Tag Archives: music

aylet: Sounds across the Spectrum

I never had a ZX Spectrum. I never had a *00-series Atari computer either. I spent my formative years in front of a C64, as I have oft mentioned, and so a lot of the developments or innovations on other hardware is a little lost on me.

I can appreciate attempts to preserve the musical artistry of a generation or architecture though, so aylet is interesting to me.

2014-12-13-6m47421-aylet

So if the genius of the General Instrument AY-3-8910 sound chip escapes my appreciation, aylet is still fun to work with.

This might look a little like stymulator to you, and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw it. I didn’t take the time to dig through the history of aylet and stymulator, but it may be that they share the same author or code tree.

Key controls are on the screen, with switches for track control and a few other options. aylet may not be as visually attractive as some other players, but it knows its audience and does not disappoint.

aylet is in Debian but not in Arch/AUR; I compiled what you see there with the original source code from the Debian package page and had no problems. I needed alsa-oss again to keep it working with “modern” sound arrangements though. 😉

Oh, I almost forgot: You’ll need some sound files, of course. Start here and see what you can find. I am sure there’s something in there that will trigger the nostalgia region of your brain. 😉

bpm-tools: Music and … stuff

I think I might have mentioned in the past that I have an amazing, amazing lack of musical ability. I count myself lucky in some other departments, but talent with music is not one of them.

So I’m going to take it on faith that when bpm-tools tells me there are 94.196 beats per minute in Revolution Void‘s “Invisible Walls,” it’s telling the truth.

2014-12-08-6m47421-bpm-tools

Because to be honest, I’d be at a real loss to prove it wrong. 😦

I don’t have any real reason to doubt bpm-tools, even if the home page is a little vague on the exact formulas used to analyze a particular track. I’m sure if you dip into the source code, all will be revealed.

Of course, even knowing how it goes about its calculations wouldn’t do me much good, since tempo analysis is probably something that … well, requires knowledge about … music and … stuff. Which I have already admitted I don’t have. :\

bpm-tools includes the bpm executable, and comes with a tagging utility so you can insert the results of the bpm executable into a file, for future reference. If you moonlight as a DJ from your Linux admin job, it might make things easier when looking for interlocking tunes.

bpm itself built perfectly for me in Arch, and I only touched up the bpm-tag script so it would access the executable in the same directory. Other than that, bpm-tools was a completely hands-free experience.

bpm-tools is in Debian for Jessie. There is a PKGBUILD in AUR that will hold your hand while you build bpm-tools, but doesn’t seem to take into account that sox is necessary to make it run. And if you want to draw on the tagging feature, you’ll need the appropriate library to support that (vorbis-tools for ogg files, just so you know).

stag: A good find, and a good tool

I got an e-mail from hakerdefo last week with a link to stag, which is an mp3/ogg/flac tag editor for the console, and this one is quite interesting.

2014-11-06-9brnr91-stag

I sense a lot of potential here. It seems to have all the requisite parts — a tree browser, a list of files to edit and a panel of tag data, all connected via the TAB key.

To get you started with stag, remember that the directory panel in the upper left only shows folders. I was stuck for a little while wondering why stag couldn’t “see” the files in a folder, until I realized it was expecting me to press the spacebar over a folder to add all the files in it.

Do that, and the files will appear in the right panel, as candidates for editing. Press TAB to bounce to the right, and you can again navigate up and down again with the arrow keys.

Now pressing the spacebar marks a file for editing, and you jump straight to the bottom panel and the available tag info with ENTER. If you press ENTER on a selected tag, you’ll be able to edit it along the lowest line of the screen, and press ENTER to submit it to that file.

You’re not done yet. Press TAB twice more to navigate back to the file window, and press “s” to save one file, or “w” to write them all to disk. And your work should be done.

I am thrilled with stag because it can handle editing more than one tag at a time. If you use the spacebar to highlight more than one file — or use the slash with a regex string for more control — then enter the info panel, differing tag info will disappear, and matching tag info will remain in the display.

