Audioimprovised extract (49sec). The improvised extract shows the quality that can be achieved with a fairly simple audio studio setup. The podcast outlines a number of useful tips and describes my method in achieving a virtually total Linux solution in my workflow. See also earlier HPR episodes-hpr0712 and hpr0755.
My studio at home is in a spare-bedroom; a room, just 16x12 feet, with no special sound-proofing, just full bookcases all around the walls. The sound is quite 'dead' and OK for recording 'speech' which I do using a Zoom H4n Recorder, mounted on a small tripod, with 'pop' filter, and remote-controller to switch on and off.
The vox part is one long file with pauses where the audio will be inserted. The file is saved to the PC as a WAV file into a master folder and, within that, three sub-folders to hold 'media' and 'text' files and a 'building' folder to assemble the final recording.
The solo instruments and backing tracks are recorded through a USB mixer attached to the PC. Audio-improvised extract (45sec) from my composition Summer Dancin'. The piece was completely realised using the home set-up and Impro-Visor (http://bit.ly/EYbcv), which is similar to Band-in-a-Box with built-in rhythms and backings.
My approach to writing musical themes is either 'melody' first or 'chord' sequence first. With Summer Dancin' it was 'chord' sequence first. I improvised a theme, live at the keyboard over a chord sequence and samba rhythm, using Impro-Visor. The main difference between Impro-Visor and Band-in-a-Box is that Band-in-a-Box uses sampled sounds to make up the backings, etc., whereas Impro-Visor's sounds are synthesised.
AudioSummer Dancin'-theme (51sec). The harmonic sequence for the tune is fairly complex; as is the melody. To achieve similar results needs a fair grounding in jazz-type harmony and improvisation. Any approach, be it simple or complex, will work equally effectively using this basic method.
What's in my music production 'Bag'?
My main machine, is a basic PC desktop Acer Aspire SA80 with only 1 GB of ram. It has an Intel Pentium 4 processor and dual monitors. Xubuntu 12.04, LTS is the desktop and I use the on-board sound card. I have a small Yamaha PSR-350 keyboard attached via a Midiman MidiSport 2x2 interface. The Yamaha provides additional sound sets and it is through this that the backings are provided. The mixer is a Behringer Xenynx 1204FX and I use a variety of dynamic and studio capacitor microphones, with stands and 'pop' filters and the Zoom H4n Recorder. Audioimprovised extract (54sec)
Process & Procedure for Podcasts
For the instrumental portions, I mostly record straight into Audacity with the Band-in-a-Box backing track inputted to one channel of the mixer, and the instrument 'miked' to a second channel. A small amount of effect is added to the 'miked' channel while the 'backing' track is kept 'flat.' These are 'mixed' down to a single mono track at 44100 Hz and exported and saved as a FLAC file. The solo Bumpers are just simply improvised and recorded on to a single Audacity track.
To assemble the podcast, I place the vox recording on the top track and split and move the track at the point where I insert an audio clips. These are dragged into Audacity on a separate track and the cut part of the vox track, moved to the right, as necessary. If I need to record using separate tracking, then I use Ardour. I often produce the music in score and parts for subsequent 'live' performances. The written music is produced using Sibelius 4 and the backings are generated with an old copy of Band-in-a-Box. Neither have been ported to Linux so I run them under Wine which is OK but it means only older copies of programmes will run. This is no problem, however, as the older versions provide all the functionality that I need.
Keeping It All Together
Well, regular practice is a important to stay 'up-to-speed.' Besides essential scales and arpeggios, for a jazz musician, a solid amount of improvisation practice is necessary. Band-in-a-Box is an ideal tool for this, providing a backing track similar to the well-known Aebersold method. Audioimprovised extract (54sec).
Well, thats' all for now. Whatch 'this space' for further developments. Cheers for now . . .
The Jack Audio Driver . . .
For serious audio it is essential that the Linux kernel operates in real-time mode.
Switch on through the 'Set-up' tab, under 'Parameters, from the QJackCtrl.
Set the sample rate, say 44,100 for maximum compatibility.
Set the buffer size ('Frames/Rate'), say 256 which (for me) produces an 11.6 ms latency.
Add two lines of code to the file 'limits.conf' in the '/etc/security/' folder (before the '# End File' marker), as follows
@audio - rtprio 99 and
@audio - memlock unlimited
Check you are part of the 'Audio' Group.
Or use your 'username' instead of '@audio' (in my case 'tonydenton').
Updating My Hardware . . .
I've invested in an audio mixer - a Behringer Xenyx X1204USB Mixer.
Re-considering My Software Bag . . .
