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 Use Utilite as a Music Synthesizer 
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 am
Posts: 351
Post Use Utilite as a Music Synthesizer
Utilite Has A MUSICAL Side

Overview

Software Music Synthesizers, sometimes known as Softsynths, allow computers to produce synthesized music. Previously, this job fell to dedicated, specialized hardware produced by legendary companies such as Korg, Minimoog, Roland, and Yamaha. Now, computers such as Utilite coupled with a good Softsynth package can produce some very good sounds and effects, possibly even rivaling dedicated units.

Softsynth Packages available to Utilite include amSynth, Foo YC20, Freebirth, Horgand, mx44, Yoshimi, ZynAddSubFX, and so on. I tried amSynth and ZynAddSubFX. AmSynth is very basic and not very engaging. ZynAddSubFX on the other hand has may features and gets good reviews, so I will concentrate on its use.



Hardware

1. Utilite
2. USB MIDI Keyboard (optional)



Software

All packages required are readily available in the repositories.

1. Jack Audio Connection Kit

Packages needed are: jackd, qjackctl, and libjack library.

The Jack Audio Connection Kit is an audio server and API which allows various Jack compatible audio applications to interconnect and share data with each other. Jack provides rapid, low latency audio data transfer and helps synchronize the various applications. One way to understand Jack's purpose is to compare it to a physical audio soundboard.

2. ZynAddSubFX

ZynnAddSubFX is the Softsynth I liked the best. It offers a wide array of available instruments; many effects such as reverb, echo, and chorus; and a wide array of other features and settings.



Operation

Once the required software is installed on Utilite, proceed as follows.

1. Load and start the QJackCtl GUI. It is found in the Applications Pulldown under Sound and Video. Make sure to start jack by clicking the start button in QJackCtl.

Attachment:
QJackCtl.png
QJackCtl.png [ 31.34 KiB | Viewed 3120 times ]


2. Start ZynAddSubFX. It is found in the Applications Pulldown under Sound and Video. It features a beginners interface with a virtual keyboard and an advanced interface which requires the use of an external keyboard.

Beginner Interface
Attachment:
ZynAddSubFX.png
ZynAddSubFX.png [ 43.42 KiB | Viewed 3120 times ]



Advanced Interface
Attachment:
ZynAddSubFX Advanced.png
ZynAddSubFX Advanced.png [ 51.13 KiB | Viewed 3120 times ]



Add-Ons

You can add a wide variety of instruments and voices to ZynAddSubFX. Here is a site with many such add-ons.

http://sourceforge.net/p/zynaddsubfx/in ... ree/banks/



Results

The results of using ZynAddSubFX were quite good. Using the add-on instruments and voices, it is possible to get some really interesting and cool sounds. Some of the chorus files produce very ethereal and eerie sounds.



Conclusions

1. Utilite makes quite a good music synthesizer when paired with good software.
2. Utilite again demonstrates its ability to perform a wide variety of diverse roles.



Resources

http://jackaudio.org/
http://jackaudio.org/api/
http://murks.lima-city.de/serendipity/? ... mmies.html
http://zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.net/


Sun Dec 21, 2014 4:48 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:07 am
Posts: 138
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Post Re: Use Utilite as a Music Synthesizer
Ah, if only I had the time. I used to do this sort of thing at school. If I was to get back to it, I wouldn't use the Utilite but this is still cool. :)


Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:36 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 am
Posts: 351
Post Re: Use Utilite as a Music Synthesizer
Hey Chewi,

You are right, the music synthesizer app is very cool - so cool in fact that I borrowed a friend's USB MIDI keyboard to interface with Utilite. Utilite is working very well as a synthesizer - especially with a real keyboard. The libraries I have found for ZynAddSubFX include hundreds of instruments and voices. If you're looking for a particular sound, it is out there. Utilite might just be good enough to throw into a gig bag for a night out.

Utilite Hosting MIDI Keyboard
Attachment:
Midi Keyboard.JPG
Midi Keyboard.JPG [ 91.33 KiB | Viewed 3095 times ]




Interfacing the USB MIDI Keyboard with Utilite - Terminal Method

1. Determine the USB MIDI Keyboard's Output/Readable Port.

Use the terminal command $ aconnect -i

In my case, the keyboard output port is 28:0

Attachment:
aconnect -i.png
aconnect -i.png [ 27.15 KiB | Viewed 3095 times ]



2. Determine ZynAddSubFX's Input/Writable Port.

Use the terminal command $ aconnect -o

In my case, the SoftSynth input port is 129:0

Attachment:
aconnect -o.png
aconnect -o.png [ 28.7 KiB | Viewed 3095 times ]



3. Connect the Keyboard Port to the Softsynth Port.

Use the command $ aconnect 28:0 129:0


4. Everything should work now. Play a tune.


Last edited by hassellbear on Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:54 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:57 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 am
Posts: 351
Post Re: Use Utilite as a Music Synthesizer
Interfacing the USB MIDI Keyboard with Utilite - Jack Audio Method

1. Open Jack Audio GUI (QJackCtl)

Attachment:
QJackCtl.png
QJackCtl.png [ 31.34 KiB | Viewed 3094 times ]




2. Start the ZynAddSubFX Synthesizer



3. Open the Jack Audio Connection Window - Click the QJackCtl Connect Button

A. In the Jack Connections Window, Select the ALSA Tab

B. Connect Readable Client to Writable Client

(28:iRig Keys / 0 iRig Keys MIDI 1 to 129:ZynAddSubFX / 0:ZynAddSubFX)

Attachment:
Jack Connections.png
Jack Connections.png [ 36.21 KiB | Viewed 3094 times ]





6. Everything Should Work Now - Play a Tune


Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:22 am
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