Edit anything you like down there, and the information is held for all the files that are selected. Tags marked with an asterisk need saving. Write the files all out again, and you have multi-tag editing, in a nutshell. 😀

From there it becomes a quick matter to mass-correct or mass-fill music tags, correct dates or misspellings, or just about anything you could want to do.

There are a couple of things I’d like stag to do, and hakerdefo mentioned one or two of these as well:

  • Mass-erase specific fields, or even erase an entire tag, down to nothing. Sometimes that’s necessary. 🙄
  • Read tags from filenames and apply them as tag data. Some CLI tools will do this, and it doesn’t seem like a huge task.
  • Read tag data and apply it as filenames. Again, some CLI tools can do this, so it can’t be too preposterous.
  • An acknowledgment that files have been written to disk. As it is the cursor jiggles over a little, but no other visual cue that your changes have been applied.
  • Offer some sort controls over the file panel. If you were to open a giant folder of mixed files, you’d never find what you were looking for. Similarly, I have a tendency to look for particular things in order, and it’s weird to see things scattered out of sequence, like they are in that screenshot.
  • Color, and this time it just makes sense to me. You have three panels with a selection bar that bounces between all three. Adding color to each panel would make things easier to spot, and make the selection bar stand out dramatically.

I’m very pleased with stag, mostly because I think it has the potential to fill the gap at the Linux console for a proper, fullscreen tag editor application. It has a little way to go before it stands up to something like EasyTag, but I sense the Force is strong with this one. 😉

cuse: For this, I shall recuse myself

I have spoken previously on my lack of musical skill or talent, and it has come back to haunt me again with cuse.

2014-11-06-2sjx281-cuse

cuse is a midi sequencer written completely in ncurses, with a fantastic colorful interface, drop-down menus, load-and-save functions, horizontal scrolling on playback, pop-up dialog menus, a slew of track functions and specific controls … almost all of which is completely lost on the vulgar, like me.

Add to that my meager luck with midi applications — I think timidity++ was the only thing midi-ish that has ever actually worked for me — and you can see why I should probably sit this one out.

I’m impressed though, even if I don’t know what I’m doing with cuse, or how to use it properly. If you have more experience with it or can offer some basic advice to a noob like me, I’d be happy to get it.

For the mean time, I’m content with lots of color, a fullscreen and full-width display, easy-to-navigate menu access, nifty peak level animation, steady horizontal panning and a slim running profile. I shouldn’t need to know how to use it — all that is more than enough to keep me happy. 🙂

cuse is in AUR and will require libcdk as a dependency; the cdk version I got out of AUR was out-of-date, but just needed a version correction and updated integrity sums before it would build. cuse itself gave me no problems.

I don’t see this in Debian. Come on, Debian! Let’s get going here! 😉

ncmpcpp: Once more, for the tag editor

It’s been roughly two years since I took a look at ncmpcpp, and I’ve promised more than once since then to take another gander at it.

Not because it has changed that much — in fact, after a quick glance, it seems not much has changed at all. This time though, I promised I’d take a spin past the tag editor.

2014-11-04-6m47421-ncmpcpp-01 2014-11-04-6m47421-ncmpcpp-02

Of course, this comes in the wake of finding cursetag, which was almost a viable tag editor when last I tried it. It has its share of small eccentricities, but could probably step in (and actually has, if I must be honest) for EasyTag when I need to do some tag editing.

ncmpcpp has a good grip on the task too though, and I can see where this would be very useful in managing trees of files that need correction. Folders are listed along the left, categories listed down the center and their contents shown on the right. Use arrow keys to navigate, plus the enter key to select certain options or filters, like capitalization tools.

Select a field’s contents at the right, and you’ll get an editing tool across the bottom of the screen. Update, enter, repeat an save. There may be more commands available, but those seem to be the major ones. Navigate away from that folder, and ncmpcpp will remind you that you need to save your changes.

I like the arrangement; it’s a good step away from some other tools, and adds in the direct ability to edit the filename. I also like that you can reset your changes, if you realize you’ve gone and ruined things.

