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Topic: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

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  1. #1

    Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Here's a round up of good FREE STUFF for y'all:

    Make Music's FREE NotePad



    (click image to go to website)

    The free introductory version of Finale.

    "Capture your ideas quickly with NotePad. Select notes on your computer keyboard by typing note names, or enter notes in step-time using a MIDI keyboard – or any other MIDI device.

    Ever jot a musical idea down only to find it’s unintelligible the next day? Not with NotePad: Your music is always clear and legible, just like published scores.

    If some of your inspiration comes from working with collaborators, NotePad can help here too, even if your partners use different software. NotePad can open files made by the entire family of Finale software as well as import MIDI and MusicXML files created by hundreds of other products.

    Don’t let that great melody get away. Save it today with NotePad."


    Naturally there are limitations to this free version of Finale, but the results can look just as good as the big program. This is perfect for people like songwriters working with bands who need to make clearly notated piano/vocal charts for their bands to work with.

    MixMeister's "BPM Analyzer"



    (click image to go to website)

    "MixMeister BPM Analyzer is a free program you can use to determine the exact BPM (beats per minute) of any song."

    Just as it says. It doesn't deal with recordings that use multiple tempi, but is intended for straight forward popular music that is played at one tempo. It can really be useful to get a reading on an imported audio file's tempo so you can play along with the file, with the measures correctly lined up to the tempo. In Sonar, the BPM Analyzer would be the starting point, then using the "Set Measure Here" function, the slight fluctuations in tempo can be taken into account for developing an accurate tempo map.

    Audacity



    (click image to go to website)

    "Audacity is a free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to:

    Record live audio.
    Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
    Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
    Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
    Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
    And more!"


    I don't know how anyone can live without a dedicated audio editor like Audacity. Whether you derive recordings of your music with a notation program or DAW software, there's always more to be done to that 2-track mix-down which will improve its sonic quality before you make MP3 copies to share online.

    There's no reason to ever share recordings which are too quiet, or distorted, incorrectly EQd etc. Notation users in particular have the most difficulty in coming up with acceptable recordings. Audacity or a similar program, like Sound Forge is a must for all Finale and Sibelius users.

    Often you need to trim silence at the start or end of a track, and that's a very easy operation in Audacity. The overall volume is often too low, far short of the available headroom. In a program like Audacity you can see for yourself how much the volume needs to come up by simply looking at the waveform display. Tools like Normalization, Compressors, or plain old volume control are basic Audacity tools. You may find that some sections of your 2-track master go too low. Those sections can be selectively brought up. You should always run your masters through a DC Offset filter. You can check the overall EQ curve of the master and use EQ plugins to make corrections.

    It's just not the same to try doing all this work in your music software - you need a dedicated audio editor.

    Format Factory



    (click image to go to website)

    "Format Factory is a multifunctional media converter. Rip DVD to video file, Rip Music CD to audio file, MP4 files support

    1 support converting all popular video,audio,picture formats to others.
    2 Repair damaged video and audio file.
    3 Reducing Multimedia file size.
    4 Support iphone,ipod multimedia file formats.
    5 Picture converting supports Zoom,Rotate/Flip,tags.
    6 DVD Ripper.
    7 Supports 60 languages"


    There are many such programs to be found all over the net. But this one I discovered through a video program's user Forum, and is hands down The Best of its kind I've ever found. There's no need to ever fret that you're trying to work with a file that isn't in a useable format. Use this and easily make file copies in the formats you need.

    ASIO4ALL

    A must have for anyone who needs an ASIO driver for vastly improved audio performance in their recording software. It emulates an ASIO driver, basically tricking the computer into seeing its native WDM driver as ASIO.

