Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Anything that doesn’t fit the other categories

The LAC2014 Percussion Combo

A music box toy found in Rüdesheim
A music box toy found in Rüdesheim

At the Linux Audio Conference (LAC) 2015 in Mainz, I gave a small “lightning talk” on April 9th about a sound project that was started one year earlier, at the LAC in Karlsruhe in May 2014.

I recorded a couple of attendees creating various sounds outside a museum in Bruchsal, and later on converted these sounds into a sample collection that could – in theory – be used as a kind of percussion/drumkit.

The whole thing was rather more a joke than a serious project, but it was an interesting learning experience for me, lots of fun to create a “demo track” with it, and maybe someone finds this useful, so grab the kit here, and enjoy.

After recording, the main tasks were to cut out the individual sounds, trim them, add in tiny fade-in and fade-out segments (all of this was done with Sweep, a beautifully usable but unfortunately today little maintained sound file editor). Also, a bit of normalization or amplification/attenuation was done with very few of the samples. However, no compression or other effects were applied.

Most of the artists attempted to play their “instrument” with a kind of velocity layering (like, hitting a boot with another one first softer, then ever louder and stronger), but the order was not kept everywhere, so I also had to listen to the samples repeatedly to determine my own (purely subjective) correct velocity layer ordering.

Then I noticed that I created stereo samples, but this did not make so much sense for percussion instruments in a musical context, so I had to convert them to mono. On Linux, this is pretty much a 1-liner:

mkdir mono; for i in *.wav; do sox $i -c 1 mono/$i; done

The kit consists of 11 different “instruments”, some of which are velocity layered while others are best played as individual samples (one sample per key):

  • Lowa Boot Kick (Marc Groenewegen)
  • Banana Peel Slap (Pjotr Lasschuit)
  • Mini Stone HiHat (Frank Neumann, recorded much later)
  • Knee Bottle (Nils Gey)
  • Double Finger Snap (Bernard Tressol)
  • Rubber Band Twang (Michael Seeber)
  • Small hand Claps (Stefano Pedrinazzi)
  • Hand Fart (again Marc Groenewegen)
  • Ticket Key Rattle (Marie-Kristin Meier)
  • Camera Pocket Zipper (Fernando Lopez-Lezcano)

For each instrument you will find mono as well as the original stereo samples, in a “stereo/” subdirectory.
An .h2drumkit file for straight use with Hydrogen is included in the archive as well.

Here is a quick test pattern created in Hydrogen:

For those interested, the presentation was done with PinPoint (https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Pinpoint). Here is a plain rendered PDF version of those slides.

After the sample kit was done, I thought I’d also have to create “something real” with it – not just a quick test pattern – and after having had the initial idea of “doing a song that somehow shows the spirit of LAC”, I got carried faaar away and went wild in different aspects – writing a melody line, lyrics, arranging, creating a simple “video” (rather a slide show), and finally also – hold your breath – singing. Yes, really. And no, I cannot sing, but zita-at1 came to the rescue to fix the worst parts, and I think it did a great job :-).

The result is definitely not a masterpiece – it was done in a hurry, there was basically no mixing or EQing at all, but it was so much fun to create that I ignore the quality part here.

So, without further ado, I present the song/video that ended my lightning talk in Mainz – here is “That’s LAC” (video done with Blender’s VSE):

And this is what my screen looked like while working on this “jewel” –

Screenshot_ThatsLAC_Session

I really start loving Qtractor and Calf Studio Gear. Oh, and setBfree is becoming ever better too!

LAC2013: Roll The Drums!

Cat enjoying the warmth of a public terminal at the TU Graz

It’s just 2 more hours until LAC2013 (Linux Audio Conference #11) is finally starting. If you have no yet arrived in Graz by this time, better hurry up! Or, as an alternative, watch the video streams of the presentations from your comfy couch at home (URL should be available on the homepage soon now).

Yesterday’s “conference warm-up dinner” was already (as usual :-)) crowded with some (estimated) 40 folks in an italian restaurant, so it will be interesting to see much much audience there will be this year.

LAC’s up!

 

Back to ski business, finally!

Last year I was unable (due to my previous employer’s decision) to join some friends for skiing in Austria, so it was great I could go with them this year. We went to Kappl near Ischgl (one of Austria’s biggest ski resorts) in the Paznaun valley (Tyrol) from Feb 9th-16th with a group of 21 people in total, and had a house almost entirely on our own, booked through Interchalet.

