Open Source Music Software

In business the big trade off is time or money. If you have an abundance of one you rarely have enough of the other. The conundrum of the practicing musician is they rarely have either and are stuck in a rut. Although we can’t fix the broken reality musicians must deal with, we can find ways to help out in both the time and the money department! Below is a list of what we at ZMINsoft believe are the best open source music software offers available. There are many more but, in an attempt to save you time, we narrowed the list down to what we have here. Everything below is free, and we invite you to check them out!

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Hydrogen is a drum machine/sampler that has many of the features you find on much more expensive offers such as song construction, humanization, and pattern writing baked in. As a sampler you can use the software to create your own drum sets using any audio source. Want the Phil Collins ‘80’s drum kit? No problem, sample it and slam to reverb gates! Need Vinnie Paul’s booming kit from Hellyeah? Sample it and tweak it till you like it.

With that said the built-in sounds are mediocre at best and you will be putting some work into this if you want stellar drums. Again, we run into the time/money paradox but fortunately there is a community around Hydrogen that is always coming up with new sounds and sharing them. Here’s more:


  • Sample support via compressed FLAC file
  • Supports sound sample imports of .wav, .au and .aiff file formats
  • Volume, mute, solo, pan capabilities on unlimited number of tracks
  • Powerful sequencer that can chain patterns
  • Supports unlimited number of patterns
  • Multi-layer support for instruments
  • Export to wav, aiff, flac or ogg file.
  • Time-line with variable tempo.
  • Single and stacked pattern mode.
  • Export song to lilypond file.

There are too many more features to list here. If you need drums for your project, check this out. Its free just download it and see!


This is an amplifier simulator that uses the JACK audio connection kit. With JACK you can send pretty much anything through Guitarix but obviously it was designed for guitar so don’t get too crazy. If you add a few things to the pot like an audio interface, Midi controller, and a preamp you could pull of something live as well. Like most amp sims Guitarix does a good job with low gain output but gets progressively worse the more gain you crank up the gain. All metalheads keep that in mind because if you scoop the mids and crank the high’s and lows with all the gain its going to sound like a wall of noise. And not a good wall, a blurry wall of obviously digital nonsense.


Ardour is a free digital audio workstation (DAW) that’s build on GNU/Linux. For music production this is the one to beat in the free category and it does compete well with its more expensive counterparts available. If you want to record a band, mix some music or even master (somewhat) some tunes this will get it done. While ProTools is going to have more plugins available Ardour will have a workaround for you if you look for it.

Check out the full features list here.


With its roots going back to 1999 MuseScore can solve a lot of your music notation problems. Once supporting the JACK audio connection kit MuseScore can also be routed through samplers and synthesizers but its core functionality is notation. If you are familiar with other software of this kind such as the widely used Finale you will recognize the interface immediately. MuseScore will import and export MusicXML files and is the leading WYSIWYG in the free category. Here is the online handbook for more features.

These are our free picks for open source music software. If you have one you believe should be listed contact us and let us know!