ncmpc – Frugal Music Player Daemon client

Last Updated on August 11, 2021

I’ve been spending most of this month sampling open source music including the studio albums from The Kyoto Collection. Wake Up is one of my favorite of their albums, a fusion of pop, electronic, new age, and instrumental music.

What better way to listen to open source music than with an open source music player. Over the past few months I’ve covered bags of open source graphical music players. They’ve been a mixed bag. Some genuinely excellent, others not meeting my (fairly) modest requirements. The music players I’ve reviewed include Cantata, Nulloy, Museeks, Pragha Music Player, Yarock, qoob,, MellowPlayer, Kaku, Strawberry, Headset, and Qmmp.

In fact, it passed me by that I’ve only written about one console music player, the truly sublime musikcube. And musikcube remains one of my favorite music player by a country mile. So it would be inexcusable not to give more exposure to console based music players. I’ll try to rectify the position.

As I covered Cantata in my last article (a graphical MPD client), it makes sense to examine a console based MPD client. There’s quite a few available, but ncmpc caught my eye.

MPD is a free and open music player server. It plays audio files, organizes playlists and maintains a music database. In order to interact with it, a client program is needed. ncmpc is billed as a fully featured MPD client with a tiny memory footprint. It runs in the terminal, provides an intuitive to use ncurses user interface and comes with a large set of useful features, including the ability to search and browse your music library, create playlists and read song lyrics.


Installing ncmpc is very easy. On my Ubuntu 18.10 system, I typed at a shell:

$ sudo apt install ncmpc

You also need a working MPD installation. Here’s the steps I took for my Ubuntu distro to get MPD up and running.

First create a config directory for MPD, and a directory for playlists, and then copy its configuration file to a local directory.

$ mkdir ~/.config/mpd
$ mkdir ~/.config/mpd/playlists
$ cp /etc/mpd.conf ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf

Next, I need to define a location for my music directory. My music directory lives at /media/Music. I therefore add the following line my local mpd.conf file.

music_directory "/media/Music"

To build the database file, MPD must scan into the music_directory defined above. With ncmpc, Ctrl-U starts a music database update.

In its default configuration, MPD was sending audio to my monitor’s built-in speakers instead of my Hi-Fi system. I need to tell MPD to use my desired playback hardware device. The command aplay -l lists the available playback devices. This identified that I need to use hw:1,1. Therefore to the audio_output section, I added the line:

device "hw:1,1"

This is only a brief outline of the steps to configure MPD. The official documentation goes into a lot more detail.

Next page: Page 2 – In Operation

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Other Features
Page 4 – Memory Comparison
Page 5 – Summary

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