LMMS: Free Software Application of the Week - Week of 2017-11-06

Submitted by sudo moderator in freeAsInFreedom

Last week's thread.

This week's Free Software Application of the Week is LMMS, a free music composition program. But before I start, let me address the elephant in the room, which is that this review isn't about DragonFire.

DragonFire was supposed to be last week's Free Software Application of the Week, but as I explained in last week's thread, I ran into problems installing it, so I decided to try again this week. Well, I ran into more problems, of my least favourite kind: missing dependencies. DragonFire doesn't have a PPA, so you have to download the .deb file from github. Problem is, it depends on several packages that don't exist in the Ubuntu package archive (well, apt-get says that it found references to them, but not an actual package, so maybe they existed in an earlier version of Ubuntu, but not the current one). Despite my best efforts, I just couldn't get DragonFire to install. So, to everyone who was hoping to see me review DragonFire, I'm sorry for letting you down. But if someone else here can get it to work, then maybe they could try reviewing it.

Anyway, this week's Free Software Application of the Week is LMMS. It's a music composition program, meaning it lets you create your own music, or remix someone else's. I like this program a lot, even though I don't make music professionally - I just use it to make electronic versions of my favourite songs.

It has everything you'd expect of music composition software - a piano roll, a beat editor, an instrument editor, an effects panel, and more. Everything works just about the way you'd expect it to, if you've used a different composition program like FL Studio before. If not, it's pretty simple to learn how it works. Here's a tutorial.

The piano roll is pretty useful, but I wish it had an option to compose with standard musical notation, in addition to what it has now. Each system undoubtedly has its own advantages and disadvantages, but I am more familiar with the standard way of representing notes and rests, so that would be easier for me to use (especially when arranging a song from sheet music!). It does take some getting used to, but I've gotten quite adept at it.

There are also several different types of synthesizers to use as instruments. I haven't played with all of them yet, but I have made a few different instruments with the TripleOscillator synthesizer. Once I understood the theory behind how it worked (mixing together different sine waves, square waves, etc), then it became a lot easier to make new instruments. Even if you don't understand how it works, you can still make a lot of different sounds just by playing around with the settings. It's really difficult to re-create the sound of a real instrument, but I don't think that's LMMS's fault - I think that's just a difficult thing to do no matter what software you're using. As far as I know, LMMS doesn't have any tools to get the Fourier transform of a sound wave, which, if I recall correctly, is the proper way to recreate the sound of a real instrument. There are a few community submissions on the LMMS forum for presets that sound pretty close to a real instrument, but none (that I've tried) that sound exactly like it, so I've just stuck to making electronic music with LMMS.

LMMS also lets you add effects to the instruments. I haven't tried most of these, but they change the way the instruments sound in ways the normal controls can't. For example, one of the effects that I have tried (C* Plate2x2) is a reverberation effect, making it sound like the instrument is being played inside a large cathedral. Stacking these can lead to some interesting results.

Honestly, this program is too big for me to cover everything, especially since I'm only a casual user. But I know enough to say that it's a really well-made program. You could probably make good quality electronic music with LMMS, and if you're willing to put in the effort, you might even be able to make realistic-sounding instruments with it. This is the best thing I've made in LMMS so far - it's a recreation of "The Jig" by Bach, with instruments that kind of sound like an organ. It took me a few days to make. If I make anything else that I like, I'll post it on one of the music forums here.

And that's it for this week's Free Software Application of the Week. Join me again next Monday, for a review of Lyx!


You must log in or register to comment.


josefStallman wrote


But seriously, great work as always. Seems like LMMS has great uses for casual creators.


BlackFlagged wrote

I'm always amazed by how much variety there is with free software. Whatever I can think of, there's a FOSS for it.


[deleted] wrote (edited )


sudo wrote

I was just playing around with that yesterday; it's pretty cool. I also just discovered ZynAddSubFX, which seems like it can do anything.


mofongo wrote

(well, apt-get says that it found references to them, but not an actual package, so maybe they existed in an earlier version of Ubuntu, but not the current one).

This has happened to me on several occassions, its usually that they're part of a program. I search in launchpad or google which package it belongs to and install that.


sudo wrote

Huh. I remember one of the dependencies being flite, and searching Searx for that brings me to a Ubuntu repository page saying it's in the official repository. Idk why it didn't show up in apt, then.


mofongo wrote

I got the same, I'll take a look tomorrow and see if what I find.


mofongo wrote

I'm installing dragonfire right now thanks to synaptic package manager, initially I found the same dependency hell as you and the fix command wasn't cooperating so I went to synaptic and click the option to fix dependencies. Best package manager ever.

I'll leave installing over night and check it in the morning.


sudo wrote

Never tried synaptic before. If I can get it to work, then I'll review DragonFire the week after next.


tacticalturtleneck wrote (edited )

Honestly Ardour is better over LMMS. Ardour is more up to date and support wider Linux platforms than LMMS. I have been converting my mobile studio into full Linux-based platform.

Here are the important resources for Linux music producer (they are open-source/free software):

  • DAW: Ardour, Qtractor, Sunvox

  • Notation: MuseScore, Rosegarden

  • DSP: SuperCollider, VCV Rack

  • Sampler: LinuxSampler


sudo wrote

Never heard of it before; I'll have to try it sometime.