MIDI is a special music file format. Contrary to Wave or MP3 files, it doesn’t contain audio data but just notes with information how long to play, which instruments and so on. The sound of the instruments is saved in the synthesizer, f. e. a sound card (hardware synthesizer) or an app like Timidity (software synthesizer). The synthesizer receives the music data and generates sound. Nowadays MIDI files are used very much on mobile phones (polyphone ringing tones) because of their low size.

Palms usually don’t have a hardware synthesizer, so the better-known media players for Palm OS don’t support MIDI files. But there are some apps (software synthesizers) which enable your Palm playing MIDI files:

Botzam MIDI Play is a player for MIDI files with only one voice. They sound like the alarm sound. You can open files from a VFS device (card, etc…) and from the RAM. In the RAM you find alarm tones. I think, on OS5 devices there is not much use except of testing alarm sounds. And be careful, it’s very unstable (see the review on freewarepalm.com). The only app that works with OS 4 and lower.

MMPlayer is a multimedia player for Palm OS. It supports audio and video files. Before there was TCPMP, MMPlayer was the only app that supported so much codecs. In the ZIP-archive you download there is a MIDI instrument file (<1 MB). MMPlayer is shareware.

Timidity for Palm OS is the only free MIDI player for Palm OS. It is a port of Timidity for the Personal Computer. It is a little bit difficult to set up:

  • Download timidity-std.zip (10 MB) and unzip it. You have to install TimInstall.prc onto your device. Put timidity.zip into /PALM/Programs/Timidity on your card and launch TimInstall. It unzips timidity.zip (you need 20 MB free space on your card!)
  • Now Timidity is ready for apps. The developer of Timidity for Palm OS has no player front end because he ported it so that his other ports ZQuake and ZHexen can use MIDI sound.
  • MetaView (well-known because of PalmPDF) has developed a player frontend for Timidity. You can download it at http://www.metaviewsoft.de/en/index.html. Install Timidity.prc onto your Palm and base.zdk into /PALM/Programs/Timidity.
  • Copy your MIDI files into /AUDIO.
  • Now start Timidity, choose your MIDI file and click on “Play”. Now you should see a black screen. Tap at the center of the screen. Timidity should start playing.

BTW, of course there is Timidity for Windows. The sound quality of Timidity is much better than the sound quality of the most hardware synthesizers in soundcards. Timidity has to be compiled and needs patch files (the sound of the instruments is stored in there). I’m not a developer, so I looked for an easy-to-use (precompiled, etc.) version and found this:


It’s very big (~ 27 MB), but if your internet connection is fast enough, download it. During the installation process it’s important that you enable the following checkboxes:

A good idea is to set Timidity as the computer’s default MIDI driver. Then you can play MIDI files with your favourite music player using Timidity:

  • Freepats
  • Timidity++ driver
  • You can disable the creation of shortcuts.

To enable the driver:

  • Open the control panel (Start – settings – control panel)
  • open the sound panel and then open the tab where you can choose your audio devices. There are different captions for that tab on Windows 98, 2000 etc. I mean the tab with the drop-down lists. Choose “Timidity++ driver”.

What do you think? Do / will you use Timidity on your Palm / PC?

Related posts:

  1. Chronology of Palm Music
  2. Free Flash Player for Palm OS 5
  3. Media Players for the Palm, Hands on Review!
  4. Kinoma Player 4EX – local capabilities
  5. SDHC for Palm Treo 700p, maybe Palm Treo 650

8 Responses to “MIDI playing on a Palm”

  1. MetaView’s timidty seems not to work on a T|X.

  2. Yes, I read that on his page, but I don’t know why. I have no TX. Maybe someone wants to test?


  3. Hi Alex,
    a very detailled review! Congratz!

    BTW, I uised MMplayer quiter some time ago to play midi and can say that it worked quite well. The stuff sounded different than on the PC though..

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

  4. [...] Leyendo el blog de Tam Hanna, encontre un articulo de como tocar MIDI en la Palm. Sin embargo probando y probando MMplayer no pudo tocar ningun MIDI, mientras que Timidity logro tocarlos en forma excelente, aunque visualmente deja mucho que desear. [...]

  5. Is there a way to control the volume in timidity? My midi files are really loud!!

  6. Hi J,

    Try the five way navigator left/right, iirc… That should provide rudimentary volume control.

  7. [...] ;o) There’s a group, PalmSounds, dedicated to handhelds and music. Old list of software here, but all I want is a [...]

  8. I got the PRC file onto my device but can’t seem to figure the rest of the instructions out…. help? I downloaded it all, unzipped it all, but when I click on the timidity zip file icon on the device I get “Could not find Timidity.zip in folder ‘/Palm/Programs/Timidity/’

    Could someone send more idiot proof directions to me at malcolm1611@gmail.com


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