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...

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...

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...

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

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

out of the three should I download as they are presented, or is there another way to go, or are they some what the same salfware pick one type deal

Hey this may be a very rookie question but do any of these products work for MAC or is there any MAC freeware for music creation??
TIA
Angus

Reply posted on behalf of member sicknero who managed to trigger our spam filter. Apologies for that. :) MC - Site Manager. Hi aussiesparky, I'm a Windows user myself but yes, Macs are very well supported in the audio freeware world ... I don't know about the products listed on this page but you might like to check out Reaper which is a full featured DAW (virtual studio). I've been using it in Windows for a couple of years now and for my money, it even stands up well against some of the expensive professional DAWs. http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/34655/reaper For VSTs (instrument and fx plug-ins ... synths, drum machines, audio effect processors etc) you could check out VST4You (http://vst4you.com/free%20mac%20vst.html ) or Dontcrack (http://www.dontcrack.com/freeware/so.../platform/mac/ ) or Bedroomproducers (http://bedroomproducersblog.com/free-vst-plugins/ ). Or just google "free vst mac". The format you want is actually au but a search like that will get you plenty of great freeware. Use WoT though or something similar, as there are some dodgy sites in audio freeware, as there are with anything. Good luck, and post in the forum here if you need any help getting started.

Thanks MC :)

Thanks for the great reply! :)

Hi komanderick,

I've just installed LMMS 0.4.9

I was wondering if there was a way to program instruments by using my laptop/computer keyboard rather than using the pencil?

I'm a noob at this software. Will be looking out for tutorials to help me out.

Thanks for the article. Its very handy. I've been on the lookout for a music program for windows. Cheers.

sicknero has already offered a great answer below, so i'll just add to that. i'd also like to recommend MIDI Yoke (http://www.midiox.com/myoke.htm) as a free virtual MIDI port to which you can input a virtual MIDI keyboard like Free Piano (http://sourceforge.net/projects/freepiano/files/) or VMPK mention above. let me know if you need more help with this!

Thanks Komanderkin,

I've been having a play with LMMS and the piano roll does support PC keyboards so extra software isn't necessary for it.

@MaiaRNBSoul, the piano roll is the window that shows the notes grid and has a piano keyboard down the left side ... with your project open you just select the track you want to work on, click the piano roll icon at the upper left (it has a piano keyboard graphic on it) and then you can use your PC keyboard to play whatever instrument is loaded into the track. The piano roll in LMMS has play/record buttons etc. Hopefully this is what you meant in the first place : )

A productive discussion anyway ... I'd not heard of Freepiano before and really like it!

Hi ....

Do you mean a way to input MIDI data using your keyboard? If so there might well be an option for that already in LMMS ... I downloaded the prog but haven't got around to trying it out yet.

If LMMS doesn't have this ability built in then my favourite combination for it on my laptop is VMPK (Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard) which lets you play your PC keys like a keyboard and also send MIDI control data (e.g. volume, velocity, filters etc) using your mouse wheel or a rotary knob on the GUI.

To use VMPK with a program like LMMS, you will also need LoopMIDI by Tobias Erichsen to connect VMPK to LMMS - it installs a driver and GUI which lets you create virtual MIDI ports inside your PC so that in this instance you can connect the MIDI Out of VMPK to the MIDI In of LMMS.

It's all pretty simple and user friendly, let us know how you get on : )

VMPK - http://vmpk.sourceforge.net/#Introduction

LoopMIDI - http://www.tobias-erichsen.de/software/loopmidi.html

thanks for the great answer! much appreciated!

Hi

I have a DD305 drum kit and am looking for a bit a free software to send the recorded stuff to so I put it on audacity. I have the USB lead.

Anyone know how to do this?

Dave

does your drum kit send MIDI messages through the USB output? if so, get MuLab Free or Podium free and select your drum kit as the MIDI input. load up a software drum kit and render your performance as a WAV file. you can then load it up in Audacity!

Hi (I couldn't log in again so have just made another name)(Mobilis old one)

Thanks very much for your speedy reply.

Yes the electronic drum kit plugs into the pc usb port.
Its a physical kit with sticks etc.

I put Podium on pc and it recognizes the kit when setting the midi input.

Still not sure how to actually record using Podium. Is it just a medium to get audacity to record it or something else?
The adverts for this kit state you can connect it to a pc. Whether that means also transferring a saved file from inside the drum kit or not I don't know.
The kit itself records and saves the drumming.
But I need to get the drumming on the kit onto the pc like it says ......
Either from a saved file or real time recorded.

