Linux Midi Orchestration (online paper)

• May 1, 2017 - 23:20

[This is a copy of an announcement I posted in the Linux Musicians
KXStudio forum. The paper referred to is, to the best of my knowledge,
the only online document that looks at MuseScore exclusively in its
capacity to act as midi-capable scorewriter. It may be of interest to
both MuseScore users and developers.]

I've spent the past 5 years or so exploring how to set up a virtual
symphony orchestra under Linux using only free and/or open-source
software and freely available soundfonts. The setup is based on the
idea that an orchestral composer should be able to compose at the
score with total confidence that the playback is accurate with
respect to instrumental balance, positioning (left/right, front/back),
and reverb. Users of commercial software and samples already have
this, and I feel strongly that the same should be available to
musicians who choose to advocate, promote, and contribute to
open-source development.

A virtual orchestra under Linux is not for the faint of heart. It's
a ton of work and the documentation is all over the place, so I've
published an online paper, Linux Midi Orchestration, to help
anyone interested in setting one up. Here's the link:

The PDF is around 100 pages, so I've formatted it for 2-sided
printing. The copy is liberally supplemented by screenshots,
diagrams, and musical examples, all hyperlinked for ease of
navigation, as is the Table of Contents and the List of Figures.

The principle behind the setup is "beautiful scores that play
themselves," which requires that the front end be MuseScore. No
other WYSIWYG notation program that runs natively under Linux
generates printable scores of comparable excellence. The difficulty
with this is that MuseScore's handling of midi from the score is
incomplete, requiring kludges and workarounds, which are covered in
the paper.

The paper is not a tutorial. It assumes the reader has at least
some training in music theory, instrumentology, and orchestration,
and is familiar with the midi subsystem on a Linux box. It covers
making a custom score template, creating a port/channel mapping
file, building a library of soundfonts, setting up LinuxSampler and
Non-mixer, wiring the setup together with KXStudio tools, and using
MuseScore's midi controls to generate musically sensitive playback.

The setup and management of both algorithmic and convolution reverb
is covered, as is ambisonic panning. Use of MuseScore's internal
synthesizer (fluidsynth) and mixer are not discussed at all;
MuseScore is considered only in its capacity as a front end to what
is, essentially, a DIY orchestral DAW. While the thrust of the
paper is toward orchestral composition, the principles it
introduces are applicable to other types of music and audio
production. Of particular use to everyone are the sections on
Non-mixer and reverb.

A demonstration of the virtual orchestra discussed in the paper
can be found on YouTube at


Thank you very much for for your insights and contributions (for the other before from you too beside this paper).

At time I've less spare time therefore and an incomplete installation of Jack, which doesn't seem able to be repaired (not via removing nor reinstalling), so I suppose I've to install my OS from new.

But I hope someday next I'll find time to check my skills, if they are good enough to set up an orchestration sound in your described way.

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