2021-06-01 Music Software

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.

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?

Other use cases:


A couple of other FOSS music projects you may like:

  • Giada – “hardcore loop machine” (git)
  • ChucK – “strongly-timed, concurrent, and on-the-fly music programming language” (git)

pwr 2021-06-03 03:48 UTC


– Alex 2021-06-03 20:13 UTC

I’ve been doing audio prod on Linux for a number of years now. Unfortunately it’s my perception that it’s one of the areas very far behind its proprietary counterpart, though things are improving.

My reccs, should you want them (all free s/w):

  • QTractor is another decent DAW
  • amsynth is a good subsynth with 2 oscs, has LV2 and VST versions. However it uses GTK which is bad for plugins so you will get crashes with some DAWs. (Unless your DAW can run plugins in separate processes, this issue is unresolvable and may plague other plugins.)
  • Helm is a good similar synth
  • Sitala is a good simple sampler pad
  • ZynAddSubFX is the most powerful (hence confusing) free s/w synth I’ve seen

Unfortunately, if you’re serious about being productive and developing skills, I expect a proprietary Linux or Wine DAW would be miles better. Switching to REAPER really showed me what I was missing.


Tom M 2021-06-04 19:50 UTC


– Alex 2021-06-04 20:44 UTC

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