roasting bacon

I don’t often listen to the TLLTS podcast, but I caught a recent episode (number 361) featuring Jono Bacon, and I was not impressed. I wish Bacon would stop commenting about the state of Linux audio, because it’s clear to me — but probably not clear to the larger community — that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

He explained on the show that he doesn’t use Linux for his music production, and I should say up-front that I don’t have a problem with this. Linux certainly isn’t ideal for everyone, and if Bacon has a solid, working Windows-based setup, there’s nothing wrong with him sticking with that and focusing on making music.

However, it’s very clear to me that he has no idea about the current state of Linux audio production, spreading the usual outdated nonsense about JACK being overly complex to set up, ignoring the existence of quite usable MIDI sequencers like Qtractor and Rosegarden, and giving very short shrift to Hydrogen’s abilities as a drum synth. These tools, with a suitable velocity-layered drumkit, might not give the same results as quickly as Bacon’s proprietary setup can, but they’d certainly do the job, especially once you run each drum in to Ardour for separate processing.

Why do I have such a problem with this? Well, it’s because Bacon is widely known and respected as an open-source evangelist, and also as a musician, so his words carry weight. I and my fellow Linux musicians know he’s mistaken, but a casual listener would assume that he knows what he’s talking about, given his background, and would probably write off Linux as a music production platform because of it.

Again, to be clear, I’m not saying Bacon should use Linux. I’m not even saying that he should spend the time to learn about making music on Linux. I just wish he’d stop talking about it as if he does know what he’s talking about.

thinking inside the box

The computer has revolutionised the way we make music, but it also begs a question: how much work do you do “in the box”, using software sequencers, effects, and instruments, and how much do you do with hardware and traditional instruments? When I started making music again last year, having a powerful hardware synth was a huge enabler for me — I really do believe that it, as much as anything, is the reason I’m still making music with Linux now after so many abortive attempts over the years. Now that I have a few tracks under my belt, though, I’m as surprised as anyone to realise that I seem to be working “in the box” more and more.

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