Instrument Editor


The Instrument Window[edit]

Various instrument windows look like this:

Plugins TripleOscillator1.0.0.png Plugins AFP1.1.0.png Plugins Opulenz1.0.0.png

The window is divided up into three main sections:

  1. The instrument controls at the top,
  2. The sound controls in the middle
  3. The the piano keys at the bottom.

Instrument Controls[edit]

General instrument controls

The main controls are:

The Pitch-range dial is not available on all instruments. All other of these controls are present on all LMMS factory-instruments.

Sound controls[edit]

The sound controls section is headed by a selector for five 'tabs':

Let's deal with these tabs in more detail.

The Plugin tab[edit]

The plugin tab contains all the controls that set how this plugin actually generates sound.
For more information on this, read the individual Plugins page.

The ENV/LFO tab[edit]

ENV/LFO-->Volume tab

The Env/LFO tab looks like the image to the right: Note: VeSTige, SF2 Player, OpulenZ, ZynAddSubFX and LB302 won't respond to anything on this tab.


The Envelope of an instrument is how loud or soft it is from the moment the note is pressed, over after it is released, to when the sound is completely silent. Immediately before the note is pressed, the envelope is at zero and the instrument produces no noise. The note goes through an attack from when the note is pressed until it reaches its maximum loudness. From then there is an initial hold period where the note remains at maximum loudness. The note then decays to a softer pitch which is the sustain level. Finally when the note is released it fades away to silence. There may also be a pre-delay between when the note is pressed and when the volume starts rising.

The Env/LFO/Filter section has three 'sub-tabs' that select the 'target' for three separate envelopes. The default one, and the one discussed above, is the volume target. You select the target in the same way that you select the tab in the instrument, by clicking on the label. To control the envelope, you have six knobs to set each of the above parameters - pre-delay (DEL), attack, hold, decay, sustain, release - and a seventh one to control the amount (AMT) of effect that the envelope has on the parameter.

For the volume envelope, this 'amount' does not actually affect the sound - the envelope only works if the amount control is 100% on. Note that you can either either set the amount using its knob control or click on the envelope graph in order to turn it completely on or off. The graph is green when it's turned on, grey when off and a shade between those two colours when the control is between fully on (1) and fully off (0). The amount can also be turned down to negative one, a feature which is only useful for the Cutoff and Q/Reso targets.


In order to enable the filter, press the filter title bar and the light at the left will turn on. When this light is on, the filter is active. Keep in mind that filtering the sound of an instrument adds a small calculation overhead and can add a slight delay to the sound, so if you're not using the filter then keep it turned off.

The types of filter that LMMS offers are:

Each type of filter lets you control the cutoff frequency and the Q/Resonance amount. You can experiment with this by choosing a plugin that generates multiple frequencies - using anything other than a sine wave will do that - and then set the cutoff and Q factor and see how it changes the sound.

Filters with Envelopes Filters do not have to be static and unchanged throughout the entire note. LMMS allows you to control both the cutoff frequency and the Q factor via an envelope. Nor does this envelope have to be the same as the volume envelope for the note - each parameter can have an independent envelope. The envelope sets the value from its maximum or minimum to the set control level; for example, if a low-pass filter has the cutoff control set to 1000Hz and an envelope is used to sweep this value up in a long attack and long decay, the value of the control will go from 14000Hz (the maximum) down to 1000Hz and then back up. This will make the instrument sound like it's been damped down and then the damping removed.

The LFO[edit]

All LFO effects takes place through a filter, so the first thing is to activate the filter (lamp ON) and choose one from the drop-down.

The LFO provided by LMMS allows you to control the value of the volume, cutoff and Q factor targets independently - the LFO for each is shown under the same 'tab' as the envelope for the same target. Each has four parameters that you can set:

The Func tab[edit]

Function tab

The Func tab looks like this:

Normally, each 'note down' command plays one note in the instrument. With the Arp/Chord controls, you can change this so that it plays a chord (with the root note being the note played) and/or an arpeggio (i.e. the notes of the chord played one after another rather than simultaneously). To control this, the Arp/Chord tab is divided into two sections, one for chords and the other for arpeggios. You turn them on by clicking on their title bar and the light at the left will turn on. By default they will be turned off.

Both sections have two common controls - the list of chords that can be played and the range in octaves over which the chord will be played. Since some chords span more than one octave, some chords or arpeggios will overlap. The list of chords available is vast, ranging from standard chords through jazz to regional chords and natural modes such as Lydian and Dorian.


The chords section has no other controls than the ones listed above. When a note down signal is received, that note will be the base for the rest of the chord. All the notes of the chord will play simultaneously until the note is released.


The arpeggios section has a number of extra controls:

The FX tab[edit]

The effects tab with an effect plugin

The LADSPA effects allow many ways to control the sound of an instrument. These can vary from simple effects like delays and echos to complex phasers, distortion and reverberation. Effects can also be chained one after the other to produce very complex sounds.

When you add an effect the green LED will automatically turn on. When it is off the sound aren't processed by the effects. You can easily check the 'dry' sound of the instrument without effects, against the 'wet' sound with the effects in place, by turning the green LED off.

Click the 'add' button to select a new LADSPA/VST effect to add to the chain. This then gives you several controls over the process of sending sound to and receiving it from the effect:

Note that some effects will also have ways to set their internal wet/dry level. This sometimes takes the form of a wet/dry knob, but can also be two knobs to set the level of the wet output and the level of the dry, bypassed, output.

To remove an effect, select its context menu (right-click) and choose 'Remove effect'.
You can also change the order of any effect in the effect rack by moving it up or down.

The MIDI tab[edit]

The MIDI tab looks like this:

Plugins MIDI1.0.0.png

These controls allow you to set which MIDI channel the instrument receives MIDI events on, and which it sends events to. Both these controls work in similar ways:

Piano Keys[edit]

At the bottom of the Instrument window is a small section of a piano keyboard.
This will display the notes that are playing by greying out the key or keys as they're played.
The scroll bar at the bottom of the screen allows you to move up and down (i.e. left and right) the keyboard to see different ranges of notes.

Base note[edit]

Piano keys in the instrument plugins

In addition, the green mark just above the keys shows the 'base note' of the keyboard. Whichever note you select with this orange mark will be played as A4 - i.e. the concert pitch of 440 Hertz. For instance, moving this to A3 will make all the notes played move up by an octave (since A3 is now A4 and so forth). This allows you to adjust an individual instrument to be pitched correctly in relation to all the others. This is mostly unimportant for synthesizers where the A4 note is programmed to be 440Hz. However, for the AudioFileProcessor Plugin, this is extremely useful, as it allows you to adjust the note to be played back at its correct pitch. As an example, if you recorded a saxophone playing a Bb, you would adjust the base note to be Bb; so that the saxophone was played in the same pitch as your other instruments.

keyboard as piano

When the instrument window is selected, you can use the keyboard of your computer to play notes in a two-octave range. In addition, any MIDI keyboard can be used to send MIDI command to this instrument when it's selected.


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