Best Free Music Creation Software

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Introduction

Welcome to Best Free Music Creation Software! If you're looking for some high quality freeware tools to start recording and producing music on your computer, this article will serve as a great starting point. Before you download the software which is recommended in this article, it is very important that you understand the concept of VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins. These plugins will be used as add-ons for your music making application, just as you would use additional hardware instruments and effects in your real world studio.

Another thing to consider before you jump into your first digital recording session is making sure that your computer is powerful enough to be used as the core of your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Almost any multi-core machine with 2 GB of RAM memory or more will be sufficient for your first steps into the world of digital audio production. Finally, make sure that you've installed the proper ASIO drivers for your audio interface. These will ensure that your system will run with minimum latency, making it possible to play virtual instruments in real time.

With a little patience and experimentation, pretty much anyone could be making music or beats with these applications in a relatively short space of time. You don't need a doctorate in ST transform and Quantile normalization to make music with any of these superb free apps, so go to it and enjoy.

See Also: What Are VST Plugins and ASIO? at the end of this article.

 

Rated Products

LMMS  

A free open source MIDI sequencer and composer running across multiple platforms.


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Open source)
Hugely full featured.
N/A
Read full review...

Temper  

A fully functional MIDI composer, sequencer and recorder.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Easy to use and very light on system resources.
N/A
Read full review...

Hydrogen  

An impressive drum sequencer for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Open source)
Easy to use and very light on system resources.
N/A
Read full review...

DarkWave Studio  

A combined VST Host, Sequencer and Recorder as cool as the name suggests.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Easy to setup and use.
Not really suitable for laptops. Bundled with OpenCandy
Read full review...

Related Products and Links

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What Are VST Plugins and ASIO?

A brief explanation of VST plugins

VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins are essentially "mini applications" which are loaded in standalone programs called VST hosts and used to expand the host program's functionality. VST plugin technology was developed by Steinberg for use with their commercial products. However, the technology became so popular that we now have thousands and thousands of different VST plugins and hundreds of applications capable of loading them. It is now possible to build a completely functional virtual music studio for cheap (or even even absolutely free).

VST plugins are classified as either effects (by far the most numerous), instruments, or MIDI effects. In this article, we focus on freeware applications which are able to load these plugins, thus making the backbone of your virtual music studio. See the following section for several good sources of quality free VST plugins.

A brief explanation of ASIO

ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) is a special kind of audio interface driver protocol which is developed in such a way to ensure minimum latency. This technology was introduced by Steinberg, the same company which developed VST plugin technology.

Most professional audio interfaces and sound cards are shipped with a corresponding set of ASIO drivers. In case you're using a generic audio interface, such as the ones which are often integrated on computer motherboards, make sure that you download and install ASIO4ALL. This universal set of ASIO drivers will ensure that even your low budget sound card will run with minimum latency.

 

VST Plugins and Useful Resources

Good places to find free VST plugins and other useful free tools:

Useful resources for music makers:

 

Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor komanderkin. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

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Comments

And again. DarkWave Studio and LMMS are licensed under GPLv3, so it is free not only for private use, but also for commercial use.

that's valuable info, thanks for the comment! btw, i've merged your DarkWave Studio and LMMS comments into one, for easier reading and discussion.

for some reason i installed lmms and it wont show up on my descktop or when i search it

can you access the program otherwise, or is it completely missing from your computer?

Hi komanderkin, thanks for maintaining this page. These free stuff, they're free for all to use, privately of course but is there any software that is also free for commercial use as in you make money out of using their software.

In that case, what about plugins or 3rd parties add ons, I suppose most of them require a license but just free for private use.

Do you know any software that is free both commercially as well ? Audacity is one of them but I'm more interested in software instruments.

hi there! all freeware software can be used commercially, unless otherwise stated in the license agreement. as far as i know, all of the software listed on this page can be used in commercial projects.

Hi komanderkin, thank you for the comprehensive review. I am looking for one that would be suitable for a 9-year-old girl. Which of these that you reviewed would be easiest to teach to a young girl? Thanks again!!

it's very nice of you to introduce your daughter to music making so early in her life! :) however, your question is a bit hard to answer without getting some more information. will she be using real instruments (which means you'd need a program which is capable of recording), or software instruments? how good are her computer skills generally?

Thanks for your prompt reply. She will be using software to make music. She knows her way around a computer pretty well, but I fully expect she may need help to get started.

ok, here are a couple of good choices, then: MuLab Free: http://www.mutools.com/mulab-shop.html it comes with loads of sounds and effects. easy to setup and use. the free version is limited to four tracks, though. Tunafish: http://www.brambos.com/archive.html extremely easy to use, and a great choice for a first program, imho. Macaw: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Audio/Other-AUDIO-Tools/Macaw.shtml a somewhat simple program, similar to old versions of Cakewalk. VstSeq: http://pquenin.free.fr/pqnaudio/vstseq/index.html another extremely easy program, but you'll need to feed it some instruments in VSTi plugin format. Podium Free: http://www.zynewave.com/download.html a bit more advanced, but the most powerful of the bunch. finally, you can try LMMS (linked in the article), but i'm not sure if it's such a good choice for a beginner.

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