I can't get any sound from Rosegarden when I write something in the notation editor. The Rosegarden start-up screen says to install a synth app. I installed Qsynth but don't know how to use it with Rosegarden.

The start-up screen also says to install Jack for audio. I have done so but am not sure how to start Jack or check to see if it is running. I also don't know how to tell Rosegarden to use Jack for audio input and output. Any help would be appreciated.

  • To be honest, audio != desktop and IMO it is best to install an audio sepcific version of Ubuntu -> try Ubuntu studio. See also libremusicproduction.com/articles/… . So while you can learn to configure jack and your system manually, it will likely take you a ton of time. – Panther May 7 '15 at 3:32
  • Thanks for your response! Do I need to install Ubuntu Studio on another computer or can I install it along side of my stock Ubuntu installation on one computer? – Richard Lott May 7 '15 at 5:50
  • It is going to be easeir for you if you use ubuntu studio if you need to use jack. It is possible to add jack and what not. If you desire you can modify your desktop - see wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/system_configuration. To configure jack, I highly advise Cadence (there are other tools as well). Cadence may be in the repositories, if not, it is a binary - kxstudio.sourceforge.net/Downloads – Panther May 7 '15 at 12:33
  • Thanks for the information! I am going to borrow a computer from a friend and check it out. – Richard Lott May 11 '15 at 3:10
  • Rosegarden, sadly, isn't a part of Ubuntu Studio; however, it is easier to get it running in Ubuntu Studio. Apart from needing to install rosegarden, you will also need to run Studio Control and QSynth first. QSynth needs to be configured with MIDI sf2. It is also helpful to have specialized lowlatency Linux kernel. – Polv May 16 at 10:32

You can ignore the warnings about needing Jack running.

What I now have running is MIDI file playback via Rosegarden and QSynth.

The process as of Ubuntu 17.10 is largely the same as here, but follow these steps:

  • install QSynth apt-get install fluidsynth
  • install a soundfont library apt-get install fluid-soundfont-gs
  • configure QSynth to Enable MIDI Input by checking the box in Setup > MIDI
  • configure QSynth to use alsa Audio Driver under Setup > Audio
  • configure QSynth to use the soundfont under Setup > Soundfonts; point to /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 or your soundfont location
  • allow QSynth to restart when it prompts you
  • install Rosegarden apt-get install rosegarden
  • with QSynth open, launch Rosegarden
  • Tell Rosegarden to play through QSynth Studio > Manage MIDI Devices and set the General MIDI Device to whatever QSynth broadcasts as its MIDI input option, ie 129:0 Synth input port or similar.
  • This worked for me once. But now, checking over the same config I get no sound - with or without pulseaudio running. – timbo Nov 18 '19 at 21:47

Using RoseGarden (Jack method)

  • Tested on Ubuntu Mate 20.04.1 x86_64, from the live CD.
  • This guide looks rather long but it's very screenshot heavy
  • This can be done almost entirely through the GUI after the initial setup is done, hopefully this will help people get more familiar with all the "moving parts" involved.


sudo apt install rosegarden pulseaudio-module-jack qsynth

A window showed up asking me if I wanted to run jackd with realtime priorities, I selected "Yes". I am not sure if this setup will work if I would have selected "No".

Configuring PulseAudio to work with Jack

Why this is necessary

  • When you run Jack, it will pretty much take over the audio system on your OS.
  • Most of the sounds in Ubuntu (e.g., system sounds, your browser, etc.) use PulseAudio
  • If you want any program on your computer to make sounds while Jack is active, I suggest running this step.
  • There are other ways to work around this like having a second sound card, but this can get cumbersome (I can only wear one pair of headphones at a time)


Run these commands

pacmd load-module module-jack-sink
pacmd load-module module-jack-source
pacmd set-default-sink jack_out

(it will run and end displaying no message)

At this point we need to start QSynth, but I think this is a good time to provide a bit of background information:


What is QSynth

  • QSynth is a GUI frontend to FluidSynth.
  • FluidSynth is a SoftSynth
  • A SoftSynth is basically a piece of software that interprets MIDI events as sounds.
  • A midi event is basically a note being played on a given instrument.

So basically QSynth is what actually "makes the instrument noises" to be played back through your speakers.

What would somebody use instead of FluidSynth?

  • There have been a lot of other output devices than a SoftSynth that can interpret MIDI events as sound
  • For example, the Roland MT-32 can accept MIDI events and play it in its own (built in to the hardware) soundfont.
  • If you had one of these devices, you could have Jack send MIDI output to one of these instead, e.g., over a MIDI cable or USB cable.

