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I have played piano for a while, understand music theory, etc. and can write songs.

I don't know what the best way to do this is, but I want to be able to use some program where I can put in a series of notes of different lengths (preferably for all different instruments) and it will spit out a music file for that. I am very new to music development and I am not sure if this is possible, but if someone could point me in the right direction that would be ideal.

Also just to make it clear, I have no keyboards or instruments that I can use to plug in to my computer, I am looking to be able to do it all within the computer. I am running Windows 10, and I want it to be free, and I can export and use the songs for anything I want (no copyrights).

Thanks!

[EDIT] Still looking for help, thanks!

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  • Can you please clarify what you have in mind when writing "music file"? What formats would you preferably be interested in? Midi, Wave, a LaTeX music score…? – Izzy Dec 15 '20 at 23:39
  • I'm kind of new to this and not really sure about what different music formats mean. But from what I know .wav and .mp3 are the most widely used formats so ideally those. – smcbot Dec 16 '20 at 15:55
  • That already answers half of it: you mean "sound files" to listen to – not "music scores" for musicians to play after :) Midi is something in between the two. Some instruments can use midi files and "auto-play" the scores – and some editors show you the scores and let you edit them. Wave files and MP3 (lossy compression, so smaller file size) are mainly to listen to. There are many more formats, but I was mainly asking for the "category" (so Midi vs Wav). – Izzy Dec 17 '20 at 0:03
  • Anyways yeah still looking for reccomendations – smcbot Dec 17 '20 at 21:10
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Try MuseScore. Free of charge, very capable.

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If commercial software is acceptable, you might want to take a look at Myriad's Melody Assistant and Harmony Assistant (I use the latter). Harmony Assistant is the more capable version of the two, a superset of Melody Assistant. Both programs allow you to enter your music as standard notation in a point-and-click interface, and can generate mp3 file as well as saving your projects in editable form. There are two add-ons that I recommend; the Gold Sound Base provides higher-quality "renderings" of instruments, and Virtual Singer which allows you to add synthesized voices singing your lyrics to a song. All of these are available for Windows, MacOSX, and Linux; I use them on Windows (starting with Windows 7).

You can hear one of the organs in the Gold Sound Base playing the hymn Melita at http://www.freelancetraveller.com/magazine/2018-0708/spacers-hymn-organ.mp3, and some "spacer" lyrics have been added using Virtual Singer and sung at http://www.freelancetraveller.com/magazine/2018-0708/spacers-hymn-vocals.mp3.

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  • Hey, thanks for responding to my question. I took a look at Harmony Assistant and it looks like you have to buy a license for it. Sorry if I didn't make it clear but I was looking for free software. – smcbot Dec 15 '20 at 15:54
  • Well, you did say "Ideally...free", which is why I started with "If commercial software is acceptable...". "Ideally..." implies that it's strongly preferred, but not necessarily mandatory. – Jeff Zeitlin Dec 16 '20 at 11:45
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    So sorry, I didn't word it very clearly you are correct, I have updated it to be more clear – smcbot Dec 16 '20 at 15:57
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If you care about the production quality of the music, a scorewriter like MuseScore is not sufficient.

The type of software you are looking for is called a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

One example of a free DAW is LMMS (which runs on windows despite its name). This is probably the best starting point for you. Alternatively, the commercial software FL Studio has a free demo with no time restriction that lets you render audio files but does not let you save project files.

Both programs do not require a keyboard or any other special hardware, and both allow you to export audio in all standard file formats.

In DAWs, musical instruments come in the form of VST plugins. Most DAWs already have a set of VST plugins pre-installed, but you should in any case try to expand this collection. Luckily, there is a good amount of free VST plugins for both "real" and synthetic instruments on the internet.

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