Looking for some new and interesting software to whet your appetite? While these software programs are not necessarily Live oriented they are off the beaten path and could help you with a spur of inspiration.
Traverso is a lightweight but powerful DAW that works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Professionals who’ve tried this software comment that despite some strange interface decisions (such as having to hold shift and click to move the playhead), it’s a viable option for those looking for a free alternative.
Ardour runs on Mac OS X and Linux making it cross-platform only to an extent, but this app, despite not running on the most ubiquitous system of them all, has grown in popularity and has quite a vocal and happy user base.
Every studio, home or professional, needs a good dedicated audio editor to run alongside the DAW. Audacity fills this role perfectly. You could even make a demo of a full song using Audacity, with a bit of work, though I wouldn’t recommend it! I actually tried to do this four or five years ago - we got something usable out of it, but let’s just say it wasn’t one of those projects where you use a take or two from the demo.
While Hydrogen bills itself as an advanced drum sequencer for GNU/Linux, it’s also available on Windows and Mac OS X. If you’ve got the samples, there’s nothing to stop you from using Hydrogen as a sequencer, but it really shines when you’re putting together programmed drum tracks.
MidiSwing is a very lightweight, minimalist MIDI sequencer. There’s not a whole lot of fiddling to do with MidiSwing because of its simplicity, which means the geek in you will be disappointed but you’ll be able to get to work quicker, and get more done. Perhaps this is the kind of interface you need to compose your tune before importing it into a more complicated sequencer—if you’re the type who fiddles with synthesizers for a few hours before writing a single note, this might solve your productivity problems.
While Frinika’s website could be a little friendlier, this sequencer also runs on Java, so it’s totally cross-platform. Despite the fact that it’s only reached version 0.5, it shows a lot of promise and it seems to be more advanced than MidiSwing, so it’s definitely worth checking out and having a play with.
As much as we all hate notation, sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Perhaps you’re licensing a song to a publisher who needs a lead sheet, and you don’t have the software to handle the job.
While Finale’s NotePad isn’t open source like most of the applications listed here, it is both free and cross-platform, with versions available for Windows and Mac OS X.
Since Finale NotePad doesn’t cover Linux users, we can’t leave without providing an option that does. MuseScore is available for both Linux and Windows.
MuseScore handles MIDI, features WYSIWIG notation editing, and a built-in sequencer and synthesizer so you can check that your notation sounds correct (definitely a plus if notation is not somewhere you usually go).