Free and inexpensive music and audio software

Music software doesn’t have to be expensive. There is a lot of good free and almost-free software on the web, you just have to know where to find it. On this page you’ll find links to legal versions of music programs that I use and recommend.

Notation software

Finale Notepad – Free version of the professional Finale. Limited in features but still useful. Requires free registration before you can download.

LilyPond – Music engraving tool. It has no graphical user interface, so it is not as easy to use as other notation software (you have to type in everything) but its output looks awesome.

ScoreWriter 4 – Pretty good notation program. The best I could find for only $59. I use it a lot!


Transcribe! – Software to help transcribe recorded music. Not free, but worth every penny.

AmazingMIDI – Convert WAV files into MIDI files. Pretty good, though results may vary.

Audio recording and editing

Audacity – Great audio editor. Get the 1.3.4 beta version, it works well and has more features than the older version.

WavePad – The “Masters” version isn’t free, but the regular one is.

Multitrack audio

REAPER – Very powerful multitrack editor. Not free, but has an unlimited and unrestricted free trial period.


Red Dot Forever – Very simple MIDI recording tool, incredibly easy to use. I like it a lot but that’s because I created it. :-)

Anvil Studio – MIDI recording and sequencing tool. It can be a little confusing to use, but it’s the only free one I know.

vanBasco’s Karaoke Player – MIDI player with on-screen keyboard, options to change speed and pitch, and karaoke!

Notation Player – MIDI player that shows the score in sheet music notation.

SynthFont – Play MIDI files using SoundFonts. This sounds better than your computer’s built-in synthesizer, but you’ll have to find and download SoundFonts separately.

Cantabile Lite – Easy to use VST host, MIDI recorder/sequencer and audio recorder. The “Lite” version is free.

VSTHost – Another VST host program. Render your MIDI files to audio using VST plugins.

MP3 software

WinLame – Very user-friendly MP3 encoder. Make MP3 files from your WAV files.

FreeRip – Rip your CD tracks to MP3 files.

MP3Gain – Analyzes and adjusts MP3 files so that they have the same volume. Very handy!

Other tools

ASIO4ALL – Some audio software requires an ASIO-compatible soundcard. If your soundcard does not support ASIO, you can install ASIO4ALL to trick your software into believing it does!

Read more articles on Piano Clues:

Basic Theory

Chords and Harmony

The Circle of Fifths

Arrangement, Improvisation and Composition

Reading Music and Sheet Music

How to Record Piano

Software and Virtual Instruments

Scales and Exercises

Digital Pianos

Links and Other Stuff


  1. Richard says:

    Some other programs for your list:

    Notation – MuseScore
    MIDI and VST – Frinika, and for a different but interesting approach, Psycle

    Of course on Linux there is much more sophisticated open source software, like Rosegarden. Maybe worth dual booting for, since Linux is free too.

  2. gary says:

    i downloaded and tried red dot and it works great, ust the thing for a really stupid computer guy like me. however, i can’t play back to my casio px 330 using the casio samples, which is the reason for using red dot in the first place. other wise i could just continue to use sd cards. i have win 7 — any thoughts, also, what really simple mp3 converter would work well with red dot

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