LMMS Guide Part 1: Creating Simple Melodies Using Sounds And Instruments
Quick Overview of LMMS Interface
At the top are the usual, new, open, save, and export controls, as well as the different views that can be accessed. Controls for tempo, time signature, master volume, etc. are located at the top.
Sounds and Instruments
Instrument presets are located in the presets tab. Here are predefined instruments that have been created using the various plugins. The plugin category with the most instruments is ZynAddSubFX where there are numerous folders containing hundreds of instruments in your repertoire. Like samples, selecting each entry will give you a sample of the instrument; however, the note played will usually be A4 (two tones below C5). Also, the sounds are generated dynamically and will require more CPU power. If you have a lot of these instruments playing at once in your project, you may notice a severe performance hit as the CPU has to process all of these instruments at once. The better your PC is, the more capable it can process those sounds as you play them.
Creating a Simple Piece
Let’s begin by experimenting with beat and bassline tracks. I use these to simulate the drums. I am going to create a beat line using a few sound files under the drums section of the samples tab.
Navigate to the “My Samples” tab in the sidebar and expand the ‘drums’ folder (refer the screenshot above). As you can see there are hi-hats (open and closed), snares, drums, bass drums, and other effects at your disposal. Select each entry to help decide which sounds to include in your “drum kit”.
In the song editor, click on a bar in the Beat/Bassline 0 track and a block should appear. Double-click on that block to open the Beat/Bassline editor. By default a typical beat spans only one bar in a song; however, that can easily be increased by adding steps. Likewise, removing steps will shrink the entire beat line by one bar. For now, let’s keep the number of steps limited to one bar. We will have a bass drum, a snare, and a hi-hat.
Here is an example:
What is a song without a melody? Simple melodies can be constructed in the Piano Roll window. The piano keys on the left will always be visible wherever you scroll in the piano roll window. In the LMMS settings, you are able to specify whether or not you wish to display the names of each note on the piano roll if you wish. C notes will always be pointed out on the keyboard with a number from C0 to C8, with C5 being middle C.
The instrument used was ‘0001-Soft Piano 1’. It is located in the ‘My Presets’ tab, under ‘ZynAddSubFX’, under ‘SynthPiano’ (refer to the screenshot of the samples and presets).
Here is what I have composed as an example: