Originally Published: Tuesday, 22 May 2001 Author: IRC Staff
Published to: interact_articles_irc_recap/IRC Recap Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Linux Music and Sound with Dave Philips

Ever wondered how to create your own music with Linux? Dave Philips discussed his book Linux Music and Sound with us on May 15. If you missed the discussion or want to read over what was talked about, we've posted the log for you. Just click on the link below.

<goodness> hey All
<goodness> Welcome to Linux.com Live Author Series
<goodness> Today we're hosting Dave Phillips
<goodness> Author of Linux Music and Sound from No Starch Press
<goodness> If you are interested in sound, music, creation, playback or mixing
<goodness> then this is a great book for you
<goodness> The book also covers digital audio basics and advanced information
<goodness> Dave is mulaw
<goodness> dave, would you like to talk a little bit about the book to start us of?
<mulaw> Sure...
<mulaw> It took quite a while to write, was a labor of love, and quite a leap of faith for my publisher.
<mulaw> He wanted to publish something unusual for Linux
<mulaw> not the ordinary "configuration and installation" guide or
<mulaw> a textbook on network protocols. ;)
<mulaw> I think we succeeded: there's certainly no other book quite like it...
<mulaw> Anything specific you'd like to know about the book ?
<mulaw> I can ramble on about it...;)
<goodness> Sure, how did you get involved with sound and music?
<mulaw> I've been a singer since I was a kid, and I've been playing some instrument or another for
<mulaw> most of my life.
<mulaw> I still gig regularly, and I teach guitar locally.
<goodness> when did you first decide that Linux would be good to add to the 'mix'?
<mulaw> Around 1995...I was (ahem) saddened by Windows 95, and I was getting frustrated by the constant
<mulaw> machine upgrades. I tried Linux because of certain pieces of UNIX sound software I had seen on SGI machines
<mulaw> and that just got me rolling.
<mulaw> Btw,
<mulaw> I ported a lot of software back then, I'm happy to note that Linux audio development has come a *long* way
<mulaw> since then.
<influx> how good is device support (midi) etc in linux right now?
<mulaw> Not great, not bad. ALSA is moving quickly towards a 1.0 release, and OSS/Linux continues to improve too. Of course,
<mulaw> so much of the real answer depends on support and cooperation from hardware manufacturers, and
<mulaw> some have been good about getting specs to the dev community, others just don't even see us.
<mulaw> Btw,
<mulaw> I should point out that Creative Labs and a few other companies have gone the extra mile in assisting
<mulaw> the community, and we are in far better shape than six years ago.
<influx> what's prevented alsa from making it into the kernel so far?
<starlady> :) that's great
<mulaw> influx: the time it takes to stabilize the API...The planners are thinking long-term and
<mulaw> towards professional standards. That would give Linux desktop audio a powerful API whether for games
<mulaw> or complex audio recording and editing software. I'm very excited by some current development,
<mulaw> and I think Linux audio will make a serious impression on the pro audio world Real Soon Now. :)
* influx smiles
<mulaw> Oh,
<mulaw> I hope ALSA becomes the default kernel sound system by 2.6 (or 3.0 or whatever Linus decides
<influx> so you expect it to be in for testing in the 2.5.x series?
<mulaw> to name it). It is progressing very quickly now.
<mulaw> influx: don't know...i'll have to ask around :)
<ElCoronel> How do Linux/UNIX sound applications (SoundTracker for instance) compare to Windows and Mac software?
<mulaw> EC: ST is a good example of a fairly evolved Linux audio app. It compares well with Windows trackers, and its
<mulaw> author is developing it more along lines explored by the current crop of Windows trackers (think Buzz).
<mulaw> The CVS version supports Buzz machines, I believe...
<mulaw> Also,
<mulaw> there's a new Impulse Tracker clone out for Linux now, but I haven't tested it.
<mulaw> In other domains,
<mulaw> it's easy to see what we lack:
<mulaw> the big monolithic apps like Cubase and Cakewalk and Logic, but
<mulaw> we're achieving some real sophistication in some of our own projects, such as
<mulaw> jMax, Broadcast2000, KeyKit, XMMS, ecasound, Ceres3, Csound, terminatorX, the Ultramaster synths, SpiralSynth, and
<mulaw> so on.
