I have tears in my eyes when looking at a set of electronic instruments like this one by Robert Babicz, but the reality is that even back in the 90’s, when my friends and I used to organize acid house parties and write our own music, you didn’t need this much ‘analogue’ stuff to be able to come up with something cool. As for us, we started out with software that is now regarded as vintage (i.e. FastTracker, early forms of Cubase, SoundForge, Rebirth, Reason, Fruty Loops and so on), and even though some of us (like me) just stopped experimenting altogether at that phase, others (like my buddies Kalumet and Interflug) have carried on with excellent results.
To cut a long story short, I was curious to see how far music writing software have evolved since then, and while surfing the net I realized that we already have a range of browser based music writing software at our disposal that are actually quite usable. Here is what I mean (I start out from the more complex ones towards the more fun ones).
- The Roland TR-808
- The Roland TR-909
- The Roland TB-303
- The Tenori-on
- a sample based drum machine
- a polyphonic phase modulation synthesizer
- an arpeggiated synthesizer
It also includes various effect pedals, which can simulate: dynamic range compression, graphic equalizer, exciter (effect), stereo enhancer, audio bit depth/bit depth reduction, digital delay, flanging/flange, parametric equalization, phasing, pitched digital delay, reverb, filters including lowpass, highpass, notch, bandpass) and a separate autoter, stereo detunization (which produces a sort of chorus effect), and distortion.
AudioSauna says it will transform your web browser into a fast and flexible music production studio with built in synthesizers and live effects. And indeed, it seems to be rather usable. I haven’t worked my way around it yet, but they have a good guide to get you going.
Acid Machine is described by developers Errozero as a “work in progress”, but it’s already working better than a faulty TB-303 found on eBay. As well as featuring two of the famous bass synthesisers, Acid Machine also features a drum machine.
UJAM is an easy to use browser app which lets you simply record yourself humming a tune or melody to start creating a song. Your humming is rendered into musical notation, where you can select different instruments and musical styles to start building a composition.
Beatlab uses a basic grid to let you sketch out your songs, and adds some additional features to let you expand and share your compositions. With a social component that lets you explore and remix other user’s creations, and a range of different genres and sounds to choose from, Beatlab offers a great way to start making music from the comfort of your browser.
Isle of Tune
And here is something fun to close with: create your own unique musical journeys by planning your own street layouts. Each tree, building and roadside object plays it’s own sound or musical note as a car passes by. Construct loops, tunes and elaborate cityscapes then share them with your friends and others to view and rate.
In case you have good results with any other online music writing software, please let us know in comments below. If there is enough new stuff, there should be an update to this.