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Music Open Source Software Linux

Ask Slashdot: An Open Source PC Music Studio? 299

enharmonix writes "I have a big decision to make. I am probably going to buy a laptop that I will primarily use for music. I would prefer an OEM distro so I don't need to install the OS myself (not that I mind), but I have no preference between open- and closed-source software as an end-user; I just care about the quality of the product. There are two applications that I absolutely must have: 1) a standard notation transcription program with quality auditioning (i.e., playback with quality sound fonts or something similar, better than your standard MIDI patches) that can also accept recorded audio in lieu of MIDI playback, and 2) a capable synthesizer (the more options, the better). If there's software out there that does both 1 and 2 in the same app, that's even better. I've played with some of Ubuntu's offerings for music a few years ago and some are very good, though not all of them are self-explanatory and the last time I checked, none of them really met my needs. I am not so worried about number 2 because I think I could pretty easily develop my own in .NET/Mono, which I think would be a fun project (which would be open source, of course). I am a Gnome fan so if I go with Linux, I will almost certainly go with standard Ubuntu over Kubuntu, but Gnome seems to rule out Rosegarden which was the best FOSS transcription software out there the last time I checked. The other solution I've thought of is to just shell out the $600 for Finale, which I'm more than willing to do, but I'm not so sure I want Windows 8 and I'm just not sure I can afford to go with a Mac on top of the $600 for Finale. I don't intend to put more than one OS on my laptop, either. Any slashdotters out there dabble in composing/recording, using MIDI, sound fonts, recorded audio, and/or synthesizers? What setup of hardware/OS/software works for you? Can FOSS music software compete with their pricier closed source competitors?" The KXStudio apps installed over Debian or Ubuntu tend to be pretty nice (better session handling that gladish provides at least).
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Ask Slashdot: An Open Source PC Music Studio?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:13PM (#46087883)

    Someone's paired the wrong headline and summary.

    Ask Slashdot: An Open Source PC Music Studio?

    I have no preference between open- and closed-source software as an end-user; I just care about the quality of the product

  • by D1G1T ( 1136467 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:17PM (#46087909)
    Since music is a collaborative art, and you are going to want to share music, aren't you better off using what people in your "scene" are using, whether that's your school program or online forum or in the performance venues you frequent? I'd expect that would trump whatever software might look "best" if you were working alone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:19PM (#46087913)

    Although I believe the other anon was out of line for his response.

    I don't know anything about any of this, but it sounds like this guy is somewhat above the basic dabbling hobbyist level and that higher echelon wouldn't seem to me to be Garageband's area.

  • Re:GarageBand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:21PM (#46087929)

    And guaranteed to blow your entire budget on something completely ill-suited to music composition/recording before you can buy any other decent equipment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:42PM (#46088029)

    I'm a gigging musician who's been doing digital audio for 20 years, and followed open source audio very closely for ages. Sadly, a purely FOSS solution will just hamper you. I tried for years, ( I played shows with 100% FOSS software) but honestly, I think a DAW is too feature rich for anything but a dedicated team to do properly. Now I use Reaper, which is as close to open source as you're going to get in a kick ass DAW. (Ardour will do for tracking and mixing, but not scoring or midi editing). It's got an unlimited un-crippled demo, cheap individual license ($40), cool company, and to be honest, it's so good I'd use it over Logic or Protools or Live even if it cost $500. It's incredibly well designed, and extendable in two scripting languages so there are loads of open source extensions and plugins for it. You can find tons of great FOSS environments to use *in addition* to your DAW ( PureData, SuperCollider, CSound, scads of open source plugins), but for your main DAW, the sweet spot IMHO is Reaper on a hackintosh.

    If you *need* it to be 100% open source, Linux + Ardour + PureData or SuperCollider is a good option, but I wouldn't recommend it over doing the same thing with Os X and Reaper instead.

  • by Phil Urich ( 841393 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:48PM (#46088061) Journal
    These days, that an app is developed "for" KDE or GNOME or whatnot doesn't at all preclude running it elsewhere. I use many GTK and GNOME apps myself (in fact, the browser I'm typing this from at the moment---Chromium---is GTK) but run KDE since it's flexible and doesn't seem to want to remove features every release (sorry, sorry, not trying to start a flamewar), so I can't see why you wouldn't be able to run Rosegarden in a GNOME environment. The worst thing that can happen is the widgits and iconography might look a bit out of place, but who cares? And there are compatible themes that take care of even that. I'm honestly really confused by your statements, it's like saying you can't wear a striped tie because you have polkadot underwear on.

