Using Linux To Create a Music Blog

Saxophone? Check. Digital recorder? Check. Camera? Check. Ready to rock & roll. Or do some blues. A bit of jazz? How about some Zydeco. Honky Tonk?

We'll see when we get to the Second Street Brewery this Wednesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That's when the weekly open mic session kicks off at 7:00pm, led by Case Tanner and his house band.

"Wait a minute," I hear you thinking. "What does this have to do with Linux?

Well, you see: I recently got talked into doing a music blog again. I thought I was smart enough to never ever let anyone talk me into doing a music blog again. Ever! But then Heather asked me ever so sweetly if I would, please?

Heather Tanner

Tom, the manager at Second Street piled on with, "Yeah, we'll give you a beer card that you can use on Wednesday night." Ok, now that we all know that I'm easy, and cheap, let's discuss what tools do you need to run a music blog. Linux tools. I don't do Windows.

It turns out that you don't need that much, really:

  • A good digital recorder. I've been using an Edirol R09 for several years. It does a surprisingly good job of recording for being such a small unit. It can do uncompressed wav recordings, but I've been happy with the quality that it records in 320 kbps mpeg format.
  • A good camera. I use a Panasonic Lumix point & shoot because it has an excellent Leica lens, it cycles quickly, and has good intelligent auto focusing.
  • Audio editing software.
  • Photo editing software.
  • A blog site. I use Google's Blogger.

All right, let's fast forward to the end of the end of the evening as you come away from the session with a bunch of pictures, and maybe 3 hours worth of recording. Now What?

Well, I dump the pictures into Google's Picasa running on my Linux Mint 9 box under Wine, and I load the 3-hour 320 kpbs mp3 file into Audacity, which is a very acceptable Linux audio editor.

Want to see what three hours of open mic looks like in Audacity?

All you have to do now is find the bits that sound good and use Audacity's editing features (cut, paste, fade in, fade out, amplify) to separate them out from the bits that might not sound quite so good. I did mention that it was an open mic evening, didn't I? Not everything done during an open mic evening is going to sound, well, wonderful. On the bright side, however, Santa Fe has an overflow supply of musicians, and many of them drop by Second Street on Wednesday to join the house band. It's kind of relaxing for them to have a place where they can play in a non-gig venue and just have a bit of fun.

For pictures you can use Picasa to help you cherry pick some of the better shots of the evening. Picasa has nice editing features that will allow you to resize, rotate, do red-eye correction etc. If you prefer not to use Picasa, there are numerous other Linux photo editing applications: The GIMP, KDE's Gwenview, F-Spot, etc.

Finally, you can upload the bits & pieces to the blog that you created, for free, at Google's Blogger. Check out what the Santa Fe Second Street Brewery's music blog looks like. Blogger allows you to change your blog's template for a different look & feel. There are also quite a few options that Blogger provides to control who can post comments to your blog, whether or not to use a captcha to reduce spam comments, etc.

A final bit of advice: if you ever let yourself get suckered into doing a music blog, make sure they give you good beer for your efforts. Like what they serve at Second Street.

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Linux music blogging

Peter Kirn's picture

Ha, well, we've been running a Linux-based music blog for some time, thanks to (now) Red Hat, nginx, MySQL, PHP, and WordPress / BuddyPress...
http://createdigitalmusic.com

I'd like to check out live streaming and recording of events, though. The Indamixx Linux laptop even has this setup by default. Of course, you still need a decent Internet connection at the gig, which can be a challenge, and for most of us uploading to SoundCloud the next day is just fine.

Audacity is the perfect quick and dirty audio tool

Brent's picture

I have used all of the tools mentioned (audacity, Reaper, Ardour). But if all you want to do is slice it up and output it, audacity is the only way to go. The other tools are fantastic, but total overkill for what you are describing. Audacity has the flattest learning curve of any audio app. I have ever used.
I record all of our practices to see how we REALLY sound, the guys hate it, but it is the best way to see what needs work.

Brutal Truth

Doug.Roberts's picture

Brent,

There is no truth as brutal as a high quality recording of your own playing.

--Doug

Reaper

TGM's picture

If you're running Windows or happy to use Wine, consider Reaper as a serious contender for your music app. Not to sound like an advert but it's all I use now.

Audacity and multi-track

David Lane's picture

I am off-topic, but maybe next time you could touch on some suggestions for multi-track stuff. I use Sequel under Windows and would like to find something that is simple, like Audacity, but able to handle multi-track, which Audacity cannot seem to support (or maybe I am doing something wrong?).

Great tips here though, thanks!

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

have a look at Qtractor or

Rob's picture

have a look at Qtractor or Rosegarden
Ardour is great (I use it) but can be a little too much for your needs

DAW

crlsgms's picture

you can use ardour for multi track recordings, if you have a nice audio-board that does the trick, and have access to get separated audio-inputs from the sound equipment in the bar.

a good shot is to use jackeq + patchage, a nice way to mix up incoming tracks, and follow up its VUs to avoid clipping.

also, if you have a nice icecast server, its easy to set a darksnow / darkice setup, so your friends can also follow up the music via webradio...

many stuff to do with linux and live music, quite awesome.

Guess I better dig in then

David Lane's picture

Thanks for the pointers. I use the Roland UA-101 as my primary input device but I have never had much luck getting Audacity to see more than two ports. I will have to go back to it. I am not running an icecast server at the moment, but that would give me something to work on too.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

webradio

crlsgms's picture

I would love to see an aticle here about free alternatives to radiocasting, as rivendell solution, quite a step for communitary radios.

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