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01-04- 04-04media7development, BAworkshop
Open Source Multimedia Tools by Derek Holzer (us/nl)
BURUNDI datalab studio displej press, Bratislava
more info
lector: Derek Holzer (us/nl)

open source audio tools: free software for free sound
There are many programs for sound and multimedia production, but few of them can really be customized by the user. Fewer still are free to download, use and share. Free and open source software provides a real alternative to expensive commercial software and professional gear. This workshop will cover the free software philosophy, Linux audio basics, sound recording and editing techniques, and how to program your own music tools using Pure-Data. Participants will use these programs to transform sounds of voices, instruments and recordings in real time, while at the same time learning how the computer makes this possible.


While many tools exist for sound, multimedia and VJ purposes, few of them are designed with an open architecture which allows artists to configure the tools they use themselves. Fewer still are free. The fees, licenses and restrictions that come with commercial software become more and more restrictive every day, and the knowledge in the new media community of free and open source software is extremely limited. Coupled with this is the stigma that open source software, such as Linux, is 'too difficult' for artists to use.

This workshop aims to give an overview of the artistic possibilities working under the open-source, free software model, and under the operating system of Linux. Over the (X-number-of-days of the workshop), the following topics will be covered:

--an introductory discussion about why open source software is important for artists
--installation of Debian Linux and the use of the Debian Multimedia Distribution [DeMuDi] packages
--configuration of computer sound cards with the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture [Alsa] drivers and the Jack application, allowing sound programs to be 'patched' together with virtual connections inside the computer
--an introduction to Pure Data, a visual, object-oriented programming language for sound
--an introduction to the Graphics Environment for Multimedia [GEM], an external 'plugin' for Pure Data containing libraries for working with 3D graphics
--an overview of other sound and graphic applications used under Linux:
----Audacity and Ardour: multitrack sound editors
----Snd, Sweep and Ceres3: audio file editors
----the GIMP: a graphics editor
----Cinelerra: a video editor
----Ogg Vorbis: an open-source audio compression codec
----LADSPA: a collection audio effects plugins for use with many Linux sound applications

A webpage from a recent Open Source Multimedia Tools workshop is online at:

Derek Holzer [USA 1972] ( is a sound and radio artist with a background in free radio, and streaming media technologies. He was involved with some of the first experiments in Hungary (Pararadio) and Czech Republic (Radio Jeleni). He has also worked with Re-lab, a group in Latvia who gradually shifted their focus towards broader issues of 'acoustic spaces' and networked audio communications. In August 2001, Derek participated in the Acoustic Space Lab, which brought together an international team of 30 sound artists, community radio activists, and scientists to experiment with a 32 meter antenna, recording sounds and data from planets, communication satellites and the surrounding environment. Recently, his work has focused on capturing and transforming small, unnoticed sounds from various natural and urban locations [Karosta Project, w/ Sara Kolster], and on the electromagnetic resonances in our everyday environment [OZONE Project, w/ Bas van Koolwijk], as well as the use of free software such as Pure-Data.

arrival 29.03 [afternoon or evening]
30.03 collecting sounds
01.04 start installing and preparing for the workshop
02.04-04.04 workshop
------02.04 configuring and installing PD/GEM/PDP [or Linux] on laptops
------03.04 audio basics for Linux, intro to PD
------04.04 workshop participants develop simple projects using their own ideas
02.04 resonancity (during Burundi opening); visuals by sick