Posted on November 5, 2018
Posted on October 20, 2018
Ever wonder how to capture samples from your favorite synth then use them in your DAW? In this video I show you how to capture the samples in Audaciy then work with them in Traction, Milkytracker, and LMMS. There’s many ways to do this, but the way I like to do it is by recording the C notes on the keyboard, then using zones in my software sampler to assign them to the correct notes. I used a Behringer UCA202 and adapter listed below in the video.
Posted on October 16, 2018
Cherry Music is an amazing streaming music server that runs 100% in HTML5 and is written in Python! Having been written in Python means it will run in just about anything. I even got it up and running on a Mac Mini running Tiger (not Linux). You could easily run it on a Raspberry Pi, or anything that is able to run Python and it should work.
It’s incredibly easy to get going and once you set it up, all you need to do is connect with any web browser, even a mobile browser and stream your library! You can create multiple users, custom playlists, shuffle mode, random playlist creation, share playlists with friends, and it’s super easy to use!
Posted on October 9, 2018
Here’s a new song I worked out on my iBook G4 running Milkytracker on Lubuntu 16.04. See how to get Lubuntu running on an iBook here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyuZh… I’ve been having a lot of fun with Milkytracker on here, and with this computer in general. One of the things I had to do though is actually map an “insert” key to the Apple keyboard to be able to add rows in Milkytracker. To learn how to do that, see this post.
Thanks for watching once again!
Posted on October 4, 2018
Some people like using hardware synths some people like using software synths. With hardware synths you have great sounds, but they’re big and not always easy to deal with. With software synths, you almost have too many options, and some say the sound quality isn’t as good (though I don’t really believe this).
If you have a hardware synth and have some patches on there you wish you had in a plugin, it’s really not so hard to make one yourself by recording some samples, then putting them together in a soundfont or into a sampler plugin such as Tracktion’s Multisampler, or Rui Nuno Capela’s samplv1.
I love my synths, I have several. I also love old Casiotone and Concertmate keyboards. I’ve created sample sets and sound fonts from my synths, keyboards, as well as my actual drum set. If you look to the .sf2 lib page on this website, you’ll find many soundfonts I’ve made using this very technique. The easiest software for creating samples in my opinion is the outstanding Audacity.
First make sure you have Audacity installed with: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install audacity (if you’re on a debian based distro). Then you need to figure out how you’re going to plug your synth into the computer. The best idea is the have a clean sounding interface. A USB audio device is usually the best option for this. I usually use a Behringer UCA202. This is a very simple audio interface that has two stereo RCA ins and outs, as well as an optical output. It has great Linux support, is affordable, and is amazingly reliable and has superb sound quality.
Once you have your audio interface hooked up, plug in your synth and get a level in Audacity to make sure you’re not going over the limit. Now depending on what you’re going to use the samples in will determine what you need to actually record. If you’re using a very simple sampler like samplv1 (mentioned above) there are no zones and this makes it very easy. All you need to do is record a middle C on the keyboard, but if you’re recording a bass synth you might be better off recording a low C, and if you’re doing a lead that will be playing in a higher register, then it might be better to record a higher C.
If you plan on using zones (if you’re making a soundfont, or using Multisampler) then you’ll most likely want to record the full range of C notes on the keyboard. Or you can do this anyway even if you’re using samplv1 and simply load the C that is most appropriate to your part. You can just press record on Audacity and record them all into the same session. We’ll be editing and exporting them later on.
If it is a sound that sustains indefinitely until you let off the key, there’s no need to record it for more than a few seconds. As long as you record long enough to setup loop points later on. You’ll be doing that in whatever sampler you’re using, not here in Audacity.
Once you have all of the notes/sounds recorded in Audacity that you want to turn into samples, first save your file then highlight the first sample you want to export. Make sure you zoom in far enough to highlight exactly where the sample starts and you don’t accidentally highlight any silence before the sound.
Once you have the part of the wave you are going to make into a sample, it’s a good idea to normalize it. So go to the Effect menu and select normalize. Once you have the selection normalized, go ahead and export the sample by going to file/export/export selected (shown below)
It’s a good idea to export as a wav file and save these in a well thought out folder structure for ease of use later on.
That’s pretty much it! I’ll do a video tutorial of this technique later on and add it to this post.
You may have seen my video where I installed Lubuntu 16.04LTS on an iBook G4 from 2005. I got the computer running great and in fact I am creating this post on it right now. One of the programs I like to use to make music is Milkytracker. I also recently posted a video of a song I made on Milkytracker on this very iBook.
