Recording & Composition Software

Most professional recording software has options within the program that allows you to manipulate the timing, tempo and notation as well as record using either step or live input. Some versions may also have ‘light’ options where a part of the more expensive programme has been made available at a more reasonable price i.e., Cubase has a notation programme which allows you to write and manipulate scores for printing.

Songwriters need to have both options available so that their work can be recorded and the music printed for copyrighting and if you are unsure of the type of programme you are going to require then it is worth trying out a few of the freeware/shareware programs before splashing out on a professional program.

If you wish to use your computer to create and record music then you will require a good quality sound card that is compatible for recording and playing back your compositions plus enough processor and memory capacity to ensure that the program works smoothly.

For recording midi a relatively small computer is sufficient (Pentium 111, 100mhz 1.19gb will do fine) but if you intend to record audio (.wav) and vocals then a much higher specification will be required – in fact the higher mhz and memory the better.

The most popular programs used by professional musicians, songwriters, programmers and recording studios are Cubase and Cakewalk combined with ‘Soundblaster Platinum’ or similar hardware. Add to this a good quality microphone, speakers, software synth or keyboard, a CD Writer, Minidisk or Tape Deck for an all round system.

There are also some excellent books explaining the myriad uses of Cubase for serious users. My particluar favourite is The Complete Cubase Handbook – which is now out of print although a second hand copy may be available from Amazon.

Music Recording Software

Cakewalk MIDI Music Pack
(Cakewalk Express 8 plus MIDI Cable)

Platform: Windows 95, Windows 98

Turn your PC into a multitrack studio
Easy to setup and learn
Record audio and MIDI tracks using any instrument
Quickly edit and arrange your music on-screen
Remix tracks in real-time

Editorial Reviews

If you want to get acquainted with the advantages of today’s music software, Cakewalk’s MIDI Music Pack can connect your desktop computer to any MIDI-compatible instrument or module and get you up and running quickly. Bundled with Cakewalk Express 8.0 music software, this package is the perfect introduction to the world of home music recording. Besides being a lot of fun, it can be the first step to making you a better musician.

MIDI Music Pack features a 10-foot cable that will connect your Windows desktop’s sound card to a MIDI keyboard or other compatible instrument or device. A quick-start guide shows you how. Once you are connected, you can use the bundled Cakewalk Express 8.0 program, an entry-level version of Cakewalk’s fully fledged Home Studio software package. Surprisingly functional, Express is ready to go with recording, editing and mixing of MIDI (up to 256 tracks) and digital audio WAV files (up to two tracks).

Besides recording from your MIDI instrument, you can use the included Virtual Piano utility right on your computer. There is good control of mixing tracks, along with adding chorus and reverb effects. Perfect for any music student or songwriter, the software lets you view your pieces as music scores as well as print them out, including lyrics and chord diagrams for guitar. As you build your library of MIDI tunes, the Virtual Jukebox tool lets you manage and play your tunes in order. –Rich Dragan,

Product Description – A high-quality 10-foot MIDI Adapter Cable to connect any MIDI instrument to your Windows sound card.

Now includes Cakewalk Express, the multi-track music and sound software for Windows. Record any instrument, your voice, or the on-screen Virtual Piano. Supports two tracks of audio along with MIDI. Edit and mix tracks quickly and easily. Discover the musician inside you. Great for the hobbyist new to MIDI, as well as musicians who need to expand their MIDI system.

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Cakewalk Music Creator

Platform: Windows 95, Windows 98


Record and edit up to 8 tracks of digital audio
Quickly and easily score and print up to 24 staves of notation, featuring transposition, easy lyric entry and part extraction.
32-bit real time effects processing – including DirectX
Piano roll view for easy editing
Import/export movie files for scoring or sound effects on home movies
CPU and disk meters let you monitor your systems resources
Compatible with files from Cakewalk Express, Pro Audio, Guitar Studio and Professional.

Editorial Reviews
Product Description – Real power, great price for home use
Cakewalk Music Creator is the world’s leading music software for the home or school studio. It is the fastest, easiest and most affordable way to create music and sound on a PC. You can get started fast with online tutorials. Easily record music with any instrument. Even use the Virtual Piano to play and record music with your PC mouse or keyboard. Then cut, copy, paste and mix tracks. Edit notes with the click of the mouse. When you are finished, print it as sheet music. Even upgrade to save as an MP3 file and put it on the Internet. Whether you are looking to get your music career started, or just playing for personal enjoyment, Music Creator is for you.

