As Indie composer your greatest challenge is to always try and produce the best, creative and highest quality work possible. To do this you will need the right tools. Lasts face it most indie composers will never have the budget to go out a rent a studio with a 35 piece orchestra, so we take advantage of of the digital audio workstations and software samples and instruments. However, all tools are not created equal. All tools are not created for the same purpose. Some tools are great for hip hop and R&B whiles others are perfect Rock. Then there are some tools that try everything and there are other that have a very specific purpose. Even with this in mmd there is still a lot of overlap. After all the tools are only there to aid in your talent and creativity not provide it or replace it. When choosing your tools you should first have your goals in mind. Are you a urban producer of hip hop and R&B? Are you a film or game composer? May you compose pop or rock music? What ever you specialize in should determine what tools you use.
Anyone serious about composing will have already invested a quality prosumer level Daw or digital audio workstation. There are many on the market . Depending on your budget, your learning curb and your current computer system you should be able to choose the right DAW for your needs. Most DAW’s today come with some built in instruments, However, to get a really high end sound you may want to invest some third party instruments. The first thing we will discuss is some of the top DAWs on the market for composers. These are usually prosumer level with a relatively small learning curb and easy on the wallet.
Most people consider to be one of the easiest and most popular DAW’s for composing is FL studio. FL studio is know for the ease of using a mouse and keyboard for set recording. Many entry level and some advance composers and producers will use FL studio to produce Royalty free music, buyout music or production music libraries with sync licenses. FL studio comes with instruments and allows you add third party instruments. It’s a Windows only software
2. Garageband is another entry level Daw that comes free with Apple computers. Although it is a loop based software it comes with some pretty with some pretty good software instruments that you can play. However, Garageband is limited. You can add third part apple loops or instruments constructed for garageband, but you can’t add some of the more high end third party effects and instruments.
3. Sony Acid is another Daw that comes in a entry level package and a more advance level. Sony Acid is know for being a loop based software, but also has software instruments. Sony Acid is popular among entry level producers and composers. It’s a windows only software.
4. Reason is a more of a stand alone entity on to itself. It is a very power tool and mostly software instruments based. Reason is also a popular third party plugin for many other DAWs. It a is very popular with urban producers.
5. Ableton Live is unique in that it is built for live performances as well as composing
and producing. It has many of the same features and some of the other prosumer level DAWs. It is also popular with Dj’s due its beat matching and crossfading tools.
6. Cubase is another DAW that that is midi based and designed for composer and producers to create projects in midi but can also add software instruments.
7. Pro tools is an industry standard for recording software, although it can be used for composing it is not ideal. However, it does come with a suit of instruments and the pro-sumer level comes at a reasonable price. Pro tools 12 also has cloud based mixing. If your primary goal is composing it is probably not the best DAW, but if it is recording, their is nothing better so it really depends on your goals, budget and learning curve
8. Logic Pro is hands down the most power powerful DAW for composers. It comes with a huge suit of software instruments and can be scaled with third party instruments. However, logic is a Apple only platform. At one time it sold for 1000 dollars, now for a price of 200 dollars a composer can have more power than they will ever be able to handle.
Now that we have gone over the best DAWs for composing, kets talk about some of the third party instruments. Even though many of these DAWs come with built in instruments, many of the third party instruments come with with far more detailed tools that offer a great deal of specialization and depth. However, for basic composing , hip hop, R&B or other urban styles buying some of these third party software instruments may be over kill. But, for more complex scoring for projects like film, tv and video games these tools really come in handy.
By far the most in-depth and detailed suit of software instruments has to be Native Instruments Komplete ultimate. 80 percent of composer shouldn’t need anything else if they have this package. It is by far the total package in composing. Reaktor alone will give you years of exploration. Plus the Kontakt player allows even more third party software instruments. However Native instruments incorporates pretty any type of sound you will need. They even use specialty instruments such as action strikes the cinematic percussion suit. The also offer action strings for use in cinematic strings and rise and hits among many others. No composer can go wrong with choosing Native instruments Komplete ultimate.
If you are look for a a great synth nothing compares to Omnisphere. Omnisphere is no doubt the deepest and most comprehensive synth on the market. With over eight thousand sounds that can be tweaked and combined a composer can get lost for years using this software suit. This software is great for film scores and sound sculpting.
Heavyocity is a great niche software instrument that is power by Konakt player. If you are a film or T.V composer, these sound are just what you need. The packages include Evolve, Aeon, Damage and Gravity. They give you everything from percussion, sound effects and melody. Anyone looking to score for film or TV would do very well with Heavyocity.
Although these are not anywhere near all of the tools available, they will get yu the most back for your buck when composing Royalty Free music.