    But of course, since Ubuntu doesn't even use GNOME anymore as the default environment, I suppose it's possible you're simply asking a question from 2004, and I do remember back then apps looked kindof bad in the wrong DEs, and computers often didn't have enough disk space and RAM to want to bring in so many additional dependencies. Yeah, your question starts to make a bit more sense if we assume you're lost in time, although it still doesn't make a ton of sense. But anyways, considering it's 2014, who the fuck cares if you end up using an extra 100MB of RAM because you need to open the Qt libraries as well?

  • by jddeluxe ( 965655 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:15AM (#46088205)
    BUT, that being said, I'm a musician in real life that prostitutes myself as an engineer during the day to pay the bills, for several decades now...

    I tried for years using various software packages on Windows and Linux, you name it, I've tried it... Bottom line is, I finally broke down and bought a MBP in 2011 ( cheap ass $1199 entry level one, maxed out the memory and shitcanned the HD and installed a 512 Gb SSD) I'll never look back and wish I'd done it a lot sooner.
    Everyone can spew whatever fanboi shit they want to, but Apple owns the music market. Even software that works in multiple OS environments like ProTools work better on a Mac and you don't run into hardware/latency/drivers/other issues common on other HW/OS platforms. Just go ahead and buy an Apple iMac or MBP as suits your environment; if you don't you can spend a lot of time/money/aggravation over a period of years, trust me, been there, done that, have the T-shirt and barbed wire ankle tattoo...
  • by goruka ( 1721094 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:52AM (#46088321)
    I've been following this for more than a decade, even wrote a lot of audio software for Linux, and all my music is made under it, with my own apps. Yet I recognize the situation will never improve. Here's why:

    1) While the Linux kernel is perfectly capable of low latency, even on the shittiest of hardware, it does not provide the concept of primary and secondary buffers. If you want to use pro audio, you want to be able to mix the low latency, high sampling rate stream together with the regular OS/Desktop audio. Windows and OSX do this by setting the hardware for the realtime client, then also mixing the secondary audio over it, which comes from userland (or already mixed in userland). As a result, when using realtime audio in Linux, desktop audio dies or is hacked to route pulseaudio to jack and other stuff that does not really work well.

    2) It's impossible to write plugins similar to VST, because of the different way tookits connect to X11 (they won't share the connection). You can't mix and match toolkits so a host DAW will use different plugns. The only way is to use separate processes, but that makes programming complexity much higher and very few people bothered. Wayland seemed like it could fix this in the future, but other distros such as Ubuntu refuse to use it, so it doesn't seem good.

    3) Good programmers are not necesarily good composers. This is something that is much more important than it seems. Commercial companies are forced to listen to their users, but OSS developers mostly care about doing something good enough for themselves. Given the chance that a good programmer is a good producer/composer is super slim for the practical world, most audio software kind of sucks and feels incomplete. Ardour took more than a decade to implement MIDI and it still is horrible, because the main developers care more about live session recording. If they really had to use it everyday to make professional music, it wouldn't be as bare bones as it is now. At the same time, stuff that looks like a good idea (jack daemon) are terrible in practice because making music with a bunch of applications open is akin or worse to a live set of devices with cables connected.

    4) Finally, the biggest problem of Linux is that, unlike other software such as 3D or imaging, there is plenty of cheap and good Windows/OSX audio alternatives, so even if OSS software were to run properly on Windows/Mac, the incentive is still slow. It's not like Blender or Gimp, that it's commercial counterparts are in the thousands $.
  • Re:GarageBand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:58AM (#46088349)

    If you aren't familiar with the capabilities of GarageBand, or any other music software, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU COMMENTING ON THIS PARTICULAR STORY?

  • Re:Ya pretty much (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Razordude ( 3505695 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:39AM (#46088527)

    Sure. But when your principles are so restrictive as to prevent you from using the majority of useful modern technology and software, it's worth considering whether such principles are really sensible and whether your priorities are suitable for what you're trying to accomplish.

    Some people have completely unrealistic principles. They can't be helped, not unless they realize that the world requires compromise if you want to get things done sometimes. It's just how life is.

  • Re:Ya pretty much (Score:4, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:59AM (#46089189) Journal

    If you drop principles because they're inconvenient, then they're not principles, they're fond notions and little else. Principles are what keep/stop you doing something when it is difficult/expensive or otherwise problematic to not do otherwise.

  • Re:Ya pretty much (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Razordude ( 3505695 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @06:40AM (#46089435)

    Sounds more like you're conflicting being principled with being stubborn/inflexible. Sometimes compromise has to be made in order for anything to happen. Two principled individuals who disagree with each other are not as helpful as those who try to work within the boundaries of what they consider reasonable.

    In the end it's just software, there to do a job.

  • Re:Ya pretty much (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pav ( 4298 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:11AM (#46089715)
    ...ahh yes... people with more time than money ie. the people where much of the new music and ideas actually come from.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine