[Ardour-Users] Recording to Midi accompaniment

Chris Caudle chris at chriscaudle.org
Wed Feb 14 15:50:33 PST 2018

On Wed, February 14, 2018 2:12 pm, David Kastrup wrote:
>> Everyone who's anyone just must get a studio assistant.
> I'm not anyone and I'm doing a talk/demo for people who aren't anyone
> either.

Yes, that  part was just sarcastic.  I think even most professional
musicians don't make enough money from recording to have studio assistants
any more.  I can talk my children into helping sometimes, but I wouldn't
recommend having children just to help with home recordings, it takes a
really long time for them to get up to speed, and they have a lot of
associated incidental costs.

> So I'm trying to figure out the best option for my talk that will look
> Ardour look good.  Part of the incentive to go to such talks, after all,
> is the hope to be saving time by doing things "as intended", go with the
> flow.

Ardour typically has several different ways to get things done. I think
the intent is to support multiple different work styles, so there is
probably more than one way to get to your end result (although MIDI
handling is probably still weaker in Ardour than some other packages that
are more MIDI or electronic music focused).

> Can I actually record Ardour's click?  I mean, short of wiring a
> loopback?

I think someone else already pointed out that the click is just another
audio source to Ardour, it can be routed the same as an external signal,
or the output of a track or bus.  By default it connects to the master bus
if you do not have the monitor section enabled.  I typically use an analog
mixer as my monitor controller, so I don't remember exactly where the
metronome output connects if you turn on the monitor section.

> "put the metronome click into an earphone" is very unspecific.

Not once you understand that it is just another audio signal source. You
go in the audio connections setup dialog and disconnect from either the
right or left, whichever you prefer.  That of course assumes you are
monitoring on earphones, which may not be a safe assumption in general,
but since you are recording with a microphone and not from an electric
instrument I thought it safe to assume you would not have the MIDI track
playing over speakers while trying to record.

> If I use "record with count-in", recording starts on the beat

Why use record with count-in? If you have moved the MIDI over one or two
bars already, just put the playhead at the beginning, arm the track and
start recording.  So you have two bars of unneeded audio recorded, it
takes at most a few seconds to grab the region end and pull the fade-in
over to just before where you need it.

> It's a public demo I'm doing, so too many contortions would be
> embarrassing.

What will be the starting point?  A completely blank session, or you can
set the session up before the demo starts?

>  As I said: I get that shifting the Midi track to the
> right is necessary for a smooth beginning.  But would it be sensible
> maybe for Ardour to be recording during any count-in anyway?

I think you are making to much of the whole record with roll-in or
whatever.  Some of those features are for punch-in and punch-out style
recording where you are trying to replace the middle section of a
performance that is mostly OK but has just one flubbed section or
something like that.

Did you ever record on an analog tape recorder?  Ardour works perfectly
well as a multi-track tape recorder, hit record and go.  It also has some
cool fail-safe features, like accidentally recording over an existing
track will make a new region by default instead of actually writing over
the first take, but at a first level all of that is just a distraction. 
Rewind to the beginning, hit the arm button on the track, hit the master
record button, hit go.

> Of course, the other way to do this in the demo is to just hack the Midi
> track by adding wood block or something

Assuming you know beforehand the tempo used for the imported MIDI file (or
are forcing a tempo), you could also pre-prepare another short MIDI file
with just four or eight beats of some percussion instrument to use as a
lead in track.  Import that on another track, then just  mute the track so
it does not render in the final output.

I haven't really tried importing a MIDI track into Ardour before, maybe I
should try that tonight first before I go off on some incorrect
assumptions.  Do you have that MIDI track or some other example track
available I could use to try out what you are trying to do?

Also noticed this on the YouTube link you referenced earlier:
> The bad news is that Ardour really wants to work with Jack

That hasn't been true for a couple of major versions now, Ardour will
happily take exclusive control of your ALSA device.  I think of it as
jackd built in to Ardour, although I'm not sure if that is actually
accurate from an implementation standpoint.

> vokoscreen only supports ALSA or Pulseaudio.

If you use ALSA how does vokoscreen connect to the ALSA device?  By
connect I mean, if you have a microphone connected to the input of your
ALSA device, if vokoscreen records the that input then the screencast
would have only the microphone, not the rest of the Ardour tracks (and in
that case Ardour would not have the audio recorded from the microphone,
only vokoscreen would, so I think that is not what you want).

> The solution is to use the Jack sink module of Pulseaudio and record
from that.
> However, you'll still need to connect Ardour's Master bus to the Jack
sink input

You would need some way to do the equivalent no matter what. 
Screencasting a live recording can get really tricky.  Are you monitoring
the output of the microphone, or just listening to the MIDI track playback
and the acoustic output of your voice, and trusting that everything gets
together in the end?  I don't quite follow the routing connections, is the
microphone input being connected directly to the master bus while
recording so that while recording you hear the output of the MIDI track,
and also your voice from the microphone through a round trip of

> Another problem is that when exporting, Ardour routes all of the output
> through the Jack graph

I think that may be a consequence of having pulse connected.  If you
disconnect the pulse-sink then Ardour should be able to freewheel while
exporting, which means no audio output, it just crunches through the files
as fast as it can.

Chris C

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