Article from Issue 226/2019

This month Graham dives into LMMS, Name Generator, Heaptrack, Binaural Audio Editor, Meshroom, Palapeli, and much more!

Music-making application


The great thing about Linux Music Making Studio (LMMS) is that it doesn't have a steep learning curve, and it can make music production fun, even when you have no idea what you're doing. LMMS is able to do this by also being capable of professional results, albeit in an electronic or loop-based pop genre. LMMS has been around for a long time, but without a major release, it's been difficult to justify its addition here. Fortunately, this changed with the release of LMMS 1.2.0, its first major update in four years.

In many ways, the LMMS workflow is very similar to old versions of an incredibly popular Windows application called FruityLoops Pro. Your music's basic building block is a pattern. This can be constructed out of a rack of drum or percussion sounds being triggered from a matrix, from a single sound in the rack being programmed from a MIDI keyboard, or from the onscreen Piano Roll editor. These are all very standard ways of working with notes, and LMMS makes them immediately playable and clickable as you load a template and start adding and removing notes. When you have a pattern you like, you can copy, paste, and edit to make some variations before using the Song Editor to sequence in which order, and when, each pattern is triggered.

Each instrument has its own uniquely configured sound engine that can be controlled just like a sampler or synthesizer. With the sampler and a few samples, you can use LMMS to create all kinds of sounds, from modern percussive loops to retro strings with modulated filters. You can play and edit at the same time and program the notes and chords as you go along, automating changes in the sound, volume, and panorama in the Song Editor. You can even record or import your own audio, just as you would with a traditional digital audio workstation (DAW) like Ardour.

All of this "composing" can be done while playing in real time from your Linux keyboard, MIDI keyboard, or remote control, while adding effects, new instruments and controls, building patterns, and constructing your song until you have a track you like that you can then export. New output options include 24-bit WAV for professional mastering. LMMS does all this from a wonderfully designed, completely integrated user interface (UI). It even includes its own effects with beautifully responsive graphics, such as the all new parametric equalizer and spectrum analyzer. These can be used alongside your native Linux effects and software synthesizers. There's even a good range of templates and sounds to get you started, a new demo for this release, and some good documentation that covers the basics.

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1 Side panel: Quickly access your files, presets, and the sound library that comes with LMMS. 2 Song Editor: After you've created a few patches, you can sequence them and add audio tracks. 3 Pattern editor: Trigger samples or synth sounds, perfect for creating drum loops and basslines. 4 Real-time effects: LMMS can access LADSPA and VST effects and includes a comprehensive set of its own effects. 5 Synths: Alongside effects, LMMS bundles a wide variety of synths, including a SID emulation and its own ZynAddSubFX front end. 6 Piano Roll: Add or record MIDI notes for synth and sound playback. 7 Mixer: Route audio to effects groups, automate controls, and export high quality audio.

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