Two things that seem to be missing, from my perspective: First, I don’t seem to be able to mass-set tags, although it’s possible that I’m overlooking it. I can select multiple files with the spacebar, but if I press enter to edit the field, it only changes the highlighted entry. Perhaps I have overlooked it?

And comparatively, what ncmpcpp’s tag editor lacks when compared to EasyTag or some other graphical tagging tools, is a way to mass-set tags that are read from the filename, or vice-versa. Those two features are unfortunately, what keep me installing the huge bulk of GTK3-based EasyTag, which is rather daunting for my decade-old Pentium 4.

Second, and this is partly my fault, but I’m coming up suspiciously empty-handed when it comes to instructions, tutorials or howtos for working the tag editor. I’ve seen the man page, and I inferred most of the major commands. But … isn’t there a blog (gasp) or something out there that explains in better detail than what I’ve cobbled together here? Is there no extended documentation on the web site?

I’m terrifically surprised if there isn’t. But Google couldn’t find me one, even with “ncmpcpp tag editor” as a start.

All told, I like this feature, and if I could make a request, it would be to have some talented coder split that entire business out of ncmpcpp, and make it a standalone application. Given that most id3 tag tools are really just mass-set utilities, and given that the only other competition is cursetag as a proper full-screen id3 tag editor, you have the potential to make a name for yourself.

Because ultimately as it stands, I’m a moc fan, and I’m unlikely to keep both ncmpcpp and mpd installed and configured, just to take advantage of the tag editor function. It’s something I could use, but not so frequently that it would warrant keeping on my machine for roughly a 20 minutes out of an entire month. Carve this out and make it stand on its own, and I’m on board.

No matter: This is a worthy addition, if you already use mpd or ncmpcpp or both, and given ncmpcpp’s other masterful features (like the vertical lines!), it wins big points from K.Mandla. 😉

klick: Well that was awkward

So I find myself in the awkward situation of having shot my mouth off about klick, a digital metronome, and the lack of sound it made when I tried it out.

ids1024 pointed out my mistake — that the -P flag tells klick to output to speakers. I apologize for my error; my only explanation is that I didn’t recognize the prompt from the help page of “automatically connect to hardware ports” meant “make sound.” That, and I didn’t expect a digital metronome to default to silence. 😳 🙄

And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, now that it’s working as I suppose it should, I realize that it’s rather pointless for me to show you klick in the first place.

2014-11-04-2sjx281-klick

Well, that much I found on my own. And I can’t convey the sound klick makes through a PNG file*, so I could have spared myself the embarrassment, posted the same screenshot with a dorky smiley face and a thumbs up, and a caption of “Works great for me!” 🙄

So the moral of the story is: Lie. Don’t ask too many questions. Just lie. 😡

What you see there is the Debian version running in LMDE. klick is in the repos, but won’t draw in jackd so be sure to add that to your system.

Start it up with klick -i -P for the interactive mode and actual sound. Adjust the meter with the 1 through 0 and the q through r keys. Volume can be adjusted with the plus and minus keys, and the tempo is controlled with arrows.

My final confession is that I have all the musical talent of a brick; I can make music if rattling pots and pans or pressing the “play” button on a CD player is “making music.”

Which means the last and greatest irony of this little misadventure is that I have no practical reason to keep klick around. All that embarrassment, and nothing to show for it. 😦

*Well, I suppose I could, if I recorded the sound, then embedded it in the file with something like steghide. But that would be more work to record and inject and extract than just letting you install klick yourself. …

lienmp3: How far we’ve come

Ordinarily when a program fails to deliver as badly as lienmp3 did, I’m content to roll it into a post with some other remainders. In this case though, I’m going to make an exception.

Everything about lienmp3 is likely to be disappointing to you: The download link was hidden, the source code is as much as a dozen years out of date, the interface is loud and poorly arranged, and ultimately, even though it would compile and run, when comes time to play music, lienmp3 just flat quits and returns you to the prompt. It’s a collection of faults.

So why mention it at all?

