Making Music With Your Keyboard

by admin on October 18, 2007

It is extremely easy to get a tiny little keyboard to generate melody in your Linux box. In fact, you can play hundreds of instruments.

Here's how I did it in my Fedora Core 6 and 7 laptops:

1. timidity++ - This can turn MIDI into audio (a synthesizer)
2. vkeybd - A virtual keyboard for your X desktop.

To install in Fedora Core 6 or 7, just type the following command:

# yum -y install timidity++ vkeybd

Start timidity (and connect to ALSA). Note that in Fedora 7, I had to type esd in another terminal before the following command:

   1. $ timidity -iA
   2. Start vkeybd:
      $ vkeybd
   3. Join the keyboard output and the synthesizer input together. 
Identify the correct client and port numbers of the keyboard and the synthesizer (TiMidity):
      $ cat /proc/asound/seq/clients
   4. Join them together (arguments should be in correct order - source first).
      $ aconnect 129:0 128:0 

Now you can play. To change the instrument, see the Virtual Keyboard options (View->Program List). If required, increase the volume by using timidity option -An (e.g.: $ timidity -A300 -iA). timidity and vkeybd have many other options to get different behaviors. See the manual pages for details.

This Tech Tip comes from Kamal in Sri Lanka. Thanks, Kamal!

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