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Most, if not all, people who use computer have ever or maybe always listen to music using their computer. It might become part of our routines, listening music while surfing net, chatting, gaming, writing documents / reports, or coding. There are many alternatives to music player. For Linux, one might recommend Amarok, other might suggest Banshee, and others might mention other application out there. It’s our decision to choose what player.

For a hardcore people, they like to play music using their old black colored terminal. Well, some people might prefer GUI but this alternatives is not bad too.

In this article we will discuss about alternatives to convenient music player (GUI) with Command Line Interface. Maybe not all of you like Command Line Interface, but this can be an alternative or maybe some knowledge.

Here I present music player running on terminal. All of these player have been tested on Slackware64 14.0. There won’t be any installation step (yet) on this article, but might be covered on other article.


Well, let’s start the list with Linux’s basic command for playing an audio file. It’s a simple command play we are talking about. To play a music, you can supply an argument which is path and filename to audio file we want to played. It then give you sound of what content on the audio. Well, there’s no interactive design and no playlist. Just a simple command to simply play a file.

But wait, surely we want more than this, aren’t we? Well, if you want more, let’s talk about more Audio player to feed our curiosity.

CMus (C* music player)

Powered with NCurses, CMus is very powerful and highly configurable.

Small, fast and support for UNIX-like operating system. It also features Vi-like commands and also configurable keyboard shortcuts which can be bound to other keys if needed. CMus is currently supports various audio format, including: Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, MP3 (with libmad), WAV, AAC, or WMA. Not to mention, it is lightweight and got good layout.

It is a worth to try. You can go to their official site here.


An old and mature player. First released on 1997 it was known as Mp3player. A simple and humble name, well.

Despite of the name, Mp3blaster supports several formats. Currently, they are: MP3, OGG, WAV, and SID.

Like MCus, Mp3blaster also use NCurses. There is a panel on top of display, showing important keyboard shortcuts for playlist management. This pane is scrollable using + and -. On right side, there are ASCII art playback symbols such as |> as for play button. You can also press ? for detailed help.

Keybindings is also configurable using a simple configuration file. Usually located at ~/.mp3blasterrc.

You can visit their official site here.


Well, this player is well-known media player for their video capabilities. But who knows that this player also able to play lots of audio formats in Command Line Interface. It supports some formats, such as: OGG, Vorbis, MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, and WMA.

Other interesting information can be found on their official site, here.


Well, it has simple name behind it. MOC, or Music On Console. It is a good choice for music libraries that consist of OGG, WAV and MP3 files. It’s easy to use out of the box, boasting a two-paned interface similar to that of Midnight Commander, with a file browser on the left and your playlist on the right. The default keybindings are mostly use single letter for what function they represents. For example, you can press N for “next track” and R to toggle random play.

In term of configuration, it is also configurable. Just edit ~/.moc/config file to do some adjust like colors, width of each window pane, etc.

MOC can be further viewed on their official site, here.

MPD + Ncmpcpp

Music Player Daemon (MPD) could be considered a giant software in Linux audio. It comes preinstalled in many distributions.

Technically speaking, MPD is a server-side application. Can we call it as back end program? It’s great for setting up networked audio in a home media center. We also can use it simply for local playback. The advantage here is that we can use any client you want to control MPD, and there are many client to choose.

Next to Ncmpcpp. This is an Ncurses MPD client, based on Ncmpc but more advanced. Well, that’s why it is called as Ncmcpp, if you know what I mean 😀

Ncmpcpp includes support for Last.fm scrobbling and music visualization via external libraries. Lyrics fetching and display are built in and can be activated for a selected track by pressing l. Ncmpcpp can fetch artist information as well.

Although Ncmpcpp is terrific once we get it set up, using an MPD client to listen to music isn’t always a pragmatic choice. You’ll most likely be up and running much faster with a player like Mp3blaster, MOC or Herrie.

MPD can be found here.

Ncmpcpp can be found here.


Have you ever heard VLC?

The famous VLC media player is known for its ability to play almost media file you give. The terminal version comes with a lesser-known Ncurses control interface. To start it up, type nvlc. The interactive features are noticeably limited in comparison with the vast array of options you may be used to seeing in the GUI version. Press B to browse your files and Return to add a file to the playlist. Toggle help view with h for a complete list of hot keys.

It might be unattractive at first time you see it. Well, that feeling comes to me too. If you search for  a preconfigured player with lot of hot keys, then it might not be what you search for. But you can do a lot of experiment with it, including adding custom hot keys. Well.

Now, CLI-lovers, this is what you may like about nvlc. The power of nvlc lies on Command-Line arguments. You can pass arguments ranging from a directory or a playlist to complex chains of filters. Anything you can do in the GUI version of VLC is possible with nvlc if you know the right argument to pass.

Now, let’s warm up our fingers and experiment with these snippet:

[sourcecode language="bash"]
# getting help
nvlc -h
nvlc -H

# Play music on a directory
nvlc /path/to/my/music

# List what modules avilable
nvlc --list
nvlc --list-verbose

# Now, try this
nvlc --audio-filter chorus_flanger --delay-time 150 --dry-mix 0.8 --wet-mix 0.6 --feedback-gain -0.3 /path/to/my/mysic.fileextension

Here you can find VLC.


It means “clamour” in Dutch. Herrie was first released in 2006.

If you look at it, it has simplest design after all. Well, nohing I can say about this program. Well, Last.fm users likely to find it easy to use and easy to set up track scrobbling. Since I’m not on Last.fm so I can say much. Here, you can explore it deeper.

Herrie can be found at their official site, here.

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