I wanna make music

The GeekThe Geek Oh-Two Crew, OmeganautRegistered User, ClubPA regular
I've been kinda itching to make music. But I am not terribly musically inclined. I don't play an instrument or anything.

Is there a freeware program out there somewhere that I can download that just lets me put notes together and make music with different instrument sounds? Like what you could do with Mario Paint, but more complicated.

BLM - ACAB
The Geek on

Posts

  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    If you have a Mac, Garageband.

    If not... I'm not sure if Guitar Pro is free or not, but you could try that (it'd be a bit tricky though. There is a keyboard/fretboard you could click on for notes, but knowing tabs would be helpful). PowerTab is sorta the same thing but I like Guitar Pro better. I'm not really sure what else there is on PC.

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  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    An obscure one that's used for my digital music class is Buzz Machines. It isn't perfect and it can be wonky to use, but once it works, it works well.

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  • Cold Salmon and HatredCold Salmon and Hatred __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2008
    I'm not sure if it's free or not, but fruity loops is fantastic

    Cold Salmon and Hatred on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I'm not sure if it's free or not, but fruity loops is fantastic

    It's not. I can't think of any particularly fantastic programs that are. In the not-so-free arena, you have a few options. The only two I'm familiar with for Windows are Ableton Live Lite and Cakewalk Music Creator 4. The former I recieved as a pack-in with a midi keyboard I bought...total cost was $75. The keyboard is less than fantastic, but the combo of the two is pretty decent. You can find a wide array of free VST instruments for use with it (from sampled real instruments to your more "synth" instruments), and the note editing is pretty easy. Cakewalk MC4 was decent, and I think it runs under $50 (for just the software). I'm nearly certain you can do straight note editing with it, and again you can find a wide array of VST instruments for it (and it comes with some as well, methinks). Plus if you hook up a recording interface you can record guitar into it using either provided amp simulators or an array of free ones available. I didn't use it too much, so YMMV.

    For Mac, Garageband is fucking fantastic. But obviously you don't have a Mac, or you wouldn't be asking us for advice here...you'd already be trying to create some shit.

    If you're even halfway serious about wanting to do this (serious about having fun, that is, not getting a record deal or anything), I'd recommend something like the keyboard I bought. Like I said, I got it on sale for $75 (normally $100) and it's got 49 velocity-sensitive keys (you can shift octaves) and pitch/mod wheels. It's far from fantastic (the touch is terrible) but with the included software you'd be well on your way to having some fun with some music. It was a little easier for me to justify, because I needed to buy a keyboard for a class anyway (and this was only $25 more than the cheapest one I could use), but it was well worth the money.

    mcdermott on
  • The GeekThe Geek Oh-Two Crew, Omeganaut Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2008
    I just want to have fun. Sometimes, I have tunes rattling around in my head that I think would be fun to put down and arrange.

    Do I have to have a keyboard to do any kind of music composition on a computer? I'm not looking to get into anything big time, just kinda see what I'm capable of.

    What I'm really looking for is just something that has blank lines of music where I can just click or drag/drop notes into place with a variety of different intstruments, either synth or sampled, I don't care. Like I said, kinda like the music part on good ol' Mario Paint, but a bit more sophisticated. Mario Paint wouldn't even let you change the length of the note or makes sharps and flats.

    The Geek on
    BLM - ACAB
  • MblackwellMblackwell Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Modplug Tracker.

    Mblackwell on
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  • Typhoid MannyTyphoid Manny Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I think this is like the fifth time this week that I've pimped Reaper. Download that, get yourself some free softsynths and a sampler plugin or two, and piano roll away.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The Geek wrote: »
    I just want to have fun. Sometimes, I have tunes rattling around in my head that I think would be fun to put down and arrange.

    Do I have to have a keyboard to do any kind of music composition on a computer? I'm not looking to get into anything big time, just kinda see what I'm capable of.

    What I'm really looking for is just something that has blank lines of music where I can just click or drag/drop notes into place with a variety of different intstruments, either synth or sampled, I don't care. Like I said, kinda like the music part on good ol' Mario Paint, but a bit more sophisticated. Mario Paint wouldn't even let you change the length of the note or makes sharps and flats.

    I heartily recommend a keyboard for doing music composition on your computer, but it's not strictly necessary.

    Haven't played Mario Paint, so not sure exactly what you're asking for. But I'm pretty sure that Cakewalk program ($40 direct from them, you can probably find it cheaper) will do what you want, though of course it will do a fuckload more. That Reaper program linked looks like it might work out for you as well. Pretty much anything that can take VST instruments or effects and that offers a piano roll should do you.

    mcdermott on
  • MblackwellMblackwell Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Modplug Tracker

    No, really. You just press a button on your keyboard to add a note down the pattern. You can use the midi instruments that come default with every computer, or download samples and use them in addition or instead. I learned a lot using it.

    Mblackwell on
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  • isaac17isaac17 Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Download trial versions of Native-Instruments software, MASSIVE in particular, it's been an awesome addition to my studio. You can use your qwerty keyboard instead of a MIDI controller if you're poor, you just don't have to edit velocity settings later. Other NI programs to check out: Battery 3 (amazing drum software, but you need the 12gb library to really use it), KORE, and Guitar Rig for guitarists.

    isaac17 on
  • The Reverend Dr GalactusThe Reverend Dr Galactus Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I think NI software for what Geek is looking for is overkill.


    Here's my recommendation [which turned into a long but hopefully helpful story] speaking as one with virtually no musical training but approximately 6 years of simply trying everything casually and eventually learning to compose, arrange, and produce:


    I started out without a keyboard (well, I played around with one but I didn't need it until later) with one of those loop programs. I think it was called EJay. You just drop different pre-made clips into tracks and heypresto, you've got music. The big leap was getting into Cakewalk after doing that for awhile and realizing "hey, maybe I could make my own clips..." Sure, I could have started in Cakewalk, but a loop program lets you explore song structure (and in essence the way audio and sequencing apps work) before you have to actually do any of the hard work.

    My first stuff sounded absolutely stupid as I quickly tried to make huge orchestral chord progressions on a Sound Blaster card's general MIDI bank with no understanding of music theory, but as I scaled down in what I tried to do, I learned how to make things match and sound better together, how to work inside a scale, technical things like quantization, and gradually my music began to sound better.

    A couple of years after that, I had the good fortune to have access to a really nice Roland XV-series synth which really allowed me to start experimenting more with arrangement, and I gradually started to develop a sound. I worked in this way for quite a while.

    Then I graduated from college, moved, and didn't have the Roland downstairs anymore. After a prolonged musical drought, I finally bought a copy of Reason and discovered I also had a lot to learn about production. And so with Reason, I continued experimenting, reading the user forums, trying to pick up more music theory; at this point I had been listening to most music very critically trying to pick out individual melodies and countermelodies and understanding how they work together.

    Anyway, early this month I finally completed my first album, and though it's currently only available through a single website and not through an actual label, I think I learned a lot and I hope to keep learning more as I go.


    So, uh... That's my story of how I got started in music.

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  • isaac17isaac17 Registered User
    edited March 2008
    On second thought, yeah, NI is way too complex to start with. Garageband is such a good place to start with music that it's hard to think of windows alternatives... I still use garageband to this day for certain stuff, and the loops are extremely handy (and fun/easy to start with). I also started with simple free multitrack software, but I honestly couldn't stand to use it for more than a month before I was figuring out the trial edition of Cakewalk. A few months after that I had a mac.

    It all really depends on how deep you want to get into it... But Reverend is right, start with simple multitrack software & some free loops. Also: Learning to play piano will help you no matter where you're going with it, so if you have access to one, learn to play it.

    isaac17 on
  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Download the demo of FL Studio and run through some tutorials. The demo is fully featured except you can't save your song. You can, however, export anything you made in that session.

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  • xBocephussxxBocephussx Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Garage band?

    xBocephussx on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Garage band?

    Let's play the odds and assume the OP doesn't have Mac.

    Though yes, if he did have one this would be the most obvious choice.

    mcdermott on
  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2008
    The other problem with garageband being that, last I checked, you can't score music by marking it in with the mouse. You have to actually record yourself playing the notes. This requires rhythm, coordination, practice and some knowledge of how a piano's keyboard is laid out.

    I'm not sure the OP has any of those, or he probably wouldn't be wanting an app that supports plotting the notes by mouse click.

    I can think of a lot of applications that do support this, but nothing in the "I wanna try this out" price range. Ableton Live's Lite edition is probably your best bet. There's probably even a free trial. I'd go that route.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Pheezer wrote: »
    The other problem with garageband being that, last I checked, you can't score music by marking it in with the mouse. You have to actually record yourself playing the notes. This requires rhythm, coordination, practice and some knowledge of how a piano's keyboard is laid out.

    I'm not sure the OP has any of those, or he probably wouldn't be wanting an app that supports plotting the notes by mouse click.

    I can think of a lot of applications that do support this, but nothing in the "I wanna try this out" price range. Ableton Live's Lite edition is probably your best bet. There's probably even a free trial. I'd go that route.

    There is a free trial of Ableton Live Lite. Or at least I'm pretty sure there is.

    And you can definitely use the keyboard/mouse to mark notes in on Garageband. Or play the on-screen piano with a mouse, or play the computer's keyboard (over like one octave). But I've done plenty of editing of pieces by entering notes in directly or moving them around (lengthening, adjusting, etc.) with the mouse. You even have the choice of editing either in a piano-roll grid style, or switching to notes on staff paper and editing that way.

    Garageband is definitely exactly what the OP is looking for. But it comes attached to a $400 computer (assuming you buy used, and get something with adequate power) so it's not exactly an optimal solution.

    mcdermott on
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