Are you a fan of drum and bass techno music? Have you ever caught yourself thinking you could do something like that? Do you need a programmed drum-beat to practice your new slap riffs or to use in a one-man-band performance? LMMS – the Linux Multimedia Studio – provides the platform to do all this and more, and is now available freely for both Linux and Windows users. Check out this sample song created with this software.
To provide you with a proper review I wanted to play with the software myself. I downloaded the LMMS package from their website and installed it on my Windows XP machine. The installation was easy; I just used all the default values. Now to mixing some beats!
LMMS has a basic layer structure similar to FruityLoops or FL Studio. You create small loops in the beat+bassline editor, and then arrange and stack them in the song-editor. LMMS comes fully loaded with a wide range of MIDI device support and pre-sampled sounds so it’s easy to get started right away.
First let’s make a basic drum beat. Open the sound samples panel by clicking on the green note on the left hand side:
This will open a panel of sample sounds, choose a few that you like. Double-clicking on the sample name will automatically move it to the beat+bassline editor.
Here is where we will create our beat. Our first layer is going to be the bass drum only. You see there are 4 sets of gray tabs extending from the sample name. These indicate the beat position. Click on them to activate/deactivate the sound on that beat. I’m going to activate the bass drum on beats 1 and 3. This is Beat/Bassline 0 (see the name in the gray box, this is the name that will appear in the song-editor. Right click on the name in the song-editor to rename it). After this, I’m going to create a new beat+bassline loop so we can layer them. Click on the symbol next to the beat+bassline name to create a new loop.
Now the gray box says beat/bassline 1, in the song-editor I renamed mine to “Bass Drum” for beat/bassline 0 and “snare and hi-hat” for beat/bassline 1 (to rename, right click on the loop name in the song-editor). Now I’m going to add in my snare and hi-hat beats.
Now we put it all together in the song-editor! The song-editor works in the same way as the beat+bassline editor, only now instead of beats we select loops. Each gray-tab in the song-editor denotes a 4/4 measure. I’m going to start with the bassdrum loop for two measures, and then add in the hi-hat snare loop. I turn the bassdrum on and off in the second bar. Click play, and listen to your new beat go!
Figure 6: Song-editor
This barely scratches the surface of what LMMS is capable of: it has support for MIDI devices, you can add all sorts of plug-ins for effects, you can use the piano-roll feature to control pitch, you can get incredible granular beat control (down to 1/92 beats!), and so much more! You can imagine how useful this software can be for practice, performance or composing. It’s a great way to get started, especially since there is no price tag.
The full list of features includes:
- Song-Editor for composing songs
- A Beat+Bassline-Editor for creating beats and basslines
- An easy-to-use Piano-Roll for editing patterns and melodies
- An FX mixer with 64 FX channels and arbitrary number of effects allow unlimited mixing possibilities
- Many powerful instrument and effect-plugins out of the box
- Full user-defined track-based automation and computer-controlled automation sources
- Compatible with many standards such as SoundFont2, VST, LADSPA, GUS Patches, and full MIDI support
- Import of MIDI and FLP (Fruityloops® Project) files
- Check out the LMMS website for in-depth tutorials, project news, and lots of demos!