The Podcast is now being recorded in 'Ardour'
(I shall to subscribe to 'Ardour' to keep Paul Davis developing the programme and urge others to do so.)
I am using 'Audacity' for mastering, with, klaatu's configuration file.
Another useful programme for setting or editing ID3 Tags is 'Kid3Tag'
I'm currently trialling 'MMA' 'Musical Midi Accompaniment' and 'Muse' and 'Lilypond'
(Hope I can dispense with Windows-based software all together.)
My website and Blog can be found at 'www.tonydenton.com' and I am on Twitter as 'tonydenton.' My Identica name is 'Bariman' and I am occasionally found on IRC, also as 'Bariman'
Cheers for now . . .
My thanks to Pokey and ClaudioM for their kind comments on my first show.
Recording . . .
How I record the show and use Linux in support of my jazz activities and work-flow.
Set up and Gear:
Main microphone - Behringer USB Condenser Microphone C-1U with boom mike stand and 'pop' screen.
Sennheiser e815S with a Tascam US-100 Audio Interface or Zoom H4n Recorder.
Behringer USB mike straight into Audacity on an EeePC.
(Klaatu's config file is at http://www.thebadapples.info/eastereggs/audacity.cfg.zip)
Processing . . .
Laptops Asus EeePC 1005HA and a Sony Vaio VGN-BX297.
All recordings saved as WAV or FLAC files initially.
Spoken part of the show is scripted and each segment recorded separately.
Assembly of segments and audio in Audacity, with adjustments, fades and overlaps, etc.
Exported and mixed down into composite, sterio, MP3 file.
Music Production . . .
Music writing, arranging and composing: Band-In-A-Box 2009 and Sibelius 5 as there is no suitable Linux equivalents.
Using Virtualbox with Windows XP.
Band-In-A-Box use of sampled sounds for the backing voices.
Use of Band-In-A-Box and Sibelius. I just wish there was the equivalent software the Linux to do this kind of thing I would move there 'in a flash' if I could find some.
Other Activities . . .
Problem with keeping files up to date when using multiple machines.
Use of 'Dropbox' is my solution.
Folders moved from 'Dropbox' to large 1TB external drive when projects are complete.
Next time . . .
Linux software in the production of websites and other uses.
My website and Blog . . . At 'www.tonydenton.com' and I am on Twitter as 'tonydenton.'
My Identica name is 'Bariman' and I am on IRC, also as 'Bariman.'
This 10 minute Podcast outlines my experience as a jazz musician using Linux.
History . . .
My start in 1982 with a BBC Micro Computer. On using a 1977 business machine by Real Time Computer Systems, Crewe, UK. Gary Kildall's CP/M operating system with four, linked, 7 floppy disk drives. Moving to the PC about 1988 and becoming a Microsoft operating system user. Using the PC for educational material and for musical arrangements. The main pieces of software used for the music Sibelius and Band-In-A-Box. Some web designing using Macromedia Dreamweaver.
Towards Linux . . .
Awareness of Linux about 2000 first 'proper' distro SuSE; (six CDs to install!) Poor press for Linux in the past and not much better now. Modern distros offer close to the full solution for the average user. Retailers still telling customers that Linux is difficult and should be avoided. My trials of most of the available distros and awareness of Wine as a solution to using Windows-based software. Some limited success with early copies of Sibelius, Band-In-A-Box and Dreamweaver. Discovery of Ubuntu 6.06 and the installation on my Desktops and Laptops. Maintainance of a Laptop as a dual-boot machine with Windows XP. Linux used for all my work; only very rarely using the Windows partition. Brief trial of Virtualbox initially, with not too much success. Currently, Ubuntu 10.10 on all machines and the 'ditching' the dual-boot. Look at Virtualbox again, thanks to the recent Hacker Public Radio Podcast by arfab (hpr-0618) on installing XP in Virtualbox. (Thanks arfab.) Virtualbox on all my machines now running my 'essential' Windows software.
Practicing . . .
Need for regular practise using a variety of techniques (improvisation, scales, etc,). Good use of Band-In-A-Box as a practice aid. Most backing tracks in the form of a simple piano, bass and drums rhythm section. Good aid to meet the needs of students at various stages of ability. Backing tracks tailored to support each musical instrument in a musical ensemble.
Where Are We Now . . .
Awareness of current developments in support of the musical requirement. Still can't say to my colleagues - Yes, Linux is now the complete solution.
Website and blog at 'www.tonydenton.com' on Twitter as 'tonydenton' Identica name is 'Bariman' and occasionally on IRC, also as 'Bariman.'