This list is outdated, but some of these programs are still great and available.
The following list is a summary of the programs I recommend on various pages on my website, plus some more interesting software especially for guitar players. All of them are freeware and – as far as I know – ad-free and require no registration. There are much more programs around, this is a list to start with and covers the most popular software. All links go to the authors homepage as far as he has one. Bold links show “must haves”. As always, software changes frequently, so I’ve only listed programs that have been used over many years.
Power Tab Editor is a tablature authoring tool for the Windows operating system. It is intended to be used to create guitar sheet music, more commonly known to musicians as guitar tablature and bass tablature. (aka guitar tab/bass tab). The program provides the most commonly used symbols in tablature, including chord names, chord diagrams, rhythm slashes, bends, slides, hammer-ons/pull-offs, harmonics and palm muting. A useful piece of software for people who want to learn how to play guitar, and for experienced guitarists who want to transcribe their own music and/or guitar lessons. The software can be used by both acoustic and electric guitar players alike.
A great multitrack tablature editor and player.
Audio Editing, Sequencer, Player with Speed Variation
Audacity is a free, easy-to-use yet powerful audio editor and recorder. Supports some VST-plugins, but not ASIO.
This audio editing software is a full featured professional sound editor. It lets you make and edit music, voice and other audio recordings. When editing audio files you can cut, copy and paste parts of recordings and, if required, add effects like echo, amplification and noise reduction. WavePad works as a wav editor or mp3 editor but it also supports a number of other file formats including vox, gsm, real audio, au, aif, flac, ogg and more. You can also slow down without changing the pitch.
Wavosaur is a free sound editor, audio editor, wav editor software for editing, processing and recording sounds, wav and mp3 files. Wavosaur has all the features to edit audio (cut, copy, paste, etc.) produce music loops, analyze, record, batch convert. Wavosaur supports VST plugins, ASIO driver, multichannel wav files, real time effect processing.
Nullsoft Winamp is a fast, flexible, high-fidelity music player for Windows. Winamp supports MP3, CD, Audiosoft, Audio Explosion, MOD, WAV and other audio formats, custom appearances called skins, plus audio visualization and audio effect plug-ins. additional features including free-form skins, a new decoder, built-in cross fade, and an advanced Media Library.
Windows Media Player
Included in Windows, but not everyone knows how to slow down:
–> full mode –> view –> enhancements –> show enhancements –> click on ‘Play Speed Settings’
BestPractice is a musician’s practice tool, to slow down or speed up music, either from an MP3 file or directly from a CD. Link has expired, but it’s still downloadable from many software archives. Just google for it.
Drum Machines, MIDI, VST Plugins
Hydrogen is an advanced drum machine. It’s main goal is to bring professional yet simple and intuitive pattern-based drum programming.
HammerHead is a simple TR-909-like drum computer program aiming at the dance-scene. You can use it to create perfect Techno loops, Jungle patterns or House beats, but it’s also suitable for Hip Hop, Triphop, Rap, Industrial and almost any other music you can think of – including Blues.
DrumStation is a virtual drum computer and groove studio for your PC. It is roughly based on the legendary Roland TR-909 drum machine. DrumStatiton makes it possible to create beats in CD quality without any further knowledge and in no time. All created grooves can of course be saved as .wav data in order to be used in other music software.
Simple, but good metronome.
Digital Guitar Tuner
Digital Guitar Tuner is a free Windows software, which let’s you accurately tune your guitar using direct input or microphone. Version 2.3, featuring 27 tuning types, is available for downloading.
Another tuner supporting line-in and different tunings.
WINCHORD is a compact program intended for the serious guitar player who wants to experiment with chords. For a given chord the program shows the position of the tones on the guitar so that one can create his own finger placement. Chord types can be altered easily. Also one can find the chord for a given finger placement. Furthermore the program can generate fingering automatically. (Original link has expired – google it.)
YGS Guitar Chords Help System
This is guitar chord help system. More than 600 chord tabs, 37 chord types, 1122 chord letter-and-numeric names (for example Am) in this version.
Exact Audio Copy
Exact Audio Copy is a so called audio grabber for audio CDs using standard CD and DVD-ROM drives. It works with a technology, which reads audio CDs almost perfectly. If there are any errors that can’t be corrected, it will tell you on which time position the (possible) distortion occurred, so you could easily control it with e.g. the media player
AoA Audio Extractor
With AoA Audio Extractor, you can easily extract audio tracks from AVI, MPEG, MPG, FLV (Flash Video), DAT, WMV, MOV, MP4, 3GP video files and save them as MP3, WAV and AC3 formats.
MediaCoder is a free universal batch media transcoder, which nicely integrates most popular audio/video codecs and tools into an all-in-one solution. With a flexible and extendable architecture, new codecs and tools are added in constantly as well as supports for new devices.