Starting with SoundHelix -3- Grab it and Run

OK. Now to the practical part. Let’s get a copy of SoundHelix and make it work. Downloads, documentation and information all come from the SoundHelix website

There are two versions available at the time of writing — the stable released version 0.8 and the up-to-date-but-not-ready-for-release 0.9. If you want the bleeding-edge-and-might-cause-armageddon version you can get that too but it could need compiling from source. I went for the safe option of version 0.8 in zip form.
Don’t go looking for Apple, Windows or Linux versions as any platform with Java on it should be ok. So far I have run it fine on Win7, XP and Raspberry Pi 3 with Raspbian.

There are instructions for download and running on the page

OK, let’s assume you now have a zip file of ver 0.8 downloaded. You need to extract the files out of the zip, and place the folder with the entire contents into a place where you can access it easily for working on the folders. There will not be an entry in the system list of software on the start menu, it runs straight from the folder where you put it.

Now, if the thought of opening a console, navigating to that folder and typing in commands like the website says makes you shudder, read on …
You can’t avoid consoles altogether with SoundHelix, but for this next operation you might be able to. In my Win7 laptop, I get away with opening up the folder in Windows, locating the file “run.bat” and opening that with a double click. I don’t guarantee you won’t see it fire up in Notepad for editing instead, but right clicking it and selecting Open is another way. It may be called just “run” if your computer is set that way.

In Linux, e.g. Raspberry Pi with the standard OS, “” is the file you must run. I had to go into its properties and set permission for execute before it would go.

If all goes well, whichever way you get “run.bat” running, you should find two effects:
1. A console window will open. This is showing the workings of the program doing its stuff in Java.
2. Sound! You should hear the tinkling tones of the 70’s hit Popcorn, a classic of the early synth genre

IF you don’t see an active console window, there may be some kind of error message. Do you have Java installed? If not there is no hope — you can choose to download Java and accept its insecurity and aggressive updating processes, or not run SoundHelix (and a number of websites that use Java).

If you have the console window showing activity, and no sound, then a bit of investigation is required. Is the sound turned on and volume up in your PC? Do you have a software or hardware synth that SoundHelix can drive? Windows usually has a built in midi synth, Java does too, and the “Popcorn” sample file checks for all the usual suspects. But before you ask, SoundHelix has no other way to produce sound apart from a MIDI synth of some sort.
If your synth is hardware, you may have a MIDI interface to link it to your computer. The identifier for that will need to be placed into the arrangement file for your tracks. I hope to deal with external MIDI later in this series, when I hook it up to my own MIDI gear.

By the way, if you are now trying to stop the (now) hideous noise of “Popcorn” that repeats and rearranges itself and repeats until you are ready for therapy, you must deal with the Console! Click on the console window that started after activating “run.bat” and type “quit”<return>. Enjoy the blessed silence ~~~~