Are you a music producer and use Linux as your primary operating system, then music production is going to become easy for you after reading this article.
There is good music production software in Linux just as it is in Windows and Mac OS, though a few features may vary, but the underlying functionalities mostly are the same.
Here, I will look at some free and open-source software that you can use for music production purposes or music creation.
It is a free, open-source and also a cross-platform application for audio recording and editing. Therefore it can run on Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and other operating systems. Audacity has some of the following features:
- Records live audio through a microphone, a mixer or from other media.
- Import and export files from and to different sound formats.
- Copy, cut, paste, delete options for easy editing.
- Large range of keyboard shortcuts.
- Add sound effects.
- Extensible with various plug-ins and many more.
Visit: Audacity Homepage
It is an audio signal processing software that allows users to do sound exploration and music composition, and it is intended for use by sound designers. It can run on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.
It allows you to create a customized GUI by following a simple syntax. Cecilia has in-built modules that allow users to add sound effects and also for synthesis.
Visit: Cecilia Homepage
This is a music mixing software that can help you become a professional DJ. It is available on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. It can help you test your audio after complete production by mixing it with other audio files while listening to it.
Therefore having it in a studio can be so helpful just in case the user is also a sound producer.
It has some of the following features:
- Four decks with advanced controls.
- In-built sound effects.
- Quad sampler decks.
- Designer skins.
- Record and broadcast functionality.
- DJ hardware support and many more.
Visit: Mixxx Homepage
It is available on Linux and Mac OS X and allows you to record, edit, mix and master audio and MIDI projects. It can be used by musicians, soundtrack editors, and composers.
Ardour has some of the following features:
- Flexible recording.
- Unlimited multichannel tracks.
- Importing and exporting audio files of different formats.
- Extensible through plug-ins and In-line plug-in control.
- Automation and many more.
Visit: Ardour Homepage
5. Hydrogen Drum Machine
It is an advanced drum sampler developed for Linux and Mac OS X operating systems though it is still experimental in OS X.
Hydrogen machine has some of the following features:
- User-friendly and modular
- Fast and intuitive GUI
- Pattern-based sequencer
- Multilayer instrument support
- Jack audio connection kit
- Import and export drum kits and also export audio files to different formats plus many more
Visit: Hydrogen Drum Machine Homepage
This is a virtual guitar amplifier and is available on Linux but can be built to work on BSD and Mac OS X. It runs on the Jack audio connection kit and works by taking a signal from a guitar and processes it mono amp and a rack section. It also has in-built modules to allow you to add effects to the rack.
Visit: Guitarix Homepage
It is a music composing and editing application available on Linux and it is intended for use by music composers, musicians can be used in a home or small scale recording environments.
Great understanding of music notations makes it interesting for users who know and understand music notations. Furthermore, it also has some basic support for digital audio.
Visit: Rosegarden Homepage
It is an audio Audio/MIDI multi-track sequencer designed specifically for personal home studios. It runs on Linux as the target operating system.
It has some of the following features:
- Use of Jack Audio Connection Kit for audio and Advanced Linux Sound Architecture sequencer for MIDI as multimedia infrastructures.
- Support for different audio formats such as WAV, MP3, AIFF, OGG and many more.
- In-built mixer and monitor controls.
- Loop recording.
- MIDI clip editor.
- Non-destructive and non-linear editing.
- Extensible through an unlimited number of plug-Ins plus many more.
Visit: Qtractor Homepage
LMMS (Let’s Make Music) is a free, open-source and cross-platform software for making music on your computer, made by musicians, for musicians. It comes with a user-friendly and modern interface.
LMMS also comes with playback instruments, samples, and plugins. It is bundled with ready-to-use content such as a collection of instrument and effect plugins, presets and samples to VST and SoundFont support.
MuseScore is also a free, open-source and easy to use, yet powerful tool for creating, playing and printing beautiful sheet music. It supports input via the MIDI keyboard and also supports exporting to and from other programs via MusicXML, MIDI and more.
11. Smart Mix Player
Smart Mix Player is a free and configurable auto DJ player for Linux and Windows. All you need to do is configure it let the player mix songs automatically.
It plays audio files as a non-stop mix; unlike other commonly used music mixing software out there that mix song at the end, Smart Mix mixes like a real DJ.
