The dawn of fast-enough computers and affordable digital audio workstations (DAW) ushered in an explosion of do-it-yourself and homemade musical production efforts. Nowadays, all it takes is a modicum of musical skill, a good ear, and computer know-how to put out a decent demo track you can share with friends.
If you want to get your hands wet with home music production, there's no short supply of multitrack recording programs, audio editing apps and virtual instruments for the computer or even your mobile gadget. Some of these apps are free but if you want to go beyond the basic recording and mixing techniques, you will have to shell out some decent amount of cash.
We've talked about great free audio editing software like Audacity in the past and of course, there's always Apple's free recording suite GarageBand for Macs and iOS devices.
For a powerful and free cross-platform (Windows, Mac and Linux) music production program, you can try this great suite - it's called LMMS (formerly known as Linux Multimedia Studio), the open source digital audio workstation.
Start laying down your own beats and melody phrases and tracks with LMMS's built-in MIDI multitrack sequencer then arrange and automate them for your next performance. With its Piano Roll Editor, you can fine tune your patterns, notes and chords however you wish.
Create your own unique sound by designing and mixing your own synthesizer sounds then arrange your own samples for your next digital music masterpiece. It comes with a variety of virtual instruments such as a monophonic bass synthesizer reminiscent of the classic Roland TB-303 machine, two built-in oscillator-based synths and another pair of wavetable-based synths plus a polyphonic and multitimbral synth plugin called ZynAddSubFX.
It even has chiptune sound emulations for those retro Commodore and old-school Nintendo game sound effects. If you have separate VST instrument plugins, LMMS also has 32-bit and 64-bit (via 32-bit bridge) VST support.
Do you want to carve out a wicked backbeat? It has a separate Beat+Bassline Editor for nailing that perfect groove and loop it as you go.
LMMS doesn't have a shortage of mastering effects, either. For that final polish and sheen, you can apply its built-in effects to your tracks such as compression, limiting, reverb, delay, EQ, distortion and bass enhancement. If you have external FX modules, as with its VST instrument support, it also supports VST effect plug-ins.
Of course, as with any advanced music editing software, LMMS has a learning curve so don't worry if you can't figure things out right away. LMMS's website provides a ton of how-to and video tutorials and with their help, you can be producing your own tracks in no time.
As for the software's hardware requirements, it is recommended that you have at least a 1 GHz and 512 MB of RAM. Additionally, although you can play the instruments with your regular QWERTY computer keyboard, a MIDI music keyboard is a must for recording, playback and for a better overall experience.
Ready to create the next electronic dance hit? Click the download link below and start laying some beats!
LMMS is available for these platforms: Linux, Windows and a beta build for Macs.
For a sample of what LMMS can do, check out its Showcase page!