First day, -18 degrees: Entering the "highway", Lattenalm
First day, -18 degrees: Entering the "highway", Lattenalm

The worst part of the whole week was getting there by car – not only was this a week of school holidays in our state (so, everybody and his children, aunt and grandmother drive to the Alps for skiing), but also we ran into several traffic jams due to fresh snow on the highway, blocked roads after acidents and more – which resulted in a total trip time of 11 hours for a 400km distance (normally it wouldn’t take longer than 5 hours). Ouch! I believe it cannot get much worse than this. I dreamt a lot of red brake lights that following night.

People sledge-riding at night on illuminated ski slope
People sledge-riding at night on illuminated ski slope

I believe I have never been out for skiing this early (when I was a child, with my parents we typically went around mid-March), so it was great to see that we really had snow all the way down to the valley, so all slopes back to town were possible without grassy or muddy areas. Also, the temperature was low enough to not let the snow age too soon (on the first day, we had -18C on the mountain tops). Only towards the end, the sun was able to kill a bit of snow.

Icicles on the ski lift, formed by rotational forces
Icicles on the ski lift, formed by rotational forces

Regarding a ski pass, one can choose between different models and areas (just Kappl, just Ischgl, “4 out of 6 days” and so on), but since I wanted maximum flexibility, I decided to go for the “access all areas” (See, Kappl, Ischgl, Galtr) pass for 6 days which costs a whopping 250. I didn’t regret that decision, though – we spent 3 days in Kappl, 2 in Ischgl and 1 in Galtr, and it was just cool to go wherever you just wanted to.

 

A chain coated by ice, at the Faulbrunn-Alm hut above Galtr

Weather was quite ok – there was one day of snow, one day of weak light, but 3 days with perfect conditions. Especially the day in Galtr (Wednesday) was great, with a very little bit of snow coming down all day long, making the air glitter and sparkle in beautiful ways.

Slight snow creating beautiful glitter in the air
Slight snow creating beautiful glitter in the air

On Thursday, I spent a couple of hours skiing on my own – I do this each time so then I can have a better eye on the landscape and making photos. Especially the highest point of the Ischgl ski arena, the Greitspitze (2871m) is a great place to overlook several mountain ranges and valleys.

Greitspitze, 2871m, highest peak in the Ischgl arena
Greitspitze, 2871m, highest peak in the Ischgl arena
Idalp, the most crowded place around Ischgl in winter
Idalp, the most crowded place around Ischgl in winter

Towards the end of that day, a friend on snowboard and me (just skis) got a chance to pick one of the last ski lifts up to Greitspitze at 4PM, and we suddenly found ourselves alone on the mountain – I love that moment. The sun was slowly setting, no noises around, just you and the snow. Those are great moments!

Time (and sun) running out on the last trip of a beautiful day in Ischgl
Time (and sun) running out on the last trip of a beautiful day in Ischgl

The last evening we traditionally do not cook, but go out for dinner instead – we went to “Hotel Post” in Kappl, and 4 of us ordered the “Postgeheimnis” together (due to a mistake by the waiter, we were actually served the dish for 5 persons – even better 🙂 which tasted great and was enough for..uhm..2 or 3 days :-).

Great dinner ("Postgeheimnis") on our last evening
Great dinner ("Postgeheimnis") on our last evening

To summarize: Bad start due to heavy traffic conditions, but thereafter a wonderful week with plenty of snow and great views. Luv it!

What’s left to be done is to use the videos I took with my GoPro HD Hero2 and “make something out of them”. I hope Blender will serve as a good video editing platform for this purpose.

Still picture from video shot with GoPro attached to ski stick, carried over my shoulder
Still picture from video shot with GoPro attached to ski stick, carried over my shoulder

 

 

 

New Year, New Blog, First Post.

Hi, and welcome to this new blog. My name is Frank Neumann, I live in south-west Germany, and after far too long time I finally started my own blog today.
I owned the domain “linuxaudio.de” for a long time now (>8 years?) but never used it for anything else than a simple “data buffer”. Now, thanks to the kind folks at gnuher.de I have a real WordPress blog to dump my brain into.

What can you expect? The plan is to write about things that I care about – mostly, as the name implies, about Linux Audio (making noises, sounds, music, creating work flows, explaining little tricks etc), but also about other computer-related things I am interested in – graphics, software development, whatever.

Besides, I’ll write now and then about the “life outside computer world” which to me means topics like:

  • My favourite sports – Running, Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, ..
  • Photography
  • Life, the Universe and anything not covered so far

Those who know me a bit also know that I am incredibly slow, so don’t expect a new article every day (or even week). But you are welcome to check back now and then.

Happy New Year everyone – may it be soundful and musical,
Frank