You are here

Qtractor in the Top 10

PianoNadu is way too kind to list yours truly Qtractor as one of the Top 10 DAW Software of 2019, no matter how many times I say Qtractor is not a DAW but just a sequencer with, yes, some amenable DAW features ;)

Maybe I'm way too humble (and stubbornly short-sighted)... nevermind.

Wholly thanks to Wendell and PianoNadu, nevertheless.



Congratulations! I imagine things like this justify the work you have put on this project and brings motivation to keep going forward. I'm sure there's a lot more people using qtractor, it's just that not everyone is making videos about it or participating in the forums (perhaps they're too busy making music :) ).

On the article, they mention the lack of a key signature map and a score notation editor in qtractor. I would like to say a few things about this, if you don't mind.

To put on some context; I studied contemporary music and I'm currently making jazz, funk, R&B tunes to play live with a band.

When I'm done with a composition, the next thing I do is write the sheet music for all the instruments for the musicians. This is a tedious and time consuming task. So, I thought, if I found a midi sequencer with a built-in score editor, it would alleviate my situation. So, I tried rosegarden.

Problem was, when I'm composing, I use the midi keyboard to play all the parts and I experienced some inconsistencies in the way rosegarden recorded my parts (sometimes it put a very short note at the end of a long one) and the interface didn't help much either. Also, the fact that is has a score editor didn't make much of a difference because there was still work to do on the score and the interface is not the best for that.

To make a long story short, I ended up using musescore to work on the score. musescore's midi file import, facilitates the process a lot, as long as the midi file is storing relevant data regarding the performance, key signatures, time signatures, tempo (and changes), etc. and following the midi standards.

I made a test to see which sequencer had a better midi file export. That is, the one that musescore would render better (more legible), leaving the user with less work to do. I tested rosegarden, muse, ardour and qtractor. The two that did a better job for this test were; qtractor and ardour. I put ardour in second place because musescore didn't recognized the key signature, but that is easily done, and after that, the results where almost identical.

Creating a score notation is a monumental task, there are so many things to consider and different ways to score music. So, thanks to musescore, having a score editor embedded in a sequencer is no longer needed. All we need is a good implementation of the midi standards in sequencers and the inclusion of relevant data in the midi file that can help musescore do most of the job for us.

On the other hand, I have recently started to get into orchestral composition, film scoring. I'm using soundfonts, and so, linuxsampler is needed.

There are two approaches one can use for this; 1) composing in Musescore (wich lets you use the soundfonts without linuxsampler, or with linuxsampler through jack). 2) Composing in a sequencer and linuxsampler. I use the latter.

For this, I started trying the different linux midi sequencers to see which one would give me the best workflow. Let me quickly say that qtractor is still the best option at the moment, but it doesn't have the best workflow for this task. In fact, rosegarden would be more appropriate for this (if it wasn't for the issues I had recording live and the way the interface works)

After putting more thoughts on it, I recalled a sequencer that was being developed almost ten years ago, but couldn't remember its name. After some extensive research, I found it; Open Midi Octave!

Unfortunately it didn't compile for me. So, I got the binary (.deb) file (either from falktx or debian archive) and put the folders in there respective places ( I'm not using a debian based distro).

Let me quickly say that I've read the threads on the Linuxmusicians forum about this software, and it is unfortunate what happened. I also think that this sequencer was not well understood at the time (I certainly didn't). But it was specifically designed for orchestral midi composition and I think not many linux musicians were into that.

The software looks a bit intimidating to the beginner, but that is a reflection of the complexity of orchestral composition. It covers all the essentials; A similar time-line and divisions used in music notation, selection and organization of soundfonts ( no need for a linuxsampler interface), different views for tracks management, many midi editing operations, jack midi, etc. Everything is done within a single application (linuxsampler backend and jack server are started by the app). This is a welcoming workflow as we, as musicians, have to deal with so many things to make music. I tried the non-daw suit in the pass. The concept of having everything separated was interesting, but not practical, and also lacked some features.

The awareness of film scoring and orchestral composition has been increasing in recent years, thanks to the videos on the internet. A few months ago, just as I was looking more seriously into this subject, I came across a few recent videos on youtube by the user "cfirwin3" who is making film scores on linux. He started with LMMS and ended up with qtractor, right about the same time I had been testing applications for this purpose.

Open Midi is no doubt the most appropriate for orchestral midi composition, but the project is death, and although the app is functional and still working, it will stop at some point.

Sorry I went off on a tangent :p

rncbc's picture

@MusicMaker: many thanks for your long off tangent comment :)

It's posts like this (and the top one, of course) that really raises some forward motivation around here, whatever. All this to say that adding the key-signature map is the next thing to be implemented and should be there before the Silent Night ;)

Cheers && Thanks again.

That's great! But I wonder what the purpose of that would be? I'm not sure about the functionality it would bring? I'm a bit confuse.

By the way, when I open the piano roll, and go to Views>Scale... What is this suppose to do? I haven't wondered about this before as I don't draw the notes. But when I first saw it, I thought it would draw the chosen scale in the piano roll but it appears to do nothing.

It seems to be a way to establish the key signature under which, the notes on the piano roll are working. Is this it? Is this data being put in the midi file when you export the clip?

rncbc's picture

The current purpose of this on the piano-roll is actually about quantizing and/or snapping notes that belong on the selected key and scale; that is, you then are only allowed to enter new notes that belong on the selected key and scale.

You may actually notice that there are a lot more scales that just Major and (natural) Minor on the scale menu or drop-down list. However, these have to be aliased or fitted to standard score key-signatures as major or minor scales, and these should be only meaningful to MIDI file import/export and for regular score editors (eg. MuseScore).

Hope all this it's understandable :)

rncbc's picture

Well, it's in there now--way before xmas *<:-)

starting from qtractor >= enjoy! && please file for any bugs, of course ;)

note that it's all just informational stuff, still maybe only relevant when exporting/importing to/from MIDI standard files (SMF)--it bears no other purpose nor tied to the MIDI clip editor snap-to-scale feature as you probably would expect, but it might: who knows whenever enough critical-mass demand gets in the way... ;)


Add new comment