A bit worried the advert has overstated, like some do, about the product.
I only got it because the drumming could be transferred onto my pc.
I hope I haven't wasted £100 .....

What do mean when you say load up a software drum kit? I'm very sorry I'm new to this particular form of midi/pc gear.

Thanks Bro. mmm sorry I assumed you were a bloke , lol

More information :)

I have tried in Podium:

Starting a new project
Got a track open
Got device folder thing: Zynewave : Drummatic 3

The bottom right hand side midi indicator is flashing when I do a beat on the DD305 drum kit.
So it's picking it up.

mmmmmmm but what to do next ........ ?

Hi Duck! Sorry for the late reply, I was away during the holidays. You want to record a MIDI performance with your drum kit. A MIDI performance (as opposed to audio) only contains note data. In other words, it will capture all the drum hits you played on your drum set and these can later be applied to any virtual drum kit. Since Podium is picking up your MIDI data (the flashing lights suggest so), everything should work OK. Are you getting any sound from Drummatic 3 when playing the kit? If not, it's possible that your drum kit is sending the notes which aren't triggering this exact virtual instrument. Try installing Drummix Beta Edition (it is free) and loading it up as a VSTi plugin in Podium: http://www.bluenoiseplugins.com/plugins/drummix/beta-edition/ Let me know what happens!

I am learning how to play the keyboard/piano and I began to think it would be nice if I had a piece of software that would allow me to enter in a tune's melody (by individual note) and bass line so that during playback I could chord along with it on the keyboard.

A must would be the ability to transpose a tune into another key once it was entered and change the speed of playback (I've used Audacity once or twice for slowing tunes down).

Although I have a technical background I have next to no audio experience whatsoever and was wondering if the software in this article does what I need and what would you recommend? I'm running Windows 7 on an Intel i5 processor with regular stock sound.

ps - Merry Christmas!

all the programs on the list will let you record your melodies and speed them up or down, as well as jam along with them. since you're a beginner, i would recommend MuLab Free: http://www.mutools.com/mulab-downloads.html or Podium Free: http://zynewave.com/podium-free/ let me know if you run into any problems!

Nice article and a couple (Hydrogen and Temper) that I didn't know about before which I will have a play with over the weekend. Thank you!

thanks for reading!

Hi, I just downloaded LMMS and am looking to start producing and I thought this might be a good place to start. My only problem with LMMS is that when I start it up, I get no sound. I went to audio settings and tried to change the settings to my computer speakers, and when I restart LMMS and check audio settings it remains on "Dummy". Anyone know how I would be able to get sound? I'm pretty new to all this I have a ASUS Laptop Model X54C and I'm not sure what type of sound card it is. But the laptop isn't too old so I believe the sound card is ok (at least I think so).

try installing ASIO4ALL (it is free) and selecting it as the audio device in LMMS. let me know if it still doesn't work after that.

Thanks for the quick reply. So I downloaded it and tried again but did not see the AISO4ALL option for audio. My options are MME, Windows WDM-KS, Windows WASAPI, and Windows Direct Sound. There are sub-options for all of those such as speakers, microphone, input, output, and mapper. I've tried most of them and they don't work or return me to "Dummy" even though I changed the audio settings and restarted LMMS.

hmm, i can not re-create that issue here. is your sound card working properly in other audio applications? for now, i can advise you to try Podium Free. it is a great free program for creating music. i hope that someone will offer a solution for fixing your problem with LMMS here. i'll also update this comment if i figure it out in the meanwhile.

Thank you for the help, much appreciated! :)

LMMS -Linux Multimedia Studio - Can I load this app onto my MacBook Pro? Cheers in advance.

it is only available for Windows and Linux systems!

I've visited and read allot of comments concerning the how to's of making music. And I have to say, this by far beats any forums or what have you on the subject. I've been listening to electronic, dubstep and dance for a while now and have just gotten a urge to dabble with it and maybe make my own. You can guarantee that I'll be picking everyone's brains in here for knowledge and info. So I look forward to it.

Thanks.

thanks!

The problem with LMMS is, it,s not that easy to use so is probably not a good idea for a newcomer.

well, it's not super-easy for everyone, but it does have the kind of workflow which might fit certain kinds of music. especially beatmaking. it's very similar to the old versions of fruity loops.

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