2014-11-03-6m47421-lienmp3

No, it’s not the abundant use of color, even if that’s more than I could ever ask for. And it’s not the relatively easy navigation and on-screen key legend. Even that is a bit … mangled.

If I have to be honest, it’s because I’m sentimental. :\

Almost a decade ago, I was pushing people not to discard 800Mhz machines. Five years ago that had risen to 2.5Ghz. Now I find myself suffering the dreadful weight of the web on a 12-year-old Pentium 4. Times change.

So when the home page for lienmp3 claimed it was (at some point in time) quite usable on 90Mhz Pentium-grade hardware, and could possibly work on slower machines if you were willing to downgrade to mono output … I felt a little nostalgic.

A boast of that nature just doesn’t happen any more. Nobody tries to align their software with the hardware of 1998; it’s just assumed that you’re running multiple cores and double-digit gigabytes of memory. Console software isn’t valued by its ability to transfer to sub-100Mhz CPUs any longer.

And claiming a foothold on the Pentium-era hardware means lienmp3 ostensibly falls into a discrete class of software, on par with things like mjs and a few other ancient titles, that were striving for lower system specs at a time when “lower” meant pre-1996. 😐

So forgive me if I hold up a broken, poorly arranged, difficult-to-find mp3 player on the grounds of a claim I can’t even verify. In this case, it’s just interesting to look back, and see how far we’ve come.

musiql: Perhaps the obvious answer to music management

I’m not a fan of applications that attempt to manage my music collection, mostly because I have the music arranged, in folders, how I like it. Similarly I’m not interested in ratings systems, fuzzy searches, popularity statistics or tagging, other than making sure the data in the built-in tag matches the file name. Sorry. It’s just not my nature.

I do, however, respect programmers and their applications that incorporate those features, not because I want them, but because I know it’s an accomplishment to get them working. So for example, cmus is all the more impressive because it runs perfectly on Pentium 1 hardware and has a lot of useful management features.

I suppose though, if you really wanted to get physical with the console music management concept, you could go to the logical extreme with musiql.

2014-10-30-6m47421-musiql

musiql doesn’t have much of an interface, won’t show you pretty timers or multicolor counters, and come to think of it, doesn’t really care what you’re listening to or how it’s arranged.

musiql jams your music collection into SQLite, and sets you free to sort, filter, search and booleanize to your heart’s delight. Once you’ve set the rules for what you want to listen to, musiql pipes everything through mplayer, and the deed is done.

There are a couple of obvious points here that I will go ahead and make, just for clarity.

First and foremost, you’ll need some familiarity with SQLite to get it working. What I showed above is really just a crude hack job that I copied off the examples from the help flags. If you need more intricate selections, you’ll need more intricate selection skills.

Second, if you’re looking for something with more visual panache, musiql isn’t it. In fact, musiql is pretty much a hands-off application, and just serves up your request to mplayer, which does everything else (a job it is more than qualified to do, I should add). You can, of course, send along a few flags to mplayer, if needed (in other words, you can enable -really-quiet).

Third, musiql itself is capable of most fundamental management tasks through command line flags, and will even handle smaller details like last.fm submissions (or disable them, to be more specific). It’s not so obvious (to me) how you can edit or micromanage that music database once it’s built, short of some more SQLite expertise.

On the other hand, I can see where this might open the field to a few more nifty tools. If you’re familiar with SQLite and you’re not intimidated by a music database in that format, this might be the cat’s meow. And I’m sure there are tools (for the console or otherwise) that will assist in reading, editing or at least giving more control over the database itself.

And given that SQLite is intended for high-end servers, corporate-level databases, etc., etc., I’m guessing it can handle the biggest, densest music collection out there. So if you’re touting a 4Tb music melange and lacking for a console application that can wrangle it all, this might be the one for you.

musiql is not the only music player to embrace SQLite, but it might be the one that offers (requires?) the most low-level, hands-on control.