<ElCoronel> What reasons (besides price) would you list for using Linux as a music/sound platform over other OS's?
<mulaw> EC: Well, right away for the very low-latency achievable by a simple kernel patch. I'm running
<mulaw> a 2.4.0-test9 kernel patched for low-latency: tests show I'm getting < 3 ms audio latency on a loaded system. I wrote an article on
<mulaw> the subject for O'Reilly, if you're interested.
<mulaw> So,
<ElCoronel> is there a url for that?
<mulaw> performance and stability...yeh, just a sec I'll get that addy...
<mulaw> http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2000/11/17/low_latency.html
<mulaw> there ya go...
<ElCoronel> thanks, so you were about to say...?
<mulaw> Reasons to use Linux for audio and music...
<mulaw> well,
<mulaw> beyond the performance and cost benefit,
<mulaw> open-source. I beta tested software for a commercial MIDI developer in the 80s. It was frustrating to have idas
<mulaw> ideas
<mulaw> that I could have added, had the source been open. But no one was thinking like that. It's what pushed me into learning
<mulaw> C and other languages, so I could have more control over my music-making system.
<influx> so whats the best way for someone to get started in linux audio?
<mulaw> Then along came Linux...
<mulaw> Buy my book. :) ...
<ElCoronel> heh
<horton> haha
<mulaw> But seriously,
<mulaw> check out the Linux soundapps site at sound.condorow.net and
<mulaw> browse sections that might interest you. The site lists more than 800 Linux audio and MIDI apps, so
<mulaw> you're bound to find something of interest.
* influx nods
<mulaw> Then buy my book...;)
<influx> whats your book's ISBN?
<goodness> actually I think No Starch has a deal on the book this week
<goodness> 20% off?
<mulaw> i knew you werre going to ask me that, so...
<mulaw> ISBN 1-886411-34-4
<ElCoronel> mulaw: one could argue that games have had a (positive) effect on computer sound sofware and hardware that is more visible to the end user...would sound for Linux benefit from more commerical game development?
<mulaw> and yes, No Starch does have a special on it.
<mulaw> EC: Definitely !
<mulaw> Again,
<mulaw> there's strong development coming from Loki and Creative Labs, with the SDL and OpenAL initiatives. ALSA now
<mulaw> supports multispeaker systems, and its rumored that Creative will demonstrate (or already has demonstrated)
<mulaw> hardware accelerated audio. Woohoo!
<ElCoronel> wow, that's great
<mulaw> As the Linux audio API becomes more sophisticated
<mulaw> it should attract the interest of people like game designers as well as DSP engineers. Lots of
<mulaw> room for development in those arenas.
<mulaw> EC: Btw,
<Oracle> hello!
<mulaw> I agree with you regarding games and game development. We made it a point
<Pahan> Spam!
<ink> hey all!
<Shabby> EHLO
<spydie> howdy
<> hi, spydie
<lyn> yo
<mulaw> to include a chapter on games in the book.
<spydie> is this a free for all or what questions wise
<ink> ooh
<Number1> :)
<mulaw> i think i'm coming to a close here...?
<spydie> what program(s) do you use
<starlady> mulaw: and now that I've gone and spammed all these other channels too ;)
<Oracle> Nah, keep talking ;-)
* ink makes the obligatory "sound! w00t w00t"
<ink> hehehe
* spydie is away , movie [ lp ]
<mike_d> hey guys, no it's not a free for all, and if you'd like to stay off the servers a-kick list, please exrcise some consideration, thank you.
<mulaw> spydie: terminatorX, PD, Csound, Mix, jMax, KeyKit, Ceres3, ecasound, XMMS...ummm...let's see what else...
<starlady> mulaw: do you have time to answer some more questions? :)
<t-mp> sound guy
<t-mp> where r u?
<mulaw> starlady: ask away...
<mulaw> t-mp: i'm here...
