tom moody

"Streets of Passive Aggression"

"Streets of Passive Aggression" [4.1 MB .mp3]

As noted previously, I've been working with the Tracktion digital audio workstation, which, amazingly for a commercial DAW, offers a Linux version in addition to the standard Mac & Cheese alternatives. My understanding is its JUCE code is designed to work with any OS, and, on Linux, integrates very well with the JACK audio standard.

I use looping MIDI files quite a bit in my autodidact-ish form of composing -- that is, listening to C2-F3-F2-A2-D3-A3-F3-D#3-C#3 (or whatever) over and over as I write the next part that plays in harmony or counterpoint to that. If I have to keep adjusting the loop markers to keep notes from disappearing -- as happens constantly with Ardour, I get frustrated and go read an e-book or something instead of working on music. Several people on the Linuxmusicians forum noted that Tracktion and Bitwig are "stable" in that regard, so I'm checking out the alternatives.

The good news is Tracktion-on-Linux is incredibly stable for long term editing work with MIDI and audio. It's superior to Cubase and Ableton in its ability to render loops "on the fly" (as they say) and place them in the timeline as you are working. It also has a better browser that allows you to quickly find and move samples from your PC into an open project window, or individual sample players.

The bad news, on Linux at least, is it doesn't handle third party plugins well. They tend to crash, or not have save-able presets. This forces you to use Tracktion plugins -- which are perfectly fine for most effects such as delay, reverb, compressor, limiter, but somewhat lacking for software synthesizer choices. Tracktion has a ROMpler-type sampler, that you can arrange in racks of multiple samplers, and that's what I used to make this track, pulling from my burgeoning, motley sample archive. (Many of these sound files originate "on the internet," including 808 kits, the Legowelt synth collection, and some truly gritty 8-bit "Streets of Rage" samples -- hat tip to kiptok for that last one, I think). The one softsynth used here, Helm (that chirping sound at the beginning and end) is pretty reliable as a plugin as long as you don't care about saving presets -- Tracktion remembers the settings for project, however.

So, for the moment, at least, am treating Tracktion as a self-contained instrument sitting on the PC -- like a virtual Octatrack -- until I get a better handle on the "plugin situation."

- tom moody

March 17th, 2017 at 9:54 am

Posted in linux diary, music - tm