However, there was something that will make working with Milkytracker on an old iBook (or even a Macbook) very difficult. That is that Mac keyboards do not have insert keys. The insert key is an essential function in Milkytracker, since it is what adds rows in the pattern editor. Without this function it’s nearly impossible to make anything worthwhile in a tracker.
So what was I to do? Old versions of Milkytracker actually gave you the option to define a way to simulate this key with another key in the settings, but for some reason this feature was removed in recent builds of Milkytracker. On Mac OS, you can easily simulate the insert key with ‘control+return’, but this keyboard shortcut doesn’t work if you’re running Linux on a mac.
However, iBooks have a second ‘enter’ key next to the right ‘apple’ key on the keyboard. I thought surely there was a way to remap that key to the ‘insert’ command. I first searched for key remapping GUIs with really no luck. I googled it for almost a whole day until I found a simple solution. I figured it out by looking at these two posts.
What it boils down to is first you need to figure out what the keycode of the key you want to turn into your new Insert key by using the program, xev. First install xev if you don’t have it, and then run it from the terminal.
See the part that says “keycode 104”? That’s my keycode for the enter key next to the right apple key. Now all I have to do is map the insert command to that keycode. This is very simple, just open terminal and type “xmodmap -e “keycode 104 = Insert Insert” &”. Now open Milkytracker and test it! You could also make this permanent by creating a custom keymap. But I didn’t want to do all that and found an easier way to map the key only when I open Milkytracker. I just wrote a simple bash script to do that for me. First open a text editor (nano, leafpad, or gedit, or whatever you like) and put in the following code:
xmodmap -e “keycode 104 = Insert Insert” &
Now save the file as something like iMilkytracker.sh. After you saved and closed the file make it executable by typing:
sudo chmod +x iMilkytracker.sh
Now you can just open Milkytracker using the command ./iMilkytracker. This will create the new keyboard mapping then open Milkytracker in one move. You are now free to insert rows in Milkytracker!
I’ve been recently checking out Tacktion’s Waveform 9 for Linux, and I am incredibly impressed. Waveform 9 is a complete audio/midi workstation that runs natively on Linux and is without a doubt one of the nicest ones available for Linux.
In this video I walk you through the basics of setting up Waveform, as well as how to create new audio and midi tracks and the basic features of the program. I really look forward to making more music with this amazing software!
I’m a big fan of Lightweight Window Managers for Linux, my personal favorite is still IceWM, but I just so happened to install xmonad on my iBook just to experiment with some other lightweight WMs, but when I logged in, I got a black screen and a pointer with nothing else. No common keyboard shortcuts seemed to do anything either. If I had found this video before (or read the website) things would have been much easier.
xmonad is heavily dependent upon keyboard shortcuts rather than being mouse driven. This can be good or bad depending on how you like to do things. Either way it seems very interesting. The great thing about minimal WMs, is when you are working with resource intensive programs (especially on older or slower computers), you’re not wasting computing power on the WM.
If you like experimenting with Window Managers, give xmonad a try! But watch this video and read the manual first! Check it out at https://xmonad.org/
Posted on September 27, 2018
Mixxx is pretty nifty DJ software that runs great on Linux. It allows you to use multiple soundcard outputs, supports jack, auto DJ, beat matching and all kinds of cool goodies. It’s definitely worth playing around with even if you aren’t a DJ. If you are actually a DJ, Mixxx holds up well to some of the top commercial DJ apps on the market!
Definitely give it a go!
Posted on September 25, 2018
Rui Nun Capela’s legendary Jack Audio Connection Kit management software, Qjackctl is finally getting a major overhaul and upgrade. Qjackctl is probably the single most important element to my music production workflow, and I must say I am incredibly excited about this news!
Rui is no stranger to making great apps for Linux. He is also the creator of the amazing Qtractor DAW for Linux, which is listed by countless as their favorite DAW for Linux.
Here’s what’s new in Qjackctl 0.5.4:
- Graph port-type colors are now configurable (cf. menu View > Colors…).
- Make Graph nodes (ie. client boxes) transparent for yet some eye-candiness ;). Also keep the (Graph) current selection across port (dis)connections.
- Drawing patchbay connector lines as (bezier) curves is now a difinitive and fixed feature (as long as no moreremains from the so called “Cambric explosion era” are still lurking in there).
- AppStream metadata updated to be the most compliant with latest freedesktop.org specification and recommendation.
- Graph auto-layout improvement for brand new node clients.
- Avoid showing setup warning when no server settings have changed.
- Fixed JACK D-Bus settings for MIDI driver parameter.
I’ll be checking this out in more depth this weekend and most likely be making a video on it.