12. Renoise [Not Open Source]
Renoise is a premium, powerful, cross-platform, and fully-featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) with a unique top-down approach.
Renoise features a wide range of modern features that allow you to record, compose, edit, process and render production-quality audio using a tracker-based approach. Importantly, it comes with Redux, a powerful yet affordable sampler and sequencer in the VST/AU format.
13. Virtual DJ [Not Open Source]
Virtual DJ is a premium, powerful, widely used, feature-rich and highly-configurable music mixing software. Many DJ hardware devices such as those from ‘Pioneer’ include built-in support for ‘Virtual DJ’. Unfortunately, the Virtual DJ is designed to run on Windows and Mac OS X only.
To run a Virtual DJ on GNU/Linux, you can use Wine, a tool that lets you run some of MS Windows software on GNU/Linux.
14. Aria Maestosa
Aria Maestosa is a free and open-source midi sequencer and editor for Linux, that enables you to compose, edit and play midi files with a few easy clicks in a user-friendly interface providing a score, keyboard, guitar, drum and controller views.
MusE is a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and Audio sequencer with support for recording and editing capabilities created by Werner Schweer now developed and maintained by the MusE development team. It aims to be a comprehensive multitrack virtual studio for Linux operating system and it is released under the GNU General Public License.
Reaper is a powerful and popular digital audio production tool for editing music, recording, processing, mixing and other audio projects. The application is also cross-platform and is created by Cockos. It acts a vital role in most of the industry-standard plugin formats such as VST and AU.
Following are some key features:
- Productive and loads fast.
- Install and run the application easily from a portable or network drive.
- Simply drag and drop to import, arrange, and render.
- It is fully customizable.
- Easily switch between the layouts as needed for different tasks.
- Simple nested folder system allows group editing, routing, bussing, all in one step.
There are a lot of music-making and mixing software out there for the Linux operating system, we have just looked a few. You can let us know what you are using by leaving a comment or make give some additional information on the ones we have looked at.
42 thoughts on “16 Best Open Source Music Making Software for Linux”
I know that Reaper can be used as a complex score writer. What about the others? Can any of the other software use external orchestral libraries? How many MIDI and Audio tracks can they handle (combined) and whether they have good plug-ins, such as EQ and Compression, so vital for orchestral composition.
Any multitrack output (5.1 or 7.1 Dolby, DTS )? I could mention many other features, but don’t want to lengthen this message.
Thanks for reading, John.
I’m not clear on the advantages of this over a traditional digital mixer, or any other music player, which would not be possible with some standard audio library. Is this the future of music playing? And why?
REAPER is nice but *not* Open Source, unfortunately.
What do you mean? Do they /collect/ stuff? How do I worry about security when there are rushing hacking the software of the Society of Acoustic Engineers.
The audacity for windows looks good, but in the video, you don’t get the benefit of using the full screen of the camera, so they are not very informative. This leads me to believe they are trying to force everyone to open the source of all the music players on a proprietary platform.
I wonder if there are other reasons. Anyway, I think the video player needs a good UI and the video player needs some work. It really needs some work on mobile though.
Don’t get it. Audacity doesn’t handle video files.
You can rip audio from video .mp4 video files and save them as .mp3 or .ogg files. I have done it. You are right though it will not play the video portion.
No one is forcing you to open source. You can pay for software anytime you want.
Many of those are not MIDI sequencers.
I miss Reaper. It works great with Linux.
Thanks for notifying about Reaper, added to the list as suggested.
Missing the MusE – http://muse-sequencer.org/
Thanks for informing us about the MusE, included in the article as suggested..
MuseScore allows one to add lyrics to the score
Isn’t there any system to add text lines to the score/music?
It wouldn’t only be a benefit to be able to write lyrics for a song, but also for voice-overs for presentations, movies…
There should be an application used for doing this, we’ll let you know once we discover one. Thanks for the feedback.
I found it out myself – five minutes after my comment – Audacity does it quite good.
When zooming the audio the text display could shown better, but for me and my ad hoc purpose it is sufficient.
That’s great, thanks for the feedback.
You forgot one of the very best ones: Aria Maestosa!
Thanks a ton for informing us about Aria Maestosa tool, we’ve included in the list.