Linux is often overlooked when it comes to music production. For a long time, there were good reasons for that. The complicated sound system, lack of professional-quality software, and limited hardware compatibility have all contributed toward a bad reputation for Linux when it comes to quality audio tools. We here at MakeTechEasier thought it was time to take a look at where things stand when it comes to music production on Linux, particularly for guitarists. In this article, we’ll cover some things like tab/notation software, audio editing, and multitrack recording.
1. Tabulature and Notation – TuxGuitar
For many, the first thing you’ll want is a place to write, store, and play tabs or notation. Many Windows users enjoy PowerTab and Guitar Pro, each with their own collection of downloadable tabs. For Linux, we’ve got TuxGuitar. It’s a very similar program, gives almost all of the same features, and best of all it’s compatible with Guitar Pro tabs.
2. Effects Processing – FreqTweak
There are multiple programs for Linux aimed at real-time effects processing, and some might work for you better than others. I chose FreqTweak for this example because it’s fairly simple to set up and is available in the standard Ubuntu repositories.
Additionally, a nice feature of FreqTweak is that you can “draw” some of your effects in. In the above example, I drew curves representing the delay I wanted on my incoming sound and FreqTweak will apply it.
3. Audio Editing – Audacity
For years Audacity has been the leading audio editor or Linux. It has a wide range of tools and effects, and is used by people of all skill levels. Record, play, import and export several types of audio formats and do all your tweaking in one place. Acoustic guitarists will likely find Audacity’s noise cancellation plugin to be especially useful.
4. Drum Machine – Hydrogen
There’s a limit to what you can do with guitar alone, and one of the simplest ways to add some spice to your recording is with some drums. There are a number of Linux friendly drum programs out there, but Hydrogen is probably the most popular. You can lay out individual drum patterns, then sequence those patterns into a longer song. Hydrogen, along with some extra drum kit samples, is available in the standard Ubuntu repositories.
5. Sequencing – Ardour
When it comes to multitrack recording and sequencing in Linux, one name immediately comes to mind, and that’s Ardour. It may not be able to fully stack up to the likes of Pro Tools, but when combined with some of the apps above, it should more than satisfy a home recording hobbyist.
Bonus – Tuning
Like Guitar Pro, TuxGuitar also comes with a built-in tuner.