I had a short look at…

Manjaro Linux, and also Pianoteq.

In the LinuxMusicians forum there was a thread about Manjaro lately, so I thought why not try it? Manjaro, for those who don’t know it, is based on Arch Linux and as such has a “rolling release” strategy instead of publishing more or less fixed versions and updates. This means that your software will always be fresh and up to date, a bit like if you would use the Debian unstable repository aka “Sid”.

Manjaro also uses XFCE as their default desktop environment, so I wanted to see its status as well – and as I’ve learnt from the forum post mentioned above it also comes with packages for almost everything including trial versions of Pianoteq, Reaper, and Bitwig. I have tried Reaper on Windows already (and really, it looks very similar on Linux), not so much interested in Bitwig (tho I did have a short look), but Pianoteq was of interest to me, and after trying their standard version first, I also had a look at the lesser (and with 99$/€ cheaper) “Stage” variant of the software. Looks like this on a standard Manjaro (in a VirtualBox VM):

Pianoteq “Stage” on Manjaro Linux

Of course I could only dream of having realtime, being in a VM, but for a first look it was good enough – and those piano models really sound wonderful. I’d really like to hear some of Zuleikha’s tracks with these sounds, so I could compare them with the (also commercial) Addictive Keys xln audio “Studio Grand”, and with the free “Salamander Grand” which is a nicely sampled Yamaha C5. Maybe I’ll come back to that at a later point, let’s see.

As for Manjaro, yes it looks and performs good, so for anyone who wants to try something new and fresh, go and give it a try. I don’t really need it because Debian already provides everything I need (ok, together with the KXStudio repositories for music-related stuff), but in case you’re interested, why not? From what I saw I liked it.

As always, thanks for reading.

How to use free instruments in free software

Just a small example here:

I had integrated the XLN Audio Addictive Keys (windows version) “Studio Grand” piano into Ardour on Linux – but Windows VSTs (virtual instruments) on Linux need something like Wine, and are more resource-hungry than they’d need to be. Meaning that yes, I can play nice sounds from that awesome Steinberg D grand piano somewhere in Sweden, but the cost is that I’ll get lots of xruns (basically buffer overflows) in my software if I need more than one of these tracks.

The solution? Free samples of course – and yes, they exist like free software does exist. So I just set up my latest key presses (on my 49-key MIDI keyboard) to use the free “Salamander” grand piano which is a nicely sampled Yamaha C5.

And there’s an article on LibreMusicProduction on how to do just that, using Ardour, LinuxSampler, QSampler plus whichever soundfonts you’d need.

Maybe I’ll still buy PianoTeq for Zuleikha one day – first, the basic stuff isn’t that expensive, second, it’s a modeled piano, not a resource-hungry sampled one, and third, it even comes in a version for Linux. And this alone should be honoured. It also should sound much better than Zuleikha’s Yamaha Arius piano which she uses to record stuff (that one has a MIDI out of course).

So – let’s make some music… 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Three good articles from SJVN

I read (and I’m even a member of) LXer – a news aggregation site for anything Linux and open source. And while we’re linking to other media there, over the years one name is standing out because of his continuing work for the same old media company, and his good and thoughtful articles about Linux and other open source software and hardware. That name is Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, and he writes for ZD Net (yes, they still exist).

Let me cite the man in his latest article MS-Linux? Lindows? Could Microsoft release a desktop Linux? which I read today, after again finding it through LXer:

I used to say that Microsoft would release a Microsoft desktop Linux — MS-Linux or Lindows — when pigs fly. Lately, though, I’ve been hearing oinking from the sky.

SVJN in the ZD Net article linked above

It’s interesting as always to read the man – and here are two other notable articles of his which I read lately:

Edge goes Chromium, and open source wins the browser wars

and

Dell XPS 13: The best Linux laptop of 2018

Enjoy, if you’re interested in stories like these.

Edit: If you already have Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise on your machine and want to try and get your feet wet testing Linux, here’s an article of Steven’s colleague Ed Bott on that topic:

Windows 10 tip: Run Ubuntu Linux in an enhanced Hyper-V session

Enjoy.

