Python Notes

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Linux Sound Font Manager Project

After a long time without writing any code... and thus without writing anything in this very blog... I'm finding some time to write code again, now for my personal use. The Linux Sound Font Manager is a new project, aimed a making it easier for a user to add, test, or remap sound fonts. It's part of my ongoing battle with multimedia in Linux.

Why does Linux need a Sound Font Manager? There are several reasons:
  • I'm using Ubuntu. The current Sound Font support (via the freepats package) is good, but is incomplete. For example, some patches from the GM standard are missing. I suspect the same problem happens with other distros (news & opinions are welcome!).

  • Even if it did support the full GM spec... having the option of changing the Sound Fonts is nice. If you don't like the sound of some instrument, you can change it, remap it, as you wish. Some sound fonts work better for some kinds of music -- for instance, the piano from a classic Sound Font may be different from the piano in a rock & roll oriented one.

  • For professional musicians, it's a must. They need to be able to add their own Sound Fonts, or samples, in order to get the exact sound they want. The ability to remap patches on the fly is also important, as it allows easier experimentation with ready-made music fragments in MIDI format.

  • Last but not least... it's one of the few things that I can do that does not involve low level hacking on the audio subsystem, something that I don't feel inclined to do. It's a self contained project, and I feel confident that I can do it in a reasonable amount of time. It's my own itch to scratch :-)


The scope for the project is simple. It's a visual editor, that will allow to import & install sound fonts, and also to maintain the Timidity++ configuration file. It will allow to test each & every sound in the system (using pre-made reference MIDI sequences). If possible, it will include sfArk support (so you don't need to download & install a separate sfArk package). In the future, it may include some basic Sound Font editing capabilities, mostly to allow the user to adjust the volume of individual patches. Time: two weeks from now (target: Nov 21) to have a working tool.

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