Originally Published: Wednesday, 8 March 2000 Author: Jeff Alami
Published to: columnists/Jeff Alami Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Linux and Music Creation Software

Using computers for composing music has traditionally been the realm of Windows and Macintosh users. While the popular commercial sound tools aren't available for Linux, quite a few free music software projects have cropped up.

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Using computers for composing music has traditionally been the realm of Windows and Macintosh users. While the popular commercial sound tools aren't available for Linux, quite a few free music software projects have cropped up. Most of them are under heavy development, and features are being added to them constantly. There may not be many fully released music tools for Linux, but the future looks encouraging.

Most music creation applications are geared toward the electronic music genre. Synthesizers, drum machines, and electronically generated samples are very popular. The gAlan project is one such application for creating electronic music, complete with synthesizer, drum machine, sequencer, and effects. The basic examples on the Web site are worth checking out. It does have a learning curve to use, however, but those familiar with Buzz for Windows will find gAlan quite familiar.

One of the most popular applications for electronic music composers is ReBirth, with its 303-like synthesizers and its attractive user interface. A free clone, FreeBirth, is under development, but is far from having the same features as its commercial counterpart. If you're into creating music with tools known as trackers, especially FastTracker for DOS, you'll feel right at home with SoundTracker.

One area where Linux lacks good music applications is in MIDI sequencing and wave editing. One promising sequencer was originally called KooBase, as it was a clone of Steinberg's CuBase for Windows and Macintosh. Steinberg decided to defend their trademark, and now the project is called Brahms. Brahms seems to be the most promising MIDI sequencer application available for Linux, and it even has an interface for the aRts analog synthesizer application.

While a professional music artist would be better off using the more well-known and supported Windows and Macintosh applications for music creation, hobbyists with Linux on their system will find these offerings to be worth trying. The main problem lies with the sound support, especially drivers for specialized devices which communicate with professional equipment. Hopefully, as Linux moves further into the mainstream, commercial music software companies will become interested in supporting the platform.

Jeff Alami (jeff@linux.com) is the Editor-in-Chief of Linux.com. He also makes some lame music for MP3.COM as Zagreus, and while most of his songs were made with Windows tools, he's now getting into Linux music creation apps such as SoundTracker. Buy his CD! </shameless plug>





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