Music Sequencers - The main software needed to record your music with your PC is called a "Music Sequencer". This will enable you to record your own instruments, vocals, samples... whatever is required. Record them and then make a master mix of it which you can then burn onto a CD! One of the most popular methods of creating songs and tracks today is thru the use of Samples.
A Sample is a hi-quality (it should be anyway) pre-recorded recording of basically anything. These samples can range from instruments to "the sky's the limit" - trains, cars, white noise, babies crying - you name it. Samples are then usually "looped" to play a certain amount of times repetitively and mixed together.
When you invest in a software package you usually get a lot of royalty-free samples thrown in as part of the deal. You then have the option of enlarging your collection with add on packages and so on. You can make your own samples too.
One word of advice here - if you are sampling recordings from other people's records be very aware of Copyright regulations. It's well worth your while researching this subject, as a copyright infringement can cost you a lot from your massive record sales! ;)...
The other option open to you is to record the music and instruments yourself in a more traditional way - such as vocals, guitars, keyboards etc. This again requires the use of the same sequencer software. "Real" recordings and samples from your collection can be mixed for powerful results and this is the route I recommend.
The king of software music sequencers in Musicland is generally regarded as "Cubase". A close competitor would be a product called "Cakewalk". Both of these are excellent pieces of software and will do the job well.
There are the usual arguments over which is the better, but I think both are equally up to the task. I use Cubase myself because that's what I started with many moons ago ;).
In part #1, I promised you a freebie you can try out to get the general idea of Virtual recording and sampling and here it is. It's a cool package called Hip-Hop Ejay and you can download a free version here - go 4 it!
See you in the next installment where we'll be looking at some other Home Recording Studio options and software, including the most amazing tool that is MIDI and what you can do with it.
Ok that's all for now gotta go and practice - here's the next article on home studio software/options #B