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Culture Forum

  1. 26 Nov '13 10:28
    I would be interested in buying music-making software to run on my Windows 7 PC. I suppose at some point in the future I might want MIDI capability (where you can run a cable from a music keyboard to your computer and play the notes the old-fashioned way, like on a piano, and it gets transcribed into notation by the software), but for the foreseeable future all I really want to do is use my computer keyboard and/or mouse to write up a score, and then play it back through the computer speakers, with the software making sounds similar to the real 3D instruments. It would be neat if the software allowed multiple instruments to play simultaneously. Piano notes plink at the same time a trumpet is blaring and drums are tapping, or what have you.

    Does anybody have any recommendations? I would rather pay more (a few hundred dollars, say) for software that is easy to implement, free of bugs, and has a realistic sound than to go the cheap route and get frustrated by problems or inauthentic sound. I don't particularly care about synthetic sci-fi type sounds; I would rather the listener be fooled into thinking a human is actually bowing a fiddle or plucking a steel guitar, to the extent that it is possible for a computer to make that happen.

    Assume complete ignorance on my part as to what is available out there.
  2. Donation mwmiller
    RHP Member No.16
    26 Nov '13 14:08
    I just typed "music making software" into google search and came up with a multitude of hits.
    I don't know anything about it myself, but if you go to some of the links you will surely get some good advice.
    It looked like some of it is freeware, which should allow you to explore a little before investing.
    Good Luck!
  3. 26 Nov '13 18:25 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    I would be interested in buying music-making software to run on my Windows 7 PC. I suppose at some point in the future I might want MIDI capability (where you can run a cable from a music keyboard to your computer and play the notes the old-fashioned way, like on a piano, and it gets transcribed into notation by the software), but for the foreseeable f ...[text shortened]... to make that happen.

    Assume complete ignorance on my part as to what is available out there.
    There's tons of software out there. Some of which is more user-friendly for "classical"-type compositions and scoring and comes with software suites of virtual instruments. But before you invest in any software, you should understand that your computer will likely need an upgraded music card or audio interface to ably playback your compositions from this software, especially if you have more than one track/instrument.

    Sonar Cakewalk has everything you are looking for and would be a good place to start your research. The basic software package is only around $100 and includes 12 virtual instruments.

    http://www.cakewalk.com/products/sonar/

    Home recording/production can be some deep waters if you want to really get into it but can also be pretty simple if you're just looking to fool around. A lot of these production software companies offer free dowloadable trial versions and I would recommend doing that and seeing how it works with your computer set-up. If you have playback issues, try installing an ASIO driver for improved playback quality:

    http://www.asio4all.com/

    Here's a great reference link with some links to free programs:
    http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-music-software.htm
  4. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    26 Nov '13 20:39
    Originally posted by darvlay
    There's tons of software out there. Some of which is more user-friendly for "classical"-type compositions and scoring and comes with software suites of virtual instruments. But before you invest in any software, you should understand that your computer will likely need an upgraded music card or audio interface to ably playback your compositions from this s ...[text shortened]... with some links to free programs:
    http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-music-software.htm
    Also you need a MIDI interface and a MIDI keyboard, most of the Casio's you see in Walmart and such have MIDI in's and outs and are not much money. But you want one with touch sensitive keys and aftertouch if you can get it. But don't settle for less than touch sensitive, where if you hit it soft, the tone is quite and hit the key hard and it plays louder.

    I just got an outstanding deal on an interface, the Tascam US1800, under 300 bucks, it has 8 XLR audio jacks with mic preamps built in and MIDI in's and outs. So if you want to start recording audio as well as making music on a keyboard you have everything you need for a studio.

    It also comes with a software set, Cubase LE5, limited edition but you can record MIDI or audio directly into it, play it back, record it, and burn it to a CD if you have a burner.

    I am a long time Sonar user, now have Sonar X1, they are up to X3 now but my desktop only has winXP and you need win 7 for X3.

    I have Cubase LE5 hooked to a laptop and that records really well! The Tascam I/O fits right under the laptop and all the controls on it right in front. It also has optical outs too.

    My personal keyboard is a Kurzweil PCX1, an older but really GREAT 88 key weighted piano keyboard!

