problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

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problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

Leszek Wroński
Hello,

first, thanks and congratulations to everyone involved for making available for free a piece of software which people around the world are using with success! That said, my own attempts have only met with dismal failure and so I'm coming here for help. I have a few newbie questions after I tried for a few hours to do some really basic stuff; I have already read the manual, the FAQ, and looked at the tutorials. Since I'm new to this and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, I'm also not sure what the exact form of the questions should be. Therefore this post needs to be rather long -- sorry in advance. Please tell me if I'm making any basic mistakes. If you don't have time and want to see the questions, scroll down to '*QUESTION x*'.

I'm using Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and the default Rosegarden installation: 13.06. I have an Impact LX25 USB-MIDI keyboard.

My first modest goal is to successfully go through this tutorial: http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/tutorials/supplemental/zyn/zyn.html

My 'fire up' sequence is 1) QjackCtl 2) ZynAddSubFX 3) Rosegarden.
I set up the Jack so that ZynAddSubFX will be producing sound to the system: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1554329/Pictures/Connections_audio.png
I also set it up so that Rosegarden outputs MIDI to Zyn:

You can see I also connect my keyboard so it speaks to Rosegarden only. 

I press Rosegarden's 'Manage MIDI devices' button and make sure what I see resembles the connection I made by Jack, that is, I choose the ZynAddSubFX port in the menu to the right. (Was the first connection made using Jack superfluous? Does this hurt?) Now, I follow the tutorial and rename the device to 'ZYN' (you can also see this in the png linked to above).

But now I'm at a total loss. I would assume that I would be able to change instruments used in the track from inside Rosegarden. Still, the tutorial does not suggest this; it tells me to choose '#1' on the Instrument List in Track Parameters. But I see nothing like this there. As you can see here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1554329/Pictures/Wrong_instrument_name.png I see '#1 (Acoustic Grand Piano)', so it's obvious something's wrong. Anyway, the whole list of instruments I can choose consists of '#x (Acoustic Grand Piano)', for x in 1 to 16, except for '#10[D]'.

*QUESTION 1*
At this point my question is: why am I not seeing the banks and instruments from Zyn inside Rosegarden? At some time I thought I should use the Studio -> Manage Midi Devices -> Banks -> Import option, but there's no file named in a way which would suggest a connection with Zyn.

Still, I want to continue the tutorial. So I set the instrument in ZynAddSubFX to 'analogue bass' and yes, the sound changes when I press the keys. At this moment I press the red dot, and start recording. At this moment a segment called "Acoustic grand piano (recorded)" appears. I'm still hearing the analogue bass sound. But when I play the segment back, I hear that the first instrument in the first bank of Zyn, that is, 'Arpeggio1', is used. From that moment it is chosen in Zyn, and when I press the keys on my keyboard I hear it instead of the bass I chose.

*QUESTION 2*
Why does recording a segment something in Rosegarden change the settings I made in Zyn?

More worryingly, from that point on, I can choose what I want in Zyn, but I'm still playing the 'Arpeggio1' instrument. I'm getting sick of it ;) 

Any pointers on what I'm doing wrong? I've been a musician for many many years, having spent also thousands of hours editing scores, and I'm only now entering the realm of MIDI. I'd really appreciate any help whatsoever!

*BONUS QUESTION*
Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I somehow just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I fired it up but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't tell it to output any sound to the system.

Best regards,

Leszek Wronski.

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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

Holger Marzen
On Sat, 9 Jan 2016, Leszek Wroński wrote:

> *BONUS QUESTION*
> Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I somehow
> just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I fired it up
> but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't tell it to
> output any sound to the system.

I recommend installing and loading fluidsynth-dssi into a
Rosegarden-track of type "Synthesizer Plugin". Then load a GM soundfont
into fluidsynth. Most distributions offer the package
fluid-soundfont-gm, a very good soundfont that resides in
/usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 after installation.

Using the plugin makes it simple to save the settings with your song and
offers as low latency as possible.

You can find other good soundfonts all over the web.

Regards
Holger
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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

D. Michael McIntyre-3
In reply to this post by Leszek Wroński
On 01/09/2016 01:19 PM, Leszek Wroński wrote:

> My first modest goal is to successfully go through this tutorial:
> http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/tutorials/supplemental/zyn/zyn.html

I will go through all of this with you when I get the time.  I sat down
to do it here and now, but this is going to be somewhat involved, and I
have a very long day of work ahead of me.  I have to go deal with that
and recover before I will have the energy to help.  It will probably be
a day or longer before I get back to you, but I will.
--
D. Michael McIntyre

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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

ram-19
In reply to this post by Holger Marzen
> On Sat, 9 Jan 2016, Leszek Wroński wrote:
>
>> *BONUS QUESTION*
>> Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I
>> somehow
>> just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I fired it
>> up
>> but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't tell it to
>> output any sound to the system.

