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Ardour is a digital audio workstation. You can use it to record, edit and mix multi-track audio. You can produce your own CDs, mix video soundtracks, or just experiment with new ideas about music and sound.

Ardour's capabilities include: multichannel recording, non-destructive editing with unlimited undo/redo, full automation support, a powerful mixer, unlimited tracks/busses/plugins, timecode synchronization, and hardware control from surfaces like the Mackie Control Universal. If you've been looking for a tool similar to ProTools, Nuendo, Pyramix, or Sequoia, you might have found it.

Above all, Ardour strives to meet the needs of professional users. This means implementing all the "hard stuff" that other DAWs ( even some leading commercial apps ) handle incorrectly or not at all. Ardour has a completely flexible "anything to anywhere" routing system, and will allow as many physical I/O ports as your system allows. Ardour supports a wide range of audio-for-video features such as video-synced playback and pullup/pulldown sample rates. You will also find powerful features such as "persistent undo", multi-language support, and destructive track punching modes that aren't available on other platforms.

This tutorial will show you how to create perfectly timed loops in Ardour. Along the way we’ll learn how to edit the tempo, enable a click track, switch track inputs, set the quantinization/snapping, and how to fill your track with your new loop. We’ll be recording a short rhythmic loop of handclaps as a substitute for the sqeuaky, dull, yet indespinsible click track.

The Click Track
After you’ve created a new Ardour session, the first thing you’ll want to do is enable the click track. The click track consists of two tones, a high and a low. For example: if you are recording in 4/4 time, the first, or accented, beat will be the high pitch, and the remaining three will be the low.

Test it out now by pressing play Changing the Tempo
The default tempo of an Ardour session is 120 bpm. But what if you’d like it a little slower? Or much, much faster? Perhaps you’ve already read how to use GTick to figure out the rhythm in your head by clicking your mouse to its beat? If you want to change the tempo simply right click on the current tempo and select Edit.

We want to take things down a notch so we’re gonna set the beats per minute to 100

Adding a New Track
You can add a new audio track by right-clicking the empty space underneath the Master track’s tab

You now have a new track called ‘Audio 1'. That’s not very exciting or descriptive, so we’re gonna rename it to ‘Drums’. Be sure to press Enter to close out and confirm your track name change.

Recording the Loop Before we record the loop, let’s enable a very useful feature of Ardour which is hidden by default. You can opt to show/hide the Editor Mixer by pressing Shift-E. This will display a new side panel to the left of your screen where you can monitor levels and edit various things such as the volume, panning, and effects of each track.

Another thing we can do from the Editor Mixer panel is edit our recording inputs. You can do so by left-clicking the Input button and selecting Edit

The microphone we’re using is currently plugged into the second input of our soundcard (we use an M-Audio Delta 44) so we need to de-select Input 1 and put Input 2 in its place

With the inputs set and the recording levels nice and hot we’re ready to record. First we need to enable the ‘Drums’ track for recording

Now set the session to record with the transport at the top. The REC icon will begin to blink letting you know that recording mode is armed

Press the play button when you’re ready to record. The REC icon will stop flashing and turn a darker shade of red. Let the click track go for a couple measures and then record your slighly more complex rhythm to its beat

Press stop when you’ve recorded a few measures. Alright! Now we’ve got a good chunk of recorded data from which to create our short loop

Resizing and Snapping
We need to trim our recorded track to make it a bona-fide loop. You can resize the length of your loop by hovering your mouse pointer over the colored base of a track

Try to resize your loop to just a couple measures. You’ll find it’s pretty tough to get the ends lined to the bars. We can remedy this by telling Ardour to snap to every beat of the measure by selecting Beats/4 from this drop-down menu

Now try resizing your loop with snapping enabled. You just saved yourself a ton of time so you should probably celebrate with a soda party. We’ll be here when you get back.

Duplicating the Loop

Now that you’ve got the perfect loop, you’ll want to start things off on the right foot by dragging the loop to the beginning of the track

Let’s duplicate the loop by right-clicking, selecting the “clip name” menu, and scrolling down to Duplicate (We cheated and used a pre-recorded audio clip called claps-1.2)

Just for safe measure we’re going to repeat the loop 40 times. We can always delete what we don’t need or add more at a later time.

The Final Result
You now have an interesting drum loop, perfectly matched to the tempo, waiting for you to record your next masterpiece over it.

You’ll find it is much easier to get into the groove with something a little more interesting than a handful of static beeps. We wish you luck in your future looping adventures!

Tutorial at the Ubustu Feed

Find out about what a PRO does and why it is important for you to publish your music. Without being registered with a PRO, you will not be able to collect royalties when your song is played on the radio, television, and more. Click here for more.

Ardour, the open source equivalent of Pro Tools, can be used to make beat loops. Click here for more.

The universe of open source software offers an amazing variety of free programs geared toward making hits. Click here for more.