    Example of usage - My audio interface doesn't have a 64 bit driver, so when I work in 64 bit mode, ASIO4ALL automatically kicks in.

    r8brain



    (click image to go to website)

    "This utility program was designed to allow both amateur and professional users to perform high quality sample rate conversion of WAV files. For example, if your WAV file was recorded or saved as 48000 (or 96000) file and you need it to burn onto a CD you will likely need to convert it to 44100 before that. This utility will help you to perform such conversion. r8brain also supports batch processing which is essential if you need to transfer all your project's audio data from one sample rate to another. Programmers can use standalone converter DLL in their programs free of charge."

    Someone at the Sonar user Forum turned me on to this when I was putting together one of my video tutorials. I didn't have audio files that were made in the sample rate my video editor required. Using r8brain I did a batch conversion and had perfect sounding files converted to what I needed for putting the video soundtrack together.

    Mr. Soundman Ear Training Software from V-Plugs



    (click image to go to website)

    "Frequency recognition training set up as a game.
    Mr. Soundman is a bit like an arcade game with an intuitive GUI, and rapidly increasing difficulty. You start the game with three lives. Mr. Soundman will play an audio source with a noticeable boost somewhere across the frequency range. Your mission is to identify the boosted frequency. The closer you are to the boosted frequency the more points you gain."


    Even though I routinely do some simple EQ adjustments on the tracks in my projects, I know there are people who are much more hip to what they're doing with EQ plugins, because their ears are more attuned to what the various frequencies actually sound like. This amazing free Game-like utility can make it fun to start tuning your ears for a more informed understanding of EQ.

    KVR Audio

    THE source of info on electronic music, with constantly updated info from major companies as well as listings of freebies. The best way to stay connected with KVR is to subscribe to a weekly digest of posts. Without subscribing to KVR, my arsenal of plugins would only be a fraction of what it is.

    Dropbox



    (click image to go to website)

    One of the slickest ways to share large files.

    "A free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again.
    Any file you save to Dropbox also instantly saves to your computers, phones, and the Dropbox website.

    2GB of Dropbox for free, with subscriptions up to 100GB available.
    Your files are always available from the secure Dropbox website.
    Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
    Works even when offline. You always have your files, whether or not you have a connection.
    Dropbox transfers just the parts of a file that change (not the whole thing).
    Manually set bandwidth limits -- Dropbox won't hog your connection."


    Very well worth investigating. I use both Dropbox and Box - The easiest way to get a better understanding of the differences between the two services is to look at their online info.

    Two especially cool FREE VST synths - Emulations of the Mini Moog and ARP 2600*





    (click the ARP image to go to website)

    There are tons of free synths available online, and quite a few are sound-alike, basic old-style synth emulations. But some are outstanding, like these two. I'm thrilled with having synths available with so many controls available on them, which so accurately reproduce the classic sound of the Mini Moog (spelled "Mogue" to avoid trademark infringement) and the Arp 2600.

    And remember, if you sign up for the KVR newsletter, you can always stay abreast of things like this.

    *text corrected as per Fabio's accurate report that I originally said "Odyssey" when I should have said "2600."

    Randy

  2. #2

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Aaargh! The latter isn't an Odissey: it's a 2600!!!
    I owned one. Still dream of it at night.
    Fabio
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  3. #3

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Quote Originally Posted by fabiolcati View Post
    Aaargh! The latter isn't an Odissey: it's a 2600!!!
    I owned one. Still dream of it at night.
    oops, you're right, Fab. I owned an Odyssey, so automatically associate Arp with that. Duly noted - I'll go correct my text!

    Randy

  4. #4
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    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    I have the Arp 2600 plugin. Very nice for the price!

    Jim

  5. #5

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn View Post
    I have the Arp 2600 plugin. Very nice for the price!

    Jim
    It sure is! So is that Mini Moog emulation.

    Randy

  6. #6

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Kerbump! to this week's Tip Of The Week - Primarily to point out probably the most essential item in this round up of great free items:

    AUDACITY

    I urge everyone who doesn't have a dedicated audio editor to grab this. Audacity is amazingly capable considering that it's an honest-to-goodness, no strings attached FREE program.