    I also record acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and the like.

    Just used the laptop/tascam combo at my buddies house the other day where we recorded about 8 tracks, we have a little band where we play civil war era music, there are civil war era dances around here and when they come to town we are the band. We play about 50 tunes over a 3 hour stretch, tunes theoretically from the mid 18's but we play newer ones too and some of my own tunes, the dancers can't really tell what century a tune comes from

    So another couple of sessions and we will have our first CD ready for sale.
  5. 27 Nov '13 00:13 / 1 edit
    These suggestions will keep me hopping for a while! Thanks.

    Thinking more about it today, I am especially hoping to find the ability to:
    1 change key mid-song
    2 change time signature mid-song
    3 change tempo mid—song
    4 play less common timings, e.g. dotted quarter notes and triplets
    5 print out the score
    6 score my own chord inversions, instead of just having a canned set of named chords
    7 voice less common instruments such as banjo, oboe, timpani
    8 bend notes
    9 feed in human voice through a microphone

    I will hazard a guess that #4 is common to most software, and probably #5. The others, perhaps not.
  6. 27 Nov '13 00:38
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    1 change key mid-song
    Looking at a tutorial on YouTube, that may be one of those "not applicable" things. I am seeing a piano keyboard in a window, and the cursor selects any desired note on the piano, without any reference to a staff key. So If I am thinking of my song as in the key of D, I will likely be selecting a bunch of F# and C# notes on the piano keyboard window when building up my chords. This methodology dispenses with staves altogether.
  7. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    27 Nov '13 09:09 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    Looking at a tutorial on YouTube, that may be one of those "not applicable" things. I am seeing a piano keyboard in a window, and the cursor selects any desired note on the piano, without any reference to a staff key. So If I am thinking of my song as in the key of D, I will likely be selecting a bunch of F# and C# notes on the piano keyboard window when building up my chords. This methodology dispenses with staves altogether.
    The cat's meow for printing music from digital formats is 'finale'. There are others, among them Sonar X series but they are not as powerful as Finale.

    There are undoubtedly others also but you can google them. Here is another:

    Forte:

    http://www.fortenotation.com/en/?gclid=CICi18LPhLsCFQbl7AodHBMA6w

    Usually you can get educational level software cheaper if you can show some kind of student ID, one of your kid's school ID's or wife in college or you signed up at a local community college.

    And Finale:

    http://www.finalemusic.com/

    Here are some finale versions on Ebay:

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1311.R8.TR11.TRC1.A0.Xfinale+&_nkw=finale+music+software&_sacat=0&_from=R40

    Another one: Musitek

    http://www.musitek.com/store/
  8. 27 Nov '13 14:35
    Much obliged.
  9. 28 Nov '13 20:19
    Musescore is free and has lots of instruments.
    The default synthesizer/sound font is not very realistic though. It is decent on some instruments. Better sound fonts are available but need stronger hardware (processor) and maybe a better or specific sound card.
    http://musescore.org/
    Sound fonts: http://musescore.org/en/handbook/soundfont
  10. 29 Nov '13 01:12 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    These suggestions will keep me hopping for a while! Thanks.

    Thinking more about it today, I am especially hoping to find the ability to:
    1 change key mid-song
    2 change time signature mid-song
    3 change tempo mid—song
    4 play less common timings, e.g. dotted quarter notes and triplets
    5 print out the score
    6 score my own chord inversions, instead ...[text shortened]... ill hazard a guess that #4 is common to most software, and probably #5. The others, perhaps not.
    When you have compiled a list of definite requirements such as that, it's often best to compose a template letter and email it to all the software providers. Include the full list as well as your OS edition and hardware setup. Then, if more than one program offers everything you need, you can compare them on price and how clearly, politely and promptly they answered your query. It beats trying to glean clues from the developers' websites, which may not include a full list of features, or may confusingly spread it across different pages.

    This seems like common sense if you're looking at spending a large chunk of cash, but I for one often fail, for whatever reason, to use this efficient and sensible method. I'm sure I'm not the only one, too.
  11. 29 Nov '13 01:43
    Thanks for the additional feedback.

    I may start a similar thread on CADD software sometime next year.