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So you want to make music?

So you want to get into making music tracks on your PC? Intel’s Ralph Bond, a guest on MSNBC's “The Future is Now: Tech Summit 2004” outlines some music software featured on the show, and weighs the pros and cons of each one.

You may have a guitar, a piano, or drums at home, but did you realize your home personal computer can be an equally powerful "instrument" for personal musical expression?  Millions of garage band teens, school orchestras, music instructors and night club DJs are tapping the power and flexibility of today’s personal computers and consumer-friendly multi-track recording software to record, edit and produce music CDs. 

Today’s affordable technology is giving casual amateurs and dedicated hobbyists alike capabilities that just a few years ago required thousands of dollars worth of specialized equipment and expertise.  

Intel’s Ralph Bond, a guest expert on MSNBC's “The Future is Now: Tech Summit 2004” outlines some music software featured on the show, and weighs the pros and cons of each one:

Super Duper Music Looper

  • A charming program for kids age 6 and up
  • Great way to introduce children, and even adults, to the amazing world of digital music loops
  • Creative, fun learning program that not only provides a library of hundreds of pre-recording instrument loops, but allows you to record your own voice or instruments to mix in with the loops
  • For a low-cost, free trial version, click here.  $29.97 for full version
  • Available for Windows-based PCs
  • Click here to read more.

Garage Band

  • It's a new, hit product from Apple for Mac users that’s part of the iLife suite of software (iLife package goes for only $49)
  • It's for teens and older, and is  fun way to get your toes wet in the world of multi-track recording and use of music loops
  • This demonstrates how multi-track music creativity on a personal computer is going mainstream, with Apple getting into the market.
  • Click here for more information.

Cakewalk Home Studio XL

  • Cakewalk Home Studio is a remarkably powerful, multi-track recording and music loop composition software package for Windows-based PCs
  • Great entry level product for the teen and above who wants to dig in and learn the art of multi-track recording on the PC
  • Designed to support live instrument/voice recording, importing of Acid music instrument loops and/or input via MIDI keyboards
  • Affordable at $219
  • Click here for more information.

Acid Pro 4

  • When it comes to manipulating ACID loops in multiple tracks, and integrating them with MIDI and/or live recording, Acid Pro 4 is the top product in its category
  • Designed for the amateur or pro serious about using loops
  • Thousands of ACID loop CD libraries of musical instrument, and even voice samples/loops are available (such as the Mick Fleetwood drum set)
  • Priced at $399
  • For more information, click here.
  • Note: they also offer an entry level version called Screenblast Acid 4 for $69 -- so you can test the waters first and grow from there.

Mick Fleetwood: Total Drumming program

  • This is a great example of the Acid loop libraries on CD available today for multi-track music composition on a PC or Mac
  • Mick’s CD collection of Acid loops provides an amazing array of fills, patterns and individual instrument samples, including: funk fill, funk groove, rock fill, and rock groove
  • If you’re a solo artist without a drummer, then a software program like Cakewalk or Cubase (which support use of Acid loops) allows you to have Mick become your virtual drummer. Ultra cool.
  • Priced at $50
  • Click here for more information.

Cubase SX

  • This is a popular, “serious” multi-track recording program for Mac or PC
  • It's based on the software used in multi-million dollar recording studios today
  • Available at various levels of complexity and cost
  • Retails for $799, but street price is about $599
  • As with Cakewalk Studio XL, it is designed to support live instrument/voice recording and input via MIDI keyboards
  • For more information, click here.