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Music Making Software Reviews

   
 
No matter in what way you are related to music: whether you are sound engineer, composer, or musician, music software is beneficial for you – with use of today’s programs you can implement your ideas and do tasks more effectively. For example, if you have a scanner, you can use programs like Finale to recognize notes optically, which eliminates the need of entering them manually. Read about Finale and other essential music software below.
   
 
Notation Software

MakeMusic Finale

MakeMusic Finale

One of the most well-known score writing programs, Finale has a long history – the first version of the program was released in 1988. It is widely used by professional publishers and composers and is industry standard in its software segment – even blockbuster hits, such as Spider-Man 2, are scored with Finale. One can interact with a program in a number of ways: using computer keyboard and mouse or, which is more convenient, MIDI keyboard. Finale supports import and export of MIDI files and allows exporting of .wav, .mp3, and .aif audio files. Finale comes in a variety of differently priced versions with basic and advanced functionality.

Sibelius

Sibelius

Another major score writing program used both by professional and amateur composers. Sibelius has intuitive interface – you can do almost anything without going deep in the menu, and menu itself is well-structured. As functionality of the program allows arranging scores of any complexity, it is a big plus. Sibelius supports playing back the files as well as recording. Sounds are not limited to the factory selection – you are free to use any sample libraries you have on your computer. Of course, it also supports MIDI in full. Another handy feature of Sibelius allows publishing scores online, so that others can access them easily. Less expensive versions of Sibelius are available as well.

MuseScore

MuseScore

Free and, according to many, best alternative to aforementioned programs, MuseScore has a wide array of features, such as printing, import/export of scores, and support of MIDI keyboard. It even supports percussion notation, which is rather uncommon and unique, especially for a free scorewriter. Interface is organized in comprehensive way and helps with editing tasks. One can work with up to four voices on as many staves as possible – their number is not limited. Files can be exported in .wav, .ogg, and .flac formats or played back using integrated synthesizer. MuseScore is translated in 35 languages and can be installed on computers running Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

GVOX Encore

GVOX Encore

Another powerful and still easy-to-use notation software, from GVOX. Encore allows musicians of all levels to transcribe, edit and create nicely laid-out printouts of scores as large as 64 staves with up to 8 voices per staff. Supports a full set of MIDI features including extended performance capabilities like playing back dynamics, repeats, pedal marks and endings. Encore is known for its customizable toolbar that makes composing, transcribing, editing, transposing, designing and printing out the scores easy even for school pupils. Covering a tangible scale of options, this software is suitable both for creating simple lead sheets as well as composing whole symphonies. Equally available for Mac and Windows; moreover, the files are transferable.

Editing Software

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition

Adobe is known as a leader in the region of publishing and graphic design software. With their budget Adobe can acquire smaller companies and/or their products – which happened with Cool Edit Pro, now developed into multifunctional digital audio workstation called Audition. Audition has a tool based interface and allows editing multiple tracks. Audition supports VST plug-ins (instruments and effects) and ReWire technology. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.

Steinberg Cubase

Steinberg Cubase

Cubase is a digital audio workstation by Steinberg, a company which introduced software protocols of ASIO and VST, now used ubiquitously for audio purposes. Latest version of a program features advanced sequencer, drum machine, and opportunity to time-stretch audio in real time as well as adjust its tempo. Cubase has a so-called ‘control room’ which makes mixing easier. It fully supports Windows 7 – both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Version for Mac OS X is also available.

Audacity

Audacity

Multitrack audio recorder with rich functionality, Audacity is one of the best free programs out there. Audacity allows recording, mixing, and editing audio files within 16 separate channels. It works with WAV, MP3, AIFF, and OGG formats. Advanced features allow removing noise and adjusting the audio’s tempo or pitch. Cassettes and old records can be converted into digital form, and Audacity even saves your time splitting source material into tracks. A lot of effects can be applied to audio, and It is available in over than twenty languages for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X platforms.

Cakewalk Sonar

Cakewalk Sonar

Sonar is a digital audio workstation (DAW) developed by Cakewalk/Roland and coming last in the company’s long product range. It is designed for recording, mixing, editing and outputting audio. The program supports files in .avi, .mpeg, .mov, .wmv and various audio export options including 64-bit MASTERS. At the basis of this soft lies Active Controller Technology (ACT) that increases user’s ability to control effects & virtual instruments, and manipulate unlimited multitrack audio. However, Mac fans will probably be upset as Sonar works only with Windows.