<vektor> mulaw: you forgot ttrk :)
<matt_> mulaw: sorry if you got asked this before, but are you aware of any MIDI and wave sequencing programs, like Logic Audio or Cubase that are available for linux?
<Kha0S> haha.
<Kha0S> try freebirth. =]
<starlady> yes. ok.
<matt_> khaos: cool, thanx
<starlady> thanks matt :)
<Matt> no problem :&)
<mulaw> matt_: One of the biggest packages under development now
<Skatters> mulaw: which program would you recommend for editing wav files?
<lyn> mulaw: can you recommend a learning path for an amateur keyboardist/programmer who's good with linux but has no electronic music making experiences?
<Kha0S> matt_: freebirth is very nascent. you'll find it very anemic for your uses.
<starlady> whoa-kay
<mulaw> is Ardour, which is really more geared for digita audio recording/editing/mixing. Think high-end digital audio workstation for Linux.
<matt_> khaos: not exactly what I'm looking for, actually. My band has songs that have up to 12 44khz stereo wave audio tracks, and 4-8 MIDI tracks.
<mulaw> Skatters:
<starlady> mulaw: let me know if you get overwhelmed by the questions and we'll go moderated so you have some time to answer each of them :)
<Kha0S> matt_: good luck. =P
<matt_> mulaw: excellent! how far along is it?
<mulaw> Broadcast2000 and Snd are my favorites.
<t-mp> mulaw i got a quick question, i've tried everything to c if my sound card cand record under linux, but all i get is silence, i adjusted all of the mixer levels to be non-0, any idea what i missed?
<radix> mulaw: Hi. I've been searching for a good few years for a nice, simple-yet-robust MIDI sequencer for Linux. Every 6 months or so I start over testing out the latest releases of all the software, but I can't really seem to find one
<mulaw> mat
or thereabouts...
<radix> mulaw: Do you know of any that might've slipped by me?
<vektor> radix: try this one: http://www.div8.net/ttrk
<mulaw> t-mp: Check 'cat /dev/sndstat' for its report on your sound system first.
<radix> vektor, mulaw: what I'm looking for is something like old cakewalk versions: my favorite sequencer ever was cakewalk 3.01
<mulaw> radix: I've been keepiing up with MusE and
<horton> mulaw: Just so you know, I just e-mailed you an additional application you can list on your web site. I didn't see it, so I figured it's worth a shot.
<matt_> radix: I liked cakewalk also.
<t-mp> mulaw no such device
<radix> vektor: ahh, i'm not really into tracking. I had a fling with it once, but I think the interfaces for most are nasty.
<mulaw> Jazz++ (a bit), but to tell you the truth,
<matt_> mulaw: do you have a URL for andour? freshmeat and google turn up nothing useful, it seems
<influx> t-mp: you may want to try #linuxhelp to get your soundcard working
<t-mp> influx the card is working
<t-mp> it just wont record
<Surgeon-> just curious if anyone here has Crystal PnP audio?
<mulaw> I still use Sequencer Plus Gold in DOSemu for my MIDI sequencing !!! DOSemu rocks ! ;)
<radix> Surgeon-: I have one, and never use it.
<radix> mulaw: hah, that's interesting =)
<NivFreak> hi surg
<Surgeon-> radix: did you ever set it up for use?
<mulaw> radix: Strange, hey ? And performance is great...
<Surgeon-> NivFreak: heya.
<matt_> oh!@ "ardour", found it
<mulaw> t-mp: What about 'cat /proc/asound/cards' ?
<starlady> ok guys, I think we're going to go moderated here to give mulaw a chance to reply to questions
<Kha0S> mulaw: I've found serious limitations in the Linux OS as a sound synthesis platform due to its lack of hard (or even soft) realtime support in the standard kernel set, and have generally found the OSS API to be very convoluted and slow to use. NetBSD has alleviated some of these problems, but I was wondering what sorts of advantages that Linux *does* bring to your design process that makes up for these shortcomings.
