Software for writing music
lets you catch that light breeze of inspiration?
Software for writing music has to be fast, intuitive to work with and
should keep you focused on your work
There are as many different ways to write music as there are
composers out there. Some write their ideas with musical notes on
paper, some prefer to record them on tape (or HD these days...) while
others use Software to get them down in reality.
In the Computer world it mainly depends on what kind of producer
you are. If you are already working with a fully fledged recording
package like Logic Pro or Cubase with built in notation, you
might not need an extra Notation
Software for writing music.
If you want to write a musical score for an orchestra as a
movie score maker. you may need an extra software that is easier to
write scores with. Let's start with...
There are basically two different types of Notation Software:
MIDI Sequencer like
Cubase, etc...with built in notation, that has the ability to show
MIDI information in a score format. Here the MIDI information is
dominant, notation is second.
Software. This kind of software for writing music is optimized to print a perfect
score that is easy to read. While most of it can also give out MIDI
information or play it's own sounds, it is definitely second here. The
most popular program at the moment is probably "Sibelius",
because it's rated a bit easier and less complicated than the well known
There are a lot of famous
songwriters that don't have the faintest idea of notation or simply
don't bother to use it.
They often record their
ideas directly, without writing them down first.
Audio Recording Software
Shut Up 'N'
Play Yer Guitar. While some folks write down their creative outflow,
some prefer to play and record, play and record, play and
record,...until they are buried with tons of material.
I used to
put it on cassettes until I had a bunch of unordered material, all in a
On a computer it's all a
bit easier to handle. Every sound file has it's timestamp and
name. You at least know when you have recorded something and the
name gives you a clue what it was about.
Today you have the
Simple mono or stereo
Audio recording software. You can use the simple recorders bundled
with any operation systems. If you have a notebook you can use the
built-in microphone. For a Desktop PC you need an additional, cheap
Your music editing
program. Instead of your Windows or Mac audio recorder, you can use
a good sound editor like
Adobe Audition or
They have some features that make recording or storing your files
Your multitrack recording program. Some people prefer to record
directly into their main programs like
Apple Logic Pro,
Digital Performer, etc... Either just to catch the idea with no
attention to intonation or tempo, as a pilot track for overdubbing with
correct timing. Others even use all or parts of the recording for their
final tracks, because of it's fresh and original spirit.
Use your MP3 player.
Some mp3 player have a built-in recording function these days.
This way you are totally independent from your computer and can record
anytime, anywhere. After recording you can transfer your files to your
computer, name and organize them. For organizing you can use either the
file system of your OS, your mp3 organizing software or a special sound
But even people that are
not educated musicians can compose music these days. With a good ear and
a feeling for the musical form you can make music from building blocks
Composing with Building
Blocks and Loops
The first software for
writing music with loops and samples that
became famous for this kind of music production was the widely acclaimed
"Acid Pro" from Sonic Foundry, now
owned by Sony.
You could "paint" your music by choosing some prerecorded loops of
different instruments. Because you could change them in tuning and
tempo, adaptation to the song structure was no big deal.
The only problem with this
kind of music creation is, that you very much rely on pre-recorded
material. You need huge sound libraries with a good administration to
get the results you imagine in reasonable time.
After Acid, also other
software for writing music implemented this functionality one after the other.
Cakewalk Sonar, Cubase,
Apple Logic Pro,
Digital Performer, Reason, and even
Pro-Tools implemented at least parts
of this functionality.
But the most popular
software of this kind was the "Johnny comes lately" of the scene, "Garage
Band" from Apple. This software could even add some nice features to
the functionality of Acid.
But depending of the style
of music you want to create, there is even a simpler way to create
songs. It builds on programmed "musical intelligence".
Good musicians as well as
good songwriters follow certain rules of melody, harmony, rhythm and
style when the perform their art. Imagine a software for writing music, that takes account
of all this rules while it plays by itself.
Such programs have got a
bad name because in the beginning they sounded like the self
accompaniment of cheap solo entertainer keyboards. But like anything in
the computer scene it develops very fast and the results are quite
Composition with Virtual
Probably the fastest way to
compose music in professional quality, is to check a real good software
sampler or wavetable synth and drive it with a good composing and
The best known software for
writing music and practicing in this area is called "Band
in a Box" by PG Music. It has been used since many years by jazz
musicians for jamming with a virtual band.
Over time it has evolved
from a better auto accompaniment into a feature loaded solution which
includes things like Notation, Lyrics, Melody Tracks, Harmonization, and
a programmable StyleMaker. You can also record your voice and even make
harmonies for backing vocals.
It also has an vivid
community on the net with lots of active user.
For composing and arranging
"MIDI only", in case you don't need to record any vocal or instrumental
tracks, you can also try "Jammer"
Summary: Don't get yourself
a software for writing music and adapt your writing style to it. I have
very seldom seen that working.
Instead find out how you
want to write songs and then get all the tools necessary to make it
happen. I hope the guide above helps a bit while doing that.