I keep seeing these "make your own music" videos on YouTube and it sounds like a lot of fun. But the people making these videos have these really expensive programs for making these sounds, ($4,000 at least. Per program)

I'm only a Junior in High School and it's hard for me to come up with that kind of money, so - what are some cheap alternatives to creating music digitally?

  • Do you mean "electronic music" or do you have instruments you want to record? Or both?
    – Yorik
    Oct 17, 2017 at 21:36
  • it's just the computer program in order to record and make the songs. I have all the instruments and sounds. Oct 17, 2017 at 21:45

3 Answers 3


What you want to look for is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software package.

A not-free option is Reaper which is is free fully functional trial that does not lock you out after the trial period. The license is $60. I have used this before and it works very well.

An open source option is Ardour. I have not used this. It looks like they have free source code, but to download a ready-to use binary there is a minimum charge, possibly a dollar.

Both of the above work on Linux, mac or windows, and there are many more options.

In a DAW you add a midi (or audio) track, and then attach a drum/instrument to it. You can edit the midi or you can record you manipulating a drum machine midi surface etc.

I have used Reaper for guitar and I have a midi expression pedal. I record the dry guitar signal only and use VST programs attached to the track to simulate an amplifier, and I attach a midi "envelope" to the audio track to record in real time my midi expression pedal for wah.

There are tons of free VST programs that you can attach to tracks for audio manipulation. If you have guitars, you can check out ( http://www.simulanalog.org/guitarsuite.htm ) which has free guitar amplifier and pedal simulators for us in a "VST Host" (a DAW is also a VST Host application).

That's a lot to take in, but start reading about and watching videos about using a DAW for electronic music and pay careful attention to the vocabulary they use to help you track down more resources.

It is better to do software searches for "open source" rather than "free," and then look carefully at the installers to ensure you aren't installing extra "advertising software" (aka foistware).

As @Chris mentioned, Audacity is a good choice for single audio file editing, and you will want to use that as part of your toolkit, but a DAW is audio file compositing.


It depends what kind of music you want to make, but here are 4 free (open source) programs to make electronic music:


Select the instruments and make them play, easily.

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Mix existing music tracks together, make loops, everything you need to DJ.

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Make drum sounds.
You will have to install Linux (also free) to use this one.

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Ubuntu Studio

Why not make the jump and install a Linux OS dedicated to media production?


It has a ton of audio (and video) programs installed and configured out-of-the-box. You will probably learn a lot using it. Feel free to first try it as a Live CD.

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If you have a Macintosh, GarageBand comes bundled with it, and is a pretty high-powered, almost-professional program. Of course, Macs are expensive themselves, but you can get a MacMini for around $600 if you have a keyboard and a monitor to plug into it. You can get additional upgrades for GarageBand on the Apple store for about $100 each.

There's also Audacity, which is free, and works on Window, Mac and Linux, but it is much more basic and less user-friendly.

  • I have an ASUS, is there a program that I can download for cheap? Oct 17, 2017 at 21:07
  • @AspenRand Audacity is your best bet if you don't want to spend any money. Oct 17, 2017 at 21:09
  • Oh, but does it work? Oct 17, 2017 at 21:12
  • @AspenRand It works, it's just very basic. You'll basically be cutting and pasting raw sound files. It doesn't have all the high-level functions that GarageBand does. Oct 17, 2017 at 21:17

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