Pottering around in the precise rosegarden

After being inspired by the music of supertux, some of which is available with the original Rosegarden files, I downloaded it and got it running. It was quite a job. It turns out that it’s quite simple if you have done it before.

On Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, “Precise”, you need to:

  • Install Rosegarden
  • Install fluidsynth and fluid-soundfont-gm
  • Install jackd2 (I also installed jackd — no idea which one I’m actually using)

To do this, you install it something like:

sudo apt-get install rosegarden fluidsynth fluid-soundfont-gm jackd2

Then, before you bother to run rosegarden, actually, every single time you intend to use it, you need to start up fluidsynth:

fluidsynth -a pulseaudio /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2

You can tell it to play a note to check that it is working:

Thu Aug 30 23:37:37 ~ $ fluidsynth -a pulseaudio /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 
FluidSynth version 1.1.5
Copyright (C) 2000-2011 Peter Hanappe and others.
Distributed under the LGPL license.
SoundFont(R) is a registered trademark of E-mu Systems, Inc.

fluidsynth: warning: Failed to pin the sample data to RAM; swapping is possible.
fluidsynth: Using PulseAudio driver
Type 'help' for help topics.

> noteon 1 72 127
> noteoff 1 72

If things are working as you might hope, then fluidsynth will start up jackd without your help, and you won’t have to run jack_control start. (If your system is anything like mine, then pulseaudio spends most of its time locked up, and likes to be killed occasionally, and after that the sound card’s mixer settings resets to zero, and you have to fiddle with the mute control to get sound again.) If not, then you’ll hear a note when you type noteon 1 60 127 and it will go off when you type reset (or noteoff 1 60).

Once fluidsynth is running, you can start up rosegarden. Don’t bother to try and make it do something: it’s not going to play any sound until you tell it where it’s output MIDI device is (ie, how does it send MIDI to fluidsynth to play?) There is a little toolbar button called “manage MIDI devices” which you have to click, but until you can find it, you can get this function on the menu:
Studio | Manage MIDI devices

If you see “synth plugin” then you’re on the right track, if not, sorry.

If you do get real sounds and you do manage to link to the synthesizer, then load one of the default songs, and work from there. If you can just get it to play and make basic edits, you are on your way to a lot of happy musicalness.

I always wanted my own symphony orchestra. In my enthusiasm, I arranged two songs, exported them to midi and got fluidsynth to make them into tinny sounding MP3’s (they don’t sound quite like a live orchestra, I’m afraid):

The default midi player does not use sampled sounds (“soundfonts”), so the “midi” file might sound pretty poor.

Here’s my script called midi2mp3 that pushes the midi file through the fluidsynth and lame sausage machine and spits out an mp3:

#! /bin/bash
for FILE in "$@" ; do
    case "$FILE" in
            fluidsynth -F "${FILE/.mid/.wav}" /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2  "${FILE}";
            lame "${FILE/.mid/.wav}" && rm "${FILE/.mid/.wav}"
            echo "$FILE: not a midi file"
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