Remastering in a Linux Home Studio: Salvaging “Standing on High”

In 2006-2007 I recorded a song called “Standing on High” using n-Track Studio v.2.3 on Windows 98. (More info about the song here.) Here is my 2007 mixdown:

Now in 2019 I am getting close to finally completing the album this track was intended for. Some years ago I switched my entire audio workflow over to a Linux environment and upgraded my hardware setup, and I have been really pleased with the audio quality of my current tools. (For the record: Linux Mint 19.1, Ardour 5.1, 2nd generation Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, various LV2 plugins.) Since then I have improved my skills at mixing and mastering, so I decided to revisit “Standing on High” to see if I could improve its sound. Continue reading “Remastering in a Linux Home Studio: Salvaging “Standing on High””

Guitar Tablature Editing on Linux

I am a self-taught guitarist, learning to play mostly by ear. When I was 10 years old my dad gave me a chord chart and a few John Denver songs to learn, and I was off to the races. As long as I had the chords and knew the tune, I could play any song. When I was 15 years old my friend showed me a guitar magazine that had the music for a song we both liked, and it was written in tablature. “What’s this?” I asked.

“Tablature,” he explained. “The lines are the strings, and the numbers are the frets.” I stared at it for a few minutes, and then tried to play a few bars. My friend let me take the magazine home, and I learned how to play the whole song that day. Reading standard music notation has never been easy for me, but tablature is simple to understand because I think of guitar music in terms of where I put my fingers on the fretboard, not in terms of the names of the notes I am playing. Learning about tablature opened up a whole new world of guitar music and playing technique for me. When my garage band broke up I spent a lot of time writing down all of our songs in tablature so that I wouldn’t forget how to play them.

There are two Free software tools which I use for writing guitar tablature on Linux, which I will review here. Continue reading “Guitar Tablature Editing on Linux”

A First Look at LMMS

In 2012 I found a keyboard midi controller at a yard sale for $10, and I couldn’t pass it up even though I’m not much of a keyboardist. Once I brought it home I had to find a way to use it, and that search led me to LMMS. There are many good tutorials and other documentation which cover every aspect of installing, configuring, and using LMMS, and I’m not trying to duplicate any of those efforts. This article is meant more as a review and a memoir than as a how-to guide.

LMMS is an obsolete acronym for “Linux Multimedia Studio,” which made for an awkward name when it became a cross-platform application. The website currently says “Let’s Make Music” in the top banner, which would work for the acronym if we could think of a word that starts with “S” to add to it. (Any suggestions? How about: “Let’s Make Music, Sonny?” Yeah, nevermind.) Continue reading “A First Look at LMMS”

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 in a Linux Home Studio

Last year in late November my family sang Away in a Manger together, and my wife commented on how good we sounded with the kids making up their own harmonies. She suggested that we should record it for our Christmas card and email it out to our friends and family.

I said, “Then we need a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface!” She was taken aback at my sudden and specific declaration. So I showed her the website on my phone, which I happened to have open. “See? It’s The Best Selling USB Audio Interface in the World!”

“It sounds like you’ve been looking at this for a while,” she deduced, correctly.

“But clearly we really need one,” I insisted.

So it was settled, and I ordered it within the next week. It cost $151.19 from the Focusrite website, which I thought was a reasonable price. When it arrived we recorded our song and sent it out to our family and friends. The Scarlett 2i2 performed like a champ, and I was pleased with the sound quality of its input. Here is our recording:

Continue reading “Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 in a Linux Home Studio”