Take Five backing track, version 3

Thanks to some help from finotti in the LinuxMusicians forum (and I didn’t even really ask for it, so I’m extra thankful), I’ve got my commercial xln audio Addictive Keys grand piano working in Ardour as well. And while Zuleikha was testing the sounds with my midi keyboard, I made a screenshot:

Screenshot from 2017-04-28 18:49:12

I’ve loaded the virtual instrument into Carla Patchbay, and after some manual configuration to hear the output, I could use the combination as an instrument within Ardour (which is still my favourite DAW (digital audio workstation) on Linux).

In the screenshot you see Ardour with the loaded “Take Five” song again, and I mixed that via Jamin into Audacity. The acoustic bass and the drum tracks both come via the Calf Fluidsynth and its included GM (general midi) soundfont. In the master track I also used a Calf Limiter; EQ and a bit of compression came from Jamin. The .wav file was then leveled to -23dB LUFS in Ardour, and with Audacity I converted it to an MP3 file again which you can listen to here:

This time I wanted a somewhat more warm and intimate sound, and the “Jazzish” preset of xln’s Studio Grand gave me exactly that.

That Steinway really sounds good, it’s the best piano we have in the house. But the Salamander Grand Piano V3, a Yamaha C5 recorded by Alexander Holm isn’t too far off – and it’s free.

Find many more tools for Linux music production on LibreMusicProduction if you like.

And like always, thanks for reading.

See what you can do with Ardour

Saw that cool video:

And remember, this orchestral sample library is loaded to the free Kontakt player for Windows, but together with Wine and Carla, it obviously works very nice within a free DAW in Linux as well.

Not everything will work tho – forget anything with dongles or other “security” hindrances. In that case, take really free (as in speech) things instead.

See also the German Howto about using Carla here. Thanks Felipe for this wonderful tool!

I’m cool with that decision…

from Mark Shuttleworth on 5th of April, 2017, here:

“We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.”

I didn’t like Gnome3 that much when it came out, but over time and on my Debian Jessie machine at home, it grew on me. Nowadays I find it much more usable than Unity, and I hope that Ubuntu will drop Unity’s keybindings – which are quite different from Gnome’s – as well. At work, where I am still forced to use Ubuntu instead of Debian, this would help. I’m also very much looking forward to getting rid of the many issues which only Unity has, compared to Gnome (and possibly other desktops, with which I’m not that familiar). And if Ubuntu finally looks like Debian (maybe with a bit of “polish”), then all the better for its mum 😉

So yeah, Mark, from my side at least I can applaud that decision. I might even start to like Ubuntu (I *do* like UbuntuStudio (“for creative humans”), but on that I’d also rather install Gnome than accepting the default XFCE).

As always, thanks for reading.

Playing around with Qtractor and ZynAddSubFX

Yesterday evening I played around a bit with Qtractor, and with ZynAddSubFX (and with a free sample of a drumkit called the “Black Pearl“).

Why did I do this? Simple: as much as I like Ardour, the free Pro Tools like DAW (digital audio workstation) software, it has the one disadvantage which bugged me a bit: it’s a bit too much “audio”-centric, with MIDI seemingly being an afterthought. So from Ardour you can’t export MIDI tracks like with other software like MusE, or Rosegarden, or Qtractor. And exporting MIDI is nice if you want to have other programs like MuseScore converting them more or less automagically into sheet music, like this:

So what does Qtractor look like? Look here:

On the upper left you see its editing (and “composition”) window, on the lower right its mixer window – and in between my file system. You see that I’ve made two tracks actually, the first using the “Echo Rhodes” preset from ZynAddSubFX, the second with just a single kick drum sound from the “Black Pearl” drumkit sample.

How does it sound? Awesome. I exported it as an audio file as well, and converted that .wav file to an .mp3 one with Audacity:

So in case you want to hear my breathtaking composition, here it is:

(Don’t send flowers, or ask where to get the CD yet – I’m still working on it) 😉

And as always, thanks for reading.

The state of Linux in music production

I’m having some troubles getting MusE to run or even start properly on my Debian Jessie machine, which also has the KXStudio repositories to get some of falkTX’s goodies like Cadence, Carla, and so on. Seems to be something between MusE and jackd – but all other programs run just fine, so I guess it’s more of the former than the latter. If I boot UbuntuStudio 16.04 from a USB stick and install it, it doesn’t show any problems together with QJackCTL (which is the frontend for jackd).

So I’m back to reading, and also to look for alternatives. And while doing so, I stumbled over some really nice examples of what can be accomplished right now, using only free and libre open source software – or FLOSS as the community calls it.

Here are two nice demo videos of Rosegarden and Qtractor, both made by Südwestlicht, and sung in German:

You can hear a bit more from Holger and Petra on MyOwnMusic if you wish. Awesome stuff.

And here are two videos from Yassin Philip:

You can also read an interview with him on LibreMusicProduction – an interesting page about everything free and open source and music; I’m subscribed to their Youtube channel. See everything about the tools we have on LMP’s “tools” section if you’re interested.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Photography, videos, sound recording and so on

Haven’t written much here lately.

Since I’ve identified what I’m actually after with my photography earlier this year, I’m taking mostly family photos – not of any interest to the general public.

