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Music – open source and/or free

My household has been rocking down to O-zone’s “Dragostea Din Tei“, and I’ve been thinking “I could have written this with one hand tied behind my back”. No really, I could have – back in college I had a rockin’ band with a lot of gear. But I really couldn’t now, because ever since our first baby was born, the studio became a nursery and the gear was sold off due to lack of use or financial need. My keyboard is currently in the garage due to lack of space for it, and I haven’t been very musical for a while. With this in mind, I was very excited about the two musical discoveries I ran across this week.

The first is the release of the 1.0 version of Rosegarden. Rosegarden is an open-source professional audio and MIDI sequencer, score editor, and general-purpose music composition and editing environment for Linux. It’s been compared to Cubase in terms of features. The really cool thing is that Fervent Software has put Rosegarden together on a fully-tweaked for music bootable CD called Studio to Go. Unfortunately it’s “£49.99 (just under $100 US) – so it’s out of my league for hobbyist use, but for someone more serious about these tools, it’s a great deal.

Now I don’t have the time (or room) to set up a Linux box with Rosegarden at home, so I started browsing for other software to tinker with. Finale Notepad seems like it will fit the bill nicely. I’ve looked at it in the past, but with no support for guitar/bass tab, it didn’t fit with what I’ve done in the past (back in college, I’d sneak into the music lab to get some time on the Full version of finale – which runs ~$600). The new version, Notepad 2005, adds tab, so it seems to fit the bill. It runs under OS X and Win XP, and runs fine on my PowerBook G4. It’s much more basic than Rosegarden, but it’s an easy way to tinker without needing to break the bank.

The Mac purist will probably recommend Garage Band by Apple. At $79 it’s a decent buy, but I just missed it when I bought my Mac, and I’ve had a hard time ponying up for the updated iLife when I don’t need any of the other components updated and just want to tinker.

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