Music Production on the Pandora


Hello Everyone. Canseco here. There are programs available for the Open Pandora to make music (well, these are general Linux programs). Until recently their Pandora version lacked Jack support, so I started to compile it for them. I did not know how they worked, so as I was testing, I was reading manuals and following video tutorials. It helped a lot to understand why Jack was so important for Music Production. Today I’d like to give you some insights as to what you can do with some tools.

[ Note: This is a guest article by Canseco ]

There are many audio production tools I have compiled for the Pandora. You will find them on the repo, using obscure names such as QJackCtl, Qtractor, Amsynth, Hydrogen just to name a few. It would be too long to cover all of their capabilities in details, but at least you can learn the here a little more about how they work together. I mentioned Jack earlier, and if you are not familiar with it, here is what it is all about (Thanks Wikipedia):

JACK Audio Connection Kit (or JACK; a recursive acronym) is a professional sound server daemon that provides real-time, low latency connections for both audio and MIDI data between applications that implement its API. JACK has been developed by a community of open source developers led by Paul Davis (who won an Open Source Award in 2004 for this work)3 and has been a key piece of infrastructure and the de facto standard for professional audio software on Linux since its inception in 2002.

Any application using Jack can pass audio data back and forth to each other. That’s why Jack support is so important, it enables the creation of complex signal processing by using separate applications with their own specialized focus.

QmidiArp + Amsynth + Hydrogen
QmidiArp + Amsynth + Hydrogen

In other words, you can connect the output from one app to another, from simple things like a virtual keyboard, one synthesizer and a recorder to a full orchestra. But every computer has its limits, and some apps or plugins need more computing power than what the Open Pandora can provide to be able to fully use its potential, but do not despair, you can still do something in between with your Open Pandora.

Little Qtractor tutorial

For this tutorial I will use Qtractor, because it has:

  • Support for audio and midi.
  • Support for all kinds of plugins (DSSI, LADSPA, LV2 and VST).
  • A very approachable interface.
  • An up-to-date Documentation.
  • Export functions to save your projects in .qtz format, containing all files inside a compressed archive, ready to be imported on your Linux PC to continue your work.

Here’s what we need for our example:

  • QjackCtl: Audio option should be Playback Only to avoid xruns. 48000hz
  • Latest Qtractor version, 0.5.12
  • An example file: Breakit.qtz

Once you open the file, it should look like this:

Qtractor + 5 audio tracks + 1 midi with Calf Monosynth.
Qtractor + 5 audio tracks + 1 midi with Calf Monosynth.

To see the samples used, select the Files icon next to Messages. You can add files, directories, clean up samples not used anymore in the project, preview them using the little play icon next to MIDI tab and drag and drop samples to existing tracks, or even create new ones.

Select one sample, and you will see where it’s used on the tracks.

The midi connection

The track number 6 is a very simple midi that i did with only two large notes using the pianoroll. Double-click/tap on the track and you will see something like this:

Qtractor + Pianoroll
Qtractor + Pianoroll

Here you can put new notes selecting the pencil icon, or change the length, position or volume of each note, using the Cursor icon. Preview function, Volume icon, are very useful to not waste too much time finding the note you want.

There is no implemented synth on Qtractor, but you can use soundfonts or a synth plugin like Calf Monosynth, used in this example.

Let’s put this together

Now maybe you want to record this little monster into a single track, so we can export to ogg for listening on almost any media player.

Select the icon with a little green cross, to add a new audio track, and name it Final. Now select Connections icon (Red icon), next to Messages icon and you will see this:

Qtractor + Jack connections
Qtractor + Jack connections

Select Qtractor in both sides and hit connect. Now you can close this window. There are 4 buttons on every track, R (record), M (mute), S (solo) and A (automation). Select R, Record icon and finally hit play. Select Stop icon when the track ends and S to listen to the Final track result. Now select Final track, right click, Clip and Export.

Your feedback, or examples of your own creations are more than welcome. Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to all audio developers and maintainers for their great work. By the way, the openAV-Breakbeat samples used in this example, are courtesy of Harry van Haaren.

A couple of useful links if you want to learn more:

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7 Comments on "Music Production on the Pandora"

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Forgot to include example:

I will try to make more posts like this, i suppose there are more musicians like Klumpen around, 😉

kevin estrada osuna

Since the Pyra will come with much more computing power then the Pandora, Will you be able to run all of this on the pyra with no problem?


Programs like ZynAddSubFX, Luppp or plugins like Calf or Guitarix will benefit from new hardware, but most programs work wery well on OpenPandora.


There is nice SunVox tutorial playlist by SolarLune on YouTube: