Sound recording software

Sequencer software can be used for directly recording sound. However, dedicated sound recording software program often offer more facilities for working with recorded sound, but are not usually set up for handling MIDI.

When sound recording began, it was a means of capturing spoken word and live music performances. As technology developed, so did the possibilities of manipulating recorded sound. For example, music created by recording found sounds and environmental sounds onto tape. Compositions were created by altering and combining these sounds. The approach, known as musique concrète has its origins in Paris in the 1940s, beginning with Pierre Schaeffer and also developed by Varese.

The piece Etude aux Chemins de Fer by Pierre Schaeffer was put together from recordings of sounds produced by trains. Notice how Schaeffer creates rhythmic patterns by looping the sound of the train running over the rails. He uses the train whistle sound to indicate the beginnings of each section.

Etude aux Chemins de Fer

For a more recent take on working with recorded sounds, watch the clip below. The presenter explains how he uses apps on his mobile phone and tablet to lay down some initial keyboard and drum parts, records guitar and vocal parts and finally mixes them all in a multi-track recorder.

Making music using mobile technology

How to compose music using sound recording software

Using an mp3 recorder or a mobile phone, record a small collection of sounds on a given theme, eg train station, seaside or shopping mall.

Explore ways of combining, looping and electronically processing these sounds to build musically satisfying structures, using an audio editor programme. You could experiment to find out which sounds go well together or loop sounds to create rhythm patterns and have some of the sounds fade in and out. You could also look for ways of creating musical contrasts through exploring dynamics, changes of instrumentation and sounds, metre and beats and production effects.