Music software highlights and how-tos

Music software can help you organize your music and improve communication with your musicians. And you don’t need to be a composer to use music software. A keyboard or a mouse, or even a computer keyboard can be your instrument of choice.

Consider your goals: are you interested in performing, recording, or building a library of ready-made arrangements.

When you determine your goals it is easier to select the speific software you whould use for your main task. Though some programs preform more than one task well, it makes sense to learn to master one at a time, if possible.

You may find you need to learn about multiple programs in order to help organize your music team. You can select from Midi software, transcription software, or digital audio. Some of my favorites are Band-In-A-Box,

band-in-a-box



Garage Band

Garage Band



(for Mac), and a new one I’m learning is LogicExpress,

Logic Express



also for Mac, and Finale (for PC).

The next paragraphs explain 3 types of music software.

Midi software gives you the ability to record music content. For example, instead of sound, you record music data to be played through your choice of instrument sounds. It could be a piano, flute, sax, violin, guitar - often up to over one hundred choices, depending on the sound module hooked up to your midi card.

I’ve used various midi software for over ten years. When I first started midi was the only real workable option for music recording because the files were small when hard drive space and memory were limited. Though that has changed greatly, so has the ease of use of the software available. Instead of hooking up cables and card interfaces, now you can just click a few buttons and depending on your computer start recording in no time.

Midi software has helped me prepare back tracks so I can perform a song I could never find a band to play. It’s a singer’s friend when your repertoire exceeds your network of good instrumentalists.

Transcription software helps you build a lead sheet containing melody, chords and lyrics. While you can spend many hundreds of dollars on transcription software, I recommend starting with a free download from Finale software called Notepad.

You can add notes using a computer keyboard, midi keyboard attached to a computer, even using a mouse. Then play it back listening to your work you can be sure you have the pitch and rhythm correct. When you’re done preparing your lead sheet with chords, for instance, you can save and print your work. Digital Audio software is great for recording tracks to be used as an actual recording or for support for live music.

It used to be you needed a lot of money to do decent digital audio recording. That’s just no longer true. One program now available for free is call Audacity. I have used it to normalize live recordings. Do you record your rehearsals as a way to improve your live performance? If so, most recordings can use a little clean up. This program is great for that.

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