The backbone of any sound track is a good drum track. Maybe you like to use them sparingly, or maybe you go all out on the drums, but either way you need drums. The three DAW’s I have covered so far, Audacity, Ardour, and LMMS all have drum integration. I would venture to say that drums in LMMS are easiest to use as there is a drum track where you can click in the drums on certain beats. On Ardour and Audacity you have to copy and paste the drums while also trying to align them, so it can be a little frustrating.
If you want to focus in on the drum track, than you might consider using the Hydrogen Drum Machine. The software is specifically made for making drum tracks and it even has a built in mixer. I actually started off using Hydrogen and when I made the shift to LMMS I found the workflow to be very similar.
Apart from downloading new software for your drum tracks, you do need drum sounds. In LMMS you can find basic drum sounds under the Kicker presets. You could also download something like the Black Pearl Drum-kit and install it like I showed in my LV2 plugin post, and that would work in LMMS or Ardour.
My third alternative would to download recorded drum files. There are a bunch of free sounds and projects on LMMS Sharing Platform, and Freesound also has a bunch of sound files.
Other than that, it’s up to you to make the beat. Something to consider if you are just starting out is downloading a few finished projects off of the LMMS Sharing Platform to see what the beats look like. BPM (Beats Per Minute) settings will make a huge difference in the speed and feeling of the song, so make sure to integrate it if you are trying to imitate a beat or type of song.
I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited to have the latest Zynaddsubfx running in Ardour. I actually got it from the github page for Linux and it took forever to build. I had tried to install it multiple other ways, but it had unmet dependencies or wouldn’t show up in Ardour.
I have come to love the different synths provided in Synaddsubfx because I used to use it in LMMS and it has especially nice choir sounds. It now has a bunch of new synth plugins, and plenty of options for customization.
Having the ability to record and synthesize side by side is the reason that I have started to really use Ardour. I used my Behringer U-Phoria UMC-22 and my Samson CO1 Condenser microphone. It is really budget equipment, but it serves my purposes well. The nice thing is the Behringer DAC automatically came up as an option on Ardour as an audio interface. I know that on Windows, you sometimes have to install drivers to get the interface to come up, but on Linux it worked great for me.
As you can see, I switched my Input Device and Output Device from my laptop’s sound card to my DAC. To be sure that your microphone is coming through, you should see audio coming into the track on the input volume level bar (the green bar in the picture below). Once you have a microphone hooked up, then it is on to recording. All you have to do is add a normal audio track. There is a button to prime each individual track for recording, so be sure to click it on the proper track. You can then press Shift and Space bar to start recording. Instead of that shortcut you could also press the record button at the top of the program and then play.
Before I explain how to add and setup a sub mixing bus in Ardour, I must explain how it’s useful. My particular usage was to control the volume of multiple drum tracks. The bus basically allows you to affect or mix multiple tracks instead of doing them all individually. Another use case would be to add audio effects to multiple tracks, like reverb.
So, to add an audio bus in Ardour you add a audio bus track just as you add other tracks. Something to notice is that it automatically has the track set to mono, but I changed it.
Here is what it looked like on my mixer window. As you can see I had four different drum tracks that I was trying to mix together. On the end there is the audio bus that I added.
If you click on Window -> Tracks and Busses you can bring up the routing grid for all the tracks and busses. All you have to do to connect the tracks to the bus is disconnect them from the Master in, and reconnect them to the name of your Bus in. You also have to connect the bus to the Master in so it actually outputs audio. Below you can see my tom drum connected to the bus, and I just did that for the rest of my tracks.
I used Ardour for the first time the other day. Really, I have downloaded it before, but upon opening it I came to the resolution that it was to complicated as I couldn’t get any audio to be produced. It has been a year or so now, and I have come to want the use of a fully functional DAW. After some research I found out how to do basic audio routing and got sound to be produced! It turns out it isn’t really that hard. Last time I was grappling with using JACK and Ardour together, which would make it have lower latency, but it adds to a beginners confusion.
I only spent a few minutes, as you can probably tell with the audio clipping. Anyways, my main reason for wanting to use Ardour is the recording ability. I was previously using LMMS which is great for making synth tracks, but live music incorporation was just to much work. I was also using Audacity, but it didn’t seem to have easy incorporation of MIDI instruments. I will go over them in later posts as they are still very good applications.