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Johann’s Production Notes

In Linux, there is a highly complex and useful synthesizer called ZynAddSubFX. This synth is currently released as version 3.0.5, but Linux Multi-Media Studio can only use 2.4.0. My first idea for writing my song, Zynspiration, came to me when I was messing around on LMMS with Zyn. I had never attempted to use Zyn before, and there are no guides online on how to use it, so this was all an experiment. I discovered Zyn to be highly organized and user friendly even though it was complex. I created my first sound for the song, the organ, that day. The next day, I went back to my song project and added another sound.

And so Zynspiration started. Its working title was ZynAddSubFX Project. Every single sound is a Zyn synth. All music was wrote by me, except for the lead part, suggested by E-Sandy. Originally I used audio samples for the drums, but then I realized it would be way cooler to use Zyn. The drums were the most difficult to program. I had to use filters, white noise, and envelopes to get the sound right for the five drumsynths. When the song was ripe enough to post, I was suggested the name “Zynspiration” for the name of the song. I accepted, even though I still have no idea what is so inspiring about the song.

LMMS is free to download, and can be used on Windows and Mac OS too, which is kind of ironic, considering it was named Linux Multi-Media Studio.

In 2006-2007 I recorded a song called “Standing on High” using n-Track Studio v.2.3 on Windows 98. (More info about the song here.) Here is my 2007 mixdown:

Now in 2019 I am getting close to finally completing the album this track was intended for. Some years ago I switched my entire audio workflow over to a Linux environment and upgraded my hardware setup, and I have been really pleased with the audio quality of my current tools. (For the record: Linux Mint 19.1, Ardour 5.1, 2nd generation Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, various LV2 plugins.) Since then I have improved my skills at mixing and mastering, so I decided to revisit “Standing on High” to see if I could improve its sound. (more…)

I am a self-taught guitarist, learning to play mostly by ear. When I was 10 years old my dad gave me a chord chart and a few John Denver songs to learn, and I was off to the races. As long as I had the chords and knew the tune, I could play any song. When I was 15 years old my friend showed me a guitar magazine that had the music for a song we both liked, and it was written in tablature. “What’s this?” I asked.

“Tablature,” he explained. “The lines are the strings, and the numbers are the frets.” I stared at it for a few minutes, and then tried to play a few bars. My friend let me take the magazine home, and I learned how to play the whole song that day. Reading standard music notation has never been easy for me, but tablature is simple to understand because I think of guitar music in terms of where I put my fingers on the fretboard, not in terms of the names of the notes I am playing. Learning about tablature opened up a whole new world of guitar music and playing technique for me. When my garage band broke up I spent a lot of time writing down all of our songs in tablature so that I wouldn’t forget how to play them.

There are two Free software tools which I use for writing guitar tablature on Linux, which I will review here.


I just finished another recording for the Lost and Found album, a song called “Healing Heart.”  (Download the mp3)

Look within your own heart
There is always another open part
This burden, can you forgive?
Oh, please forgive!
I sing for you and your healing heart

Deep within my own heart
Can I open another broken part?
This burden, I will forgive
I will forgive!
Oh, pray for me and my healing heart

(Dedicated to the memory of John M. Stang, MD) (more…)