A rhythm group setup for Ardour

Just made this template:

Ardour channels for drums, bass, and piano

It shows a nicely integrated Black Pearl drumkit from Glen McArthur in its multichannel version, a track for my bass and another one for effects in case I need them, and another one for Alexander Holm’s nicely sampled “Salamander Grand” which is his Yamaha C-5 grand piano miked with two AKG microphones, sampled in thirds with 16 different velocity levels (needs almost 2GB of RAM when extracted). One last channel is for Reverb, so I can route all channels to the same ambient if needed.

So yeah, this could be used for a one-man rhythm section. Or of course for a real band if you have one. Needs soloists and/or vocalists etc. on top to make it complete (in case you want more than a Jazz trio or something like it, think Dave Brubeck for example 🙂 ). Or you could throw in some electronica and make music for computer games; whatever…

As always, thanks for reading.

The Gentle Rain (featuring Ali Campbell)

Here’s Don, Ali, and me:

Ali isn’t on Wikiloops as far as I know, so it doesn’t make much sense to show the list of musicians with just Don and me.

Oh, and this is of course not my normal fretless bass, it’s the Karoryfer “Meatbass” which is a great free sample library of a 1958 Otto Rubner double (or contra) bass:

So thanks to Karoryfer and to Ludwik for the nicely sampled instrument as well. You guys rock!

As always, thanks for reading, and for listening.

A new mini keyboard for me, and my first contact with it

Got this one on Monday:

7e3_9031526-keyboard
Keyboard, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

And I used it together with a free synthesizer in Ardour to record this:

This has several remixes already (three alone this morning), and for one of these remixes I used another free virtual instrument, and I also borrowed this from Zuleikha:

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Zuleikha’s Ukulele, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

This is Zuleikha’s Ortega “ruocean-ce” ukulele which was one of her birthday presents for her 14th last year. As you can probably see in the photo (or read in its product description), it has an in-built tuner, so it also has a piezo pickup and a preamp built in – and so you can plug it in directly into an interface like I do it with my bass guitar as well. For the recording I used this, and I also used my Røde NT-1A microphone to get my fingering noises on its strings (and the foot-patting, couldn’t really filter all of it out).

Not that easy to change from a bass to that g’-c’-e’-a’ tuning of the little thing… 🙂 But for the few chords (and a simple Reggae rhythm) which I used here I think I figured it out…

The three remixes from this morning were all on top of that recorded piano/ukulele one, see the ‘loops if you want to hear these.

And as always, thanks for reading, and also for listening.

RawTherapee 5.5 is awesome

I’m currently taking some pictures twice, once on film (as I wrote in an earlier blog post, I’m back to film), and for comparison reasons I take some of them digitally as well.

Plus I’m currently checking out the new RawTherapee version 5.5 which I got with upgrading my Debian OS from version 9 (“Stretch”) to the current stable version 10 (“Buster”). And that new version of RawTherapee is again better than its predecessor, I especially like the auto-generated tone curves (which take settings from the embedded jpg in the raw file, pretty much looks like Olympus colours now), and I also like some of the film simulations like Kodak Portra 160VC for colour, or 400TX (“Tri-X”) for black & white.

So here’s one of those images I took twice, and I called this one “Evening Light”:

Evening Light, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
Evening Light, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Just the low setting sun shining through the half open shades onto our dining table. I will show the result on real film (Kodak Gold 200) as soon as I’ll have it.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

A cute little backup disk, and reinstalling grub-efi

At work I requested a new portable drive to which I can backup my notebook’s files – backups are always a good idea. After looking up the available models I opted for a small 500GB SSD from Korean maker (and market leader) Samsung, the T5. And it’s tiny as you can see:

Samsung T5 SSD, image is from their website

And yesterday I installed Debian 10 “Buster” onto it, making use of encryption – I changed that again today since my notebook refused to even “see” it as a vaild and connected USB device, so I reformatted it at work and also made my first backup.

This installing of Debian at my home machine had consequences tho – I somehow managed (like with the latest Windows 10 update as well) to corrupt my grub-efi boot sector so that I was able to still boot into Windows, but not into Linux, my main work system (I keep Windows only for the Olympus and some free (giveaway) music programs, but almost never use these).

So in case you should end up with that

grub>

boot sector message instead of a menu with options to boot one day, here’s what you can do.

