Midnight Pub

Rediscovering Music


For many years, I pretty much gave up on the whole music thing. I loved playing live. Unfortunately (?), it isn't the nineties anymore. The live music scene isn't what it used to be and, as a result, there are far fewer casual musicians around today than there were twenty or thirty years ago.

Since at least 2012, I simply couldn't care less about music. In the last few months, however, something in my brain has changed. It's difficult to describe, but I suddenly "hear" music again. I've started once again to not only analyze songs, but to be affected by them. As a direct result, my interest in songwriting has been rekindled. My brother has always been interested in writing music, so I contacted him and we started working together (again).

Being a longtime Linux user and far more technically-minded than my brother, it naturally fell to me to organise the recording situation:


Focusrite Scarlett Solo external soundcard for recording things. This is a USB-standards compliant soundcard that works well in Linux and isn't very expensive (~$160 CAD). It has one 1/4-inch input and one XLR input if you're going to use a microphone. This is more than adequate for recording tracks. My daily driver laptop is a Lenovo Thinkpad T470. With 32GB of RAM and an NVMe drive, it too is ready for action. My loyal set of headphones (Sony MDR-7509) will be up to the task as well.


I didn't really want to optimize things à la ArchLinux. I wanted an "install and create" experience. Ubuntu Studio fit the bill. I'm using Ardour, Hydrogen for the drum kit, and ZynAddSubFX for the occasional synth bits that I add for flavour.

Ardour is a great program, however I have to say that I'm completely blown away by Hydrogen and the FreePats selection of drum kits.

FreePats drum kits

Hydrogen has an option where, instead of programming drums on a cold and lifeless timeline, you program them along to an arbitrary WAV file that you load into the program, like a rough guitar track for example. This greatly simplified putting together a convincing robo-drummer.


I've never been much of a knob-twiddler when it came to music. Linux and some cheap hardware has made it very easy and surprisingly rewarding to get started.


I do some side work as a recording engineer for a local studio. I am not musically inclined myself, but I have a good ear for recording. We have all analog gear except a Roland 24 track digital recorder for final mastering.



I always wondered if playing music so much killed my interest. I don't mind it, but it's about as interesting as listening to the wrong blowing these days. I used to love it.

Good that you've got it back again because as much as we might not miss it, if nothing replaces it it can feel like a loss.

On the tech side - I tried Ardour, Jack, Hydrogen and the usual suspects but it wasn't until I bought a proprietary setup that I was freed up enough to get creative. That's just me though.



For me, it has always been about working with other musicians to make something great. The sad fact of the matter is that there are fewer musicians today than there were in the nineties. Music simply isn't as culturally important to people today.

With regards to music tech, "this kicks my ass" is always more important than the proprietary vs FOSS debate. Always take the path of least technical resistance to doing what you enjoy creatively. In my case it just happens to be using Ubuntu Studio.

I'm not even sure why I was so disinterested in music during all of these years, especially considering how involved I was and how I considered it "my life " when I was younger. During the dead years time, I felt very much like it was easily reproduced nonsense used to sell things and nothing more. However, I had felt that way before I completely pulled away from playing entirely all of those years ago.

Something changed in me. Not too sure what it is though ... yet. ;)



"During the dead years time, I felt very much like it was easily reproduced nonsense used to sell things and nothing more"

Yep! It's morning now and maybe I'm viewing things differently, but maybe our inner creative can be satisfied regardless of the medium. That dead time led me to some conservation work that was really valuable to me, even if on a very small scale.