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I already play several instruments, but I'd like to be able to record and combine them into songs. Ideally I'd also like to mess around with some synths on the computer. I have a decent mic and some pickups.

All I'm really missing is the computer knowledge and software. I've used Garageband in the past a handful of times and liked the interface and such, but I only have windows and linux computers. Any suggestions for open source music programs would be very appreciated, as well as any other tips!

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closed as too broad by Dom, Shevliaskovic, Jason W, Meaningful Username, kiprainey Mar 22 '14 at 19:01

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Similar questions have been asked on this site before, so if you search around the website, you'll probably find a lot of useful information. =) I'll post some links when I have more time. – Kevin Mar 21 '14 at 0:14
Actually, what you're really missing is compositional knowledge. A better question for you is "What's a good way to get started making music?" – jjmusicnotes Mar 21 '14 at 1:47

I use a program called Reason 7 from Propellerhead Software and it is available for both Windows PCs and Mac PCs.

It is not free, but the full program can be downloaded and used in Demo mode. It can be used without having any other devices.

Over the years, I tried several other programs, but Reason seemed to suit my way of doing things the best due to it's instrument rack based layout.

Like most programs, to get the most out of it you will need some other devices to get your audio into the PC and although you can use the PCs sound card, you will probably need to invest in at lease three devices that I can think of.

  1. An audio interface unit. (I use a Focusrite Scarlett 8i6)
  2. A good pair of headphones.
  3. A midi keyboard (I use a Nektar Panorama P4 because it is designed to work seamlessly with Reason)

You can look up all these items on the web to get their full information.

The other important point is that all these items, including the Reason software are reasonably low cost, but IMHO of high quality.

Overall of course, this is a huge topic and there are many programs and devices available in use, but this is as good a place as any to start.

I hope you find this helpful.

Cheers, Luke

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@YungHummmma Check out Reaper; it's free. – Jason Mar 21 '14 at 4:03
@jason Reaper is not free. It's $60. You may try it for 60 days for free. – slim Mar 21 '14 at 8:48

As direct software recommendations are of topic, I would suggest to use some ranked lists like the one Wikipedia provides, for instance. Some are free, and even commercial ones often provide free trial versions that work for weeks, so may be enough time to understand if you really like the idea.

You do not need anything else just for starting. Any computer can play MIDI at these times, and any computer has the sound output jack that more or less should work. You can buy a better equipment later. However if you are piano or keyboard player, some entry level USB MIDI keyboard will allow to experiment with playing in the music fragment directly rather than doing everything through computer user interface.

My digital piano plays MIDI files much better and its keyboard serves great as a MIDI input device. Being relatively recent, it has USB MIDI and only needs USB cable to connect it to computer. But a digital piano is not something you could buy without being sure you will like to work with it.

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Before you start buying programs, buying equipment and learning the MIDI in's/outs of recording, the best way to start is by reading!

This is not an original question, and it therefore can be found solved if all you do is open the door of your local bookstore, tune your mind, not your strings to the right frequency.

To answer the only question posed directly;

**A good way to get started making music on the computer is to familiarize yourself with the concept that;

What you put in beforehand, and for what you pay, you get. Indebt, regret sinks in, and underneath your skin.< or something prosaic and pedantic like that

Ask Daniel Tidwell how he started. Tracks all of his songs, all instruments and mix Ask Jimmy Tierney. He started with 0$ and 0 knowledge

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