Every musician needs an assistant! And, these days, an assistant doesn’t just come in the form of a person. An assistant could be music creation software or a smart mixing desk.
So, what music tools are right for you?
Sibelius – Music Notation Software
Once you’ve decided what kind of computer is best for music production, you next need to think about the kind of software you’re going to use. That will depend on the type of music you are trying to create.
If you’re a classic composer, Sibelius is invaluable. First released in 1993 and named after Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, this software allows users fluent in reading music notation to construct an entire orchestral score and to then play it back and hear how it sounds.
You can also convert scores from one clef to another with the click of a button, meaning you can finally read those pesky harmony parts for the viola, which is one of the only instruments to use the alto clef.
Software that saves you time like this can mean you have more time to spend on improving your music career strategy for 2019. This is important because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36% of musicians and singers were self-employed.
The program also allows you to copy in recordings and see the physical score, allowing you to have a paper copy of improvisations that you have kicking around in the studio.
Other important features include plugins that allow you to hear your score played back by real instruments rather than the computer-generated sounds that come with Sibelius as standard. This is the musical equivalent of transcription software that converts spoken audio into printed text. Though of course, it may need a little bit of tweaking on the score after you’ve inputted it.
There is also a free version of the program called Sibelius First with more limited features that launched last year.
If you have an Mac or an iPad and you’ve not been using GarageBand, where have you been?
This is free entry-level software that is arguably aimed at junior musicians and composers and those who want to get a feel for how music is constructed.
However, many professional composers admit to using this software as well because it’s just so simple to use.
This digital audio workstation (DAW) allows the input of various audio tracks that can be edited and mixed together.
One of the things that makes it so easy to use is the preset MIDI keyboards and loops, as well as its virtual instruments set.
Not only does it accommodate virtual instruments, it also allows users to plug in their own instruments and even a microphone for voice recordings via USB port.
Those with the new MacBook Pro can also take advantage of the touch bar to mix or turn the top of the keyboard into a virtual piano or drumkit. You don’t even have to add or purchase extra devices via a USB slot.
GarageBand also comes with some free lessons for the guitar and piano if you need to brush up on your skills or you want to learn a new instrument.
Avid Pro Tools
Avid Pro Tools is industry standard music software that many in the music business say they can’t live without. It is used by scores of television and film composers as well as by professional recording artists.
The program is so vast in terms of the number of features it has that it cannot be overstated just how powerful it is. There are college courses devoted to learning how to use this program and countless books spanning hundreds of pages that can teach you how to utilize its secrets.
It has its own audio engine and allows you to include up to 128 tracks with the standard version and 256 with the ultimate version. It also comes with 512 instrument tracks and 512 MIDI tracks.
One of its most innovate features, for which you will require an additional subscription, is the ability to work in the cloud with 10 other users. Gone are the days where one person would have to find a way of transferring a huge file over to another user for them to work on it and send it back. Instead, musicians can now collaborate together seamlessly with ease.
There are also a host of plugins available. These enable you to customize Avid Pro Tools to your own personal needs.
There is also a free version of the software for those who want to see what all the fuss is about before taking the plunge and buying the standard or ultimate versions.
Not quite on the same level as Avid, Cubase is a medium level program. But that’s not to say it doesn’t pack a punch.
Unlike Pro Tools, there is no limit on the amount of audio and MIDI tracks you can use and it has a huge sound library which also trumps its competitor.
But unlike GarageBand and Pro Tools, Cubase is a bit techincal . But when you’ve figured out how to use it and how you can make it work for you, it works wonders.
Choosing What Music Tools Are Right For You
The key to deciding what music tools work for you is deciding what you want to achieve and then figuring out what program will help you achieve your goals.
As we always say your music matters. Don’t think about what other people might want, write the music that you enjoy and that matters to you and everything else will fall into place.