Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Make your own music

Make music with basic software

Long before Zoy Nicoles became the frontman for the popular Canadian rock band, Mudmen, the 30-year-old singer/songwriter would log countless nights in recording studios fleshing out ideas for new songs.


"I don't want to think about how much time and money I spent on studio time," recalls Nicoles. "Today, I can do virtually everything on my computer at home—and if I can learn how to do it, anyone can," adds the musician.

Nicoles is one of thousands of people around the world who have turned to computers to write, record, and edit music using one of many new software packages available today. Programs now exist for all ages and skill levels—from interactive music lessons to toying with pre-made dance loops to virtual recording studios.

Nicoles, who uses ACID Pro, says today's software packages are powerful, easy to use, and fun. For example, he says, "I can slide a bar up and down to change the beats per minute—without altering the pitch of my voice—so I can see what a fast song would sound like as a ballad."

Kids can also benefit from these music programs, says Jodi Weiner, a school teacher. "I use music as a tool for teaching—it teaches kids to express themselves; it lets them explore their personal space in a creative way," says Weiner, the mother of two-year-old twins. "Music is also ideal for shy kids or for those with low self-esteem, and for ESL [English as a Second Language] students."

Computers make music a fun, interactive, and convenient activity for students, says Weiner. "It's an accessible vehicle for kids in a medium that they understand and enjoy. With a click of the mouse, you can have kids play something on the computer and then have them write what they feel about the music."

Let's take a look at three popular PC music programs—one for beginners, one for intermediate users, and some more advanced tools for professional applications.

Beginners: Morton Subotnick's Making Music

Kids can unleash their inner composer with this fun and educational music program designed for children old enough to use a mouse effectively. For those under three, parents may opt to take control of the navigation while a child sits on their lap. Award-winning composer Morton Subotnick, a pioneer in creating interactive computer music systems, built Making Music to let children experience what it is like to compose music by using their ears and eyes.

The emphasis here is on learning through fun. For example, kids can toy around with animal "building blocks" to create unique melodies. Players can then change the pitch and rhythm by lining up birds on a wire, which resemble musical notes. In another area of the program, you can choose from 16 instruments on the screen to hear what they sound like and then create melodies and rhythms individually or together. Kids can use the mouse to "draw" music on a blank canvas and save their creations for playback at a later time.

What's more, four different computer games challenge kids to listen to hear if two or more melodies are similar or different. Correct answers reveal new puzzle pieces.

Intermediate: MAGIX Music Maker or Songsmith

Already a hit in Europe, MAGIX's music creation software helps musicians make music, regardless of their prior knowledge..

In particular, Music Maker lets users select from thousands of pre-made loops and samples from various instruments. Alternatively, it's possible to import new music clips from real instruments, CDs, or digital music files (as well as original vocal tracks). Users can preview loops and samples and then drag and drop them onto the screen. The program allows for 96 separate music tracks.

Among the features in this edition is a sophisticated drum machine, enhanced editing tools, and a vocal tuner that automatically corrects recorded vocals (and can create an entire choir from a single recorded voice). Saved performances can be played inside the program or can be exported to a file playable via Windows Media Player.

Microsoft Songsmith helps users create songs using just their voices, by choosing musical accompaniments to match whatever they sing. First, users choose a general style for a song and set a tempo. Then they sing whatever song is in their heads into a microphone, while listening to a percussive beat. When they’ve finished recording, Songsmith detects the key, selects the chords and plays the song back with accompaniment. Users can edit the score, export the music to disk and share it with others.

Advanced: Cubase or Music Creator Pro

Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP users have many choices when it comes to high-end music creation and editing software packages. Both Cubase and Cakewalk Music Creator Pro are sophisticated PC tools, each of which can be used with a PC keyboard (virtual instruments) or by attaching instruments to a compatible sound card (such as a MIDI keyboard).

These programs offer more advanced audio-mixing options compared to other products, while including more standard loop- and pattern-based arranging found elsewhere.

This latest version of Cubase adds "audio warp" effects such as real-time time stretching and pitch shifting, and support for ACID files. It is Nicoles' program of choice. "I never thought computers could be used to write and record a song, and so easily, too," he says. "It's fantastic. This is the future."

Posted by on

Computers & Internet Logo

Related Topics:

Related Questions:

1 Answer

creedence clearwater revival rock band history


Creedence Clearwater Revival-occasionally shortened to Creedence or CCR-was an American rock band popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The band consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty (John's brother), bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford. Their musical style encompassed the roots rock and swamp rock genres. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they portrayed a Southern rock style, singing about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River, and other popular elements of Southern iconography.
Creedence Clearwater Revival's music is still a staple of American and worldwide radio airplay;[1] the band has sold 26 million albums in the United States alone.[2] Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.[3] Rolling Stone ranked the band 82nd on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.[4] Their musical influence can be heard in many genres including southern rock, grunge, roots rock, and blues

Jun 03, 2014 | Measuring Tools & Sensors

2 Answers

Can't access SDHC card with Rockband 2


Unfortunately, Rock Band 2 came out before the Wii upgrade that allows the use of SDHC cards. Due to the architecture of the Wii which doesn't allow software patches to games, the Rock Band 2 game uses the old drivers that can only read non-SDHC cards.
Unless Harmonix releases a new DVD with the new drivers programmed in, we're out of luck on using SDHC cards with RB2.

May 17, 2009 | Nintendo Rock Band for Wii

1 Answer

My son just purchased a Wireless Guitar Frontman for Playstation 3 and he cannot get a connection. Can you help?


if it is for rock band then it cannot work for guitar hero nor can guitar hero guitars can work for rock band
hope this helps
thanks for reading(you can be the first to rate me)

Dec 13, 2008 | Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) Console

1 Answer

al 4 instruments wont work


dude sounds like u need a vipower usb 2.0 4-port hub

Dec 09, 2008 | MTV Games Rock Band for PlayStation 2

1 Answer

all 4 instruments will not work


u might need a usb 2.0 4-port hub model no; vp-h209b

Dec 09, 2008 | MTV Games Rock Band for PlayStation 2

Not finding what you are looking for?

180 people viewed this tip

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Computers & Internet Experts

Doctor PC
Doctor PC

Level 3 Expert

7733 Answers

kakima

Level 3 Expert

102366 Answers

David Payne
David Payne

Level 3 Expert

14161 Answers

Are you a Computer and Internet Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions

Loading...