Processing loops and more with Giada

Mean Music Machine

Article from Issue 161/2014

Giada is a small piece of musical software that can be used in many ways. Mainly designed for working with loops, Giada also can be used as a drum machine or be flexibly integrated into your workflow, thanks to VST and MIDI support.

Giada adheres to the recipe of a simple interface and minimal system load with maximum benefits. This concept is apparent when you start the program for the first time. What you see is basically a gray box with a few controls – an interface that looks quite different from many other music programs. Once you become more comfortable with Giada, however, you will learn to appreciate this functionality.


Giada [1] does not just provide software for Linux users; it also offers finished packages to Windows and Mac users. Under Linux, you'll find ready-made packages for the DEB system, including Ubuntu and others, in both 32- and 64-bit variants. The developers refer to the 64-bit variant as experimental; unfortunately, it does tend to freeze and crash. Other Linux distributions must make do with an installation from the source code, which is also provided. I even checked the usual RPM resources, where I mainly found older versions of Giada whose use I cannot recommend.

First Sounds

After you launch Giada, you will see the gray box mentioned above along with other boxes and symbols. To load the first sound, press Add new channel and then click Sample channel; otherwise, you create a MIDI channel for corresponding signals. A rudimentary file dialog appears and you can open the desired audio file. You will want to use an uncompressed format such as .wav or .aiff; .mp3 files do not work. Before you start to import the next sounds/loops, you can test the new sound and the connection to the sound system. To do this, play the sound and click on the leftmost square next to the sound – or channel, to use Giada-speak.

The First Beat

Above the channels is a bar with boxes, four by default, which represent individual beats in each measure. Above that is the control panel with the Play/Pause button and the Reverse button, which resets the playback position to the first beat. The circle is for recording events, and the dot is for audio recording (Figure 1). If you enable event recording and start playing, you can use the first button next to a channel to assign the start time for a loop to the individual beats. In this way, you can create an initial rough sequence.

Figure 1: Giada's basic control panel.

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