Building a song

Yesterday I extolled the virtues of Ubuntu Studio. I got a comment, plus a couple of emails about it. Apparently someone was intersted.

I thought I'd give a quick demo on how easy it is to create music with software like this. A lot of folks are afraid of this kind of software. So was I, but apparently for no reason.

I decided (since we're putting it on the album) to record a scratch of Hillsong's "From the Inside Out." Just a verse and chorus. Don't worry - you won't have any tracks of me singing, trust me.

I decided to start with the drum track. For this, I used Hydrogen, the drum sequencer included with Ubuntu Studio. First thing to do is open a new session and then open the pattern editor. On the top of the editor, you select how many beats you want your pattern to be, and how many divisions you want. In this case, I chose 8 beats and 1/32nd notes.

From there it's a simple matter of adding each element at the appropriate place. This rhythm is slightly syncopated, which is why I chose the 1/32 divisions. I could have gotten away with sixteenths for a straight 4/4 rock song. (for the high-hats)

The bars along the bottom show the velocity of each of the hits. In this part of the pattern they are even.

For this pattern, you can see the velocity gets greater with each hit. This is a buildup using kick and two toms. Once you have your patterns set, you then look at the song editor view.

If you think this looks like a mixer, that's because that's what it is. The top half assigns patterns to each measure, and the bottom is a regular mixing console. With the mixer you can adjust the relative volumes of each channel, pan them left or right, mute or solo them. There are even FX inserts for plugins. "humanize" is a nice feature - it will randomly change the timing and/or velocity slightly. After all, no one is perfect.

In a future post, I will show how to import this into Ardour. You can listen to what we have so far here.


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