Managing music using mpd/mpc

Music Player Daemon (MPD) is a lightweight application. It hardly takes any cpu. Moreover it runs in background and does not clutter and workspace. If you dont use mouse frequently or wants to avoid it (programmers use keyboard), then mpd is for you. It is one of those applications which does one job at a time and does it really well (well, if you get is working once which is not very hard). The job of MPD is to read/decode audio files available in its music directory on demand (one can specify it in config file) and create sound. It them make sound available to user using ALSA (or some other) soundcard driver. How to setup MPD is explained nicely on arch-linux wiki (gentoo wiki should also have something) otherwise there is some help always available on or Here is my config file stored as ~/.mpd/mpdconf. All of my music is kept in/download to ~/Bhandar/Music .

A minimal example for mpdconf file which works on my system.

On ubuntu, if you install mpd, a file is automatically created in /etc/mpd.conf. You can edit this file also. You have to create some paths before you can continue, if you create a config file like mine.

 $ mkdir -p ~/.mpd/playlists 
 $ touch ~/.mpd/playlists 

Now type mpd in terminal, if it starts without any messages then we are good to go. Sometimes, you might get this warning. Failed to bind to ‘‘: Address already in use. This means mpd is already running. Check the running process

 $ ps -e | grep mpd 
 14073 ?    00:00:28 mpd 

Terminate it,

 $ sudo pkill mpd 
 $ sudo pkill mpd 


$ sudo kill -9 14073 
$ sudo kill -9 14073

Check again.

 $ ps -e | grep mpd 
 $ ps -e | grep mpd 

This time we should have an empty line. Run mpd again. If there is a problem, then time to ask people or debug by yourself.

Music player client (MPC)

Now we need a client to send commands to mpd. MPC is a command line tool (perl scripts) while gmpc is a gui-based client. Mind you, mpd does not have those advance features of rythmbox and bashee. If you like to use amplifier and other fancy feature to enhance the sound, there is no point reading further. The very first thing we need to do, it to update database.

 $ mpc -h gabbar@localhost update 
 Updating DB (#1) ... 

Password ‘gabbar’ was given in conf file. Without it, we will not have access to update the database. Check what password you have given and see the results. This much we need to do only once.

Creating playlists and playing them

`mpc help` command will show you how to search for songs and add them to playlist. I woluld suggest to learn it the hard way. I have written few scripts to make my life slightly easier (short term memory losses). Script [1] does search for a given word in an of songs and add them all matched songs.

 $./ "bhimsen joshi" 
 $./ "bhimsen joshi" 

It will add songs having ‘bhimsen joshi’ in their metadata, if they are not already added. Another common problem is to play the fav song quickly. There is script [3] for this also. For instance if I want to listen to "Yellow, Cold play" then I do the following.

 $./mpc_play "yellow" 
 [INFO] Searching for yellow 
 [INFO] No song found for your query. 

Ok, yellow is not found that means it is not added to playlist. Use script 2 to add "Coldplay" to playlist. Menwhile, lets play a song which I am pretty sure of having in my playlist: ‘Seene main jalan’. It will play the first match.

 #./mpc_play "seene" 
 [INFO] A matching song is found in playlist at 1911 
 Seene main jalan - Gaman.mp3 
 [playing] #1911/1911  0:00/4:30 (0%) volume:100%  repeat: on  random: on  single: off  consume: off 

Depending on size of playlist, this might take 1-3 seconds. Next, previous,

Play/pause and volume

MPC comes with standard command to do them mpc next, mpc previous, mpc toggle etc etc. Each windown manager allows key mapping. Map these commands to some key combination. I use Alt+Ctlr+<some_key> for user defined commands.

Deleting currently playing song or adding it to favs

A lot of songs gets downloaded and once in a while suddenly some random guy starting singing about somebodys butt and breasts. Who wants such sort of non-sense in ones playlist :-p. Sometimes a great songs appears and you wish to add it to your a folder. Script [2] does both of these functions. This acts on currently playing song. If you path to music_dir is different than mine, then you have to change the paths accordingly. To delete currently playing song

 $./ -d 

To add the song to a folder of gems ~/Bhandar/Music/MyCollection

 $./ -a 

You can bind these two commands to some keys. The important thing is that these scripts must be executable (chmod +x scipt_name) and available in system path (copy them to /usr/local/bin ). Script [4] provides color-support in terminal which is needed for other scripts to work. It should be in the same folder as other scripts. One can use it for other purposes. Everyone loves colors.

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About Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.
This entry was posted in Linux category: NoGuiNoMouseNoProblem and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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