. . / software

There's a universe of programs out there aimed at helping you make hits which don't cost a thing. The problem's always been where to find 'em. Below, we've run down a list of what we think the most powerful programs available to you are. Peep game.

ReZound: Aims to be a stable, open source, and graphical audio file editor primarily for but not limited to the Linux operating system.
Anthem: An advanced open source MIDI sequencer which allows you to record, edit, and playback music using a sophisticated and acclaimed object oriented song technology.
Ardour: A professional multitrack/multichannel audio recorder and DAW for Linux, using ALSA-supported audio interfaces. It supports up to 32 bit samples, 24+ channels at up to 96kHz, full MMC control, a non-destructive, non-linear editor, and LADSPA plugins.
GNUsound: A sound editor for Linux/x86. It supports multiple tracks, multiple outputs, and 8, 16, or 24/32 bit samples. It can read a number of audio formats through libaudiofile, and saves them as WAV.
Bristol: A synthesizer emulation package. It includes a Moog Mini, Moog Voyager, Hammond B3, Prophet 5, Juno 6, DX 7, and others.
Audacity: A cross-platform multitrack audio editor. It allows you to record sounds directly or to import Ogg, WAV, AIFF, AU, IRCAM, or MP3 files. It features a few simple effects, all of the editing features you should need, and unlimited undo. The GUI was built with wxWindows and the audio I/O currently uses OSS under Linux.
a href='http://terminatorx.org/' target='_blank'>TerminatorX: A realtime audio synthesizer that allows you to "scratch" on digitally sampled audio data (*.wav, *.au, *.mp3, etc.) the way hiphop-DJs scratch on vinyl records. It features multiple turntables, realtime effects (built-in as well as LADSPA plugin effects), a sequencer, and an easy-to-use GTK+ GUI.
LAoE: A graphical audiosample-editor, based on multi-layers, floating-point samples, volume-masks, variable selection-intensity, and many plugins suitable to manipulate sound, such as filtering, retouching, resampling, graphical spectrogram editing by brushes and rectangles, sample-curve editing by freehand-pen and spline and other interpolation curves, effects like reverb, echo, compress, expand, pitch-shift, time-stretch, and much more.
MidiMountain: A sequencer to edit standard MIDI files. Its easy-to-use interface should help beginners to edit and create MIDI songs (sequences), and it is designed to edit every definition known to standard MIDI files and the MIDI transfer protocol, from easy piano roll editing to changing binary system exclusive messages.
GNoise: A GTK+ based wave file editor. It uses a display cache and a double-buffered display for maximum speed with large files. It supports common editing functions such as cut, copy, paste, fade in/out, normalize, and more, with unlimited undo.
Rosegarden: An integrated MIDI sequencer and musical notation editor. The stable version (2.1) is a simple application for any Unix/X system. The development branch (Rosegarden-4) is an entirely new KDE application.
KGuitar: A guitarist suite for KDE. It's based on MIDI concepts and includes tabulature editor, chord construction helpers, and importing and exporting song formats.
Swami: An instrument patch file editor using SoundFont files that allows you to create and distribute instruments from audio samples used for composing music. It uses iiwusynth, a software synthesizer, which has real time effect control, support for modulators, and routable audio via Jack.
SoundTracker: A pattern-oriented music editor (similar to the DOS program 'FastTracker'). Samples are lined up on tracks and patterns which are then arranged to a song. Supported module formats are XM and MOD; the player code is the one from OpenCP. A basic sample recorder and editor is also included.
Tutka: A tracker style MIDI sequencer for Linux (and other systems; only Linux is supported at this time though). It is similar to programs like SoundTracker, ProTracker and FastTracker except that it does not support samples and is meant for MIDI use only.
amSynth: A realtime polyphonic analogue modeling synthesizer. It provides a virtual analogue synthesizer in the style of the classic Moog Minimoog/Roland Junos. It offers an easy-to-use interface and synth engine, while still creating varied sounds. It runs as a standalone application, using either the ALSA audio and MIDI sequencer system or the plain OSS devices.
SpiralSynth Modular: An object orientated modular softsynth / sequencer / sampler. Audio or control data can be freely passed between the plugins, and is all treated the same.
gAlan: An audio-processing tool for X windows and Win32. It allows you to build synthesizers, effects chains, mixers, sequencers, drum-machines, etc. in a modular fashion by linking together icons representing primitive audio-processing components.
Voodoo Tracker: A project that aims to harness and extend the power of conventional trackers. Imagine self contained digital studio; complete and ready for your modern music needs. Additionally Voodoo will provide an interface that is designed for live performances.
SLab: Direct to Disk Audio Recording Studio is a free HDD audio recording system for linux operating systems, written using Tcl/Tk. SLab can record up to 64 tracks.
BeatForce: A computer DJing system, with two players with independent playlist, song database, mixer, sampler etc. It was planned as a feature enhanced Linux replacement for BPM-Studio from Alcatech.
FL909 attempts to simulate the original sound of the Roland TR-909. This drumcomputer hits the market 1984 and was a long time the state of art in house and techno productions. Shift-Click the Step-buttons for accent triggers. Shift-Click-Move knobs for smoother resolution. Press Save to store a snapshot of the current settings to a flash cookie. Restore snapshot by pressing Load. Clear to delete all patterns and reset all knobs. Drag and drop a pattern button (invisible) to copy a pattern to a new location. Play with the demo here. Download the source here.

Find out about what a PRO does and why it is important for you to publish your music. Without being registered with a PRO, you will not be able to collect royalties when your song is played on the radio, television, and more. Click here for more.

Ardour, the open source equivalent of Pro Tools, can be used to make beat loops. Click here for more.

The universe of open source software offers an amazing variety of free programs geared toward making hits. Click here for more.