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Cubasis VST 3.0 CD-ROM – Steinberg
Platform: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME

48 audio channels (Wave, MP3) and 64 Midi channels
Professional mixer and real-time effects
Universal Sound Module and virtual instruments (Synth, Bass, Drum Machine)
Mastering and CD-R software
Full MP3 and RealAudio export
Steinberg InWire – Make music with others over the internet
Bonus CD with 600MB of samples and songs
Simple handling and 16 new real-time effects

New in version 3.0:
48 audio channels
4 virtual sound sources
Full MP3 support
Look and feel
Multimedia tutorial
16 new effects – now even easier to use
Surround sound
Video software
WaveLab Lite 2.0 and much more
Similar to Cubasis Go! 3.0 Cubasis VST 3.0 but with many additional features such as 48 audio channels, 4 virtual sound sources (synthesizer, universal sound module, virtual bass, drum machine) and full MP3 support. Do it the way the professionals do. Cubasis VST gives you a complete music studio – in your PC. Up to 24 audio channels and 64 MIDI tracks, mixers, real-time effects, a virtual sound module and much more are waiting to be taken through their paces. The multimedia tutorial shows you how – in only a few minutes. Compose songs, edit, print scores, produce music videos and burns CD’s. Cubasis VST lets you make your musical ideas a reality.
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Cubasis VST 2.0 Mac
Virtual instruments
Mastering and audio editing
48 audio and 64 MIDI channels
Original Fraunhofer Full MP3 support
Professional mixer and real-time effects

Cubasis VST turns your Mac into a professional recording studio. With up to 48 audio (Wave and MP3) and 64 MIDI channels, you can create extremely sophisticated arrangements with ease. All the tools you need to make music are on board – a virtual syntheziser, a totally unique bass, a universal sound module and a ready-to-groove drum machine. Compose songs, process sounds, print out scores and save your tracks in MP3 format or pro CD quality. Cubasis VST 20 offers a wealth of possibilities for turning your ideas into great music – alone on your computer or in collaboration over the Web.
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A Cubase for Everyone.
Cubase is not just one program. It is a family of three, Cubase VST, Cubase VST Score and Cubase VST/24 each of which have independent cut down modules like the Cubasis range. Each has features to match the differing needs of musicians. The scaling of these features adds functionality through the range. Steinberg does not arbitrarily strip, or mindlessly limit features to disable our smaller programs. We add whole new spheres of functionality, for those who need it, as we climb through the range. The core functionality and power remains the same.

Cubasis Notation
32 staves of notation per page
4-voice polyphony per double staff
Text and lyric modes
Drum notation
Wide range of layout options

Cubasis Notation offers a fast and easy way to write music notation and print out perfect scores. No matter how demanding the musical challenge, Cubasis Notation’s remarkable range of scoring features gives you the tools to master it and capture every subtlety of your composition. You can create complete orchestral scores, notation for vocals by means of a special lyrics mode, scores for piano with special polyphonic voicing settings, and, with the option of assigning alternative note heads, even notation for drums. An Auto Layout function takes care of many steps for you, saving you both time and effort. Cubasis Notation offers more than 100 graphic symbols, so you’ll find it easy to get your compositions down on paper.
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Steinberg Cubase Score VST
CD-ROM for PC or Mac
PC, Mac, or Atari sequencing notation hard disk recording software. All the features of standard Cubase plus professional score editing. Steinberg’s Cubase VST transforms your Microsoft Windows PC into a complete recording studio. Cubase’s integration of audio and MIDI recording makes it easy to combine the best the MIDI world has to offer with your own audio recordings. For the audio features, only a standard sound card is required, but we would recommend at least a small, good quality mixer and a decent monitoring system. Multiple inputs and outputs can be added with cost effective PCI audio cards. Cubase is complete: Quality audio effects are included, and can be extended later with an ever increasing selection of Plug-Ins, so you probably only need the extra ins & outs to integrate a larger mixing desk, or facilitate multi-channel recording. We call this the Virtual Studio Technology. Cubase VST Score adds…* Professional Notation Editing, Layout and Printing. Read more at SheetMusicPlus

Steinberg Cubase VST/24
CD-ROM for PC or Mac
PC or Mac sequencing and hard disk recording software. Adds 24-bit/96-khz capability to Cubase VST’s feature set.
Cubase VST/24 adds…
* 96 Audio Channels
* Support for 24 bit/96 kHz operation
* Extended Audio Hardware options
* Professional Notation Editing, Layout and Printing
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Steinberg Cubase VST
Cubase VST has…
* 64 Audio Channels
* 4 Equalisers per channel
* 4 Insert Effects per channel
* 8 Auxiliary Sends
* 8 Global Effects
* Full Automation
* Audio Hardware expandability
* Superb MIDI real-time Editing
* Notation Editing, Automatic Layout and Printing
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Dance eJay 2 + MegaPack

Platform: Windows 95, Windows 98


16-Track soundmixer in hi-fi stereo quality
More than 3,500 Dance and House sounds
Drum Machine with Drum Matrix for making your own beats
Effects studio turns your voice into Monster or Comic Voice and lots more…
Time stretching to adjust sounds from other libraries or eJays
Seperate volume control for each track and sound
Recording of samples via microphone (Full duplex Recording)
Wave Import/Export
Interactive Tutorials for a quick and easy introduction to the programme

Editorial Reviews

Dance eJay 2+ won’t create electronic music pioneers like Brian Eno or Bill Laswell any time soon, but it might launch the next Armand Van Helden’s career. If you want a taste of what it’s like to have years of production experience and more studio equipment than you could fit in a bus, Dance eJay 2+ is for you. The top half of the main screen looks like a traditional sequencing program. A scrolling chart shows audio channels on the vertical axis and measure numbers on the horizontal. The bottom half of the screen holds selectable banks of sound that can used, edited and saved.

Five tools fine-tune these sounds. The Groove Generator lets the user record a live groove by playing sounds on the numeric keypad. The Drum Matrix is a simple 16-step sequencer much like those found on early drum machines. The time stretcher tool adjusts the tempo of samples, and there is a mixer that controls track volumes and stereo information. The Effect Studio tool is Dance eJay 2’s weakest point. The effects are unconvincing, and sounds created in the Groove Generator can’t be edited here.

Dance eJay 2+ doesn’t try to give the same level of control as a real recording studio, but it offers many options in an easy-to-use package. The program comes with more than 3500 royalty-free sounds and can import .wav files and record sounds from a microphone. Mixes can be saved as .wav files or in eJay’s format for exchange over the Web. Dance eJay 2+ excels as an introduction to dance production and a fun way to play with dance music. –David Todd

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Syntrillium Cool Edit Pro
PC sound design hard disk recording software. Digital audio effects and multitracking. Cool Edit Pro is a digital audio recorder, editor and mixer for Windows. It’s widely used in the audio and broadcasting industries, including the BBC. It’s the digital audio software package you’ve been waiting for. Cool Edit Pro is a breeze to learn and use, packs enough top-quality digital effects modules to fill a room full of rack mounts, and can mix up to 64 tracks together, using just about any sound card. It’s like having thousands of pounds worth of professional audio equipment all in one easy-to-use software package.

The complete multitrack recording studio for Windows
64 tracks of digital editing and mixing
30 distinct effects modules including:

Reverb, Multi-tap Delay, 3D Echo, Equalizers (Graphic, Parametric, Scientific, and “Quick”), Compression, Chorus, Flanger, Distortion, Pitch change, Tempo change, and more.

Clean up audio with Pop Eliminator, Noise & Hiss Reduction

32-bit sample resolution support and full 32 bit internal processing

Supports multiple I/O sound cards and multiple sound cards
Supports 24-bit, 96kHz formats
Compatible with any DirectX plug-in
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Audio Editing with Cool Edit
Book by Richard Riley
This book shows how to get the best from Cool Edit with easy to understand walkthroughs and helpful hints and tips. It’s an essential addition to the Cool Edit manual and help file and reveals many undocumented features and time saving tips.
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Top Of The Pops: Mix Factory 2 CD-ROM by BBC Multimedia Platform: Windows 95, Windows 98
Hit and vision mix
FX generator
Randomise, Image studio, Play list
Link builder
Web link Review
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a composer of pop tunes, then TOTP Mix Factory 2 could be what you need. It is a complete 12-track mixer designed to make it as easy as possible for you to pull samples together into real tunes. The 1,600 free samples included are grouped into Chart, Club and Dance collections. To get them onto the 16 tracks is simply a matter of dragging samples from the main display onto the track list. You can edit samples to get their sounds precisely as you want them, or even record your own if what you want is not already present.

Creating a video to go with your music track is again a matter of dragging elements from a library into the frame–this time you have foreground and background to consider. You can import your own images into the vision mixer if those that are provided don’t suit. Once completed, you can put your creations into a playlist and sit back and enjoy them and swap tracks with friends. It’s great fun.–Sandra Vogel
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Cubase Books

Fast Guide to Cubase VST by Simon Millward
Paperback – 452 pages 3rd Ed (30 April, 2001)
PC Publishing

Personal Computer World
“Excellent … well written, packed with practical tips”

Sound on Sound
“Projects and tutorials describe valuable insights into how best to use Cubase VST for specific tasks, with plenty of time saving shortcuts”
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Cubase Power:
Complete Coverage of Cubase Vst, Cubase Vst Score and Cubase Vst32
Robert Guerin
Paperback – 400 pages (1 October, 2001)
Muska & Lipman Publishing;

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Cubase VST: Tips and Tricks
by Ian Waugh
Our Price: £10.95
Paperback – 154 pages (30 July, 1999)
PC Publishing;

Cubase creator Charlie Steinberg, July 1999
“Cubase VST Tips and Tricks is more than just another book about VST. It’s a readable introduction for the novice, but it also offers a lot of ‘insider’ tips for experienced VST users and professionals (I’m a bit of an expert myself, but even I picked up some pretty useful tips) and the book takes some new angles on the program that will inspire you to be even more creative – highly recommended! Have fun.”
Book Description
* For PC and Mac
* Master VST sequencing
* Become an Audio expert
* Explore VST’s powerful ‘hidden’ features
* Time-saving shortcuts
* Troubleshooting and FAQs
* Become a VST power user
There’s not much you can’t do with Cubase VST – but how many users really achieve full mastery over the program? In this highly practical and creative book you will discover a wealth of tips and tricks to help you become more creative and more productive.
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