Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Markers: Another Reason Ardour Rocks-Linux Music Production

Have I mentioned that Ardour rocks? I have? Good. I don't want anybody to miss that.

Ardour rocks.


Other DAWs and wave editors let you place and name arbitrary markers but I never found it particularly useful. I occasionally marked sections in the arrangement view in Live but that's about it.

I was initially put off by the lack of beat and bar lines in Ardour. After however many years of Ableton Live quantizing my every move according to tempo it felt a bit like driving too fast without a seatbelt. Then I started using markers.

I actually played with markers first when I was sorting out how Ardour handles splitting regions. Not surprisingly there is more than one way to do it. The one I settled on was
1) Select a track
2) Drag a location marker to where I wanted to split
3) Press "s" on the keyboard

Elegant, no? It reminds me a little of how DSP Quattro (a Mac-only program I must admit I miss a little bit) separates the edit point from the play head and gives you independent markers for each one but there are just the two of them and they have dedicated functions. Ardour is much more flexible.

What is cool about this is that the marker can represent any arbitrary point in the composition and it telegraphs that point across all visible tracks in the time-line. The point it telegraphs could be a fraction of a beat, as it is in my screen shots above, or it could be a transient in one track that has some meaning in another track.

The various types of markers available in the arrangement window can be used to tell Ardour several different things. Besides edit points they also can define "ranges" and "chunks," two of ardours sonic organizational units. They also define loop and punch points, CD track boundaries (Ardour can make CD replication masters right from the arrangement window), meter and tempo changes and what should and should not be bounced.

All of this information goes in a neat, configurable field above the tracks. Most markers can be named and renamed. The exception is ones that communicate a specific value such as meter.

Ardour makes sense. I advise you to take it for a test drive. I think you'll like it.

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