My last days in my home studio Geontime in Chisinau

These are my last days in my home studio in Chisinau. Establishing myself in Cambridge will take time and probably after several months I’ll receive there only the MIDI keyboard, and the sound card plus the microphone. During this time I don’t think I’ll be able to write much music. In Cambridge probably I’ll change my workflow, and also the software and the platform. I need a high quality strings sample library, good reverb, and other better quality DSP. Due to this, there is a need to change a lot, also the DAW and the platform unfortunately.

Notebook: Thoughts about harmony

Now I am working on a new piece that involves more orchestration. I use there piano, violas, violins, trubas. I’d say it is a kind of post classical style. In comparison to the previous piece here understood and succeeded how apply better ostinato and how it can be used, and how can be passed (switching) to various instruments, especially for violins, creating interesting effects, but in the frame of harmony.  Here also developed a harmony progression guiding myself by functional harmony to create a phrase with a half cadence, and an authentic cadence. First time voiced the chords in the open position, but I had to struggle too much with fixing parallel fifths and octaves, and than left them in closed position, maybe later I’ll modify them.

I thought about the form. Understood that I can create a kind of theme and its variation, but is not very strict, rather there is used melodic ideas from the first two phrases, and just passing them to different instruments, often playing them in staccato and maybe I’ll do other tricks.

What I started to think is that probably just a repeated chord progression is not the right way, probably I need to develop more varied harmonic progression using functional harmony, and develop the ideas, phrases and cadences to create form I want to create with the desired emotional impact. I am trying to study about this, and also the harmony progressions (functional harmony) in Bach Prelude 1 in C Major BWV 846 from the Well-Tempered Clavier  and Mozart – Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

Studying Bach’s piece it forces me to understand and focus more on 7th cords, and the dominant sevenths, until now I avoided these chords, but now I started to think more about them. Motzart’s  Symphony No. 40 teaches me how I can use a chord across the instruments, and how I can voice them in  different ways, I even started to use some of these kinds of construction in my current piece. But there are lot of things I don’t understand, and need to learn how to apply.

Started to use more MuseScore first to write the notes and compose, and than put them into Ardour DAW. Now I think this is important to develop the skill to write music ideas on the “paper” first… but this is relative, anyway this craft for now I am considering the most important for me – to manipulate ideas in my head, to think in terms of the form.

Recurring Dream

Here is my new piece “Recurring Dream”.  It is a kind of style I like most of all, and I would like to compose more like this. It uses various instruments: paino, violin, viola, flute, horn, clarnet, and synth. The percussion are some samples from VSCO library and the kick is from my library that I synthesized with GeonKick developed by me for my studio, but I have released it as free software.


Credits & License

Some kick samples synthesized with GeonKick

Here a is list of samples (released under CC-BY 4.0) that were synthesized with my own developed kick synthesizer GeonKick. I am developing it for my home studio Geontime, but its code is under GPLv3 and you can find it here. It is still in the very beginning stage, and I don’t know how usable can be for others. A newer version will come (working on it now) with more complete features, but I don’t know when it will be ready. Compression, distortion, and reverb effects over some samples were done by using plugins in Ardour.

Now the synthesizer have only two oscillators: base (sine, square, triangle, sawtooth), and noise. The GUI part gives the possibility to draw the frequency and amplitude envelopes for oscillators. It also has two audio outputs for Jack. It is standalone, and it is still not a plugin. The next version will have 3 oscillators, 1 MIDI in, two audio outputs,  envelopes (amp and freq), and filters for every oscillator. A general filter and an amplitude envelope.

Some of the samples were already used in my composed music. “Evening” ones are used in the current piece I am working now.

GeonKick Evening
GeonKick Evening Compressed
GeonKick Evening Compressed Dist
GeonKick Evening Compressed Noise
GeonKick Evening Compressed Noise Dist
GeonKick Long
GeonKick Med Noise
GeonKick Med Dist
GeonKick Short Dist
GeonKick Short Noise
GeonKick Snare
GeonKick Short Dist
GeonKick Reverb
GeonKick Short
GeonKick Short Noise

Here you can download all the archive of samples in WAV format.