And since Mitchie (and also Zuleikha) is/are more into video, I’ve concentrated a bit more onto the audio aspect of that – having been in professional studios not only as a musician but also as a technician, I try to “give back” some of the gathered knowledge from these areas to my family, my colleagues, and so on.

For some colleagues, I’ve made a (company-internal) video already about how to get the OCDC (Open Client for the Debian Community) IBM layers on top of a more or less “naked” Ubuntu 16.04.2, and I’ll make some more about the tools – both hardware and free and open source software – that I use, and about how I use all that stuff. De-Essers, compressors, LUFS sound leveling, something like this. Plus some microphone techniques.

I also tried to help someone in this thread of the LinuxMusicians forum, for whom/which I uploaded some screenshots to Flickr lately:

Screenshot_2017-03-17_17-57-10

Ubuntu Studio 16.04.2 LTS, running from a USB stick on my machine, with running QJackctl and the Hydrogen drum computer

FocusriteControl

Focusrite Control software, running on Windows 10

Other than that, I’ll cover some tools like Audacity, Ardour and the Calf Studio Gear plugins, Openshot and whatever I’m using. Since most of these tools are cross-platform, the colleagues might want to use them even on their Windows machines; let’s see.

These will be company-internal screencasts and/or videos, just for those people who want to / have to publish some public stuff on the companies’ official Youtube stream(s). Lots of stuff like that exists already, just look at the streams of people like Curtis Judd for instance. No need for me to add anything public here, since there are so many of these technical tips channels already.

Anyway; I’m quite busy most of the time, and just wanted to explain why you see fewer entries here, or on my Flickr stream.

Soon we’ll also visit some family members in Cologne; it’s about time for that as well. Plus both my brother, Mitchie, Zuleikha, and me want to see/visit the Music Store there – can’t wait for that…

Like always, thanks for reading.

Getting a bit more active with music again

Music was my first love”

sang John Miles back in 1976, when I was just 19. And he was so right (and I even played that song with one of the bands I performed with). And what do you do during long and cold winter days and nights, when you don’t even want to think about going out with a camera? Right – I remembered music.

And so I read a lot; I had a bit of catching up to do since I last dealt with making or even recording some music. I stayed with free and open source software of course, and Linux has a lot of wonderful tools to get creative these days. I ended up with configuring the repositories of KXStudio on my machine, so I can still use Debian. And for Zuleikha, who started composing and writing her own first songs, I installed Ubuntu Studio on Mitchie’s old Lenovo Thinkpad SL500. And there are other guys making cool stuff like for instance AVLinux – their user manual alone is worth a look if you want to get up to this stuff real quick.

Mitchie’s old machine has only a Celeron, and 2GB of main memory – so it’s not the machine for some samples of Grand Pianos I downloaded lately (one Yamaha C5, ca. 2GB, and one Steinway, ca. 5GB). I guess it would struggle hard if you put up some audio and midi tracks in Ardour with it, but for Zuleikha it’s nice to start arranging and composing with MuseScore. So today a USB type AB cable arrived, and I hooked up the machine to Zuleikha’s Yamaha YDP-142R piano:

7e1_1196392-mobile-ubuntu-studio

Mobile Ubuntu Studio

It all started when Zuleikha got some nice and easy pieces from her piano teacher, like this one:

7e1_1196393-bluestone-alley

Bluestone Alley, by Congfei Wei

I downloaded some free scores and tablatures for the guitar, and let’s see – maybe we’ll get some microphone to even record the small one playing her horn (and/or her friend Yuma, who’s perfect on her recorder)…

Of course I’ll also document this with the camera. Cannot wait. 🙂 So, with a bit of fantasy and dedication, winter is actually good for something.

As always, thanks for reading.

Back after some short maintenance tasks

Sunday afternoon I started upgrading our server, which until then was still running Debian 7.x “Wheezy”. And that will become obsolete soon – when Stretch will be released, the current 8.x “Jessie” will change its status to “oldstable”, and the current oldstable – Wheezy – will reach its end of (supported) life.

So we had to update sooner or later anyway, and a Sunday afternoon seemed like a good idea. Only that it took much longer than I thought; sometimes newer software (like Apache 2.4 instead of 2.2) does behave quite differently from what you’re used to, and new plugins and other server software also had to be learned.

But ok; we’re back, and even with a nice new layout – today, WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan” was released, and with it came what you see here: a brand new Twenty Seventeen theme which looks really pretty if you ask me. Of course you can customize it to your heart’s desires, which is what Zuleikha is doing right now. Me, I’m slower. I have to take in what I’m offered, and consider what’s good and what’s not, so I’ll leave it like that for the moment.

I still have to do some configuration jobs on the server before I can think about my site’s design. But that will be considered, too. For the moment, I’m happy with it as it is.

And as always (some things never change): thanks for reading.

Update, from 21:30h: Ok; i did go on and change the header image to one that I took. This is the Youth Hostel in Mittenwald, Bavaria, which lays beautifully on some hill between the Wetterstein and Karwendel mountains. I was out with my Olympus E-PL1 camera which had Mitchie’s Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7 lens mounted. Took this one on August 16th of 2013 during the sunset at f/8, and cropped and resized it here to 2000×1200 pixels which is the standard blog header image size for the WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme. Nothing else changed on the theme so far.

Thanks for viewing.