Please vote for the Nik collection to be open sourced!

Through an article on Imaging Resource I’ve learnt that Google will no longer maintain or “to update the Collection or add new features over time” of their Nik collection – which is a bit sad because they’re still awesome, and loved by many photographers either as plugins for programs like Photoshop, or stand-alone.

I don’t have Photoshop and/or Lightroom- and don’t plan to buy it – but still I have the Nik collection for some special effects on a Windows partition on my hard drive, so through their help center and forum I found this post from Paul Breslin, who volunteered to maintain it further after his retirement, and for which I “voted” already. And I suggest that you’d do the same; open-sourcing it would be the ‘proper’ way of dropping official support for a product.

And Google may even do it – they’re in some way still the “good guys”, with their initiatives like “Summer of Code” and so on and so forth. So if you also like or (occasionally) use the fine Nik collection, I’d advise that you do the same. If you haven’t heard of the Nik collection but have a Mac or PC with Windows operating systems, I’d suggest to try it out – it’s one of the best “free” (as in “no cost”) software packages there is.

My main interest in this? Well I’m still using real free and open source software on my Debian Linux machine, but who knows, maybe one day the Nik collection could be real free as well – it’s all a question of licensing. And there could even be a port for Linux, which would make that even greater as an artist’s platform as it already is (doing music and recording with it as well). It’s just a vote away, so what is stopping you?

Thanks for reading and/or considering.

P.S.: see also my comments here and here.

Debian Stretch Announcement

The release date for Debian’s next version called “Stretch” was announced on the mailing list yesterday. Release date will be Saturday, June 17th, 2017 which is less than three weeks from now.

So if you have your repositories pointed to “stable”, you’ll get the upgrade automagically – if it’s “Jessie”, you’ll have to change that if you want the newer stable version. And Jessie will be oldstable from then on, as usual.

Cool. Looking forward to getting it.

Thanks to Paul Davis, and to others

Just listened to a very interesting talk of about an hour or so from Paul Davis, (co-) founder and inventor of programs like Jack and Ardour.

Found the report and the video on the Libre Music Production site, here. The video is also available on Youtube, and Paul’s keynote speech starts at about 2:22:32 into the video below:

So thanks for everyone involved, and to Paul again for the tools he’s working on since so many years. And thanks also for pointing me to such interesting and exciting things like Faust, or the Sonic Visualizer (parts of which you might have seen in Ardour as well).

What makes this talk so interesting is also that you see this presentation of about an hour to understand the state of audio on all systems, not just Linux.

Oh, and thanks also for letting us know that even products like a Behringer X32 console are plug & play not only on a Mac with its Core Audio, but on Linux as well. Long live class-compliance!

Merçi encore to the Université as well.

Enjoy…

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.