Back when I first started making music on a computer back in 1997, I didn’t realize that one day there would be free online music composing software that I could play around with. Being able to create music completely free, without even having to install a program, that’s too good to be true, surely?
Well, no, it’s not too good to be true, and here I take a look three different free online music programs. To tell you the truth, though, one of them is really just a fun toy…but the other two are actually seriously worth considering, and you could actually create some good music with them.
The free online music programs are:
For anyone who wants to make electronic music for free without even having to install any software, AudioTool is a great option. While it does not have as many instruments or features as paid music software such as Propellerhead Reason, it has enough to make full pieces of music.
Rhythm Composer (TR-808)
This is an emulation of the classic TR-808 drum machine that Roland produced between 1980 and 1984. So, it’s great for getting that early 80s sound with your drum beats.
Rhythm Composer (TR-909)
Again, this is an emulation of the classic TR-909, which followed on from the TR-808 and was produced from 1984 to 1985. No need to go hunting on eBay for a real vintage drum machine when you can use this software version for free.
There is quite a lot going on here for a free software synth. You’ve got 3 oscillators, each with a choice of 4 different waveforms (the standard sine, square, saw, and triangle), a noise generator, audio in, and a filter with frequency, resonance, kb track (I’m not sure what this is), and spacing (I’m not sure what this is either). Then for modulations, you have LFO, filter envelope, and amp envelope. You can also slide between notes and fine tune it.
You should definitely be able to create some great synth sounds with all that!
Bass Line (TB-303)
This instrument was always somewhat limited, but perhaps its simplicity is part of its charm? You have only got one oscillator, which can only do either saw or square wave; then you have the standard filter cutoff and resonance for creating those squelchy acid house sounds.
However, you can add multiple instances of this instrument to your AudioTool layout, and you can put them through the various effects.
This one is very simple, but it is hypnotic to use. You just click the squares in the grid to light them up, then they play notes in that sequence. It seems a bit limited in itself because it doesn’t seem to have any built-in way to alter the sound. What you could probably do, though, is to route the sound through the Pulverisateur synth to alter it with the filter and/or LFO. You could also send it through any of the many effects in AudioTool.
Splitter & Merger
Kobolt (16 channel mixer)
Audiotrack & Crossfader
You’ve pretty much got all the effects you need here:
A distortion pedal. Sounds great when hooked up to the Bass Line, for that aggressive, distorted, squelchy sound.
This seems to fatten out a sound by adding a detuned version of the signal to it.
This is a filter. You can choose between 4 different filter types and control the frequency and resonance. This could be good if you want to filter your drums, for example.
This is quite a simple reverb unit, with just some basic settings like room size, predelay, feedback, damp, and level.
Really useful for creating that rhythmic delay effect that you often get with electronic music. You can also change the pitch of the delayed sound.
This creates a lush sweeping filter type effect. Great if you want to instantly add a kind of drifting wave feel to your sounds. Could work relly well on pad sounds. Think of Jean-Michel Jarre’s album Oxygene.
If you want to boost a certain frequency in a sound, this is a quick and easy way to do it.
This enables you to cut out all sound below a certain volume level.
A flange effect is achieved by combining two identical sound signals, but delaying one slightly and varying the delay amount over time
The only difference between this and the P.Delay mentioned above is that this one doesn’t have the option to alter the pitch.
A very extreme distortion effect. If you put the settings up to the max you can completely obliterate the sound. However, moderate use of this effects unit could be useful for creating chiptunes.
If you want your sounds to be louder without distorting, this is the effect to use. Best not to overdo it, though.
This effect is similar to a flanger, where the sound signal is doubled and detuned slightly to create a fatter sound.
I’ve absolutely no idea how to use this one, sorry.
I linked this up to the Bass Line, turned down the Bass Line’s resonance, then turned up the resonance on this filter. It gave quite a different sound than using the Bass Line’s own resonance. Hmm, interesting…
This seems to add more power to a sound. This could be good for adding oomph to drum sounds or bass lines.
It’s kind of fun to pull the points around on the graph and hear the difference it makes to the sound. You can also split the left and right channels, which gives an interesting effect.
This is a quick and easy way to give a stereo feel to a mono sound signal. I won’t pretend to completely understand how it does this, though.
Why not have a go yourself at:
This is an interesting one. You have an analog style synth, an FM synth, and a sampler. With just these three to choose from, this may seem like it’s rather simple, but there are actually a lot of good sounds to play around with here.
This looks pretty standard for a synth, with two octaves, a filter, amp and filter envelopes, LFO, and chorus and distortion effects. There are over 50 preset sounds, covering things like bass, electro, chord sweep, lead, wind, e-piano, pad, bells, percussion, and effects.
You can get some rather 80s style sounds out of this, as well as some more modern sounds. As with the analog synth, it has over 50 preset sounds, covering bass, lead, vibraphone, organ, strings, brass, pads, bells, percussion, effects, and some really nice plucked sounds like harp and guitar.
You would probably mainly use this for drum sounds, as it has 6 different drum kits in it:
- Ambience Kit
- Domestic Turbulence
- Jazz Kit
- Triphop Kit
- Tight Kit
However, it also has a few instrument sounds:
- Bass Guitar
- Kantele (this one is really nice!)
- Sortavala 1912
So, even though there are only two synths and a sampler, there is still a lot you can do with AudioSauna. With over 100 great synth sounds to choose from and a bunch of great drum sounds, you could probably make something which sounds very good.
Why not have a go at:
This one is kind of fun if you are a beginner who just wants to have a quick first go at composing music. You click to place notes on the arrangement grid. It’s as simple as that.
It is limited, though, as it only offers 13 different instrument sounds:
- Electric piano
- Grand piano
- Acoustic guitar
- Smooth synth
- Electric guitar
- Synth pluck
- French horn
It can be funny to hear the compositions other people have saved on the site, though. Sometimes they just put random notes in. Other times they graphically spell out words with the notes. Either way, it often sounds a bit crazy.
Why not have a go yourself at:
So there you go, there are several free online music composing software programs for you to choose from. I think people wanting to create electronic dance music will like AudioTool the best. However, I think you could also create some good music with AudioSauna. As for Online Sequencer, well, that’s just a fun toy really.
Anyway, I would love to hear how you get on with this software. If you have any music to share, that would be even better. Why not post a comment below, and I will reply as soon as I can.
All the best,