Wikiloops artwork…

After trying out the new and upcoming artwork for Debian 11 “Bullseye” on my desktop (see my last post), I downloaded the poster art for the last Wikiloops member’s meeting in 2018, and tried that – and so this is how my desktop looks right now:

some Wikiloops artwork

Fits, because first I’ve been there (which was great), and second I’m a bass player… 🙂 So thanks to Dick for providing this – and thanks to you for viewing/reading, as always.

“Homeworld” – the artwork for Bullseye

I’m about two weeks early, I know – but I wanted to see Juliette Taka’s artwork “Homeworld” which she made for Debian’s next stable version 11, codenamed “Bullseye” on *my* desktop – so I downloaded her wallpaper and tested it:

Debian’s “Homeworld” wallpaper on my desktop (which is still “Buster”, or Debian 10)

Looks very nice with my conky system monitor, I like it 🙂

As always, thanks for viewing.

Upgraded to Mixbus v7

Yesterday I decided to upgrade my version 6 of Harrison Mixbus to their new version 7 – and just like my purchase of v6 I’ve got it at a discount, so until now I’ve spent 19€ for the first version and also 19€ for the upgrade – still cheap when considering the normal price of 90€ (plus 29€ for the upgrade) if you don’t get the discount. See their homepage, and also the Mixbus manual for more info.

I was quite happy with v6 already, but v7 seems to be even snappier. Like the latest versions of Ardour (6.7 at the time of writing) on which it is built, it has some quite nice features which you won’t find elsewhere, at least not built-in – take the targeted mastering approach for instance:

Mixbus/Ardour with a loudness target ‘Apple Music’ which translates to -16 LUFS and to -1dB true peak. A simple click with your mouse could change that to ‘Youtube’ which would be 2dB “hotter”, or to EBU R128 broadcasting standards (-23 LUFS and -1dBTP)

You can also save the master loudness analysis and the mixer settings automatically with each mixdown in ‘preferences’, so you’ll get something like this with your exported file(s):

Output analysis
Mixer settings

Most of that stuff can be done with Ardour which is a fantastic program of and by itself. It’s open source, but for a readily compiled version for Windows or MacOS you’ll have to spend an amount of your own choice (starting at $1).

The reason for me to also get/purchase Mixbus was first my curiosity about it, but in the end I’ve kept it because of its sound – *and* because the workflow is about the same as in Ardour which I knew and loved since years already, and which I’ll keep using anyway.

My latest mix and export with Mixbus v6 was ‘Colours’:

And people seem to love the sound of my upright in that one…

As always, thanks for reading.

Ardour 6.7 is out

The latest and greatest version 6.7 of Ardour, the open source DAW for Linux, Windows, and Mac is released. See the release notes, and download a readily compiled version for an amount of your own choice (starting at 1$). As a supporter I have it already. There are also a manual and a tutorial. That latter one is some years old already, but still useful if you’re new to recording multitrack audio with a computer.

Thanks to Paul Davis and to his team.

Always experimenting with audio

I wrote about buying both Reaper and Harrison Mixbus, but at the moment I’m back to plain old Ardour for my audio mixes – and I still keep changing things, like:

  • I changed from the version 5.12 which is the current version of Ardour in both Debian stable and also in KXStudio to 6.6 which will be the second last of the 6.x versions of Ardour (with the latest version being 6.7, soon to be released). This looks a bit like Mixbus which is based on Ardour 6.x, except the bells & whistles and the built-in eqs, compressors, and such.
  • I also changed from using lots of Calf tools to alternative ones which are making use of better (programmed) DSPs – those Calf plugins look nice, and are easy to understand, but sonically there are better ones I think.
  • In my latest remix I experimented with using 96kHz sampling rate while working, and used plain old CD quality 44.1kHz (and even the mp3 format which Ardour now can also write) for exports, except my single bass stems which I still exported as .wav files. This ‘oversampling’ is done more or less automatically by some better plugins, so I’ll go on working with 48kHz which is the norm for video and also the one used by many mobile devices (like phones).