Holger wrote:

>
> I recommend installing and loading fluidsynth-dssi into a
> Rosegarden-track of type "Synthesizer Plugin". Then load a GM soundfont
> into fluidsynth. Most distributions offer the package
> fluid-soundfont-gm, a very good soundfont that resides in
> /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 after installation.
>
> Using the plugin makes it simple to save the settings with your song and
> offers as low latency as possible.
>
> You can find other good soundfonts all over the web.
>

Many hundreds of Giga-Bytes, if not Tera-Bytes, of SoundFonts can be found
at:

http://wowsia.com

That site also has a preview function.

Have fun.


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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

David Jones
On 01/09/2016 05:40 PM, [hidden email] wrote:

>> On Sat, 9 Jan 2016, Leszek Wroński wrote:
>>
>>> *BONUS QUESTION*
>>> Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I
>>> somehow
>>> just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I fired it
>>> up
>>> but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't tell it to
>>> output any sound to the system.
>
> Holger wrote:
>
>>
>> I recommend installing and loading fluidsynth-dssi into a
>> Rosegarden-track of type "Synthesizer Plugin". Then load a GM soundfont
>> into fluidsynth. Most distributions offer the package
>> fluid-soundfont-gm, a very good soundfont that resides in
>> /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 after installation.
>>
>> Using the plugin makes it simple to save the settings with your song and
>> offers as low latency as possible.
>>
>> You can find other good soundfonts all over the web.
>>
>
> Many hundreds of Giga-Bytes, if not Tera-Bytes, of SoundFonts can be found
> at:
>
> http://wowsia.com
>
> That site also has a preview function.
>
> Have fun.

Cool. Unfortunately, I can't get any of the previews to play in Firefox.
Would be nice if the site added some descriptions to the fonts - "Hard
metallic phased lightning bolt".

--
David W. Jones
[hidden email]
authenticity, honesty, community
http://dancingtreefrog.com

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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

David Jones
In reply to this post by Holger Marzen
On 01/09/2016 08:54 AM, Holger Marzen wrote:

> On Sat, 9 Jan 2016, Leszek Wroński wrote:
>
>> *BONUS QUESTION*
>> Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I somehow
>> just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I fired it up
>> but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't tell it to
>> output any sound to the system.
>
> I recommend installing and loading fluidsynth-dssi into a
> Rosegarden-track of type "Synthesizer Plugin". Then load a GM soundfont
> into fluidsynth. Most distributions offer the package
> fluid-soundfont-gm, a very good soundfont that resides in
> /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 after installation.
>
> Using the plugin makes it simple to save the settings with your song and
> offers as low latency as possible.
>
> You can find other good soundfonts all over the web.

Not the original poster, but thanks for the advice about fluidsynth-dssi. :)

--
David W. Jones
[hidden email]
authenticity, honesty, community
http://dancingtreefrog.com

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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

Holger Marzen
On Sat, 9 Jan 2016, david wrote:

> On 01/09/2016 08:54 AM, Holger Marzen wrote:
> > On Sat, 9 Jan 2016, Leszek Wroński wrote:
> >
> >> *BONUS QUESTION*
> >> Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I somehow
> >> just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I fired it up
> >> but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't tell it to
> >> output any sound to the system.
> >
> > I recommend installing and loading fluidsynth-dssi into a
> > Rosegarden-track of type "Synthesizer Plugin". Then load a GM soundfont
> > into fluidsynth. Most distributions offer the package
> > fluid-soundfont-gm, a very good soundfont that resides in
> > /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 after installation.
> >
> > Using the plugin makes it simple to save the settings with your song and
> > offers as low latency as possible.
> >
> > You can find other good soundfonts all over the web.
>
> Not the original poster, but thanks for the advice about fluidsynth-dssi. :)
For those who do not know yet: This song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=qFDa-_6dUOU
was made only with plugins:
- FluidSynth-DSSI for bass, strings, drums, chimes, sleigh bells
- Hexter and Whysynth (both DSSI) for the rest
- All effects like reverb and echo as LADSPA plugins in Rosegarden

The only external program was Jamin for mastering (shown at 3:41).
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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

D. Michael McIntyre-3
In reply to this post by Leszek Wroński
On 01/09/2016 01:19 PM, Leszek Wroński wrote:

> My first modest goal is to successfully go through this tutorial:
> http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/tutorials/supplemental/zyn/zyn.html

So let's see, going through the old tutorial...

