Music Software

Music Software #

Live Coding Tools #

Name & Link Description Screenshot / Demo
ORCΑ Learn Orca
Extra Tools for ORCA:
  • Cassetter for ORCA
  • Aioi - UDP to complex OSC for ORCA
  • Pilot - 16 voice synth for ORCA
  • Noton A minimal logic gates playground, written in ANSI C. Made by the same developers as ORCΑ
    Chuck “Chuck is a programming language for real-time sound synthesis and music creation. It is open-source and freely available on MacOS X, Windows, and Linux. Chuck presents a unique time-based, a concurrent programming model that’s precise and expressive (we call this strongly-timed), dynamic control rates, and the ability to add and modify code on-the-fly. In addition, ChucK supports MIDI, OpenSoundControl, HID device, and multi-channel audio.”
    Mutateful Requires Ableton Live “enables live coding in Ableton Live’s session view. Set up transformations that trigger whenever a source clip is changed, including arpeggiation, shuffling, and ratcheting/retriggering.”
    Pure-Data and Purr Data (a better fork)
    Zerobrane Studio and Moonlet
    Krill Krill is a livecoding environment inspired from TidalCycles.
    Overtone - Live Code
    Siren (Github) Tracker meets livecode
    FoxDot Livecoding with Python
    Extempore Lang “Extempore is a programming language and runtime environment designed to support cyberphysical programming
    Bespoke Software modular synth
    Music Pattern Generator Music Pattern Generator is an app to create musical rhythms. It sends MIDI data, so it won’t make any sounds by itself. For that you need to connect it to MIDI soft- or hardware that can handle MIDI data to produce sound.

    DAWs and almost-daws #

    Name & Link Description Screenshot / Demo
    VCV Rack
    Bitwig-Studio Bitwig is a lot like Ableton, but has the neat idea of ‘The Grid’- basically a little built in modular synth system. It’s not like VCV, as it’s a bit lower level but it can still be used for Generative Music or doing complex routing, like fading between effects. It also has really easy to use routable modulation, basically letting you drop an LFO, envelope, etc. onto any parameter of a VST. It also has good MPE support, which can be abused to do rhythmic drums as well: MPEDRUMS
    Audacity Not a full DAW, but super useful for trimming audio and quick fixes
    Ableton Live
    Pro Tools
    Marabu “Marabu is a free and open-source music tracker built from Soundbox.”

    NOTE: this list is far from exhaustive. Instead, I’ve tried to list the main ones and some that I think are particularly cool.

    Digital Audio Workstations or ‘DAWs’ come in many flavors, so let’s look at the differences between the above in depth [TODO]

    Trackers, vs non liner, vs modular, etc.

    How To Ableton Like a Pro (YouTube)

    VSTs and other Plugins #

    [TODO] Daws usually have built in instruments and effets I Made A Song Using Only Ableton Stock Plugins (YouTube, Composerily)

    This is probably where the most bias of any of the lists on this page will show as I obviously can’t list every possible VST. Instead, I’ll list those that I think are particularly good both in terms of value and function.

    VSTs are a really weird standard, for one, unlike most standards that are ratified by a collection of involved interests, VST is the child of a single company - Steinberg.

    Generally, there are a few things you need to know:

    1. Some VSTs are distributed as VST2 others as VST3, obviously one is newer than the other. Unfortunately, not all DAWs support VST3 and worse, new applications by new devs have to be VST3 due to Stienberg no longer issuing new licenses. Generally, VST2 will be downloaded as .dll files while vst3 will be .vst3
      • VST3 does support a few extra features, and tend to perform better
      • Some VST3’s can do neat stuff so that if multiple instances are loaded they can communicate together, this is useful for some mastering plugins.
    2. Some VSTs are 64 bit, some are 32 bit. Not all modern DAWS support running 32bit VSTs
    3. VSTs can do 1 (or a mix of) three things
      • act as a virtual instrument (guitar, synth, etc.)
      • act as a virtual effect (delay, reverb, etc.)
      • act as a midi effect (arpeggio, quantizer, etc.)