Just in case you’re interested, at the moment I’m using:

Beside these, I’m also using:

Of course, I’m also still experimenting with Harrison Mixbus, but can’t do everything at once and for all projects – I still want to make music a bit as well… 😉

So much to learn, so little time… but I still love it when/if I approach better output quality along the way. One important thing to keep in mind is for instance gain staging – make very sure to not saturate your outputs too early, and to get your signal into the next plugin already too ‘hot’ for it to handle that signal… drive it hot at the output, not while still working 😉

As always, thanks for reading 🙂 And also thanks to those who donate their precious free time into developing awesome tools like the ones mentioned above, for free. Help them with a little donation if you can, they need the nice feedback like every other musician/technician as well…

Just an arc of thoughts…

… from a new and respected pianist, Bach, via Schubert, to being kind…

Yesterday – just by chance – I saw a few minutes of a music program in ARD Mediathek, and it’s also on Youtube. It’s about a young pianist called Víkingur Ólafsson who explains and plays Bach like no other, very impressive. Maybe I’ll put his CD onto my wish list… (and that link has an affiliate reference back to Wikiloops again).

Through the German Wikipedia page about him, linked above (English one is here), I learnt that he also has a Soundcloud account – and there I heard him together with Kristinn Sigmundsson perform “Gute Nacht” from Schubert’s “Winterreise”:

Schubert: Gute Nacht (Winterreise) Kristinn Sigmundsson + Víkingur Ólafsson

Very cool, and probably one of the most well-known musical pieces about unrequited love, just like in literature this would be Goethe’s “Werther”, or H.C. Andersen’s “Under the willow tree” (German *and* English versions are here).

This might all sound or read nicely from a warm home, but it all ends tragic, and there’s nothing romantic about winter, and/or freezing to death. So my thoughts went further on to those who don’t have a home, no matter the reasons.

And that made me think of “The Doctor” (Doctor Who, best played so far by Peter Capaldi in my opinion), and his imperative of “being kind”. It’s all the same story which fits this Christmas time which just went past with so many people thinking about their own problems and grief – please also think of the others. Share if you can, and/or at least be kind, that costs you nothing.

Oh my. This sounds like me preaching. But sometimes this is how I think, and how my thoughts jump from one thing to another, so please don’t be too harsh with me 🙂

Wishing you all a good time, and don’t forget to stay safe, and to take care. As always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: here’s a song which I just recommended to some of my colleagues. It’s from 2013, but in my opinion it also fits the time. Have to remember to tag it with “matteredToMe2020” in the ‘loops this evening:

Enjoy…

My second – and most probably last – Olympus camera died today

Two years ago, on November 11th, 2018 my first Olympus camera died. I wrote about that, and since my second (or “backup”) camera together with my best and most expensive lens (E-PL5 and M.Zuiko 75mm/1.8) got stolen in Paris short before that, I was without a camera for a while. To recap, here’s the last photo I took with my old 1st generation E-M10:

7e2_a211542-zuleikha-tuna-ooc
Zuleikha with Tuna the cat, 21st of October 2018, Mörfelden-Walldorf
the very last (and “out of camera”) picture taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 (Mk1) before it died

At least it was taken with another one of my favourite lenses, Mitchie’s wonderful Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7…

Today the weather was so nice, and I thought that I really should go out and catch some late October autumn colours as long as it lasts – even from my chair and through our veranda windows I could see green, yellow, and red leaves, so I decided to mount my Zuiko Macro 50mm/2 (from the old “Four Thirds” system) onto my E-M10 Mk2 and to take a walk with that combination. But when I tried to take a first picture of those exact leaves on our own veranda – my camera was dead. Same symptoms as the 1st gen camera had, I couldn’t “properly” turn it on (or off) anymore, and no battery or lens change could cure that – so again a system failure of the mainboard I suppose…

And the last picture taken with that camera was – the one of me with the upright bass, taken by Mitchie, which I had shown in my last blog article. Ok…

Now I still have that old and half mechanical SLR also from Olympus, the wonderful OM-2n – but for that I currently have only a black & white film laying around, so not exactly the right gear to take for autumn colours 😉 – and since I don’t have any other real camera, I was left with the iPhone which was given to me (and to all colleagues of mine) by our employers lately. Also a nice camera in that one, tho of course this isn’t a 100mm-comparable macro lens (100mm like on 24x36mm film). Still I wanted to walk, so I took this camera phone which doesn’t even belong to me…

… and here are some impressions from my walk, without further explanations:

just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk

Or maybe I should write a few words? It was a really nice day as you probably can see, and the sun and the people were smiling, and I was smiling back, almost like in Shi’s wonderful “Le maloya d’une enfant”, so if you want you could listen to that while viewing the rest of these photos, because that was in my head as well during that walk:

Now on with the iPhone photos:

just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk
just photos from a Sunday walk

As you can see, I did try to take some close-up photos of some leaves, but what you also can see is that a mobile phone with a focal length which compares to 28mm on film will never be a match for a 100mm-comparable macro lens, it doesn’t even have a remote chance against that…

But still, iPhone photos aren’t that bad, so thinking about what to do now, hmmm… of course I could (and probably should) have that camera sent back to Olympus for a possible repair job again and see what happens. But would/should I buy another one? Good question…

There were times when I wanted to be a portrait photographer, and I wasn’t that bad really, learned everything about light, how to pose people, and so on – but there was one thing lacking in my person and in myself which you can see in some if not most of the photos I took of people: I was missing some proper communication skills.

What I want to say is that it’s not enough to just admire beauty when you see it, and then smile at a beautiful person – you have to get her or him really comfortable, especially in front of a camera to get their real self as the saying goes. You have to have them forget that there’s someone pointing a camera at them, and maybe thinking about how they will look, all that. So when I for instance took photos of Mitchie, they were ok, beautifully lit, well posed maybe – but when Zuleikha took photos of her mum, she always had the better ones. Portrait photography is interaction between two people, and just pointing your camera on beauty isn’t enough.

What else? Oh, landscapes, yes, everyone including me loves landscapes. Or even nightly shots of the starry sky, with or without telescopes and all that stuff, right?

Well I’ve tried that as well – but now I can’t walk that good and that far anymore because of my atherosclerosis, and I never could stand the cold for too long, so I never got that precise sky tracking motorised system for the telescope, and never walked the alps with my camera so far (and believe me, if you can’t properly walk anymore but used to love it, then you just dream about walking the Camino de Santiago or the Via Francigena or for Muslims, the Hajj (and on that latter, cameras aren’t even allowed)).

So for that I also don’t really need a camera anymore, at least nothing I couldn’t also do with a phone camera. Plus taking portraits is really kind of difficult since the outbreak of covid-19, isn’t it?

So sitting on a bench at a bus stop today, I had some other song in my mind, again from Shi, but I haven’t played on that one so far. The song is still wonderful like most of what she does, and its title is “Low tides”, and the lines I had in my head were:

“… nothing lasts forever
only time still marches on”

Hear it here if you want to know what was in my head, thinking about photography, art, and myself:

Today my very first Wikiloops album ever is the “Album of the day” – and for the cover photo of that one I also used my first E-M10 camera, and the cutest “model” I had around (that one was taken with daylight through the veranda door by the way):

That album doesn’t have any contributions of my own, which is why I never included it into the list of “My albums”. But it contains really cool collaborations of others whom I wanted to promote and to celebrate a bit with that album, so here is the link to what I called “The cool cats from the loops – Hit singles” – hope you enjoy it as much as their music impressed me.

So while I’m still thinking, I’m without a camera again for the moment.

As always, thanks to my musician friends and to Richard from Wikiloops for the music (which is an important lifeline for me, much more so than photography) – and thanks to you for reading, viewing, listening, and/or even commenting.

Have a nice rest of your Sunday.

The Gimp has some incredible fonts

I was looking for some free kanji-like vector graphics to make an album cover with just using one Chinese character, namely 詩.

Copied one out of a Youtube video, but then I stopped and thought “hmmm, cannot do this, at least not without asking…” – so I asked.

To just have something to do I decided to make a template for Wikiloops album cover images (size 465×456) in The Gimp, and once inside that program I looked into the fonts, and bingo! – there was everything (and more) which I wanted and needed for my next project. Have a look:

The Chinese character 詩 which means ‘poetry’ and also ‘song’ in English, size 220px

Awesome, isn’t it? Who knew that I had all the vector graphics I needed! So I wrote another email to the friendly calligrapher on Youtube and told him/them that he/they could ignore my last message, but feel free to be invited to Wikiloops in case they also make music like we do… oh, and their character was in simplified Chinese, while this one here is traditional.

I’m happy. Best things in life are free…

And as always, thanks for reading.