Rosegarden no longer creates new devices spontaneously.  All that
"external device 4" garbage is a thing of the past.  If you plug in or
run a new toy, you need to create a new device for the toy manually.

I recommend doing this from an empty document, then saving the result as
your new default studio.

> You can see I also connect my keyboard so it speaks to Rosegarden only.

Be aware that Rosegarden may not play nice with MIDI connections made
and broken with QJackCtl.

Historically, Rosegarden has always had the inconsistency that you have
to use the external connection manager for audio connections, and you
have to use the internal connection manager for MIDI connections.

I have no idea if anybody ever fixed that.  I still do it the old way,
and the old way still works.

> But now I'm at a total loss. I would assume that I would be able to
> change instruments used in the track from inside Rosegarden. Still, the
> tutorial does not suggest this; it tells me to choose '#1' on the
> Instrument List in Track Parameters. But I see nothing like this there.

The tutorial would have expected Rosegarden to create a device for
ZynAddSubFX with some stupid name like "external device 987" which you
would have edited to change the name.

It looks like what you did was change the default "General MIDI Device"
instead.  You changed the name to "ZYN" and changed the connection, but
the device still contains program definitions for General MIDI.  That's
why you're seeing "#1 (Acoustic Grand Piano)" instead of "#1."

The tutorial assumed you wouldn't have bothered setting up anything more
than that for ZynAddSubFX.  At the time I wrote that, it didn't respond
to external program changes.  You changed sounds on the thing by editing
inside ZynAddSubFX itself.  One classic piece I did used one preset
patch on channel 1, another on channel 10, etc., and I still have that
configuration stored in a separate .xmz file.  To play the old
composition, I have to load the old .xmz file into ZynAddSubFX manually,
if it even still works.

Managing all of that over time does get to be a pain in the ass, yes.

So anyway, if you want to experience the same thing as the tutorial,
start by creating a new device from scratch, rather than recycling the
existing one.  (You could also delete all the banks manually, but it's
easier to start fresh.)

> At this point my question is: why am I not seeing the banks and
> instruments from Zyn inside Rosegarden? At some time I thought I should
> use the Studio -> Manage Midi Devices -> Banks -> Import option, but
> there's no file named in a way which would suggest a connection with Zyn.

With ZynAddSubFX, there is (or was, and probably still isn't) anything
to import.  It doesn't understand program changes, full stop, so the
only way to control what track plays what is by assigning the channel,
which is the same thing as the instrument number, #1, #2, #3, and so
forth.  (Make sure channel remains set to [Fixed], for reasons I won't
take time to explain at this time.)

> *QUESTION 2*
> Why does recording a segment something in Rosegarden change the settings
> I made in Zyn?
 >
> More worryingly, from that point on, I can choose what I want in Zyn,
> but I'm still playing the 'Arpeggio1' instrument. I'm getting sick of it ;)

I can't make up my mind which of two possible things is going wrong for you.

The easy one is to make sure Rosegarden is using #5 for the thing you
have told ZynAddSubFX to play on channel 5, etc.

I will reserve writing about the harder one for another time.

> *BONUS QUESTION*
> Now, this will probably be idiotic, but I need to ask this. Can I
> somehow just play General MIDI instruments? Is this done by Timidity? I
> fired it up but it doesn't show in the 'Audio' menu of Jack, so I can't
> tell it to output any sound to the system.

You've already gotten advice on using DSSI synth plugins.  Personally, I
prefer using QSynth externally.  I have it set up with three engines,
each with a different, dedicated soundfont, and that thing has been
running for months.  I forgot it was there.  It's all down to personal
preference in any case.

--
D. Michael McIntyre

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Re: problem with basic functionality (tracks, instruments, ZynAddSubFX connection)

Abrolag
On Sun, 10 Jan 2016 08:55:30 -0500

> With ZynAddSubFX, there is (or was, and probably still isn't) anything
> to import.  It doesn't understand program changes, full stop, so the
> only way to control what track plays what is by assigning the channel,
> which is the same thing as the instrument number, #1, #2, #3, and so
> forth.  (Make sure channel remains set to [Fixed], for reasons I won't
> take time to explain at this time.)

To be fair, Zyn does now understand program changes, but *only* for parts that
have been previously enabled.

However, their management of bank changes is not MIDI standard.

At the risk of bringing down the wrath of (many) gods on my head. Yoshimi gets
that bit completely right - it may have a different set of wrong 'uns :)

Disclaimer:
I'm the lead developer for Yoshimi.

--
W J G

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