After careful consideration

After careful consideration of various options (which also included doing nothing, or investing heavily in updating the code), we’ve decided to go ahead and remove builtin feed support from Firefox. This metabug covers both the removal and creating public documentation for users (e.g. on support.mozilla.org ) of alternatives.

After careful consideration of various options, we’ve decided to go ahead and cease using Firefox as soon as this most useful feature is removed.

A sad day.

See also here and here (in German), as answers to this (also in German).

Update from Saturday, July 28th, 2018:

I’ve read about alternative browsers, and found several. Some which sound interesting are simply clones/forks of Mozilla’s Firefox at different stages, like Waterfox, Pale Moon, or Basilisk.

For the moment tho I think I’ll go with Chromium – the free alternative to Google’s Chrome browser – together with the ‘Foxish’ (and of course the uBlock Origin) add-ons. ‘Foxish’ works almost as nicely as Mozilla’s ‘Live Bookmarks’, as you can see here:

So I’ll let you know how that works for me. Goodbye Firefox – we’ve had a good time, sad to see you drifting into insignificancy.

Second update, also from Saturday July 28th, 2018:

Hm. Chromium doesn’t play those Wikiloops songs, something I wouldn’t have expected (but, thinking of it, on my colleague Arno’s Chrome browser it’s the same). Of course this renders Chromium unusable for me in an instant. Imagine I couldn’t hear something like this, from my (virtual) friend and one of the greatest bass players ever, Jussef from Mexico:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

Thanks for listening, and for reading.

Third update from Saturday, July 28th, 2018:

Hm. Wikiloops (and its jplayer which plays music) does work with my Version 65.0.3325.181 (Official Build) (64-bit) of Google’s Chrome browser, so it must be something with Chromium. So let’s try Chrome again…

Thanks for reading.

Not tested with Linux? Then I won’t buy it.

That headline is basically what I wrote as a comment on someone’s (very nice, thank you!) Youtube video. Background: Mitchie is looking for a replacement for her notebook. And some sites (like the very good golem.de) even test new hardware with Linux – leaving me once more with the impression that some vendors (like Lenovo for instance) don’t even test their machines with Linux, while others (like Dell for instance) do very much to being able to offer some of their machines with a Linux distribution instead of the usual Windows “tax”.

Which means for me: if we want to run Linux, and the vendors don’t care, then I/we won’t care for them as well – they certainly have more time, money, and resources for such tests than I would/could do.

So no Lenovo, no HP, Asus or whatever nice machines might be around. There are others who simply care more about the rest of us, thank you very much. Time for us to be more consequent, and to vote with our wallets – supporting those who actually care about us.

End of today’s rant.

An awesome example of dedication

Listen to Glen McArthur, farmer, and maintainer of AVLinux, and maker of the AVL Drumkits (his and his son’s):

Oh, and hear Glen and his son Connor singing and playing as well:

Good stuff and people. I always say thanks when virtually meeting him in the LinuxMusicians Forum.

The risk

Devin’s take onto Arno’s original “Under the wind of the cold night” template, on which Thierry and me had played before as “Ton parfum“:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

I decided that my bass from “Ton parfum” still fitted nicely into this one, so I simply added it again. That makes the list of musicians for this one as:

And since some people had commented onto “Ton parfum” because of my bass tone, here’s some short technical info in case you want to get a nice, mellow, and full tone like that. The technique I used for this is called “serial compression”, and what it means is that you simply add two compressors in a row, and play around with their settings. In my case, with the Calf compressor, it looked like this:

You see that both have a ratio of about 1:4 which is good for bass (tho normally I use less, like 1:3 or so). And while the first one does the heavy lifting with that additional +6dB boost, the second one still smoothes out things a bit. It’s not a technique you could use on every track (normally I use just one compressor with a 1:3 ratio or thereabouts), but here it fitted quite nicely.

On the Ardour channel strip on the left, you see that both instances of the Calf compressor are used pre fader. There’s also the GxSVT amp/cabinet simulation plugin from the Guitarix project, but that one is turned off here. Plus there’s a Calf limiter post fader, set to cut everything at -0.5dB just in case.