Virtual Instruments

Native Instruments Kore

Native Instruments Kore

Native Instruments is one of the leading developers of musical software. Their Kore 2 is the ultimate tool for music production with library consisting of more than 500 sounds. Parameters of each sound can be edited, and also it is possible to combine them and apply effects thus creating something absolutely unique.

Kore Player is a free version of a program but also very powerful – it has a library of 150 sounds which can be used for music of any genre, be it ambient, classical, or techno. Among instruments are pianos, organs, drums – in fact, everything arranger may need. With this variety Kore Player should be a starting point to the world of virtual instruments, and it is small wonder that a package of certain models of MIDI keyboards includes CD with a program.

Modartt Pianoteq

Modartt Pianoteq

Finding a decent virtual piano has always been not easy, but with release of first version of Pianoteq situation got better. A lightweight alternative to sample libraries, Pianoteq is physically modeled and based on real time sound generation. It features not only realistic piano, but also harpsichords, vibraphones, and other instruments – you can even create your own. It is expressive, dynamic and can be individually adjusted. Many well-known composers, pianists, arrangers, and songwriters use Pianoteq – whether you’re a music professional or need an authentic virtual piano this program is right for you. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

SONiVOX Symphonic Ensemble Strings

SONiVOX Symphonic Ensemble Strings

For a sound of a symphonic ensemble you either need an ensemble itself or its imitation; however, many virtual instruments sound flat and synthetic rather than symphonic. Sonivox’s one stands out, and to satisfy yourself you can listen to a demo on their website. String section consists of basses, cellos, violas, and first & second violins, carefully recorded.in their correct orchestral positions. Symphonic Ensemble Strings is available both as a plug-in and stand-alone application and works under Windows and Mac OS.

Garritan

Garritan

Garritan makes its digital music products with the use of remarkably democratic technologies: Personal Orchestra, Concert and Marching Band, World Instruments, Jazz & Big Band, Steinway Piano. Garritan creators position their software as authentic and affordable in pricing and place emphasis on educational purposes.

Garritan’s “Authorized Steinway Virtual Concert Grand” deserves special attention of those interested in getting a virtual piano. The product was developed in cooperation and under supervision of Steinway & Sons, maker of finest pianos in the world. Legendary Steinway Model D was picked as software basis & recording, and two versions were developed – basic and professional. The latter offers five various listening perspectives (player, stage, under-the-lid, etc.). Powered by ARIA Instrument Engine, Authorized Steinway runs on all major platforms.

  • Comments 15
 
 
Marco Maia 14 Nov, 11:21

I use Presonus Notion and I am very happy with features, sounds and the professional output.

E.S. Capeditiea 25 Oct, 10:27

I find Frescobaldi (not the composer...) is perfect for linux users, though it is a bit more of a challenge since it is not point and click, and has a computing language on it's own, however it's so diverse in what it has to offer, also includes Gregorian notation, and it is FOSS. only downside, which is also an upside, the midi often doesn't work, so you are more inclined to just write it, so it saves time... yet the inputing process is kinda time consuming. It uses lilypond, and is GUI. I barely have learned it, but i would highly recommend it.

Joanne Styles 25 Nov, 09:35

Musescore works really well for me. I would also add the simple and intuitive Notation Composer. as someone already mentioned here, it makes a really nice alternative to the industry monsters like Finale and Sibelius.

Gloria Sherner 22 Jul, 01:06

I've tried various music making programs but for now I'm pretty satisfied with Finale 2012.

Анна 14 Jun, 09:29

Рекомендую программу FORTE http://www.fortenotation.com/ Приложение рассчитано как на профессиональных музыкантов, аранжировщиков, композиторов, музыкальных педагогов, так и на новичков, например, на учеников детских музыкальных школ, только делающих свои первые шаги в мире музыке. Для этого реализовано несколько версий FORTE, в том числе и бесплатная базовая программа для знакомства и работы с основными функциями. Программа позволяет записывать, редактировать, оформлять и распечатывать нотные листы. Даже в базовой версии предлагается более 100 инструментов на выбор. http://www.fortenotation.com/en/transaction/downloads/ Интерфейс приложения выполнен на английском языке, но интуитивно очень понятен, так как разработан при активном участии самих музыкантов.

 
   
 
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