I think I need to make a list of the sound-making software available via my package manager. Free software, for music making wannabes like me. A page to return to and improve as I start to understand this all a bit better.
- Ardour A digital audio workstation (DAW), a program to record, mix, and master music. That is, recording multiple tracks, moving these tracks around, splitting and joining them, applying effects to them, and then creating a single file ready for distribution and playback.
- Audacity A digital audio editor. This appears to be the simplest kind of DAW. It’s what I used for my podcast. There’s currently some discussion about the future direction of Audacity as it has been acquired by the Muse Group (see MuseScore, below).
Generally speaking, these programs have a plugin architecture, where “applying effects” involves the loading and running of plugins which then apply the effect.
But how to make the music? If you have external sources, like audio ins, microphones and the like, you can simply record them. On my laptop, however, there is no audio-in! Therefore, I need a USB microphone to record my voice, and I need an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to record the audio of my electronic instruments. This is a little box with an audio in on one side, and an USB plug on the other side.
How to make music directly on the laptop?
- MuseScore A scorewriter. That is, it looks like you’re writing sheet music. It looks very fancy.
- VCV Rack A software modular synthesizer. That is, it simulates modules for a modular synthesizer: you then plug the virtual patch cables into the virtual plug and it makes a sound.
Other use cases:
- Mixxx Mixing software for a DJ to do live mixes with digital files. Since I don’t plan to be a DJ at parties, I’m guessing that I won’t be needing this.
- snd A sound editor, modelled loosely after Emacs, i.e. it can be customized and extended using either s7 (a Scheme dialect), Ruby, or Forth. What fascinates me the most is that it comes with a Scheme file to generate various bird calls! I was able to load the file and to run make-birds, but then I couldn’t play it. How anyoing.
- libsndfile A library for reading and writing files containing sampled sound (such as MS Windows WAV and the Apple/SGI AIFF format); it also comes with a bunch of command line tools such as sndfile-info etc. On the homepage it says that the author isn’t planning on adding MP3 support.