Traverso: Beginner's tutorial


Since you want to install Traverso, you probably read about the concept of soft selection and the clean, intuitive and efficient graphical user interface. In fact the interface differs quite a lot from what you know from other programs. No menu bar, no tool bar, no buttons. So when you start Traverso for the first time, you will be confronted with a window without control elements, and you won't be able to actually do anything. But don't worry, we will take you by the hand and guide you through the first steps, until you grasp the concept of soft selection and are able to explore Traverso on your own. Before we start, we would like you to keep one thing in mind: Whenever you use a program regularly, you will be Newbie for a couple of days, but then you will be an advanced user for a long time, maybe several years. We think it is worth spending some time to work into a new concept, when you are in turn rewarded with a more efficient work flow.

This tutorial describes how to compile Traverso on (K)Ubuntu Dapper Drake 6.06, and how to create a basic project. You will probably require root access to your system to install missing packages.

First Steps

If you didn't have installed Traverso yet, please follow the steps as explained in the installation page.

Now we are ready to start Traverso. Either use the key shortcut "Alt F2", or open a console and type

The first time Traverso starts, you will be asked to choose a project directory. Choose it wisely. All your Traverso projects will be stored in this directory, and since audio data requires a lot of hard disk space, place it on a partition where you have a couple of GB left.

The main window of Traverso has an Info display showing lots of information about the project, song, and audio driver in the upper part, and a track view showing 6 empty track in the main area:

Traverso Main Window

If the Info display says Null Audio Device and Null Driver as in the screen shot above, you will have to choose a working driver. Press <F4> on the keyboard to change to the settings page. Click on the Settings button on the left, and in the section Hardware select ALSA as Audio Driver. Press Restart Driver and check the Info display if it lists ALSA as audio backend:

Traverso Audio Driver Settings

LCD display

Creating a Project

By default Traverso creates a new project named 'Untitled', let's work with this for a start. To change back to the track view, press <F3>.

There's one last thing you should know before we start working with audio files. Traverso uses a special nomenclature to describe key- and mouse actions:

<A> press the 'a' key once
<<G>> press the 'g' key twice quickly, like a double click
<F G> press 'f' and 'g' simultaneously
[G] press the 'g' key and hold it. Moving the mouse now changes a parameter

Note that these actions are not case sensitive, thus <a> and <A> are equal, no additional shift key is required. You can easily test these actions. Move the mouse pointer anywhere on an empty track, and press <A>. You will see that the 'rec' buttons lights up, the track is now armed for recording. Now hold [G] and move the mouse vertically. This changes the gain of the track. Now press <Q>. This brings up a context menu which shows all available actions. The menu depends on the mouse position. Move the cursor to the Info area and press <Q>, and you will see that the menu contains more actions than pressing <Q> on a track.
For a detailed explanation of the "key commands", open the Help (help button at the left bottom of Traverso).

Basic Editing

You will need some *.wav files in this section. Remember the project directory you specified when Traverso was started? It contains a directory Untitled, which is the name of your current project, and inside Untitled there is audiosources, which is supposed to contain all wave files of this project. Thus copy all your wave files into audiosources. Back in Traverso, point the mouse on the first track and press <I> to import an audio clip. Select one of the wave files in

to insert into the track. (Another way is to use Drag and Drop!) You can drag this clip by placing the mouse curser on it and holding [D]. If you wonder what else you can do with the clip, hold the mouse cursor above it and press <Q> to open the context menu. As you can see, by pressing <U> you can mute and unmute the clip. If you press <U> while the mouse points on a track, e.g. on the control area on the left or on an empty area in the audio region, the entire track is (un)muted.

As you probably noticed already, there is a vertical green line following the mouse cursor in the track view. Usually this line acts as a positioning guide, and while playing back, it acts as the play head. But there is also a working head, which is a vertical red dashed line. You can position it by pressing <SHIFT>. Now place the working cursor somewhere in your audio clip and press <SPACE> to start playback. You should hear the playback allright. (If not, something with the audio driver settings is not set up correctly, or maybe ALSA is not configured. Did you check if the volume is turned on (in the KDE / Gnome mixer applets)?)

Now try to arrange something by splitting <X> and dragging [D] clips, creating fade-ins [F G] and fade-outs [G H], and changing gain [G]. Whenever you want to use a function and don't know the key command, press <Q> to bring up the context menu. To scroll horizontally, press [TAB] and move the mouse in the track view. Finally, your project could look like this:

Traverso Project


After this short introduction you should be able to work out how to use all the features of Traverso on your own. There is a rather detailed command reference in the help file (click the help button in the bottom left corner) which will provide additional information. You will struggle from time to time during the first days because you have to look up the commands. But you will also see that you keep remembering more and more commands the longer you use Traverso. It will be similar to mouse gestures in web browsers: Once you got used to the concept, you will accidentally use it literally everywhere; in file managers, e-mail programmes, PDF viewers etc. It's just so intuitive. So don't give up too early, and keep in mind how many nights you have spent in front of your favourite DAW software until you hat internalized it completely.

June 2006, The Traverso Team