Best Composers Online Institute and best creative learning.
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an application that lets you record, program and arrange audio. Think of it as Photoshop for sound. DAWs allow you to visually edit your recordings until they sound exactly how you want them to sound. Almost every musician in the popular realm uses a DAW to create music, whether they're making demos (rough, imperfect recordings) or professional, high quality recordings.
DAWs can come in all shapes and sizes (and prices!!), but the most popular ones share the same elements. Some examples of DAWs are ProTools (the industry standard DAW), Logic, Ableton, Garageband, Reaper, FL Studio, Cakewalk. Any one of these is great, and people have made very good recordings with all of them so it really doesn't matter which one you choose. The main barrier is price, but for our purposes in this camp you do not need to spend extra money on ProTools or Logic. If you own an Apple computer, you're in luck - you already have a highly functional DAW built into your computer: Garageband. If you can't find Garageband on your Mac, you can download it for free from the Apple website.
If you have a PC, I would recommend Cakewalk. Cakewalk is a powerful and free DAW that comes with everything you need to make great sounding recordings. Another alternative for PCs is Reaper, which comes with a fully functional free trial period. It also works well on old, slow computers (I made a song on a 10+ year old laptop!). Should you like Reaper and wish to purchase a license, they have different prices depending on your income and intended use.
Bottom line: for a free DAW - if you have a Mac, we recommend Garageband. If you have a PC, we recommend Cakewalk. If you are looking to invest some $ in a DAW, talk to us and we'll give you some recommendations!
Below are links to Youtube videos about using GarageBand, Cakewalk and Reaper.
All you need to make basic recordings is:
That's all, you ask? Well, almost every computer these days come with a built-in microphone, which doesn't sound terrific but it is totally fine for recording your voice/guitar/piano. After all, this COI can be seen as a songwriting experience, not a commercial recording studio!! If you'd like to take your recordings up a (big) notch, here's some gear that will cost money, but will really help (and are investments that will last a lifetime):
Buying used gear is totally cool. That's how I roll, personally. But with the virus going around, I understand if you're weary. Regardless, connecting these instruments to your computer and getting the hang of it is a little frustrating at first, but once you understand it, it's a breeze.
On top of all this gear is plenty of free applications you can download to add cool sounds to your songs (drums, violins, whatever). Again, you don't need any of these things, but if you're a committed music maker I recommend you get them!
As far as music notation goes, since songs are chord and lyric based, most songwriters don't need to write out everything but the melody and chord symbols. But using notation software to arrange awesome string and horn parts is always an asset. So while music notation software isn't required to be apart of songwriting camp, it is most certainly a powerful tool (I use it!).
Collaboration. The standard way people share music online (to collaborate over the internet) is simply email, or Dropbox, or Google Drive, or whatever method of sharing information sharing you prefer. I'll show you how to easily share song files with other musicians so there's nothing lost in translation (hint - it's all about the metronome!).
One thing to note - DAWs are powerful tools, which naturally means they're complicated. Learning this tool will be a huge asset for your music creation, but it might get frustrating at times. With this in mind, we aren't going to try to do anything extremely complex during COI. Our primary goal together is to help you learn to lay down the most basic information so you can have a clear recorded version of your new song!