First, don’t panic! Your system isn’t severely damaged, and everything can be repaired quite easily. If you want to make sure that everything is still where it belongs, try this:

grub> ls

will give you a list of hard drives and partitions, depending on what is installed in your system. In mine, I have two physical hard drives, the first one with several partitions (like EFI, Windows, Linux, and so on), the second and much bigger one is only for my /home directory. So these are easy to identify. I also know that my Linux system is on partition 6 (in the following, the variable ‘y’ represents it) of hard disk 1 (in the following, the variable ‘x’ stands for that one). So type in the following lines, setting the disk number instead of ‘x’ and the partition number instead of ‘y’:

grub> set root=(hdx,y)
grub> set prefix=(hdx,y)/boot/grub
grub> insmod normal
grub> normal

At this point, you should see something like your normal grub menu from which you can start your system.

Once in it, you can’t repair it from here tho – you need to start it another way to do that, using your installation media (in my case, this was a USB stick) which itself is EFI-formatted, and using a GPT instead of the old legacy MBR boot sector. So don’t throw away that CD or DVD after installation, or make a new USB startup disk with Debian Live on it. You might have to press some keys during startup to get your BIOS to boot from that one, make sure to use it in GPT (EFI) boot mode.

Once that image is up, the by far best and easiest description I have found to go on is the one on askubuntu.com. You may need some program (they mention gparted which isn’t available on a Debian Live image, but another program called ‘disks’ is) to again identify your partitions and device identifiers, which they describe with ‘x’es in the following.

The highest rated of the current 7 answers (with 48 votes as I write this) is the one which works flawlessly. Here it is:

Reinstall the GRUB boot loader to your Ubuntu installation in EFI mode this way …
Boot from the Ubuntu installation medium and select ‘Try Ubuntu without installing’.
(Boot your install medium in EFI mode, select the Ubuntu entry with UEFI in front.)
Once you are on the Live desktop, open a terminal and execute these commands :

sudo mount /dev/sdXXX /mnt
sudo mount /dev/sdXX /mnt/boot/efi
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
sudo chroot /mnt
grub-install /dev/sdX
update-grub

Note : sdX = disk | sdXX = efi partition | sdXXX = system partition
To identify the partitions use GParted, the tool is included in the installation medium.
After having run the commands GRUB will be installed in the separate EFI partition.

And that should be it – this solution from user ‘cl-netbox‘ works as described. So should you ever need this, please go and thank him (or her) instead of me.

So I’m typing this from my repaired system. Life is great.

As always, thanks for reading.

Two alternative versions of Joeun’s portrait

I showed you that portrait photo of a young woman already which I took in front of the British Museum. And I’ve made that one with my usual workflow which was/is to first convert the raw .orf file with Olympus Viewer 3 in Windows, and then to tag and add Exif data and other small adjustments with RawTherapee on Linux. All well and good, practised and tested on thousands of my images.

But with new software versions come new tests, and so I found that by now, and for me, Darktable also has its merits. It’s especially great for rotating, adding frames, and even adding GPS data with simply dropping the photos onto an OpenStreetMap.

I also wanted to see the photo in black & white.

So after another conversion from .orf to .tif, this time with the newer Olympus Workspace (the successor of the former Olympus Viewer 3), I first loaded the resulting .tif into Silver Efex Pro 2 – and decided that for a portrait of a young woman the standard conversion method might be the best option. I then did the same with Olympus Workspace (same as if it would have been done in-camera) to compare both outputs.

And they were pretty much the same, really. Same file sizes, no real differences between these two. So I took the one made with Olympus Workspace (again, same as in-camera), and used RawTherapee 5.5 with my stored midtone procedure which shifts the midtones (not the blacks or the whites) from a neutral grey to a more brownish tone (which I „stole“ from a photo of a horse by Laura Wilson Cunningham (Owen Wilson’s mum who is a really great photographer)). Then I straightened the picture about -4.25 degrees and added 3.5% of a border (using one of the colour tones from within the image) with Darktable 2.6.0 – all on my Debian 10 “Buster” operating system which is out since Saturday, July 6th, 2019.

For a colour version, the process was more or less the same, minus the black and white conversion in Olympus Workspace, and minus the midtoning with RawTherapee of course. But the straightening, framing, and adding of GPS data was more or less the same.

Then I uploaded both versions to Flickr so that I can show them here without using too much space on our own server, and added them to some folders and groups in Flickr. And here they are:

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Portrait of Joeun Lee, London 2019

and the colour version:

7e3_7101262-joeun-lee-ow-dt
Portrait of Joeun Lee, London 2019

I like them both. Even without the framing, the aditional controls for rotating, or that GPS data functionality are very nice features to have. Other things are a bit more complicated in Darktable when compared to RawTherapee, but then again I’m just doing my first baby-steps here with this program after ignoring it for a long time…

Anyway, it’s nice to have some great tools, and it’s even nicer when they’re free.

