Saturday, June 14, 2014

Music and Media Production on Linux

I have spent the last couple months using Ubuntu, and other Linux variants to produce music and video.  I don't have a deep understanding of music, especially electronic music, so feel free to point out anything you see wrong with my review.  As for video I did some video editing in high school and some in college as well.  Both music and video production have a strength on Linux, especially if you want to use free software that isn't pirated.

I am against piracy and believe that in overwhelmingly most cases all the source code of a program should be open source, but any support from a company or individual toward Linux or any other open source community should be welcomed.  For example I believe that Valve Software is doing good by bringing their proprietary software and games to Linux because they are contributing value and helping the community grow.  Especially since they are encouraging others to do the same.

Staying on topic I will start with audio and music.  I tried getting into music software on Linux before and failed just because I didn't know how important it was to know JACK, its tools, and the value of having it all set up properly for me.  I started with plain old Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and the Ardour user manual for version 3.5.  I recommend you don't set up JACK + Ardour under Vanilla (plain) Ubuntu.  Instead if you have Vanilla Ubuntu already installed, just use Synaptic  Package Manager to install the ubuntustudio package because when you login to UbuntuStudio all the security permissions are changed for you to use JACK and its tools with no additional set up, at least that is how it was on all of my machines.  I also recommend using AVLinux in place of Ubuntu or Ubuntustudio if you know all you want to do with that computer is make music because AVLinux has a lot of great tools compiled and installed for you like the Sorcer LV2 plugin that is good for making Dubstep music.  There are many other synth plugins that at the time of this writing arn't in Ubuntu repositories but do come with AVLinux.  AVLinux even has some commercial software and demos.

The basic process for starting your DAW(s) (Digital Audio Workstation) go like this.
  1. Open QjackCtl and press start to start JACK
  2. Open Patchage so you can see and control how JACK is routing audio to and from your software and devices, I keep this open always.
  3. Open Ardour or the DAW(s) of your choice to compose and record your music.  
  4. Use Patchage while opening or adding other software or devices to plugin that you need where.  
DAWS that I used include LMMS, Muse, Rosegarden, Ardour.  Muse and Rosegarden let you write with both notation and piano roller.  Notation can be written with other programs as well like Musescore or you can Google Impro-Visor which is another powerful program to help you write notation and exports midi files.  Impro-Visor can help you by generating melodies to go along with your music.  Its worth a look if you ask me.  I have generated music with it and imported it to LMMS where I can assign synths to it. 

If you just want to edit your sounds or songs Audacity may be all you need.  It will work with JACK but doesn't require it and works on Windows and Mac as well. 

There are commercial DAWs I am taking note of as well like:  Tracktion (free for Linux), Bitwig Studio, EnergyXT, and Renoise

Overall Linux is perfect for making and recording traditional music.  There are a handful of software synthesisers and a lot of audio filters.  I do feel more synths and synth presets need to be made for it to really shine in the electronic music industry.  I had quite a time getting something that sounded like dubstep made, part of this is because I never made dubstep but part of it is just because all the popular synths are made for Windows and Mac.  There are ways to emulate some Windows VSTi plugins but we need more native LV2 instruments.  So what I am trying to say is Linux is great for a garage band doing traditional rock or punk and it is superb for classical and symphony music too but its biggest limitation is with electronic music, especially dubstep.  You can make electronic music with it but it might take some hardcore programming of a plugin or extra knob turning of an existing one to get what you really want out of it. 

I will cover Video on Linux next time.  I Just got to tell you Video on Linux seems to have no limitations as to what you can do with something recorded.  I do hear it needs some more work on live broadcasting but rumour is that is being worked on. 

No comments:

Post a Comment