I installed Virtual MIDI Keyboard (vmpk) using apt-get install. I also have Jack control and Qsynth installed. When I open vmpk, I cannot hear the sound coming from it. How can I do the setting to let the sound come out?

  • 1
    Have you wired the midi-out of vmpk to the midi-in of qsynth in your Jack Control Connections window? And the audio-out of Qsynth to your soundcard?
    – daithib8
    Apr 10, 2011 at 19:03
  • 3
    I can see vmpk on Jack control but when I try to open qsynth while running Jack control, qsynth says "Failed to create the audio driver (jack)" and "fluidsynth: error: Faimed to connect to Jack server."
    – sawa
    Apr 10, 2011 at 19:13
  • Jack starts okay. But qsynth has the problem. Thanks anyway.
    – sawa
    Apr 10, 2011 at 20:05

3 Answers 3


An alternative solution:

In Qsynth:

  1. List item

    MIDI tab: Enable MIDI Input box checked ALSA Sequencer Client ID: Qsynth1 Audio tab: Audio driver: alsa Soundfonts tab: SFID 1; Name /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2; Offset 0


-->Edit -->Connections: "Enable Thru on MIDI Output" checked
Input MIDI Connection <blank>
Output MIDI Connection FLUID Synth (Qsynth1):0
  • 1
    worked for me! Simply elegant! Nov 2, 2013 at 23:39
  • 2
    Also, make sure to run QSynth via qsynth -a alsa, otherwise it will default to JACK. Aug 5, 2015 at 17:38

vmpk is a virtual MIDI Master keyboard, and does not produce any sound. To generate sound, you must

  • connect the MIDI output from vmpk to the MIDI input of some tone generator (e.g. qsynth). If you then
  • connect the audio output from the tone generator to the audio input for your monitors,

you should hear some sounds.

In your specific situation, where you want to use vmpk, qsynth, and jack control, I would recommend the following procedure to generate audio based on virtual keystrokes:

  1. Install the "patchage" and "fluid-soundfont-gm" packages
  2. Open Jack Control
  3. Review JACK configuration to ensure it is attached to your preferred audio interface
  4. Start JACK (the big play button)
  5. Open Patchage
  6. Open vmpk
  7. Open Qsynth
  8. In patchage, connect vmpk MIDI out to Qsynth MIDI in
  9. In patchage, connect Qsynth audio out to your audio interface (both left and right channels)
  10. In Qsynth, load a soundfont from /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2
  11. Virtually press any key in vmpk to hear sound

Although the specific tools in use differ slightly, you may find the guidance at Ubuntu Wiki helpful. The primary difference is that you will be using a virtual keyboard rather than a physical keyboard, but patchage should not be able to tell the difference.

  • 2
    for jack install jackd, so a useful command: sudo apt-get install jackd patchage vmpk qsynth
    – Regisz
    Jan 24, 2015 at 21:15
  • As running APT with install qsynth will automatically detect jackd as dependency and install it, there is no need to specify it. Aug 5, 2015 at 8:32

vmpk produces sound by default on Ubuntu 20.04

I don't fully understand the details, but on Ubuntu 20.04 I just get sound out of the box from vmpk (not using Qsynth and JACK).

Likely the relevant settings which make it work by default are:

  • Edit
  • MIDI Connections
  • MIDI OUT Driver: Sonivox EAS

enter image description here

Working with ALSA

If you want to pipe ALSA output to another synthesizer of your choice, in the MIDI Setup you can set instead:

  • MIDI OUT Driver: ALSA

then I can get some sound as follows:

sudo apt install fluidsynth
fluidsynth -a alsa /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2

Then I list all input and output alsa ports with:

aconnect -l

which gives:

client 0: 'System' [type=kernel]
    0 'Timer           '
    1 'Announce        '
client 14: 'Midi Through' [type=kernel]
    0 'Midi Through Port-0'
        Connected From: 129:0
client 128: 'VMPK Input' [type=user,pid=584368]
    0 'in              '
client 129: 'VMPK Output' [type=user,pid=584368]
    0 'out             '
        Connecting To: 14:0
client 130: 'FLUID Synth (586186)' [type=user,pid=586186]
    0 'Synth input port (586186:0)'

So we connect the vmpk output to the FLUID Synth input with:

aconnect 129:0 130:0

and fluidsynth starts producing some sound now as we touch the vmpk keys!

The sf2 instruments present by default on the VMPK GUI via Bank/Program pairs are the same as present in /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 as can be seen with:

sf2text /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 | less


 (0 "Gun Shot" (preset 127) (bank 0)

QSynth setup

Got it working too with ALSA:

sudo apt install qsynth
qsynth -a alsa

Now in the QSynth GUI go:

  • Setup
  • Soundfonts
  • Open

and select /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2.

Now aconnect works exactly as before, as qsynth must be using it on the backend. Once connected, I now hear the sound, and playing with QSynth reverb/chorus effects did affect the sound output as expected.

Save to MIDI file

Save as MIDI when playing from VMPK & QSynth

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