A Music Macro Language Player in C

I saw a reference to Music Macro Language on the HackerNews site this morning.


I remember embedding music strings like this in old BASIC programs. Lacking a way to tinker with MML, I first downloaded the free Macrotune libraries from:


I then wrote a small script interpreter, mmlplayer.exe, for 32-bit Windows using MinGW. I had to correct the psg.h file by closing the top comment or I ended up seeing an #endif without #if error.

Here’s the code:

// MMLPlayer
// by Jim Lawless
// MIT / X11 License
// See: http://www.mailsend-online.com/license2015.php

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <windows.h>
#include "psg.h"

void runscript(char *scriptname);

int main(int argc,char **argv) {
   printf("Music Macro Language Player\n");
   printf("by Jim Lawless - http://jiml.us\n\n");
   printf("This program uses the Macrotune libraries from\n");

   if(argc<2) {
      fprintf(stderr,"Syntax: mmlplayer script-file-name");
      return 1;
   return 0;

void runscript(char *scriptname) {
   char buff[1024];
   FILE *fp;
   char *p;

   if(fp==NULL) {
      fprintf(stderr,"Cannot open script %s\n",scriptname);
   while(fgets(buff,sizeof(buff)-1,fp)!=NULL) {
      p=strtok(buff,"\t\r\n ");
      if(!strcmp(p,"#")) {
      if(!strcasecmp(p,"echo")) {
      if(!strcasecmp(p,"volume")) {
      if(!strcasecmp(p,"play")) {
            Sleep(500); // sleep and wait

I used the following compile options after renaming psg_win_x86.lib to psg_win_x86.a:

gcc mmlplayer.c -L. -lpsg_win_x86 -o mmlplayer.exe

The script commands are as follows:


The # command indicates a comment. A space is required after the character.

echo string

The echo command displays the specified string on the console. It then displays a newline character.

play string

The play command plays a string of MML music.

volume float-number
The volume command sets the volume for the played strings.

Here’s a sample script that just plays a simple scale in eighth notes.

echo See MML documentation at
echo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_Macro_Language
volume 5.0
play C8D8E8F8G8A8B8>C8
echo All done!

The Win32 package including the 32-bit DLL, mmlplayer.c, mmlplayer.exe, and the sample script can be found at:


According to the API, it looks like one can play up to four channels of music concurrently. In the code above, I provide for only one channel of music at this time.

There’s an OS/X version of the Macrotune libraries. I might tinker with those later.



About Jim Lawless

I've been programming computers for about 36 years ... 30 of that professionally. I've been a teacher, I've worked as a consultant, and have written articles here and there for publications like Dr. Dobbs Journal, The C/C++ Users Journal, Nuts and Volts, and others.
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