<Alien> mulaw, I have an Ensoniq 1371 PCI card, with xmms it sounds quite ok but with mpg123 the sound comes out in chunks, all chewed up, this didnt happen with my ISA sb16, any idea why ?
<t-mp> mulaw if u want to know the name, its Trident 4Dwave
<starlady> please /msg your questions to me and I'll put them in one by one, okay?
<mulaw> t-mp: Nice card. Install the ALSA drivers for it, check www.alsa-project.org for details.
<starlady> mulaw: let me know when you're ready for the next question by typing a . on a line by itself if you please :)
<mulaw> starlady: Okay. I'm responding to KhaOS first...
<starlady> mulaw: good call :)
<mulaw> KhaOS: See this URL http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2000/11/17/low_latency.html for a report
<mulaw> on achieving professionally acceptable audio latencies with a patched Linux kernel.
<mulaw> .
<starlady> <lyn> can you recommend a learning path for an amateur keyboardist/programmer who's good with linux but has no electronic music making experiences?
<mulaw> Hmmm...
<mulaw> Csound has about everything you'd want in order to master software sound synthesis, but
<mulaw> you should also look at RTCmix and other language-oriented systems (Linux has a lot of them)...See the relevant material
<mulaw> at sound.condorow.net (your programming skill will come in handy).
<mulaw> .
<starlady> <Alien> I have an Ensoniq 1371 PCI card, with xmms it sounds quite ok but with mpg123 the sound comes out in chunks, all chewed up, this didnt happen with my ISA sb16, any idea why ?
<starlady> Please message questions for Dave Phillips to starlady. Thanks!
<mulaw> mpg123 may require a buffer setting. See 'man mpg123' for the details on usng the -b option.
<mulaw> .
<starlady> <craig> Is there a general mechanism for recording audio going too ALSO or OSS output device, without using a cable to tie your line out to line in?
* starlady thinks craig may have meant ALSA
<mulaw> craig: What exactly do you want to record ? You might try paudio, hold on for the URL...
<craig> mulaw: freebirth output in particular. It has no built in recording mechanism
<mulaw> yeh, freebirth needs a Save, big time...meanwhile, see http://nwc.syr.edu/~jdimpson/proj/index.html
<mulaw> .
<starlady> <ElCoronel> I have a friend ( http://www.octobrx.com ) that records himself playing the guitar and singing...could you recommend some good Linux sequencing software, perhaps with a nice learning curve?
<mulaw> EC: He might get along well with Jazz++, it's an audio/MIDI sequencer that's been around for a while,
<starlady> For more information about this event, see http://linux.com/interact/live/calendar.phtml?item_id=32
<mulaw> and it's undergoing an "interfacelift" from a rather drab wxWindows GUI to a spanking new GTK look. :) It is
<mulaw> also very powerful, just not real pretty right now. Does he need MIDI ?
<influx> in case you missed it the books ISBN: 1-886411-34-4
<ElCoronel> mulaw: no, he just needs to sequence the guitar track and the voice track
<ElCoronel> mulaw: both from a mic - he could use a decent mic too :-)
<mulaw> EC: Well, he could certainly use Jazz++, but he may just want to use ecasound, Broadcast 2000, or SLab. Or Ardour
<mulaw> when it's ready.
<mulaw> .
<starlady> <shayes_> are there any particular strengths or weaknesses in different distributions for sound?
<mulaw> shayes: Not really. The sound system is one of those fairly clean interfaces that Linux likes to crow
<mulaw> about, and the driver layer is pretty well covered by the available sources (kernel modules, OSS/Linux, ALSA). Kernel
<mulaw> versions probably cause more trouble than distro idiosyncracies.
<mulaw> .
<starlady> <Alien> Could you recomend any program for Linux where you can actually type in the note bars ? (the -b option on mpg123 didnt work)
<starlady> <Alien> no idea if mulaw cares, but I actually solved the chunked sound by downsampeling the sound with the -2 switch of mpg123 ...
<mulaw> Alien: What those man pages have in store for us... ;)
<mulaw> Alien: Odd that the downsampling was needed, but it works okay now ?