    There are some other, not-VST plugin formats you may encounter, namely LV2 and Apple’s Audio Units, as well as the various plugins for particular DAWs, like Reason’s ‘Rack Extensions’ or Ableton Live’s M4L (Max For Live) Devices.

    While VST3 does have a linux SDK, most plugins aren’t released for Linux. You may still be able to make it work using a bridging program like Yabridge.

    You may also see VSTi or VSTfx, these aren’t anything new, ‘i’ or ‘fx’ just denote if the plugin is an instrument or effects plugin.

    Free (But might have better paid version) #

    Audio Sources #
    Name & Link Description Screenshot
    Ample Percussion Cloudrum Steel Tongue Drum
    Alter Ego Virtual Singer, Text to Speech
    Dexed Yamaha DX-7 Emulation
    Surge Synthesizer FOSS hybrid synth
    Daichi Synth 1 Emulation of Nord Lead 2, but better. You’ll probably want the preset pack
    Distocore Bazz::Murda Bass Drum maker, looks like it fell right out of 2004.
    Lord Of The Springs Physically modeled synthesis with a bunch of Springs
    Vital Spectral warping wavetable synth (Free and Paid tiers)
    Effects #
    Name & Link
    Other #
    Name & Link Description Screenshot
    Signalizer VST An amazing VST Oscilliscope, Vectorscope, and general analysis tool
    No prices are listed below because they can fluctuate so much. VSTs and other music software tends to go on sale a lot, and usually quite good sales at that. You probably shouldn’t pay full price!
    Audio Sources #
    Name & Link Description Screenshot
    ABL3 Emulation of the classic TB303. You can buy a Behringer hardware clone for not much more, but this is easier to use imho, and Behringer is a horrible company so please don’t support them.
    Various from SugarBytes I really like
  • Consequence - Chord Grovebox
  • Factory - Mod Matrix Polysynth
  • Guitarist - Guitar Emulation, easy to program
  • Drum Computer - Drum Synth
  • Obscurium - I don’t even know, but it’s cool.
  • Cyclop - Neat Synth, good for bass
  • Egoist - Weird audio stem re-groover?
  • Thesys - MIDI Sequencer
  • Various from Artuira (Go to Software Instruments)
  • CS-80 V - CS-80 Emulation
  • DX7 V - DX-7 Emulation, better UI than the free ‘Dexed'
  • SEM V - Oberheim Sem Emulation
  • Modular V - Moog Modular Emulation (Could just use VCV)
  • Pigments - Artuira’s take on a modern digital VST synth it’s pretty awesome
  • Effects #
    Name & Link Description Screenshot
    Other #
    Name & Link Description Screenshot
    Kontakt Libraries #

    Visualization Software/Tools #

    Name & Link Description Screenshot/Demo
    music_visualizer (Github) Shader viewer / music visualizer for Windows and Linux Too many variations to easily show, look at the github repo.
    Soundshader (Github) Uses fancy ‘AutoCorrelation’ - info on the github page
    Metagroove (
    Signalizer VST Listed above in Free VSTs, but it’s so good I’m listing it here again. An amazing VST Oscilliscope, Vectorscope, and general analysis tool, looks very good too. Has full screen modes.

    Note that most of the fancy music animations you see on YouTube are probably made in Adobe After Effects, with the exception of some that are done in programs like TouchDesigner or other node-based programming environments. You can read more about these in Design Chapter 6 - Generative Tools

    Some people also use hardware such as the Sleepy Circuits ‘Hypno’ or Critter & Guitari ‘Eyesy’ - though both of these platforms are really just running a Raspberry Pi (a lil’ computer) under the hood.

    On very rare occasion you may also see some outright analog video synthesis, but this is generally very, very expensive. Just search YouTube for ‘Analog Video Synthesizer’.

    I also recomend making your visuals in weirder ways. Here are some videos with visuals I really like:

    Music Apps (Android) #

    Name & Link Description Screenshot/Demo

    Max4Live Devices #

    These devices only work inside of Ableton Live using Max For Live

    lil' pup

    Norns Devices #

    These ‘plugins’ only work on Monome’s Norns hardware

    Segments Audio Looper

    oooooo - 6x digital tape loops (demo below)

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    euclidigons - euclidian sequencer but not like that™

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