had the one or other exemplar when a musician conservatory was in your city, but you couldn’t set the playback speed or finetune (“pitch”) to your needs as you can nowadays do, using rosegarden. (While you can tune e.g. your Cello to what you find, you can’t tune your piano to match the precise tuning of a recording, and only few record players (I believe you call it turn tables nowadays in English language) allowed fine tuning of their rotation speed, modifying the tune this way along with the speed to match your piano tuning.) So rosegarden on antiX is fine for everybody who wants to improve his musical skills. When using a midi instrument, you can even record what you are playing to a new recording track while playing back the existing tracks, just like in a professional audio studio. You will find sheet music of pieces written by composers of last centuries which are in public domain meanwhile at IMSLP for free download and usage. Be aware the scores might differ slightly from what you get displayed in rosegarden when opening a respective midi file, this is due to the tricks the editor of the MIDI file applied to make it sound right.

            Don’t forget, we are still running all this on what many people call deprecated hardware and would dump it. I really wonder what here could be considered as being deprecated… It matches all most recent reqirements of today. Everything is easily to install and to handle, no freaky nerd needed to set it up right. But I know, the ubiquitous capitalistic mindset of our days demands to create consum artificially, to mask its true nature. It simply needs this kind of wasting natural resources to survive, so using your device for 20, 30 or more years is something considered as bad. It is up to you to find out whether the capitalistic arguments about deprecation, presented like a prayer mill, are not pulled by the hair. Enough of this.

            Jazz session 01
            Image: Tore Sætre. Bjørn Jensen with The Organ Club «Club7 revival» at Cosmopolite in Soria Moria. 26.10.2017. License: CC-by-sa 4.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

            Btw, you can not only use this for classical music as I do, this equipment is fine for all kind of musical styles: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Metal, Funk, Folk, Country or what you like best. Just look out to use a matching sound font of high quality always, tailored according to your needs, covering multiple velocity layers for each note, and each note sampled separately. That’s what counts. You can also load multiple small single instrument sound fonts into a sound module in qsynth and use them combined. And you can run it even perfectly fine on so called “deprecated” hardware, when using antiX.

            Jazz Session 02
            Image: Dangerica. Lafayette Harris Jr, Archie Shepp, PDX Jazz festival 2020. License: CC-by-sa 4.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

            As said in the Steinway thread already: If you have restricted RAM memory just use the “Light” versions of sound fonts (of 20 or 30 MB size instead of 200, 300, 600 MB or even some GB) in order not to exceed your RAM. But then you’ll have to live with slightly less sound quality (but still pretty good). I’m running all these tests on 2GB RAM installed, allowing to load Soundfonts of up to 1 GiB of size or even more into memory, when not running heavy other programs like Firefox parallel. Keep in mind you still need some space left for processing software as well. And for sure, all this works even on 32 bit old as the hills hardware because of having in antiX a rock stable, highly resource efficient, most recent and modern OS at hand.

            Rock concert 01
            Image: Thomas Merker, Privatarchiv von Zara-Thustra. TV-Live-Staging at Eberhard Schöners Klassik-Rock-Nacht in the Munich, 9.12.1982; License: CC-by-sa 4.0 (Permission via Wikimedia Foundation)

            Have fun directing your personal orchestra, piano trio, jazz band, rock group or whatever.

            Regards
            Robin

            Windows is like a submarine. Open a window and serious problems will start.

            #92298
            Member
            punranger

              Hi Robin, and thanks for an interesting tutorial. The limiting factor here will be the quality of your midi files, your speakers and not least the soundcard. If I did as you instructed on my old Digibox soundcard and my old studio monitors, it would sound great, no doubt. Personally, I think nothing beats a true symphony orchestra though:-) But the fact of the matter is that you can create original music that sounds great using the tools you used, and there are other great tools available that allow you to create your own sounds. Maybe I should put together a little video, that would be a fun challenge. I’ve got a 32-bit notebook from 2005 that I used for my signature video, perhaps it’s time to boot it up again 🙂

              antiX linux: The best way to revive an old computer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCTaUAP6sSg

              #92303
              Member
              olsztyn

                @ Robin:
                I am glad this your post, which got deleted last night by board content monitoring software, got resurrected. It is another amazing piece I wanted to save as part of your amazing process. My comment on this I posted soon after yours disappeared at the same time though, but thankfully yours got restored… Mine was immaterial in comparison so I do not mind…
                Just a minor observation on the restored post: It appears to me a significant part is duplicated now after having been restored, in comparison to the one I saw before it got deleted. It must have happened during the post restoring process…
                Thanks again.

