" Music Software, Not Dinnerware"
Let’s introduce you to four different types of music software: instrumental software, typesetting programs, sequencers and flabby tummy soft-wear. Flabby tummy soft-wear takes a long time to download (sometimes months) and it produces a wide range of sound samples, depending on its food input. Pianolessons101 recommends getting rid of this soft-wear as soon as possible before it damages your hardrive.
Typesetting programs help you to create professional looking sheet music. Instrumental software goes hand in hand with sequencer programs. A sequencer program is a necessity for setting up your own home recording studio. However, unless you want to record all of your sound tracks using live acoustic instruments, you’ll need some sound samples from your instrumental software in order to record some midi tracks.
Some of the best sound samples I have in my library have come from www.soundsonline.com. I use their East West Symphonic Orchestra Silver Edition (a bunch of orchestral, piano and percussion sounds). The site has instrumental sounds ranging from classical to rock, including wonderful piano, guitar and drum samples. However, buyers beware: these sound samples can be terribly expensive. For example, a Platinum Edition, as opposed to my Silver Edition, is ten times the price! You really have to be nicknamed moneybags to habitually buy software that expensive. And let’s face it. Too many software purchases can give you a new nickname: street-beggar-bags. Be careful.
For typesetting, these two links are invaluable: www.sibelius.com and www.finalemusic.com. I have been using Finale for years. It is a combination of typesetting and sequencing software and its notation standards are first rate. Sibelius has an excellent reputation as well. Much of its software dedicates itself not only to typesetting excellence, but also towards educational development in musicians, music teachers and students.
The sequence software that I am most familiar with comes from www.steinberg.net. My software of choice from this site is Cubase SX3 (great value for what you get). This program allows you to record and edit anything (midi or acoustic) from piano solo music to full film scores and symphony orchestra compositions. The program even imports midi files from typesetting programs like finale and plays them with any choice of compatible sound samples. The program also imports digital video for film composition.
Other sites and software that some of our colleagues rave about include: www.apple.com/logicpro/ (an audio production software program) and www.pgmusic.com with its Band-In-A-Box program (software that allows you to generate background music that you can play along with and create audio tracks for).
There are many more sites that offer different types of music software. However, no matter how reputable a company looks, be cautious before purchasing expensive software products. Pricy programs usually require pricy computers. Sound samples generally take up a tremendous amount of memory. Many computers are now built with two hardrives to accommodate the abundance of memory required.
Pianolessons101 has just one more piece of advice: buy a software program with a concrete goal in mind. If you want a home studio, then purchase a sequencer program. If you want to produce printed sheet music, buy a typesetting program. Good luck!
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