For that, I’ll give a thumbs-up to musiql, and for merging SQLite and mplayer in a fashion I didn’t expect, and for maybe being the most obvious solution for music management. It’s not something I’d adopt any time soon, but I can see the attraction for other folks. Enjoy, at your own risk. 😉

dradio: Not to be blamed

I got a tip about dradio from a frequent contributor who prefers anonymity. If I could coach people on how to make a decent text-based interface, dradio would be a good place to start.

2014-10-30-6m47421-dradio

Simple arrow keys to select a station, and enter to cue it. Super-big logo. There are playback controls visible in a pop-up help box, and one or two at the command line. Clean and simple.

dradio is a frontend to mplayer and is more or less hard-wired to connect only with Danmarks Radio. Which leads me into the only problem I had with dradio: No audio (or for that matter, video) output. Checking the log shows the corresponding address connecting and resolving, but after that … nothing.

I don’t fault dradio for that, since force-feeding mplayer with the same addresses that are available from dradio’s configuration files yields an identical amount of nothing.

So either the links are wrong, or have moved, or are disallowed on geographic bounds (I am not in Denmark right now). In any case, it appears the fault is not in its stars, and dradio is doing as much as it can to bring music to my ears.

It’s a shame that dradio apparently isn’t open to other radio stations though; I suppose I could try to trick it into opening, for example, a stream from soma.fm (because I’m sure it works) by writing it into the configuration files. But otherwise I think dradio is a one-band man.

If you have any clues for me, on how to prod dradio into action, please let me know, I can always do with a little audio entertainment. 😉

muzikq: With some small improvements

I promised yesterday that I would show ksmp3play‘s heir apparent, and I’m glad I tackled them in chronological order, because it makes things a little bit easier.

muzikq is a good looking audio player, with a similar-yet-different arrangement it obviously inherited from ksmp3play.

2014-10-12-2sjx281-muzikq

Green is a good step for a music player; it’s not often I see an audio tool done over in green and black. And the addition of the info panel on the left is a strong point for me, just be cause I like details at a glance.

Aside from the aesthetic, muzikq picks up on a lot of the strong points that ksmp3play had: Most of the fine-tuning options can be triggered from the command line. File size is shown at the bottom. The scroll bar on the right is animated; as you move through your playlist, the bar highlight shows your relative distance from the top or bottom. Software volume is shown at the upper right, across from a file name display and with timers. It’s a good arrangement and I like it.

But (and you probably know where I’m going with this) muzikq also inherits some of the quirks of its forefather. I can’t start the interface without first selecting a file, although muzikq at least offers a selection dialog as a gesture of goodwill.

You can select multiple files to add, but you still can’t recursively add a folder — which is a huge shortcoming to me. If you don’t add a file, or if you try to just add a folder, muzikq collapses and sends you back to the prompt.

The add dialog has a provision for entering a path, but it’s limited to a specific number of characters, and doesn’t seem to add files from there, or move your selection prompt to that folder. I’m not sure if that feature is actually complete yet. I also had some corruption of longer lists, where paging through the folders skipped over some names by virtue of the size of the screen. That’s a little difficult to imagine, but if you see it happen, you’ll know what I mean.

Once you have a list of files added, muzikq lets you sort them on several points, but also has a provision for a rating system, which is a nice touch. How those ratings are used, or if you can sort with them, or if they’re figured into randomized play … I’m not sure.

My only other notes were on occasional screen corruption, where resizing the terminal might cause labels or data (particularly in the info box) to spill over and make a mess. Even at 80×24 the file size display was consistently broken. And there are some other places where the otherwise clean lines and enjoyable interface gets polluted.

I should also note that, like ksmp3play, muzikQ relies on SDL mixer (in the AUR version) and a couple other packages that might (I’ll just say might, since I can’t be sure) imply an X environment. So if you’re not keen on dragging in everything that X involves, be careful when installing this one.

I’ll let muzikq go now. It’s certainly not a bad program and does play music, like it promises. It has a lot of features I like but there are some parts of it I can’t get past, like the lack of an add-folder options. So, does the rest of the world just keep all their music in one flat folder … ?! 😕