October 26, 2010
Until now I have rarely contributed back to the OSS. Small things for Zope and Plone, and some translations for FreeMind and MySQL. But nothing in the music area, though I have used free and open source music software since someone came up with the concept of Open Source.
Now this is changing. I have decided to use PureData as my main tool, my musical hammer and welding machine. I have tried others, and I will tell why I ended up with Pd.
Csound: Could not get it to work. Really tried, but the debian packages did not work, CsoundAPI was wrong version, Blue was wrong version, Java was wrong version. Or I was wrong version, I don’t really know. Tried to compile everything from source in several combinations, it just did not work. Csound is working, but I need to be able to interact in real time through some GUI, and I simply couldn’t get that to work.
SuperCollider: A tool that looks so promising, but the learning curve seems too steep. Documentation is really not much of a help; it seems written from a programmers point of view and not from a musicians. I understand why, but I really cannot read it; it hits something in my brain that makes my eyes want to look somewhere else. Sorry. I like the project, Smalltalk and music is a nice combination.
Processing: Not fast enough.
Pd: Ok, I did Max back in the 90s, so Pd is easy for me. Back then I spend a lot of time doing my own externals on a Mac, and it was a real pain. Today I did one, using the brilliant Code::Blocks and the tutorial by johannes m zmölnig, and it took me half an hour to make the HelloWorld external say “Hello World!” to me. Two more hours and I had a unit that can produce Per Nørgårds Infinity Series … forever. Well, not forever, its only 32 bit ints. Works like a charm.
More about Per Nørgårds Infinity Series in a later post. It’s the best thing since well tempered scales – in fact, it’s a lot better.
October 11, 2010
It was a great experience in Vor Frue Kirke. People were asking for CD’s (which I had not made), and several came to thank me. It’s not really a concert, it’s more like filling the quiet room with sound, to make relaxing easier.
I used Mixx as player, which was not the best choice. i felt more like a DJ than a composer/performer, and did not have the possibility to change as much as i would have. Next time i will do the audio from Pd, and make it more like a live performance. I don’t know if the audience will be able to tell any difference, but for me it will be better, I’m certain.
Well … maybe I will stick to Pd. After all it seems rather easy to extend the system – and Faust seems very interesting. I will have to give it a closer look.
October 2, 2010
Ok, Ubuntu it is. I was forced to do it, because my two-year-old Dell laptop refused start one evening. I had no backups of my work, so I started to panic, but then bought a 4G usbstick and tried Ubuntu. I have done linux for years, mostly on servers, so I wasn’t really scared. But with a concert in the main cathedral of Denmark (Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen) two weeks later, I wasnøt really happy.
I used mostly Pd, Audacity, Csound and some python/processing on my XP laptop. I figured out that I might be able to use almost the same software, and then some more. So that is what I do – use Pd, Audacity, Csound – and MusE. And Jack and the synth with the ugliest name in the universe: ZynAddSubFX.
Except for Jack (and maybe MusE) I could have had the exact same setup on my XP laptop. But never so friendly adn beautiful – and rock solid. There is no real ALSA/Jack equivalent on Win, so you have to install small utilities, often resulting in a shaky system.
It has taken me some effort and some late nights to get this far. Ubuntu (or the entire Debian tree of distributions, actually) is not made for musicians; we have to work a little to get what we need. Some thing don’t really work yet, and I will share with you how I made them work (when it happens).