Sound, but no midi...
james at westexe.demon.co.uk
Tue Nov 2 17:40:00 UTC 2004
Rodolfo Alcázar wrote:
> Hi everybody. Im using GNOME. I have GREAT audio but no midi. I checked
> ALSA docs, and cant find anything that leads me to solution. Use a Intel
> AC97 built-in card. Where should I start?
Well, I've waited a bit, in the hope that someone can come in with
"here's how it's done..."
In general, old-fashioned ISA sound cards had on-board hardware
MIDI , because DOS games used it, there was quite a bit of demand,
doing MIDI in software under DOS was a hiding to nothing, and there
isn't *that* much bandwidth on an ISA bus (and what there is tends to
involve a fair bit of CPU time, so you want to minimize it).
Once DOS-only games left the scene, sound cards were replaced with PCI
sound cards (and built-in sound cards, and USB, and...)
And games came on CD, so there was no longer the requirement for MIDI
sound in games. So PCI sound cards came with software MIDI: PCI can
handle it nicely, there wasn't nearly as much demand for it, new PCs had
memory to spare for it, and you can switch between relatively small
sound fonts and seriously nice (but large) ones.
And the Windows drivers were written so that programs that used MIDI
would transparently use software MIDI.
This is one area where Linux has been falling behind. As you've been
told, we've got timidity to play MIDI in software. What we don't have
yet, to the best of my knowledge, is a way for Linux programs to use one
API for hardware MIDI and software MIDI.
I was given to understand that this was one of the aims of ALSA.
However, I haven't heard that in several years, so I don't know what's
I suspect that if this was easy, it would already be done.
If you have a motherboard with old-fashioned ISA ports, the easiest way
is to beg, borrow or acquire an old SoundBlaster AWE. But it's been
several years since I've seen a new motherboard with ISA ports. 
Does anyone know of a PCI card with hardware MIDI?
 Even if it was synthesized using a couple of sine waves...
 Which is a pity, IMHO. I've got a nice non-plug and play ISA v.90
modem which will work with practically every OS under the Sun. Linux
drivers for soft modems are all very well, but I'd like to think I can
install other, more obscure, OSes as well.
E-mail address: james | A woodpigeon would, If a woodpigeon could,
@westexe.demon.co.uk | But a woodpigeon can't, So it won't.
| A woodpigeon could, If a woodpigeon would,
| But a woodpigeon doesn't want to. So it doesn't.
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