If you feel like
having a go
at this sort of thing, there are some free programs available that will
allow you to get a feel for it. I haven't used all of them so I can't
vouch for them.
which worked when last tested, are to pages that are not part of my site:
version for you
Jazz++ is an open
project midi sequencer. A lot of these open source projects originate
is another free one.
said by some to be
the best free midi sequencer.
will be able to record vocals with the sort of headset language
training programs sometimes come with. If you intend buying
look for one said to be suitable for speech recognition software. It
should be relatively inexpensive.
If you're a bit more serious
then you need what is sometimes called a
client, that is a midi sequencer that is compatible with software
synths. On Windows, there are two main standards for these. VST appears
to be the
most widely available though there are also some DXi
synths. Ideally you want a client compatible with both these
For a home user the leading midi sequencer plugin clients are Cubase
A visit to your local music shop is likely to secure one or
the other. There are others, including Music
Creator. You should be
aware that some sequencing and synthesiser software, especially if it
is aimed at industry professionals, may require additional hardware
(usually sold with it) to be fitted to the PC it is running on.
you're interested in using an Apple Mac,
then there are three Apple programs you could use:
The advantage of Apple is that they are better machines, better made,
with better designed software that gives better performance for the
same spec. The operating system is much better. The disadvantage, apart
from the relearning, is that they are expensive. At time of writing
they start somewhere over £800 - plus any additional software.
Band. This fairly basic program
comes free with Mac laptops. I believe it is included with the
operating system. If you happen to have a Mac this is a good way to
have a go at writing your own music. You can buy more instruments for
it, and these should also be available to Logic Express or Logic Studio
later should you decide to invest in them.
This is aimed at home users who are rather more serious and at time of
writing retails at around £160-odd. I gather that Logic
has been steadily pinching features from its big brother Logic Studio.
It is compatible with plugins, but on the Mac the main standard appears
to be AU (Audio Units).
- Logic Studio.
This is the full-featured product aimed at music industry
professionals. At time of writing it retails for somewhere around
£400. This still makes it much
cheaper than equivalent Windows products. Although £400
sounds much more than £160, bear in mind that you won't need
to spend much on expansion packs with new instruments before you would
have been better off getting Logic Studio.
If you're using a Mac then you may find these files (which I wrote
purely to remember how to do things for my own benefit) useful:
logic manual - this continues
from where the official instruction booklet that comes with Logic
Express left off.
- this is a whistle-stop aide memoir of recording vocals with a USB
covers - this is an aide-memoir
of designing and printing CD covers using Disc Cover 2 by BeeLight
You may also be interested in this.
It's a summary of the
upshot of musical theory - keys,
some chords, harmonies - I did search for something like this on the
internet. I did quite a bit of searching but I couldn't find it, so I
compiled it myself.
As far as I'm aware all this is correct but bear in mind I'm not a
musical theorist - I got it from other places. It's in Open Office
Again if you're after higher standard recordings,
you are likely to
want a studio standard condenser microphone.
Sceptical noises have been made about recording anything through a USB
port, for various reasons including latency - that is, delays. This can
be an issue for live performance but since timing is essentially
arbitrary when recording it shouldn't matter.
can get a microphone that plugs into a pre-amp (which most professional
microphones will be designed to do). In your
case the preamp will be an external
USB sound card but be careful that the plug on the microphone will
fit into the socket on the sound card.
- You can get a USB
microphone that plugs
directly into the PC.
- You can get a microphone
USB adaptor lead (one example) which allows you to connect an
ordinary microphone into a USB socket, although what the signal level
is like as it arrives on your machine may be another thing. If your
microphone is not an XLR (which unless it is aimed at industry
professionals it may well not be) you will also need a suitable XLR
adaptor (again, one example).
- A fourth
alternative is to record into a separate
The majority of my recordings have been made using a Samson
C01U, latterly (while I was
still using Music Creator, which I'm not now) recording into Audacity
while simultaneously playing back the synthesised backing using Music
There are three tricks to this. One, do not
use the Samson
software pre-amp as this appears to have been the source of significant
problems for a number of users and will disable the Windows volume
control thus greying out the volume button. Two, set Audacity to record
one channel (mono) and 16 bit only (not 32). Three, adjust the (now not
greyed out) volume button to near or at the top of the scale.
You may also
want to ask your music shop for: a boom mic stand, a pop filter (which
should be a round soft mesh on the end of a flexible stalk) and a