Tom M edited this page May 9, 2018 · 6 revisions

Getting started with fluidsynth


fluidsynth is a software music synthesizer that reads midi input events either from a MIDI piano keyboard or from a software application (e.g. MIDI sequencer) and then generates in realtime a musical audio output that corresponds to all the midi notes being played.

To work fluidsynth requires a Sound Font 2 file (.sf2 file) or Sound Font 3 file (.sf3 file) which contains all the audio waveforms for all of the different musical instruments sounds that can be produced by fluidsynth. The Sound Font files FluidR3_GM.sf2and FluidR3_GS.sf2 work with fluidsynth, and also have the advantage of having the Creative Commons License. These files are available in many Linux distributions in the packages fluid-soundfont-gm and fluid-soundfont-gs and they can also be downloaded from the net (try searching for FluidR3_GM.sf2). The GM stands for General Midi, which defines a standard mapping of MIDI patch numbers to musical instrument sounds.

Running fluidsynth

The easiest way test that fluidsynth is working correctly and to hear some MIDI music playing is to use the command line and to pass a Sound Font file and the MIDI file as the parameter. For example the following command line tests that fluidsynth is working on Ubuntu Linux.

fluidsynth /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 mymusicfile.mid

Normally, you would not pass a MIDI file to fluidsynth, but instead use another application to pass MIDI events to fluidsynth. In this case, you would start fluidsynth the following parameters.

fluidsynth /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2

For further examples on how to start fluidsynth, see ExampleCommandLines.

fluidsynth can also started using qsynth, which provides a graphical user interface to the synth.

Getting Help

For help with starting fluidsynth, see the UserManual or type man fluidsynth on the command line. Typing fluidsynth --help lists all the command line options.

Once fluidsynth has started up, type help to access the built-in help. Type settings to show all the current settings. Type info audio.driver to list the available hardware devices.

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