fluidsynth is a software music synthesizer that reads midi input events either from a midi piano keyboard or from a software application (e.g. midi sequencer) and then generates in realtime a musical audio output that corresponds to all the midi notes being played.
To work fluidsynth requires a Sound Font 2 file (.sf2 file) which contains all the audio waveforms for all of the different musical instruments sounds that can be produced by fluidsynth. The Sound Font files 'FluidR3_GM.sf2' and 'FluidR3_GS.sf2' work with fluidsynth and also have the advantage of having the Creative Commons License. These files are available in many Linux distributions in the packages 'fluid-soundfont-gm' and 'fluid-soundfont-gs' and they can also be downloaded from the net (try searching for 'FluidR3_GM.sf2'). The GM stands for General Midi which defines a standard mapping of MIDI patch numbers to musical instrument sounds.
The easiest way test that fluidsynth is working correctly and to hear some midi music playing is to use the command line and to pass a Sound Font file and the midi file as the parameter. For example the following command line tests that fluidsynth is working on Ubuntu Linux.
fluidsynth /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 mymusicfile.mid
Normally you would not pass a midi file to fluidsynth but instead use another application to pass midi events to fluidsynth. In this case you would start fluidsynth the following parameters.
For further examples on how to start fluid synth see [ExampleCommandLines].
fluidsynth can also started using QSYNTH which provided a graphical user interface to the synth
For help with starting fluidsynth see the [UserManual] or type "man fluidsynth" on the command line. Typing "fluidsynth --help" lists all the command line options.
Once fluidsynth has started up type "help" to access the built in help. Type "settings" to show all the current settings. Type "info audio.driver" to list the available hardware devices.