                Live antiX Boot Options (Previously posted by Xecure):
                http://antixlinuxfan.miraheze.org/wiki/Table_of_antiX_Boot_Parameters

                #92312
                Member
                Robin

                  The limiting factor here will be the quality of your midi files, your speakers and not least the soundcard

                  True, but I’ve been running it for this test on default notebook hardware, not on a high end studio sound card:

                  
                  Audio:
                    Device-1: Intel 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW High Definition Audio
                      vendor: Rioworks driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus-ID: 00:1b.0
                      chip-ID: 8086:2668 class-ID: 0403
                    Device-2: Philips s SAA7131/SAA7133/SAA7135 Video Broadcast Decoder
                      vendor: Animation driver: saa7134 v: 0, 2, 17 bus-ID: 06:03.0
                      chip-ID: 1131:7133 class-ID: 0480
                    Sound Server-1: ALSA v: k5.19.0-0.deb11.2-686-pae running: yes
                  

                  The result from this 18 years old consumer electronic device is convincing, even for me, having played in an academic orchestra myself some years. OK, I can hear the difference to professional equipment, but that’s not what counts here. The outcome is a really fine quality already you can listen to without making your hair stand on end. And what this old as the hills notebook can do, any most recent one should be able to handle easily as well.

                  Also true: The fine old days Hifi amplifiers and speakers give pretty good linear sound quality (even the mainstream ones), compared with many of the todays mainstream devices. You need to select carefully to what you connect the line out. Age doesn’t count here, what count’s is a wide range of frequency with mostly linear amplification and speaker output, low noise and distrortion (de:Klirrfaktor).

                  I think nothing beats a true symphony orchestra though

                  Signed. This is absolutely true. But this here has another target: Usually you simply won’t have any chance to let play a big symphony orchestra the notes you’ve composed yourself. So the programs and methods described here are meant to enable people to experiment on their own with a sound body (proper translation orchestra? de:Klangkörper) like that. Either by modifying the sound of a given good quality midi file, or by creating their own one from scratch. Both is possible using the tools presented.

                  Btw, next part of this series will cover musescore note engraving software, another great program in this sector. I noticed there exist a new musescore soundfont meanwhile in the repos I didn’t know, which has a really good quallity also (have checked already), there is a lossless version present. I will go into detail about all this next time.

                  how to install the needed packages, where to download not very large instrument samples, and how to set it all up in order to play midi music files would be great for the average user

                  As punranger already has stated: For acceptable sound output of midifiles from your PC you need some essential parts:
                  1.) a high quality midi source file. (Check e.g. the one on Kunst der Fuge linked above, they are usually pretty good qualtity.) Using poor midi files will result in poor and disappointing sound output.
                  2.) a really good sound font, providing natural sound samples for the instruments your midifile uses. And good soundfonts are big (since they contain many original samples), there is no way around.
                  So you’ll need the very same soundfonts and synthesiser when you want to simply play along a midi file, or when editing it with the software described here.
                  Simple instructions for just listening:
                  Start qsynth, let it load a soundfont of your choice (if you have used it before it will come up loading the previously used one alredy). Remember: the better the soundfont quality is, the better the result of the sound output when listening.
                  Check your midi devices present:

                  $ pmidi -l
                   Port     Client name                       Port name
                   14:0     Midi Through                      Midi Through Port-0
                  128:0     FLUID Synth (qsynth)              Synth input port (qsynth:0)
                  129:0     MuseScore                         MuseScore Port 0
                  129:1     MuseScore                         MuseScore Port-0
                  130:0     VMPK Input                        in
                  

                  Use the value in column “port number” found in line Synth input port (qsynth:0) for the next command to feed the command line option -p
                  Make sure to have a good quality midi file at hand, and then simply start pmidi in console:

                  pmidi -p 128:0 './symphony_6_1_(c)lucarelli.mid'

                  That’s enough, the symphony (or any other piece) should start playing immediately.
                  The good thing about qsynth/Fluidsynth is: If you don’t use it, you can simply close it’s window, and the huge soundfont will get undloaded from memory and not block you from executing other tasks any longer. So it is not a good idea to start any software sythesiser as a service per default at system startup, just to have it present in case…

                  Regards
                  Robin

                  Windows is like a submarine. Open a window and serious problems will start.

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