A Crash Course to Music Production for the Poor

2016-08-19 13:50:32 by Agitat0r

Since many on the forum asked about music software for their beginner production, I decided to write this guide on which free or cheap music software are best for your choices. Like other ppl, I also came from the same way that you're going through, and I have many experience with these software.


Freeware vs shareware: Most of the stuff posted here are freeware that have not restriction. Shareware are useless and doesn't work most of the time.

Linux vs other platform: I would expand all the tools to Linux, and at least to Wine-based. Because there are many great tools that only work well on Linux, and I wish their developers would do it for other platforms. Beside, Linux is 100% free, as in both free beer and freedom to tinker, so you could pick up a distribution and use it solely for music.

To put it simple, as "why Linux?". You save money for an operating system, while you could instead spend it on the necessary software you prefered. Since Linux, and many DAWs are free, there is no reason to spend on extra. Unless you do the illegal way.

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

LMMS Win/OSX/Linux

Best free and open source multiplatform DAW ever. Work across any platform, especially Linux. Literally has everything you needed, from piano roll to audio editor.


Ardour Win/OSX/Linux

One of the best free DAW you could get around and use without problem. It is the best alternative to LMMS.


OpenMPT Win/Linux(Wine)

Once you get pass the learning curve, OpenMPT is a very powerful tool to use. In contradicted to what people believe, you could track a whole track in less than an hour, in compared to a couple hours on other DAW. This was tracked in less than 2 hour, including sample editing.


Qtractor Linux

Linux has its own gem, like many other free DAW, qtractor is amazing on its own.

2320377_147162902722_qtractor-screenshot5.pngMuseScore Win/OSX/Linux

Free alternative to Finale and Sibelius. Support VST via JACK.

Here is MuseScore in action with Guitar Rig on Kubuntu (KDE version of Ubuntu).


Tracktion 5 Win/OSX/Linux

Rising star of alternative to professional paid software.


VST and Library

Kontakt Player Win/Mac/Linux(Wine 1.8.x)

Best free sampler plus the Factory Selection. And despise rumor, Kontakt does work on Linux (Ubuntu/Mint/Debian). Here is Kontakt in action on LMMS with Linux Mint.


Reaktor Player Win/OSX/Linux(Wine)

Modular programming software by Native Instruments.


Best free VST

Best free Chiptune VST



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2016-08-19 21:21:48

oh dang, I'll have to try these out sometime

Agitat0r responds:

There is quite lacking of good DAW out there. Especially the free one. Then there are shareware like FL Studio, Reason and Bitwig, which sadly they have save or export options disabled on demo. I thought about listing them but they would give no use if user couldn't save their project.

Glad the guide helps you out. :)


2016-08-20 12:13:57

Nice stuff man

Agitat0r responds:

You could run most of them on low-end system with little problem. These are not resource-demanding DAWs and they work very well without power hardware.

No problem dude.


2016-08-22 11:35:20

This is extremely helpful. Thanks!

Agitat0r responds:

No problem man :)

glad I could help out! Happy music making!


2016-10-05 04:24:16

Also should add in Audacity, MilkyTracker, Rosegarden, Hydrogen Drum Machine, as far as music-production goes

And can add in Linthesia and TuxGuitar as far as music-learning goes.

And there's probably others I'm not thinking of off the top of my head. All of the above are FOSS (meaning free and open-source software) and work on Linux. Some but not all also work under Windows. I believe Audacity and MilkyTracker have Windows versions. Rosegarden is Linux-only. As for Linthesia, if you're on Windows you'll want Synthesia as Linthesia is just a Linux-inspired derivative of that. And TuxGuitar is also Linux-only I think.

Also some are not easy to set up. In particular you'll need something to handle the MIDI typically (at least for Rosegarden and Linthesia). Possibly TiMidity, although I've had bad luck with that program and better luck with others. Your mileage may vary etc etc...

Agitat0r responds:

Rosegarden is a bitch to setup. I used to use it for production until MuseScore came along and did the job better. MilkyTracker isn't really for beginner, unless you're a skilled tracker musician, learning it from Milky gonna take forever to do. Though I'll add both Audacity, Rosegarden and Milky to this post.

There is also LinuxSampler that I planned to add, but it's also difficult to set up.

Thanks for the suggestion. And long time no see :).


2016-10-05 19:36:18

It might be worth including REAPER, as it has a fully functioning demo with nothing but a nag screen, and it doesn't actually stop you from using it after 60 days. It's probably the most professional DAW out there which you can use for free without "acquiring" anything.

Agitat0r responds:

Ah, I thought they only allow demo for 60 days. There is no limited feature after the trial?


2016-10-06 10:49:10

I don't currently have a screenshot (it's not opening for some reason on the computer I've been using it for over a year on) but imagine something like 400 days of use, "If you use REAPER more than 60 days, you are required to purchase a license", and a clickable button reading "Still Evaluating".


2017-04-23 21:06:50

Please note that according to the developers themselves, REAPER is not free. At some time or later you're going to have to buy a license ($60 discounted, $225 full) to use REAPER legally. If you aren't going to fork over the money, then there's no point even to bother downloading it.
Downloading REAPER for "free" is only for evaluation, so that you can decide whether it's a program you want to use. If you don't like it, delete it. If you do, then buy a license to continue to use it.
Here's the link for the licenses for proof: http://www.reaper.fm/purchase.php