I made some serious progress in the quest to write, record and mix a complete piece of music this past weekend. The catalyst was the discovery of a piece of software called Rosegarden, an audio and MIDI sequencer and music composition and editing environment. Unlike Ardour, which will play an important role when I want to mix my tracks, Rosegarden will allow me to record the parts for individual instruments using my keyboard and then make note by note adjustments to the score after it is recorded. This is critically important for someone like me, who did not pay attention to his piano lessons at all. It will provide me with the ability to express myself in ways I otherwise might not be able to, for lack of ability.
One thing about Rosegarden confounded me for a while. It does not have the ability to play anything back on its own. In my case I eventually discovered I could connect it to Fluidsynth and ZynAddSubFX in order to hear what I had recorded played back. This led to the discovery of Sound Fonts…which probably seems silly to someone who knows what they are doing. There are more details on this in their FAQs under the heading Playback and recording.
Another great resource I discovered is the Open Source Musician Podcast. I met the main host in an IRC where I was asking questions about Ardour. He can also be found on twitter at http://twitter.com/PipeManMusic.
I am getting closer and closer to needing a new computer. Sadly, the further I go the more I realize the old laptop I decided to use as the platform for all of this is not going to cut it in the long run. For one thing, it is too slow to handle the various software demands. But, more importantly, I can’t get clean, latency free audio in or out of it and I can’t install a realistic sound card. As a result, I am looking for suggestions on what will work well. I have a tendency to outgrow ‘beginner’ configurations really quickly but I also don’t want to spend more than $600 or $700 on computer hardware if I can avoid it.