Setting up QSynth

For me, this program is in Sound & Video -> QSynth.

You can also start it from command line, starting it with the qsynth command.

qsynth main window screenshot

  1. Click Setup... on the main window

qsynth setup window

  1. Go to the soundfonts tab

qsynth soundfonts

  1. Click Open to select a soundfont.

There are some soundfonts in /usr/share/sounds/sf2, you can use these, or provide your own.

Personally I selected FluidR3_GM.sf2 for this test for convenience's sake, because it appears to be downloaded with Fluidsynth but for my own use I use SGM-v2.0.1.sf2

In Ubuntu 19, a user LKTS points out that you may need to also do this step:

  1. On the Audio tab, set the Audio Driver to "jack" screenshot of the Audio tab in QSynth

Click OK, and let it restart the fluidsynth engine. You're done with QSynth but leave it open.


What is Jack?

Jack stands for JACK Audio Connection Kit.

  • If you are trying to search for documentation / help on this online something I would recommend searching for "jack audio connection kit ..."
  • There are quite a lot of unrelated search hits for "jack"
  • In this setup Jack is responsible for connecting our input (RoseGarden) to our output (QSynth)

Setting up Jack

This tutorial will use QJackCtl. For me this program was found in Sound & Video -> QJackCtl, but you can also start it command line with qjackctl.

The main window of the UI will look like this:

jack main window screenshot

  1. Click the Connect button to show connectable devices.

  2. Expand All Nodes, your Audio tab should look something like this:

jack connections: audio tab

Notes about the audio tab

  • I didn't have to do anything here but here (it was wired up like this by default), but here's some information about this tab:
  • The "PulseAudio JACK Sink" inputs are connected to the "system" outputs (playback_1-6), you can think of these playback_# outputs as your speakers.
  • capture_1 and capture_2 represent my microphone.
  • qsynth left and right are also connected to my speakers, this is how we will hear the midi events (notes) being played through RoseGarden while we are composing.
  • If your audio tab is not set up correctly, you may not hear system sounds or Rosegarden sounds.

ALSA Tab: Connecting FluidSynth

  1. Switch to the ALSA tab and expand all nodes, it should look something like this:

jack connections: alsa tab, before connection

  1. Click and drag to connect a wire:
  • from: 14:Midi Through/0:Midi Through Port-0 on the left
  • to 129:FLUID Synth (8169)/0:Synth input port (8169:0) on the right

The numbers on these entries may be different on your system.

After you do that, it should look like this:

jack connections: alsa tab, after connection

We're done in this window, close the connections window, but leave the Jack window open.

Start RoseGarden

For me the menu entry was just in Sound & Audio -> RoseGarden

If for some reason it's not there, you can run it with just the rosegarden command.

1. Configure Midi Devices

In the main menu, click Studio -> Manage MIDI Devices

Your setup should look something like this:

RoseGarden Manage Midi Devices window screenshot

2. To test our setup, using the pencil tool, just draw a track somewhere

RoseGarden showing drawn track

3. Double click on that track

4. Click to insert notes on the staff

You should hear piano sounds coming from your speakers when you click to insert a note.

Rosegarden staff editor screenshot

Additional note: Drum tracks.

This is a bit off topic from the setup, but I figured I'd include it here.

  1. If you are adding a drum track, you should set the track to use the D channel.

I guess the "D" stands for "Drums"?

Rosegarden "D" track for drums

  1. Then you can right click on the track and use the Percusson Matrix Editor, which will give you a nice labeled interface so you can see which instrument is which.

Testing PulseAudio

At this point I think it is a good idea to verify that the sound on your PC still works.

You should be able to go to a youtube video or play some music on your PC and it should work without shutting down Jack or closing RoseGarden.

Starting RoseGarden after setup

If you want to start RoseGarden after the initial setup, here's what you need to do:

  1. Start QSynth
  2. Start QJackCTL
  3. Run these commands
pacmd load-module module-jack-sink
pacmd load-module module-jack-source
pacmd set-default-sink jack_out
  1. Start RoseGarden
  • There's one thing that I noticed in this setup, it seemed like when I watched a DVD after closing out of Jack, some tracks of the audio weren't getting played until I restarted. I am guessing that maybe VLC thought that I had a surround sound system. Maybe there should be only two connections in my case on the audio tab of Jack, left and right stereo (my motherboard has more ports but I'm just using headphones). VLC was able to play stereo music just fine, though. – jrh Dec 26 '20 at 14:38

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