Now I understand. Realtime MIDI has my full attention.
I upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04; it came with a better kernel, a newer version of JACK, and even Csound 5.08.
However, for various reasons, I compiled my own version of Csound in /usr/local. I enabled the full optimizations through scons with the additional line
Now, my main computer is fairly old. I've been running Csound mainly to compile numerical scores directly to .wav files, at high resolution. I've been generating samples, creating effects, and layering some rich pads.
I had tried using Csound's MIDI abilities in realtime early on. However, this was on Ubuntu 7.10, without any other optimizations.
Below I've posted the simplest possible .csd file, my starting point into Csound MIDI. It's just a sine wave oscillator. But man -- it sounds fantastic played live. The human element of live performance really pushes it over the top.
Now, on this old, slow computer, I've got Csound compiled to run with double samples. I wonder. What if I take the laptop -- which is newer and faster -- and compile Csound to use normal floating point?
Then I'll have a new, portable synth.
(Or as much of one as I can squeeze out through that tiny headphone jack ... )
But now I understand. Reading The Csound Book, I remember a bit about the history -- how Barry Vercoe's Music 11 came about as early as 1971, in a time when most computers read punch cards, but enabled real time play (on a DEC PDP-11).
That moment must have been astounding.
A salute to those who came before!