14 October - 2014
Useful Free Music Software By: Help For Bands, 0 Comments

Five useful music software programmes for creating music that are free!

Cecilia5

“Ear bending sonics” – a very honest tagline to a very unique piece of software.

Cecilia5 has the ability to help any musician out of writers block, allowing them to load in their own audio samples and manipulate them using one of the many modules provided in this software package.

The modules provided, range from the generic (3 band EQ, multi delay, etc.)  To the less generic (Granulator, Harmonizer, Phasor etc.). These modules can be manipulated with the various parameters at the bottom of the window and additional effects can be added from features on the left corner of the screen. Parameters can also be automated to create livelier textures to your sounds.

This Software is easy to use and allows anyone to explore complex sounds without the hassle of starting from scratch.

This package is completely free to download and you can find it here: http://ajaxsoundstudio.com/software/cecilia/

SPEAR

A universally useful tool for musicians in the creative, corrective and educational sectors of the Music Industry.

SPEAR: Standing for “Sinusoidal Partial Editing Analysis and Resynthesis” (Very posh, I know) is a software that resynthesises audio files that the user uploads through recreating the spectral contents of the audio, using lots and lots of sine waves.

This means that you can manipulate any frequency that appears in the file by stretching, shortening, transposing or deleting one or a group of sine waves mapped on the window. This feature is incredibly useful in a corrective sense meaning that the user can correct annoying hums and hisses in audio files. It is also useful in a creative sense by stretching certain sinusoids to create interesting variables to the original audio file. I personally have used this software for educational purposes, to transpose songs to standard tunings and slow down songs to make it easier for pupils to play their instrument to them whilst practicing.

This piece of software takes a little bit of practice to get used to but once your away, you will realise how incredibly beneficial it can be.

This package is completely free to download and you can find it here: http://www.klingbeil.com/spear/downloads/

There are also a few videos on YouTube that guide you through various features of the software.

Argeïphontes Lyre

If there’s one piece of musical software that is universally feared as well as loved, it would be this one.

Argeïphontes Lyre works solely on chance and resembles something you’d find in your creepy Auntie’s attic. It can be “used” by uploading an audio file, choosing one of its ominous looking modules, fiddling with its features and hoping for the best.

After you click “process” a bizarre dancing lady will appear on screen which as well as providing huge amounts of nightmare fuel; her main purpose is to indicate that the sound is being processed (or so they say…). Once she disappears, a file will appear on your desktop with a cryptic looking name (which is also randomised by the software). At this point you will be able to listen to the noise the scary software has spat out and decide whether you like it or not.

I realise that I haven’t exactly over sold the software here, but it is a lot of fun to use as well as incredibly easy. It is sure to melt away any case of writers block you might be suffering from (as well as giving you sleepless nights and possible demonic possession in the process). But hey, it’s just in time for Halloween, so why not give it a try?

This package is completely free to download and you can find it here: http://www.akirarabelais.com/vi/o/software/al/o.html

JACK

Here’s quite a nifty piece of kit.

JACK is the bridge between your favourite programs, unlocking the possibility of using both pieces of software in unison. In effect, this allows users to take the audio output from a program (for example iTunes) and play it in something completely different (an audio track on your favourite DAW) in real time.

Using JACK can create a very productive workspace, interlinking all your favourite compositional tools into one fully compatible music-creating machine.

However it needs a person confident in audio routing to create a chain of connected programs. If a program is in the wrong place of the chain, it can result in an unsavoury amount of feedback.

This can be a very useful piece of software if you know how to use it. It saves buckets of time and leaves the tediously excessive lists of audio samples out of the creative process.

This package is completely free to download and you can find it here: http://jackaudio.org/downloads/

There are also a few videos on YouTube that guide you few various features of the software.

MAX/MSP

The creation tool that can be used for pretty much anything, ever.

MAX/MSP (now known as Max), is software that uses graphic coding. It exposed the user to an incredibly flexible sandbox environment, which has almost unlimited compositional possibilities (amongst other things).

It uses readymade blocks known as “objects” with different functions that can be linked together to build a network. You can create something of some purpose (Synthesisers, loopers, FFT audio freezers etc.) You can even manipulate video though Jitter objects that come free with Max.

This program can take a while to get to grips with and you will encounter problems whilst creating projects. However, this is just part of the coding process. The order goes as follows:

  • Think of an amazing idea.
  • Workout how you can achieve this on Max
  • Find out that it isn’t all that simple
  • Cry a lot
  • Figure out a way around it
  • Celebrate
  • Encounter another problem

However painful this process may be, it is an incredibly rewarding one (and you feel really clever at the end). Plus if you do get really stuck, there’s a huge Max community out there who provide more than enough help.

This piece of software offers a 30 day free trial and discounts for students and can be downloaded here: http://cycling74.com/downloads/

There is a similar piece of software available called Pure Data that is completely free. I haven’t used it myself, but it’s always a free alternative for when your 30 day trail runs out.

This can be downloaded from here: http://puredata.info/downloads