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Still beginning! Now, I’m gonna talk about the tools I use and will be here in examples.

The composer now-a-days must know to use the computer. It isn’t a pre-requisite to be a good professional, but expands sensibly the list of resources one can use. Furthermore, with the growing use of so-called “virtual instruments” we’re not anymore hostages from others to record our own music. Of course that nothing beats a live performance (at least for me), but it’s a viable alternative to build a sound portfolio when you’re not famous and/or don’t have money enough to leave an orchestra and a record studio on standby. Not to mention artistic movements where the computer is a key element in current production, like electroacoustic music and concrete music (since cassette tapes are gone).

So, to begin, we must get some softwares. But what? I’m not an expert in musical production and sound engineering – I came from a more acoustic background – but I get along relatively well in these topics. We have to divide softs per function and after this to seek the best for us, ‘cause there is no better at all, but one which we deal better. But, generally, they tend to be very similar in resources, interfaces and ambients. The decision ends up being by personal taste and available computing power.

The main functions:

  • DAW – Digital Audio Workstation: sequencers designed primarily for recording, editing and playing back digital audio. Basically it’s their main usage, but with the current processing power and the gigantic gamma of plugins, DAWs actually serve as stations for all-around works, including live performances and recording of some virtual instruments, even for generation of music scores. I used by several years SONAR, but the pc where it was installed crashed, and I lost the installation cds… I’m still deciding of which one will use for now on. Examples: Cakewalk SONAR®, Apple Logic Pro®, Ableton Live®, Cockos Reaper®, Steinberg Cubase®, Avid Pro-Tools®, Image-Line FL Studio® (the old Fruity Loops, which evolved from a grooves/loops creator to a complete DAW) et cetera;
  • Scorewriter: just as the MS Word deal with plain text, there are softs for score writing. They’re very needed when you long for take your music for another performers and also for the copyright register – a copy of scoresheets are required for the process. I use Finale 2006 (proprietary) and MuseScore (freeware), but there are a lot of similar ones, with near identical behavior. Sibelius is also well liked by many. Another examples: Encore, Guitar Pro, SmartScore, Power Tab Editor, Capella et cetera. I highly recommend the MuseScore (downloadable at, it practically retired my Finale; there are some bugs but it works very well on general. The vast majority of examples here will be done in it;
  • Audio Editor: softs for quick digital audio editions. Usually DAWs do all these functions, but for little adjusts (like format conversions) I prefer use them, because I don’t have very very powerful computers. My favorite is Audacity (, another freeware;
  • Samples, Effects Processor and Synthesizers: here’s the cool part of all this – are the “instruments” themselves. Samples are samples (duh!) of tones or little loops used as instruments, while synthesizers are softwares that create tones from some modelling technique (see FX Processors are softwares that modify sound input with some effect (reverb for example). There are formats joining these characteristics, like Soundfonts, that use sample-based synthesis. Exist several softs working with samples and synths, even the large majority of DAWs comes with native synths and FXs. Steinberg created a technology that works interfacing various synths/FXs and a DAW, like they’re a sort of plugins. The name is Virtual Studio Technology, abbreviated as VST.

These are the main softwares that will be used. Also exist softs for perception training (Ear Tuner, EAROPE, Auralia…), but I’ll talk about some of them in the next post. Any doubt or suggestion about softwares? Leave it in comments or send it by email to

Cya next time, folks!


~ por arssonis em seg, 10/10/2011.

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