Ardour free MIDI and audio recording and sequencing DAW for Mac and Linux

Ardour, the free and open source DAW for Mac and Linux, has already won some fans by providing robust audio multitrack features in free software, along with some unique innovations (like robust support for inter-app JACK audio routing). But one major complaint has been a lack of serious MIDI tools. MIDI functionality is baked in, but it’s not as full-featured as some might like.

That should change soon: Ardour is involved in Google’s Summer of Code, a seasonal code-fest that helps develop open source projects. Ardour creator Paul Davis describes progress on his Ardour blog:

Dave Robillard continues his work on Ardour’s MIDI recording, playback and editing capabilities as part of the Google Summer of Code program. Since the last screenshot (below), Dave has added color coding of velocity values, percussion tracks, two modes for delivering MIDI CC data (discrete+interpolated), and some basic editing operations such as quantize, note selection and pencil-based note creation & deletion.

Sounds great to me. Of course, it could rob Paul of the job of having to listen to whining forum/comment trolls complaining about the lack of Ardour MIDI. We’ll be watching — an update following the Summer of Code is definitely in order. I’d love to have a free DAW to use with students, for instance, as opposed to them (cough) pirating Cubase.

  • Basic MIDI editing functionality is all very well, however I find the standard de-facto implementation in most hosts to be clunky and frustrating even to do the simplest things.

    I am more interested in projects that push the boundaries of composing with MIDI, with algorithmic editing tools, real time transformations and other wise. For example Temper:
    (albeit PC only at time of writing).

    Listen up host devs, we need more innovation in MIDI control, editing and general composing abilities!

    Re: free DAW, would using REAPER be a feasible 'free' choice to get the students started in?

  • myles, you have no idea what we have planned for MIDI. Check into KeyKit for an idea of the underlying technology, but absolutely not the UI.

    REAPER is not a free DAW, its a cheap (good) one.

  • Kyran

    Can't wait for this update. I use a lot of midi so I could only use Ardour to mix down and master my tracks.

    I bought ext2 for other stuff. It looks like this might change all that!

  • oooh KeyKit is super awesome. I've been using it for years.

    It's the secret weapon of the Dark Lord!

  • Dan Nigrin

    Keep it coming Paul! MIDI *will* be the bit of functionality that really launches Ardour into the mainstream… (well, we could use an overhaul of Jack OS X too…!)


  • Hi Paul, I'm trying to find a reference to KeyKit on the Ardour site so I can read up on it, could you point me in the right direction? Cheers!

    As for REAPER not being free, well technically not free free, but I'd consider it free enough for students to use!

  • Information on KeyKit here — still available free for Windows!

    (something worth revisiting, in fact … especially if Ardour is picking up on these ideas)

    REAPER had been free for non-commercial use, but yes, it's still cheap. No reason not to look at both. And, anyway, Reaper is on Windows, Ardour is on Mac/Linux, so your boxes will choose for you…

    And, Dan, I'm with you — MIDI is important!