What can you do with modern music recording software?

Explore the most important functions of modern music recording software and find out what's important for your working style

No matter how powerful recording software may be, it remains the task of finding the right programs for your purpose. There are tons of applications out there with a sheer endless amount of functions.

Therefore the first thing you need is to find out what modern music recording software has to offer and than to decide, what you would like to use.

  1. Recording audio
    You can choose the sound quality and record sound on different parallel tracks. Parallel means, that you can play them together not in sequence one after the other.

  2. Recording Midi
    You can record MIDI information which contains note-on, note-off, controller (if you move a slider or turn a knob) or so called Sysex-information (Data that belong to a specific MIDI sound generator like a synthesizer or keyboard). The actual sound is not recorded here. That means you can change the sound anytime later.

  3. Cut, Copy and Paste of audio or midi sequences
    You can cut your tracks in pieces and shift them around to arrange your song. This function can be very plain or quite sophisticated as with folders auto-fade. etc...

  4. Quantizing Sounds and MIDI
    That means to put acoustic events like a drumbeat or MIDI events like a note-on on a pre-defined grid. You can define the grid pattern as well as the way the different notes are corrected towards that grid and also how much they are corrected. Of course this is much simpler and works better with simple MIDI data than with rather complex audio tracks.

  5. Playing Virtual Instruments
    Play Piano, Fender Rhodes E-piano, Synthesizer, Hammond B3 organs or any other virtual instruments. The sound quality of the top products is usually better than keyboards emulating that sound.

  6. Playing Virtual Sampler
    Remember the fabulous Synclavier, the legendary Fairchild Sampler or the great Emulator. These were million dollar instruments that started a new age in music creation. You could record real sounds and play them on a keyboard. Today you can buy a software sampler, that costs peanuts, but is much more powerful than these dinosaurs of music history.

  7. Virtual Bands/Automatic Accompaniment
    This is a rather neglected area of music software mainly connected to solo entertainer. But it gets more and more attention by the Pros. Software like "Band in a Box" or "Jammer" let's you put in the chords, choose a style and get an almost finished song even with different solos.

  8. Virtual musicians
    A new trend is to give you a virtual instrument that not only delivers the sound you have to play but plays along with the song by itself. You can have virtual drummer or guitar player that perform in different styles with different sounds.

  9. Organizing sounds and other song information
    When you start producing on a computer, you will soon see the problems of organizing your stuff. A good sound browser or an intelligent way to store the information that belongs to your song on your hard disk help a lot to keep you organized. This is really one of the weak points of recording software where manufacturers didn't seem to care much about. Just now they start to introduce browser and project folder where all data of a certain project are stored, to make life a bit easier.

  10. Changing Tempo
    Modern Software lets you change the tempo without changing the pitch of the software. Though programs get better and better in doing this, it is still risky and should be applied carefully because it still can produce unwanted artifacts.

  11. Changing Pitch (or Key)
    Similar to changing Tempo without changing pitch you can change pitch and leave the tempo as it is. This can be very valuable for adapting a tune to the range of a singer.

  12. Sound Effects
    You can apply any sound effect you can dream of like reverb, delay, phaser, flanger, leslie, compression, pitch shifting, filtering, wah-wah, reverse, noise reduction, click removal, faking vinyl records, Vocoder, etc...You can choose between real-time effects, that are just applied when you play the song or effects where you actually compute the effect into the sound file.

  13. Working with loops
    These days, complete compositions that sound shocking real can be made out of loops and building blocks. It's the ideal tool for not musically educated people to produce great sounding songs or soundtracks. The disadvantage is, that you need huge and good sound libraries to get a professional result.

  14. Import and Export of sounds
    You can use your recording software as format converter depending on which sounds formats are supported.

  15. Playing Videos
    You can import and play videos to produce soundtracks that are perfectly in sync with the movie.

  16. Automation
    A few years before you had to pay a lot for a fully automated mixing desk. It was not even possible, because of all the outboard gear that you could not automate. Today it is standard with a ridiculous price tag. You can dynamically automate Volume, Pan, sends, effects,...in fact anything you can dream of.

  17. Mixing
    You can mix your tracks with a fully automated mixer. Actually you can build a multitude of mixers and save them as templates. You can create busses, sends, aux channels just like on a real mixer. Inserting effects, filtering etc. all on your innocent computer.

  18. Sound compression/Mp3 creation
    You can save your mixes as mp3 or other compressed audio files.

This list will grow over time. Probably not everybody needs every function. Choose what you want and find a software that can deliver that at my music-recording-software page..