Tag Archives: Digital Audio

New Songs, and how I recorded them

April is Autism Awareness month, so last month I released to my (five-or-so) anxious fans a couple of songs inspired by an autistic person close to me.  You can hear them here (click the album covers):

echoes from hyperspace cover

Echoes From Hyperspace

He's an alien cover

He’s an Alien

I spent several months recording and mixing these, hopefully the quality (and the message) comes through.

Since this blog appeals to the geekier side of human nature, I thought I’d write up some of the technical details behind these recordings.


Ubuntu Studio 12.04

A screen cap of the Ubuntu Studio Desktop

The Ubuntu studio 12.04 desktop.

Not so long ago, I posted about my attempts to bring my old DAW system back to life with Lubuntu.  Emboldened by my success, and eager to get it on a nice firm LTS-release foothold, I tried to upgrade it to Precise Pangolin a few weeks ago.  Sadly, the results were not so great:  after upgrading, I ran afoul of a mysterious bug that caused Ardour, Audacity, and Hydrogen (and possibly other programs) to segfault when I started them.  Despite my best efforts to track down the error (probably caused by my liberal use of PPAs and 3rd-party repositories), it became clear I needed to start afresh.

This time I decided to skip a bit of the DIY and just grab a ready-made audio production distro; after all, there are plenty of them out there, aren’t there?  Well, the hunt began for an audio-production oriented distro that would work decently on an older 32-bit system while promising future updates; and yes, believe me, my not-so-fond-of-Ubuntu friends out there, I didn’t limit myself to ‘buntuland.  Yet search as I might, every project I found seemed either at least 18 months stale (if not out-and-out abandoned), or a one-man project based on Debian or Ubuntu anyway.  In the end, Ubuntu studio seemed best to fit the bill.  So I downloaded the nearly 2 GB .iso file, popped it on my flash drive, and loaded it onto the old workhorse; and here, dear reader, are my findings so far…


First recording with my new setup

Finally got some time last night to do a little recording on my Lubuntu/ardour setup.  I wasn’t doing anything serious, just wanted to lay down some sounds to experiment with software, workflow, and getting a good sound out of my new cajon.

The result is here.  No sequencing or drum programming going on (obviously), just laid down one track at a time into Ardour and mixed down with a handful of plugins.  The lead synth is nekobee running through a parametric eq and rotary speaker sim, recorded live into Ardour.

I’m pretty happy with what it can do, though I still feel like the workflow with Jack/Ardour is a little cumbersome.  My hardware is kind of flaky too, sadly.  Still, there’s something that inspires me more about working with duct-tape and baling wire than with some shiny turnkey system.

Reviving my home studio, this time the free software way

Long ago, before I ever knew a lick of BASH or even what an OS kernel was, my passion was not technology but music, music, and more music.  Roughly the first half of my adult life was devoted to the writing, playing, and recording of music, and by around 2002 I’d built for myself a tidy little home recording & mixing setup centered on Cakewalk Sonar, Jeskola Buzz, and Windows XP.  Alas, the years were not kind to my career or gear, and up until recently my music computer was busy being a game & education machine for the kids.

Thanks to a hard drive crash and the purchase of new machines for the kids, I got my old music machine back, albeit lacking a functioning operating system and software.  So, I decided now was a good time to rebuild it.  This time, though, I decided the time was right to kick XP and Cakewalk to the curb and go it Free Software style.