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Since I’ve stumbled upon quite a fair number of useful (and mostly free) music tools over some Google searching, I think I’ll post them here since I’ve already collated them:
[Ardour](http://www.ardour.org/download) (Note: Donationware, Linux/OS X only. Functionality lacking without paying _at least_ USD1)
[Linux Multimedia Studio](http://lmms.sourceforge.net/) (Closest thing to FL Studios, probably. Multi OS, IIRC)
[Noteflight](http://www.noteflight.com/login) (Online sheet music writing program)
[Musescore](http://musescore.org/en) (free music composition and notation program)
[Audacity](http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) (Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux!)
TuxGuitar is another great program, it allows you to write guitar tablature/sheet music. You can choose from a bunch of different instruments to compose entire band tracks. I’d check it out if you’re interested in stuff like that
The program that I primarily use is [Ableton Live](http://www.ableton.com/live-8).
Yes, my parents bought it for me. It costs a bunch (depending on the version, it goes from ~$100-$800), but it’s really intuitive and allows you to make music and DJ with ease. Great stuff.
@ Riff/ray: Please provide links to your programs and brief summaries of what they do if you’ve used them. It helps a lot.
@ Glomp: A cheaper alternative, surely, although not exactly free. \>\_\< That and I’m a tad lazy to update my post atm so I’ll wait for a bit more things to update it with :)
I’ve been Using [Acoustica Mixcraft](http://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/index.htm) for a while for remixing MIDI’s that I write out. It has one of the best instrument samples available (in my opinion) that I know of that isn’t over 100$. It’s also very good for recording live if you have a microphone. It costs $74.95 but it’s well worth it’s price.
Also, one that most people probably know about the [Finale](http://www.finalemusic.com/default.aspx) products that give you a lot of choices of different notation software to choose from (Cheapest 10$ to 600$)
Definitely check out [famitracker](http://famitracker.shoodot.net/) for making chiptunes. It’s a rather great tracker, in my opinion, and though I’m not very good with trackers, it has a rather intuitive interface and it’s very solid.
Also, should we post links to good VSTs/percussion samples here too?
While it’s far from a pro tool, I found it both funny and an interesting option for those who don’t have a real piano.
Plus, it’s free and the game was uploaded to Kongregate.
[Piano Talent 1.2](http://www.kongregate.com/games/jhunour/piano-talent-1-2)
I guess it’s worth giving it a try and adding it to the list :)!
If you have a Mac running Leopard or Snow Leopard, and you’re into recording, you can download the [Adobe Audition](https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=labs_audition) beta for Mac. It’s free, but you have to sign up for a (free) Adobe account.
I use Finale notation software, it doesn’t have the best “audio” but I love it. I like to have a hard copy of notated music as well as the sound file.
An example of what it can put out.
I’ve also been using a program called Notessimo, and it’s been working pretty good. I suggest anybody with an music experience try it, although it can be just a bit hard to use at times. For those lazy people, here’s the link [Notessimo](http://www.notessimo.net/)
Ok Most of below is not free (cost noted where i can remember). These are what i use for bits a pieces.
documenting ideas for bass and guitar and learning songs-Guitar pro alternatively you can use power tab which is free
Drum programming-I use fruity loops with the drum hit from hell plugin
Audacity-i use this to turn my drum tracks into better formats as the fruity loops format isnt that useful for my recording process
Pro tools through M-audio plugin-i can use audacity to import my drum tracks then record vocals, bass and guitars through the M-audio interface. The essentials package is about £60 but full functionality costs more