My workflow now started to be stable

Almost finishing my piece completely in Ardour (with MIDI editing). After some fixes I’ve done in the Yoshimi and Calf plugins, and also in the Lilv library,  Ardour started be stable on my case, and the new work-flow to give results… I can concentrate now on music. When the piece will be released, there also will follow a blog post about my thoughts on music creation with free software, and GNU/Linux.

Today contributed with a crash fix for Calf plugins

Sine I have made an upgrade of my Geontime Studio with a more powerful computer, I started to install all the configuration and software that I need for composing music in GNU/Linux (Debian). I want to reach a stable configuration for my workflow for at least the 6 next months, when to concentrate only on music. I have compiled Ardour from the repository and the rest of the basing plugins I use, and other software. But not everything goes well from the beginning, and something is crashing here and there. The last week I made a crash fix for Yoshimi synth and today for Calf plugin, and they were merged into the master. Now probably I am closer to my stable workflow, and can continue the mix for the piece I am working.

Just contributed to Yoshimi synthesizer with a bug fix

Yoshimi is a software synthesizer, and since it has also a LV2 plugin I started to use it now in Ardour. Ardour warned me once that I need to increase the maximum locked memory, but I ignored this. Working on my new piece, and adding new tracks with Yoshimi as an instrument, the Ardour started to crash. Studying a little the crash with GDB I found that it comes from Yoshimi. Cloned the Yoshimi repository, and fixed the crash and made a commit to the project. At least Yoshimi will not crash Ardour if there is not enough memory to lock.

Now I’ve seen that my contribution was accepted. I am happy twice. 🙂 The work on the piece can continue, and soon I will start the mixing phase.

This is how you are becoming addicted by GNU/Linux

This is how you are becoming addicted by GNU/Linux and free software. You want a viola in a track, qsample crashes when you want to load SF2 instruments… you download the latest code of qsample, and it doesn’t compile… than you comment some lines of C++ code in qsample that gives errors, but you don’t think this will affect sf2… so you compile, run, load the instrument… and your track is playing the viola… and you are happy! That’s a real composition. #music #freesoftware

Changing my Workflow: Ardour MIDI Editing

Until now my workflow was LMMS->Ardour. Than I updated Debian and LMMS (repo version) started to crash. I thought It was due to some plugins, but not. I have compiled the new version of LMMS, but it doesn’t compile the ZynAddSubFx plugin. Anyway I had plans to move completely to Ardour.

Now I succeeded to compile Yoshimi as a LV2 plugin, so, I have started to work on a new idea purely in Ardour.

Here are my main thoughts about Ardour MIDI editing:

  • Sometimes the first note of a region is not played.
  • Transition, for example, from one chord to another often the previous chord is still played and clashes with the current cord (it may be from the synthesizer, but I don know).
  • Note dynamics (velocity) is visible only by color nuances. That is not so practical. Not event saying that there are a lot of people with dichromacy.
  • I think piano roll is the right thing, and there are other issues regarding  MIDI, but I’ll see if my experience will change after some pieces created.

Feel The Rain my new chillout piece

Feel The Rain is my new chillout piece based on some older ideas. The voice belongs to Natalia Surdu-Palanciuc.  I hope that you’ll be translated in the little world we created in this piece.

The piece was made with free software:

  •  LMMS a sequencer
  •  Ardour for mixing, but also as midi sequencer adding some new melodies
  • Debian GNU/linux – the operating system
  • Free software DSP plugins available on GNU/Linux


Credits & License

  • Feel The Rain, by Geontime, licensed under CC-BY 4.0.
  • Voice by Natalia Surdu-Palanciuc
  • Cover image Rain, by jerryw387,  under license CC-BY 2.0.