I love writing and recording music and I also have fun doing voice over work on the side, but I refuse to spend a ton of money on super expensive, high-end recording software. Here’s some of my favorite FREE software and tools for recording music:
Audacity – Audacity is a FREE multi-track recording program. You won’t – or shouldn’t – use this to record your next band’s album, but it does offer some of the basic features you must have to at least get acquainted with multi-track recording, and even lay down some simple songs, namely:
- Record up to 16 tracks
- A handful of audio effects including reverb, echo, phaser, wah wah and more
- Import and export many common audio file formats
leafDrums – leafDrums is a GREAT little grid-based drum machine / programmer. It is extremely easy to learn. The drum sounds it comes with are pretty crappy, but since it uses standard WAV format audio files, you can build a virtually unending stock of drum kits from which to build. You can export clips for use as loops, export single files of all drums tracks, or export each individual drum track…great for importing into your favorite multi-track recorder.
FindSounds.com – Looking for some drum sounds for you new install of leafDrums? Look no further than FindSounds.com! FindSounds.com is an audio search engine. You can find just about any sound your ears desire here from drum samples, to gunshots, to farts, to screams. This is a fantastic resources for getting your hands – and ears – on all types of sounds.
FlashKit.com – FlashKit.com is a Flash developer resource site. Because Flash developers often need music and sound effects for their animations, presentations, games and interactive environments, this website offers a ton of free musical and audio resources. The music bed for my Mail Boxes Etc. voice over at the end of my VO demo reel came from FlashKit.com.
Hammerhead Rhythm Station – Here is yet another free drum machine program. This one works a little differently than the grid format you may be familiar with, and is catered more toward creating synth-ish drum loops for dance / trance / hip hop music. I love this little drum machine, though it is a little less versatile than the other drum machines mentioned here…but if you want easily crank out some techno style beats fat with old-school synth drum sounds, this will do the job in spades.
Reaper – Reaper is a FULLY LOADED professional multi-track recording workstation. This is not a frills-free freeware concoction, but an honest-to-goodness pro level music and MIDI recording platform. And, no, it’s not free…HOWEVER, you can download a fully functional trial version with no time limit. Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and I would expect that it is some sort of oversight, but apparently this has been the case for years. You can download a full version of the software, use if for a limited time, then simply keep telling it that you are “trying it out” for ever…never having to pay for the unlocked version. Now, if you use it and like it I certainly urge you to pay for it…that’s good music karma!
NOTE: Make sure you check out the copyright and usage rules for any websites offering loops and samples. Many resources are free for private use, but not for commercial use.