<starlady> <Alien> but thanks for the manual page tip :)
<starlady> there
<Alien> yeah
<starlady> now I don't have to paste all that ;)
<Alien> works like a charm
<Alien> clean as a spring day ...
<mulaw> Alien: Regarding music typing...what are you looking for ? Maybe Common Music Notation or MUP ?
<Alien> well, some kinda software where you you can type notes
<Alien> and chose sevearl instruments
<Alien> wish I could type today too
<starlady> If anyone else has questions for Dave Phillips, the author of 'Linux Music and Sound', please /msg them to starlady
<Alien> never heard of MUP
<Alien> I'm kinda new to computer made music, when making it myself
<mulaw> Alien: Check out the notation section in the Linux soundapps pages at sound.condorow.net, you might find what you're
<mulaw> looking for there.
<Alien> mulaw, thanks
<starlady> Does anyone else have any questions for Dave this evening?
<mulaw> Alien: My pleasure...
<starlady> We're going to give away a copy of mulaw (Dave Phillips)'s book, 'Linux Music and Sound'. in just a couple of minutes...
<starlady> <craig> I am interested in any existing network accesable "audio server" for live performances.
<starlady> <craig> which could be used as a mixer for a set of audio rendering workstations
<mulaw> craig: Check out the Network Audio section at sound.condorow.net. You might also be interested in
<mulaw> GDAM at http://www.ffem.org/gdam/ That's an active development area these days, so you can expect some interesting
<mulaw> software to arise. You might also want to check out GStreamer at http://gstreamer.net/.
<mulaw> .
<starlady> Okay, I think that's pretty much it....
<starlady> We'd like to thank Dave for joining us tonight and answering all our questions :) A copy of this log will be on Linux.com sometime this week so you can catch up on all the Linux music and sound action!
<starlady> but first... it's time to give away a copy of Dave's book!
<starlady> Okay, here's how it will work... mulaw will /msg me a number between 1 and 100, and I'll unmoderate the channel. Everyone say a number between 1 and 100 (try not to duplicate - we'll work out dupes somehow). The person with the number closest to Dave's wins a copy of his book!
<starlady> mulaw: whenever you're ready you can /msg me a number
<starlady> ok
<craig> (sent to #lisp) 69
<ink> 42!
<Alien> 76
<radix> 23
<elzo> 37
<lazarus> 47
<bitwize> 42
<ink> that was mine :P
<bitwize> 64
<bitwize> :) sorry
<ink> :)
<jdboyd> 73
<Kingsqueak> 55
<starlady> ok, I'll give people another minute or so, then we'll give the book away
<goodness> 2
<starlady> 30 seconds...
<influx> Once again, the book is called Linux Music & Sound by Dave Phillips, ISBN 1-886411-34-4
<starlady> <mulaw> 41
<starlady> and ink is the winner!
<ink> YAY!
<influx> and there No Starch has a deal on the book this week
<craig> uhm bitwize
<craig> oh doh!
<bitwize> damn you!
<t-mp> ah, i was wondering what the numbers where all about
<craig> hehehehe
<bitwize> :)
* radix raises an eyebrow
<starlady> ink: please /msg me a name and address we can send the book to :)
<mulaw> mulaw sends ink his virtual autograph...
<ink> okay
<radix> didn't ink say 42?
<NivFreak> shoot
<craig> yah
<NivFreak> missed my chance for the book
<NivFreak> oh well
<NivFreak> heh
<starlady> Thanks everyone for coming and for your questions. Thanks especially to Dave for being here! Come on back tomorrow to chat with the original staff of Linux.com as part of our second anniversary celebration, and check out our trivia games later this week!
<elzo> oh, no!
<craig> the quick and the bookless
<NivFreak> I'll just buy it
<NivFreak> heh
<craig> me too
<lazarus> 989976814
<starlady> (If you like winning stuff, be sure to come back on Thursday and Friday for our trivia games!)
<craig> lazarus: buffer overflow!
<lazarus> is that out of bounds, or too late? :)
<radix> oh, he had closest. duh :)
<mulaw> Thanks everyone, I'm outta here ! Make a mighty noise !!