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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Dec 17 > RECORD A TRACK FOR FREE


Short of cash? Just starting out in music production? You’ve come to the right place! Over the following 10 pages, we will show you how to produce an entire track from start to finish for no outlay, using nothing but freeware. We reveal the software you need and provide all the necessary mixing and arranging advice to create your production from scratch…

Every year in MusicTech, we round up the latest developments in the music-production freeware scene. Freeware comes in three forms. The first is a cut-down (but usually still very usable) version of a commercially available title that is intended as a promo device for that product. It might well be that it has a limited number of features, or that it has paid-for expansions available for it. The second type is simply a full piece of software – an instrument, a plug-in effect – that simply works, for free! These might be produced by small developers who are programming freeware, because they are dead nice people or simply trying to make a name for themselves as great programmers. In other cases, they might be made by a big company who is simply feeling generous and wants to get their name out there further. The third type of freeware, and at the heart of this very feature, is a title that was once paid for, but has now been superseded, so the developer has decided to give it away for free and spread their word.

This year, rather than just rounding up the best freeware out there, which we have done in previous years, we’re going to do something a little different. We’re going to be a little more hands-on and show you how to produce an entire track from start to finish, using just freeware. Along the way, we’ll include advice for all aspects of the production, so there should be something for everyone over the following pages and plenty to dip in and out of. Where possible, we will be using freeware that can run on Mac and PC (and, in some cases, Linux).


01 The main File menus are at the bottom left of the main Tracktion 6 screen, so not your ‘normal’ drop-down menus, but everything is here including saving, importing audio and automation.
Instead of drop-down menus at the top of the screen, you get tabs which are for the main settings and to easily switch between projects or edits.
03 Transport controls for Play, Record, Fast Forward, Rewind and so on are bottom left. Play is assigned to the Space bar from the off
04 By now, you’ll have started noticing the pop-up equivalent of an annoying fly – the Tracktion help system. Yes, it’s useful at first, but you’ll soon want to hit the Help menu at the bottom left of the screen.


1Togu Audio Line NoiseMaker Type Mac, PC, VST/AU/AAX

TAL makes some great freeware and Noisemaker (actually NoiseM4k3r) is an update to the rather great Elek7ro synth that we have often included in our synth roundups. It’s a three-oscillator wavetable synth with up to six voices and a stack of great effects – reverb, delay and bitcrusher – that lift its sounds well above most. And you get a whopping 256 of those to explore, too. tal-noisemaker

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About MusicTech

Making music is an expensive pursuit. From monitors to microphones, DAWs and plug-ins: before you know it, just getting your creative space in order has made a serious dent in your bank account. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. In Andy Jones’ in-depth cover feature this month, he dives head-first into this ocean of free software, highlighting the best of the best and detailing how to use it effectively to build a track – for free! Elsewhere this issue, we’ve got the first in a new A-Z series, detailing some of the oft-used, key terms that you’ll likely hear and need to understand in the music-making world. Alongside all this, we’ve got our usual range of reviews, tutorials, tips and a complete guide to the vast high-tech world of controllers. We’ve also, very excitingly, teamed up with the best studio in the world with this issue’s free Abbey Road calendar. We hope you enjoy the issue.