    Topics relating directly to Audacity, or indirectly, have come up several times the last few days both here and in The Listening Room.

    For people not sure of the difference between an audio editor like Audacity, and DAW software like Sonar, just start looking at the site posted above and you'll get a handle on the differences.

    The basic use of this is to put the finishing touches on your 2-channel mix-downs, whether those come from a notation program or a recording program. This gets in the area of Mastering, and for those interested into delving into that area at least some, Audacity has a set of tools that will more than get you started.

    --There's NO reason to ever again wonder how you can make MP3 copies - you do that with Audacity.

    --There's NO reason to ever again post music which is too low in volume - you fix that in Audacity.

    --There's NO reason to ever again post music that starts with silence, or has a big chunk of silence at the end - you fix that in Audacity.

    And so on. You Simply Need Audacity. That's all!

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Finale NotePad? Oh, no. That's really too simple, I wouldn't recommend that at all. It has basic features missing.
    I can recommend MuseScore instead at http://musescore.org/. That's really free, and supports advanced features as well.
    Check its online score sharing site http://musescore.com/ to see what it is capable of.

  8. #8

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    EDIT: 8/6/12 Below is my original post. I thought I was doing my moderator duty, explaining to someone that a post was against the TOS. But after discussions with other Forum members, I understand now I was incorrect. There actually is no TOS that restricts any kind of post except ones abusive to other members. My new plan is to not post objections to anything anybody wants to post.

    But below is what I originally wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------
    Hello, Briff

    The central topic of this Forum is the family of Garritan Libraries. MakeMusic, producer of Finale, is Garritan's parent company. And so Garritan and MakeMusic/Finale are the central topics of our conversation threads, and music production with a computer is the general sub-topic.

    Finale NotePad is the free, entry level notation sketch pad from MakeMusic. In this thread's starting post, I capsulized NotePad's simplicity and limitations by pointing out that it would suit the needs of a songwriter needing basic piano/vocal scores.

    While I'm sure the program you listed has its good qualities, it isn't even capable of using Garritan instruments. It's still relying on out moded SoundFonts for its sounds.

    This thread has recommendations from me, and other people are free to add their own recommendations as long as they're appropriate. The other items I listed are related to the general topic of home recording, and all are things which complement software produced by Garritan and MakeMusic but aren't competitive with products they make.

    I'm sure you were trying to be helpful, but your post is both off topic and inappropriate. Thanks ahead of time for understanding what I've said here.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Hello, Briff

    The central topic of this Forum is the family of Garritan Libraries. MakeMusic, producer of Finale, is Garritan's parent company. And so Garritan and MakeMusic/Finale are the central topics of our conversation threads, and music production with a computer is the general sub-topic.
    This thread has recommendations from me, and other people are free to add their own recommendations as long as they're appropriate. The other items I listed are related to the general topic of home recording, and all are things which complement software produced by Garritan and MakeMusic but aren't competitive with products they make.

    I'm sure you were trying to be helpful, but your post is both off topic and inappropriate. Thanks ahead of time for understanding what I've said here.

    Randy
    Huh? Off topic? MuseScore is a Very Useful FREE thing, that goes very well together with Garritan libraries - if you render your score in a DAW software or whatever it is even capable of creating an online player that can follow the score together with your rendition... (all you have to do is to upload your rendition to youtube).
    For notating music it is far more advanced than Finale NotePad. You cannot even switch the time signature inside the piece. So if this topic and this forum is about making music with Garritan libraries, I really don't feel that it is inappropriate to recommend a free (as in free speech, just like audacity) notation tool, which is far more capable than NotePad, and due to its limitations is not a real competitor of Finale. Yes, I miss VST a lot from MuseScore - thanks to the proprietary and closed licensing of VST SDK.

  10. #10

    Re: Tip Of The Week: 10 Very Useful FREE things

    Deleted by me, the poster - This whole issue has been cleared up, and some older posts are no longer valid or helpful in the least.

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