And that’s pretty much all there is to say about the tone. My Squier VM Precision Fretless Bass with its stock roundwound Fender strings was directly plugged into the Focusrite 6i6 2nd gen interface, and everything else was free software (Debian GNU/Linux with additional KXStudio repositories, Ardour, Calf Plugins). A cheap but effective setup as you can hear.

Thanks for listening, and for reading.

Update, from next morning (at least, morning here in Europe):

Perfect add from Mark – I suggested using some brushes, and he delivered like a pro:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

That makes the new list of musicians:

Thanks everyone for making this so wonderful!

Update from Sunday evening (CEST):

On top of Mark’s brushed drumkit, Tof from France added his beautiful guitar. Listen:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

List of musicians:

Thanks for listening.

Funky Duck, GxQuack, and Dr. Duck

I saw this “Funky Duck” title in Wikiloops, and of course I was reminded of the same title used by Vulfpeck. But the original upload from DaFunkyDrummer, and the added bass from Woodstock had nothing to do with that.

Lots of space for other musicians in this one, I thought, and because I liked the groove and what was there very much already, I decided to download and to play around with it for a bit.

In the end, I used effects from Guitarix in a Carla Rack host in my Ardour DAW, namely the plugins/pedals GxQuack, and GxHyperion. Looks like this on my screen:

GxQuack_GxHyperion

And that sounds like this (the higher-pitched, and more distorted second bass is mine):

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

Musicians:

And I got remixed already, by Pit Brett who added his guitar and harp in just one upload. Thanks Pit! Now this – his – version sounds like this:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

Musicians:

Very nice. There was another download already, so I’m eager to see what will probably be coming. My suggestion was some kind of “bass fest” (there is a very good one already in the loops). Let’s wait and see. Or hear. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and for listening.

Warren Huart about mixing

Another set of ten useful quick tips from Warren Huart:

Of course you don’t really need all of his plugins, or his Mac and ProTools setup – Ardour and some free tools will do as nicely. Like he says, use these tools wisely and sparingly (a dB or two can make a big difference) – and create your own signature sound.

Recommended viewing for music/video and other content producers.

An interview with Paul Davis

Almost a year ago, I reported about the keynote speech of the Linux Audio Conference 2017 at the Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne (UJM). That one was given by Paul Davis of Jack and Ardour fame, and very interesting not only for Linux Audio users. It’s still online if you want to see it.

Effects on Shi's vocals

Ardour, and some of the Calf Plugins (which are available on Linux only), running on my computer, to work on vocals of a great singer who’s on Wikiloops)

Now, as I found via the Ardour site (and via the Linuxaudio Planet first to be correct), there’s an interview (from January 2018) with him again, by Darwin Grosse of Cycling 74, at the Art + Music + Technology site.

Find the 1 hour podcast and interview with Paul there.

It’s always interesting to listen to people like Paul, and this time you’ll learn a bit more about his personal history, how he got into music making with computers and Linux, and also about the close relationship between Ardour and its commercial sibling, Harrison Mixbus. Another thing I didn’t know so far was that the founder of Ableton was also heavily involved in Ardour at some point.

Paul also talks about the differences of linear workflow tools like Ardour, ProTools, and Cubase (just to name a few), and newer products for a more groove oriented workflow, like Ableton Live, Bitwig, or Fruity Loops (again, to name only a few).

Especially interesting for beginners, or for people who might play with the idea of switching over from Macs and Windows-based machines to Linux Audio are his two advices, like:

1. if you have already a workflow, and that is based off of plugins which might exist for Windows and/or Macs only, best forget about it, and

2. if you’re still interested and just don’t know where to start, try AVLinux.

(to which I might add that yes, AVLinux has the best of all available documentations about it all that I personally know of, but there are others which do more or less the same, like KXStudio, or even Ubuntu Studio (Zuleikha is using the latter on an older laptop, and all of them can be downloaded as Live images to put them onto a bootable USB Stick). The repositories of KXStudio are probably the way to go if you happen to run Debian Linux already, like I do.)

So in case you’re interested, go and have a listen. I always learn a lot from just listening to guys like Paul. And we owe them a lot.

So this is recommended listening for musicians, and even for video producers, or film music composers.

As always, thanks for reading.