And again and like always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

Debian Live Buster

So the Debian developers upgraded each and every image from ‘testing’ to ‘stable’ by now, or from ‘Stretch’ to ‘Buster’ to stay with their names. I tried the method of writing such a Debian Live image to my USB stick like mentioned in https://www.debian.org/CD/faq/#write-usb – and it worked. Booted it and selected localization support, and boom – I have German:

In fact I am writing this from Debian Live right now, and so the first thing I learned is that the keyboard is still English. Or American. But a quick and simple reconfiguration – without logoff or anything – changed that:

It even has a very cool picture of the keyboard:

So you could work like this if it has to be (like on a machine borrowed from someone else). Very good job, in fact this is excellence again. Learning new things each minute I’m spending with this. And of course you can still access your local drive(s) if you have any, or install Debian from within this Live image – very cool.

Ok, more about this later…

Welcome Buster

First I didn’t want to do it right away, but then I decided to just upgrade my machine to Debian 10 aka “Buster” (named after a character in Toy Story as always) today. So welcome Buster:

Buster artwork

For those of you who maybe have never done anything like this, you should probably read the chapter about upgrading in its handbook. For me, expecting nothing but excellence from my favourite free software team, I just updated my /etc/apt/sources.list, followed by a ‘sudo apt update’ and ‘sudo apt upgrade’ – and that was it.

Now I have to check what has changed. Of course Gnome and about every other software package is different from before, and of course Wayland looks and feels a bit different from X.Org – but time will tell.

So a big thank you goes to the Debian developers!

/etc/fstab

Over at home I’m slowly running into disk space problems – our machines all have 2TB drives for our /home directories, the NAS has two mirrored ones. And for me doing lots of photography since 2009, and music since about two years, and now videos of others making music, I was slowly approaching limits (I have about 1.6TB occupied).

So I checked prices, and SSDs are still a bit too expensive in these sizes – I have a 256GB SSD for the operating systems (Debian Linux and Windows 10), but as a replacement for my 2TB Seagate Barracuda I ordered a 4TB WD Red hard drive which is in the Top Ten of the most searched drives on Geizhals, and which is affordable (got mine for under 100€ including shipping), and according to the guys over at Heise, also nice and cool and silent enough to be built into a typical desktop PC.

It arrived yesterday, so I already formatted it with GPT (instead of MBR which is legacy and which can’t address more than 2TB), and during the night I copied everything from my Barracuda to the new Red drive (a simple one-liner under Linux, easy and reliable as always).

What still has to be done is to mount this as the new /home so that I can take out the old 2TB drive. And there’s a nice article about how to do this with a simple change of entries in the /etc/fstab file over at Linuxconfig.org, just in case you never thought about this. Easy as everything on Linux, let’s see what Windows will think about this new drive 😉

On another note, this upcoming Saturday is the planned release day for the next version of Debian Linux, which will have the name “Buster”. Release parties are planned all over the world already, but I’ll only have a short look and install it on my USB drive first – upcoming holidays, so further changes to my machine(s) have to wait until we’ll be back from a short vacation.

As always, thanks for reading. And if you want more tips like this one with the change of /etc/fstab, consider bookmarking of LXer.com where I find articles like the one mentioned above all of the time. Oh, and in the sense of a full disclosure: I’m still a member of the team over there…

As always, thanks for reading.

Adios Axelito – Alumni Big Band der Prälat Diehl Schule Groß-Gerau

As I wrote during the last days already, I’ve had the pleasure and the honour to be invited to document a three day rehearsal plus one day of concert of different bands and classes of Zuleikha’s high school, so from last Thursday to Sunday I went to Landesmusikakademie Hessen with them.

I took photos and videos using three cameras plus a portable 4 track audio recorder, and collected some 100GB of data – all of which now has to be edited, cut, and so on. And starting from today these photos and videos are to be presented to the participants and of course to their parents and families.

Here’s a first one – a song by German composer / arranger /conductor / band leader Kurt Klose, called “Adios Axelito”:

Adios Axelito – Alumni Big Band der Prälat Diehl Schule Groß-Gerau

My videos and photos aren’t perfect – but what is? I hope you’ll see that we all have had some fun during last week. And now we have something nice to remember 🙂

You can hear these artists again today at their (former, for some) school. Entrance is free.

Thanks for reading / watching / listening.