Talkback for article: 259, September2002

Midi with alsa

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From: Stefan Hager <nanotec(at)> [ date: 2002-09-13 ]
Hmm. SBLIVE ist the only card avaliable with hardware synth.
This is not correct. Over the internet you can find second hand AWE32 wich are very cheap. On this cards there is also a hardware synth. But this cards are ISA cards. In my machine there is only on ISA Slot, and it is unused. Is this a problem for ALSA?

CU Stefan
From: Anonymous User [ date: 2002-11-25 ]
This is the best site for sblive/midi issues on Linux. Thanks for creating this page!!!

The following line fails in modules.conf:

post-install snd-synth-emu10k1 /bin/sfxload /etc/midi/8MBGMSFX.SF2 ; alsactl restore

It should be:
post-install snd-emu10k1 /bin/sfxload /etc/midi/8MBGMSFX.SF2 ; alsactl restore

Also, I just purchased a sblive (Nov 25, 2002) and the CD did not come with the 8MB soundfont - only the 4MB soundfont. I had to do a little googling around to find it - then I found some really large soundfonts but their descriptions did not say if they were higher quality or contained different instruments. ? some description of what you can expect in different soundfonts would be helpful.

From: stef <stevie157(at)> [ date: 2002-11-25 ]
cool site..

but it doesnt work with me.
i run tmidity in alsa mode but it doesn't work with pmidi (see below)
second: i just want to use my pc as a software synth with my master keyboard which prog i should use therefore?


root: /home/stef $ timidity -iA &
[1] 10035
TiMidity starting in ALSA server mode
Opening sequencer port: 128:0 128:1
root: /home/stef $ pmidi -l
Port Client name Port name
root: /home/stef $

From: Patrik <patrik(at)> [ date: 2003-09-07 ]
This was an awesome guide.. there aren't much easily available information on this issue, and it took me some googling to find my way here.

But this guide answered all my questions and described the functions very good.

Now all I have to do is find the soundfont for my SB Live.. I haven't kept the CD and I haven't found it downloadable either. If anyone has it or knows where to find it, I'd be glad to find an e-mail about it in my inbox. ;)
From: Fauzie <wiriadis(at)> [ date: 2003-10-09 ]
Where can I find these "instrument files" for timidity? It is not included in Gentoo timidity++ ebuild.
From: Tony <tonyds_(at)> [ date: 2003-10-24 ]
Is hardware midi synthesis in games (I.E. Alpha Centauri - ported by the now dead Loki) possible with the SB Live or any modern (PCI) sound card in Linux?

I'm trying this right now but it looks like this will only work with configured apps and will not serve as a /dev/midi or /dev/synth or whatever the midi device is in linux for apps using midi natively.

Feedback would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks in advance.
From: Bernd Butscheidt <bbutscheidt(at)> [ date: 2004-01-09 ]
When I try to run ./configure of TiMidity with alsa audio support, I get the following error:

checking for snd_cards in -lasound... no
No linkable libasound was found.

Make fails.(Error 2)

Alsa-lib 1.0.0rc2 is installed and pcm sound runs in KDE.
Does anyone know what I miss? Or is it possible that the alsa support doesn't work with newer alsa versions?

From: Bernd Butscheidt <bbutscheidt(at)> [ date: 2004-01-09 ]
Sorry for my last post,

it is written in the article itself:

You need alsa 0.5.
From: Christian [ date: 2004-06-03 ]
Unglaublich! Genau danach habe ich seit Wochen gesucht! ICh wundere mich, warum meine Midi-Programme sich nie beschweren, aber nix aus den Boxen kommt... kein Wunder , ohne Soundfont! DANKE!
From: tepa25 <tepa25(at)> [ date: 2004-10-11 ]
I did every thing written here and it did work at the very first time.
I'm playint now karaoke with my Mandrake 10.
Thanks a lot for this work !
From: pier <papeschi(at)> [ date: 2004-10-28 ]
Thanks a lot for this articol, now I can use rosegarden listening to what I write...
I have just one problem: timidity doesn't start with alsa at booting time because alsa says: -iA: command not found
Thanks again!
From: rico <r.eric(at)> [ date: 2004-12-05 ]
just recompile timidity with enable alsa-seq
linux midi tips :
From: Ruedi Port <r.port(at)> [ date: 2005-01-13 ]
Great article! Helped me a lot! I never knew that a software synthesizer,
like timidity, has to be started first in order for a sequencer (e.g. jazz)
to produce something audible. Now, after starting timidity as shown
in the article:

# timidity -iA -B2,8 -Os -EFreverb=0

finally something came out of the speakers. Next step was to find the
instrument files. My timidity version, timidity-2.12.0-336 under SuSE 9.0,
has very few instrument files (/usr/share/timidity/patch/*.pat), so the .midi
files sounded all very much the same. As the article says, a full set
of instrument files is contained in timidity++-2.11.3-1.i386.rpm,
Download for RedHat 7.3, which can be located through .
I installed it in a new directory /usr/local/share/timidity using

rpm -ivh --nodeps -r /usr/local/share/timidity timidity++-2.11.3-1.i386.rpm

to avoid any conflict with the existing timidity installation and any complaints
about unresolved dependencies. This installation creates three subdirectories
in /usr/local/share/timidity: etc/, usr/, var/ .
The subdirectory etc/ , then, contains a configuration file,
timidity.cfg, which links the midi ``program numbers'' to the precious
instrument files:


Now, the existing timidity installation has to be told which of the instrument
files to use for which of the midi ``programs''.
This can be done by editing the existing
/usr/share/timidity/timidity.cfg to replace the lines

source piano+guitar.cfg
source drums.cfg

by the line

source new.timidity.cfg

where /usr/share/timidity/new.timidity.cfg is a link to
/usr/local/share/timidity/etc/timidity.cfg and the directory
has been linked to /usr/share/timidity for the whole thing to work.
Really, all the desired instruments can be heard now. With alsa version 0.9,
by the way, as contained in the SuSE 9.0 distribution.

I'm describing this in so much detail in case someone reads it who is as
uninformed as I was about midi and software synthesizers. Also, someone
asked before where to find the instrument files.

An alternative incomplete set of newer, supposedly better instrument files
can be found at: .

Thanks again to Guido Socher for getting me started!


From: Stefan Hummert [ date: 2005-08-27 ]
Hi, thanks for that good guide dude!
The article is not the newest, but things work. With debian sarge/unstable i just installed timidity package and freepats package. And it works with the actual new ALSA drivers. (version greater 1.x)
All fine for me now, ty :)
From: Bernd Dusemund <Bernd.Dusemund(at)> [ date: 2006-02-02 ]
I run succesfully timidity and KMid.
I have a USB Piano keyboard and do not know how to connect,
so that I can hear the playing.
Is it possible? I am a newbie in this field.
Next I tried to compile jazz, but no success,is
it state of the art, do I need it at least?


From: Tito <titoln.bertoni(at)> [ date: 2006-09-30 ]
Thank you for your suggestion, after changes to etc/init.d/alsasound I can run timidity in background and I'm very happy to hear MIDI! Unfortunately, something went wrong, because when I turn off the computer, the system can't umount the root partition (I think because timidity is still running!). How can I eliminate this bug??

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