Music & Linux--Was question about Gnopernicus

Janina Sajka janina at
Sat Jan 3 09:42:08 EST 2004

Hi, Tom:

Well, I don't know Guitar Tracks, but I do know Sound Forge.

I think anything similar on Linux is either inaccessible or works very
differently. But then I don't play guitar so tend to just skip over
those programs when I look through the various software libraries.

On the recording side there are certainly powerful applications:

ecasound is 100% accessible and a bear to learn to use. It does some
very sophisticated things, too. You can drive it from the command line,
or in its own command mode. There is also an Emacs front end to it that
covers some of its features.

Ardour is at least partially accessible. It's a very powerful recording
and editing application that has at least a partial keyboard interface.
Look at I haven't worked with Ardour myself yet.

If you're working with MIDI data there's a Perl-based application called
Midge that will let you work on MIDI as an ASCII file. It converts the
ASCII to MIDI and back again.

You didn't ask about scoring, but there's an application called
Lillypond that would be the analog of Finale or Sibelius. Lilypond is
also 100% accessible because it's driven by data in ASCII files.

There are a number of accessible instrument building and sound
generating apps, like the grandaddy of them all, csound, which are very
accessible from the console environment.

When we get good performance from Gnopernicus, I think we'll find a
dozen or so apps that come close.

Beast is one such. It's aimed at professional recording, editing, and
mastering. Beast is built with GTK+ 2, so is built of the GNOME widgets
that natively support accessibility.

I'm hoping we can use gmorgan, which is something like Band in a Box, but I can't tell yet, because of the
audio issues that have been discussed here on the list over the past

I've also found a Python based Band in a Box type app, but haven't got
it up and running yet. 

An equally great problem, though, for all of these environments
including the console, is getting the computer ready to use
any of these applications appropriately. I'm only partially there on

The issues have to do with sufficient bandwidth to keep everything
cranking without interruptions. It's nasty to have Beethoven's Fifth
stutter, you know! And, of course, we need also to have our assistive
tech working in concert and not adding cacophony to the mix.

So, the folks that hang out at

and much of the advice you'll find on pages like:

Linux Audio Users Guide

has to do with this kind of prep. In short, the default installation one
gets from a stock Debian or Fedora Core just isn't fully appropriate to
high-end music work. The kinds of issues that require tweaking include:

Latency -- to keep performance tight

Pre-emption -- To make sure processes run at high enough priorities to
avoid drop-outs

Disk tuning -- to get the highest practical throughput of data to and
from your hard drive

Then, with those issues in hand, you also need to set your machine up in
a way that multiple applications can share audio data at the same time,
preferably with multiple I/O devices. This takes you into the tangled
world of writing an ALSA asoundrc (something I'm struggling with right

I think it is this that's putting me, at leastly partly, afoul of the
ESD audio server and Gnome-Speech as previously documented. Nasty, that,
because it rather stops all evaluation of accessibility in candidate
GNOME applications. So, I'm hoping someone gens up a hardware speech
synth driver for Gnopernicus soon! <grin>

One last word about Gnopernicus ...

While those of us using speech to interface with Gnopernicus are all
having about the same level of slow performance and frustration, I hear
from the braille users that Gnopernicus "really flies." So, maybe the
answer is to get a refreshable braille display--at least for now? Yea,
just kidding.

Hope this helps.

Tom and Esther Ward writes:
> From: "Tom and Esther Ward" <tward1978 at>
> Hi, Janina.
> Do you know of any multitrack recorders like guitar tracks in Linux and any
> music editors like soundforge that work with speakup or gnopernicus?
> One of the major things holding me to Window's is the inability to find
> high-quality music tools like guitar tracks which I use alot in MS Windows
> for recording my guitar music.
> _______________________________________________
> Speakup mailing list
> Speakup at

Janina Sajka
Email: janina at		
Phone: (202) 408-8175

Director, Technology Research and Development
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Chair, Accessibility Work Group
Free Standards Group

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