I'd like to do something like

$ play filename.mid

and hear the midi file played without opening up a graphical program. Is there a package for Ubuntu that can do this?

6 Answers 6


There are many different packages/commands you can try:

  1. wildmidi (as used by gstreamer)
  2. timidity (found this very CPU intensive)
  3. playmidi (never tried personally)
  • Do any of these work with sfz soundfont files? Or only with sf2?
    – mherzl
    Aug 30, 2018 at 19:38
  • wildmidi worked for me, Ubuntu 18.04
    – nshiff
    Nov 19, 2018 at 2:13

You'll likely want the playmidi package (sudo apt-get install playmidi) which will allow you to play midi files from the command line.

playmidi filename.mid

  • Does playmidi work with sfz? It only seems to work for me with sf2.
    – mherzl
    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:40

fluidsynth from http://www.fluidsynth.org/.

Use it like this:
fluidsynth /some/dir/with/sundfonts/some_soundfont.sf2 some.mid

You can find soundfonts here: https://musescore.org/de/handbuch/soundfont

And quite a nice collection of MIDI files to try this out here: http://garyrog.50megs.com/midi1.html

I especially like the soundfont "Timbres of Heaven" from http://midkar.com/soundfonts/.

  • Does fluidsynth work with sfz? It only seems to work for me with sf2.
    – mherzl
    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:46
  • I'm a little late but Fluidsynth is written specifically to support the Soundfont format, which is sf2 and sf3. sfz is an entirely separate format.
    – DaVince
    Nov 4, 2020 at 12:11

I know this thread is old, but I was looking for answers for a Raspberry Pi but didn't find any. After more work I came up with the following, it may work in Ubuntu too. The output is through a cheap USB to midi interface.

On Raspbian Jessie Lite with no extra installs:

pi@pizerow:~$ aconnect -l  
client 0: 'System' [type=kernel]  
0 'Timer           '  
1 'Announce        '  
client 14: 'Midi Through' [type=kernel]  
0 'Midi Through Port-0'  
client 20: 'CH345' [type=kernel]  
0 'CH345 MIDI 1    '  
pi@pizerow:~$ aplaymidi --port=20:0 myfile.mid  

If you have fluidsynth installed, you can also play Midi files with VLC by installing the vlc-plugin-fluidsynth package.

  • 1
    The question asked 'without opening up a graphical program'. You don't say what the VLC command would be. cvlc <file> should work. Apr 17, 2021 at 17:36

Another alternative besides Fluidsynth nowadays is Timidity. Install the packages timidity, timidity-interfaces-extra and freepats (the latter is about 30MB, but smaller than the sf2 files in fluid-soundfont-gm). Then the following should work:

timidity -Os midi.mid

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