Have you ever wondered how to create your own synthesizer presets in LMMS? It is really quite easy, although it can be a challenge to make good, usable sounds. The nice thing about LMMS is that there is a ton of presets to choose from, and sometimes just altering one dial can change the entire feel.
To save a preset, just press the save button on the synthesizer and the preset will show up in your My Presets tab.
I have spent some time experimenting with different sounds on LMMS and it was really fun to see how all the synthesizers sounded. For example, the FreeBoy synth that comes with LMMS, often creates sounds that you would hear in a GameBoy game. I created this wipe out static sound that I have used in a couple songs now. If you want to try using it, just extract it into your presets folder for LMMS.
I created a couple decent sounding LMMS presets, but couldn’t figure out how to use them. A few trial projects later and I ended up tweaking a few presets to blend better with the others. I used a bunch of them in my new song, Into Orbit, and I am really happy with the result. Here is the preset I used in the arpeggio and it sounds great!
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 have often heard the common stereotype about Linux that it can’t run “good” software, especially when it comes to music DAWs or plugins. I have already shown some decent, free DAWs that run in Linux, but there are also good audio plugins. Other than LV2, LADSPA, GIG, and SF2, it is also possible to run VST plugins! Traditionally VST plugins only work on Windows. I am here to prove that it can be done, and quite easily.
Now I will admit that I started off taking the long route around. I originally used Wine to install the .exe file for the plugin I wanted. That enabled me to launch it, but took forever to get the proper version of Wine and get it running. Maybe it’s just me, but this route seems to be the harder one, besides you cannot use the plugins in any software. You would have to use JACK Audio or something of the like to port the audio through the plugin and back.
At this point I still couldn’t open the plugin in the plugin manager. I was able to do this by putting the .dll file in my VST folder which is decided by the settings in LMMS. After that, other than LMMS running a bit slower it worked fine.
I have often used the automation tracks in LMMS to turn up or down volume, to change plugin effects, and to really do everything.
Now, I have a lot going on here, but lets say that the violin needed to be louder for a bit to carry the beat.
I have created a automation track and expanded it out to fill four bars. It isn’t doing anything for us yet, so lets fix that.
Here is my mixer window, and my violin is set to track 19.
If you drag your volume bar or effect knob to the automation track, it will tie it to change that control. So what does the editor look like?
This is it, and I have already added two dots to raise the volume temporarily. There are three options at the top to make a change on a very choppy, linear, or smooth path. Now, if you wanted to change more than one control with the same automation track, just drag another control to the track. It won’t appear to change, but if you right click on the track it should say 2 Connections at the bottom.