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Introducing L2Ork, World's First Linux Laptop Orchestra 86

Posted by timothy
from the might-prefer-all-cellos dept.
Agram writes "Take a netbook, Wiimotes, Nunchuks, and hemispherical speakers (which were once IKEA salad bowls), toss it up with some Ubuntu goodness and what you get is Virginia Tech's L2Ork, the world's first Linux-based laptop orchestra. With its affordable design and support from the Linux community, L2Ork hopes to bring laptop orchestras to K-12 education and beyond. So, regardless whether you wish to hear how L2Ork might sound or to learn how to build your own Linux-based *Ork infrastructure, perhaps this is a good opportunity to reopen the age-old debate: is Linux finally ready for some serious audio work?"
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Introducing L2Ork, World's First Linux Laptop Orchestra

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:40PM (#30315744)

    Unfortunately companies that make good DACs, like MOTU, don't provide Linux drivers. It's no good to try and work on a Linux box if you're limited to the built in stereo 1/8" soundcard.

    So while it can work for small hemi-speakers, trying to drive a full surround setup is near impossible without good proper DACs.

  • by Runefox (905204) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:46PM (#30315822) Homepage

    I still can't figure out exactly what this does. I've even looked up SLOrk and PLOrk, and I don't have any idea what they do, either. Is it a sort of MIDI-esque endeavour? Some kind of networking for digital instruments? Something entirely different?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:51PM (#30315918)

    Here's a video of the "orchestra" performing:

    Basically they just have a bunch of wiimotes hooked up to linux laptops running some sort of synthesizer controlled by waving the wiimote. It sounds really mindless and everyone just seems to wave their arms around in circles.

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:51PM (#30315920)
    Its a wierdo music group not an app?
  • When I tried (Score:2, Informative)

    by Threni (635302) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:53PM (#30315970)

    doing audio work I got unstuck immediately. Really bad delays on my midi keyboard. I googled and was told I needed a low latency kernel or something. This was of course wrong. Linux needs a low latency kernel so that it can be taken seriously out of the box. Why would you want, by default, a high latency kernel? Also, I needed to stick together several apps, to turn midi input into something I could hear. I don't understand why. Why can't there be an app which takes midi input and plays sounds (from a sound font file, wav file, etc) when it gets them?

  • by digsbo (1292334) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:58PM (#30316036)
    ...but no simpler.

    It's an interesting idea and may have beneficial applications for entertainment, music therapy or childhood education, but I don't see much potential for any real [read artistic] musical applications. Excepting, possibly, interactive performance art or something.

    The richness of a real symphony orchestra's sound is tied to the complexity and expertise of about a hundred different musicians at levels of superb mastery working together as individuals to recreate and interpret a composer's vision. I don't see how it would be possible to do anything different from the already tired new-agey synthesizer muzak with a tool like this. Of course I feel similarly about replacing the big band with an electric guitar.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:04PM (#30316114)

    SLOrk is basically an attempt to do something like a traditional orchestra but for computer music. A bunch of people on laptops with various control devices attached, with various parts assigned. Here's [] an ABC News segment on them.

    It's from the guy who developed ChucK [], which I think they use, but I don't think the orchestra does livecoding [], which is what ChucK is best known for.

  • by sheehaje (240093) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:21PM (#30316368)

    While I'm not into Laptop Orchestra's, I do use Ubuntu Studio now for MOST of my audio processing.

    Only 4 years ago, I couldn't make it work. I use a Presonus Firepod to record my band, and also have some other gadgets. The only thing I am really missing is something like Gearbox for my Line 6 PodXT, there just isn't a substitute yet for Linux. No worries though, I pretty much have my board setup the way I want, so rarely even use Gearbox anymore.

    Anyway, back to my point. I now use Linux as my DAW, as a sequencer, and increasing for my general computing needs. I love Jackd with Ardour and Patchage. It's gotten to the point where it's not just a suitable replacement for Cubase or Pro-Tools, but is my preferred setup. Now that my ATI drivers are finally working properly with the RT kernel in Ubuntu 9.10, I am finding the cube desktop actually useful instead of just eye candy. I can have my mixers, editors, patchage, etc. on separate workspaces and get to them easily.

    Just a month ago, I had a friend of mine come over to check out my setup. He is a drummer that also wanted to start home recordings. He bought a ART Tubefire 8, and was very disappointed with the crippled Cubase LE that came with the hardware. After seeing my setup, he went out, bought a $300 computer and a firewire card and asked me to get him setup. Knowing nothing about Linux, or Ubuntu, etc, he is now using the setup to great success.. If there was ever a killer app for Linux, this is it, at least for music professionals and hobbyists.

    The major drawback is hardware support still has a ways to go. But, right now there is the ability to get high end music recording equipment working very well right out of the box. I am a very satisfied "customer". And to think, 4 years ago I never thought it would get there.

  • Re:When I tried (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:58PM (#30317140) Journal

    Ubuntu Studio 9.10 [] comes with an official real time kernel.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:07PM (#30317300) Homepage Journal

    The Layla 3G is a decent home studio interface, but as you say, there just isn't any software that runs natively in Linux that is remotely appropriate for professional work.

    I've tried to run Cockos' Reaper under Wine, but I find jack just too much of a hassle.

    However, Reaper has features that allow you to use a Linux machine to offload effects processing chores to via Ethernet and it works great. It makes my workflow much more efficient and allows me to do much more in real-time. And of course, a Linux box with a RAID array is an excellent sample server and rendering platform. Reaper is quickly becoming my favorite DAW software because of it's ability to leverage Linux machines in a professional studio environment. Someday, I hope to see a Linux port of Reaper.

    Linux may not yet be ready to act as a standalone music production system, but it definitely has a place in a professional music production facility. And of course, it's a great platform for experiments like the one described in this article.

  • by anechoic (129368) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @11:17PM (#30320410)

    ditto -- I'm an Ardour user on Ubuntu and would never go back to OS X -- ever!

Forty two.