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Midnight Pub

Rediscovering Music


For many years, I pretty much gave up on the whole music thing. I loved playing live. Unfortunately (?), it isn't the nineties anymore. The live music scene isn't what it used to be and, as a result, there are far fewer casual musicians around today than there were twenty or thirty years ago.

Since at least 2012, I simply couldn't care less about music. In the last few months, however, something in my brain has changed. It's difficult to describe, but I suddenly "hear" music again. I've started once again to not only analyze songs, but to be affected by them. As a direct result, my interest in songwriting has been rekindled. My brother has always been interested in writing music, so I contacted him and we started working together (again).

Being a longtime Linux user and far more technically-minded than my brother, it naturally fell to me to organise the recording situation:


Focusrite Scarlett Solo external soundcard for recording things. This is a USB-standards compliant soundcard that works well in Linux and isn't very expensive (~$160 CAD). It has one 1/4-inch input and one XLR input if you're going to use a microphone. This is more than adequate for recording tracks. My daily driver laptop is a Lenovo Thinkpad T470. With 32GB of RAM and an NVMe drive, it too is ready for action. My loyal set of headphones (Sony MDR-7509) will be up to the task as well.


I didn't really want to optimize things à la ArchLinux. I wanted an "install and create" experience. Ubuntu Studio fit the bill. I'm using Ardour, Hydrogen for the drum kit, and ZynAddSubFX for the occasional synth bits that I add for flavour.

Ardour is a great program, however I have to say that I'm completely blown away by Hydrogen and the FreePats selection of drum kits.

FreePats drum kits

Hydrogen has an option where, instead of programming drums on a cold and lifeless timeline, you program them along to an arbitrary WAV file that you load into the program, like a rough guitar track for example. This greatly simplified putting together a convincing robo-drummer.


I've never been much of a knob-twiddler when it came to music. Linux and some cheap hardware has made it very easy and surprisingly rewarding to get started.

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~stargazer wrote:

I do some side work as a recording engineer for a local studio. I am not musically inclined myself, but I have a good ear for recording. We have all analog gear except a Roland 24 track digital recorder for final mastering.

~tlf wrote (thread):

I always wondered if playing music so much killed my interest. I don't mind it, but it's about as interesting as listening to the wrong blowing these days. I used to love it.

Good that you've got it back again because as much as we might not miss it, if nothing replaces it it can feel like a loss.

On the tech side - I tried Ardour, Jack, Hydrogen and the usual suspects but it wasn't until I bought a proprietary setup that I was freed up enough to get creative. That's just me though.

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