Key Stage 4 - FREE Music Technology Resources
Please click on a title below to expand the information and access links. Recommendations have been made as to which key stages the software is suitable for. Please see this page for free lesson planning associated with some of the software listed below.
Browser based free software
Ableton Introduction to Synthesis Tutorial - KS4
A great tutorial and set of interactive audio tools to teach pupils the fundamental principles of synthesis. Clearly explained and easy to follow, this offering from Ableton could be useful for KS4 students and above.
Ableton Synthesiser voice creator and keyboard - KS4
It is advisable that pupils have worked through the Ableton synthesis tutorial (see above) before using this application. With a range of synthesis parameters at their quick disposal, pupils create and model their own synthesiser voices. Once created, this voice can then be played using the keyboard's qwerty keyboard, to play melodies.
Blokdust - KS4
Blokdust is a very unique music maker that allows users to build their own sythns and sounds. Using various modular parts to create, trigger and effect sounds, this application also allows the user to play their created synthesiser voices using the qwerty keyboard. Lots of fun to be had!
Chrome Experiments – Chords - KS3 & 4
Chords is a piece of software which simply and clearly demonstrates how to form basic major and minor chords. By playing an arpeggio, it lets the learner hear the notes that create the chord.
Chrome Experiments – Oscillators - KS4
Oscillators is a piece of software which can be used to quickly and clearly exemplify four common types of oscillator shapes: square, saw tooth, triangle and sine wave. The mouse can be used to explore different pitches of each and can be used to help introduce synthesis when teaching aspects of music technology.
Hip Hop Sampler – Beat Maker - KS3 & 4
Teach pupils the fundamental principles of sampling by using these 3 banks of samples. The banks of sounds contain samples that have been used by Hip Hop producers (Kanye West, 9th Wonder and J Dilla) in some of their released music. To add more depth to this activity, perhaps pupils could try creating a backing drum beat on another application, in a separate and detached chrome window, and then triggering the samples from this application over the top. For reference, the backing tempo is 89BPM.
Html5drummer - KS2, 3 & 4
Html5drummer is a fairly simple and quick tool that can be used to compose a drum beat. With an "old school" drum machine type appearance; this software can be used to compose two separate bars from a range of drum and percussion styles including: Hip Hop, Electro, House, Techno and Acoustic. Bars can be bounced down to WAV for use and manipulation in other software.
Incredibox BeatBox Looper - KS3 & 4
Incredibox is a very fun and visually engaging application whilst also providing some very enjoyable and high quality looping and layering opportunities. Pupils select from banks of samples, assigning one of the characters to a certain loop. The loops can be turned on or off and be set to mute or solo. These tools allow pupils to create clear layers and sections.
Music Shake - KS1, 2, 3 & 4
Music Shake is a piece of software that offers a large range of loops in different keys, tempos and genres. These loops can then be layered and arranged, using a format similar to other professional loop based software. There is a quick start option, to allow a range of loops to be preselected for quick creations, or you can start from scratch, selecting and choosing loops according to preference.
Novation Launchpad Arcade - KS2, 3 & 4
Launchpad Arcade is a versatile tool which can be used to create live arrangements and performances using an extensive range of loops from a large range of genres. Some samples can be triggered to play and loop automatically, allowing for learners to focus on timbre, texture and arrangement. Alternatively, some samples can be triggered, using the keyboard, and need to be held down in order for them to carry on playing. This allows for pupils to develop skills relating to live performance, time keeping, rhythm (as well as selecting samples with timbre, texture and arrangement in mind).
Online Sequencer - KS3 & 4
Online Sequencer is piano roll style compositional resource that can be used to notate and compose on a large range of instruments. The instrument voices can be entered and played simultaneously to create an entire piece using a range of instrumentation. Using a midi style form of note entry, this software could be a valuable resource, particularly for secondary music students.
Patatap Keyboard Sample Player - KS3 & 4
This app is exceptionally quick, easy and fun to use as an instant instrument with a wide variety of sounds. Each letter key, on the computer keyboard, triggers a sound and accompanying animation to play. There are 8 banks of sounds to choose from that are easily changed by pressing the space bar to move on to the next bank.
HEALTH & SAFETY NOTE – by pressing the keys 'Q', 'A' or 'Z' on the computer keyboard, causes a screen short colour flashing animation that might be unsuitable for some pupils. To remedy this, simple minimise drag the Patatap window down to the bottom of your computer display so you can no longer see the animations.
Pattern Sketch - KS3 & 4
Pattern Sketch allows users to create up to 4 bars of drum and percussion rhythms. With variable tempo, steps (quantisation), a good offering of sample sounds and the option to save composed rhythms as WAV or MP3, Pattern Sketch is a quick, clean and stable drum and percussion sequencer.
Pulseboy - KS3 & 4
Pulseboy is a musical sequencer which uses a tracker style system to create retro arcade sounding pieces using a range of 8 bit sounds. With up to 16 sounds being played at any one time, this software caould be used to compose jingles, YouTube intro music, backing for pixel animation or a piece of music in its own right. With a short sharp learning curve, it would be recommended to watch the tutorial video before teaching on this software. Pieces can be bounced down to WAV for playback on other devices.
Sampulator - KS2, 3 & 4
Sampulator is can be a live performance tool, with samples being triggered rhythmically using the computer keyboard, or a compositional tool, with samples being played in, edited and arranged to create up to 16 bars. As well as a good offering of high quality drum and percussion sounds, there are a selection of vocal samples, including some from the recognisable voices of Drake and DJ Khaled, that can be triggered and sequenced into composed bars. There are several examples which can be shown to learners to help inspire.
Soundation - KS3 & 4
Soundation is a loop based programme which allows for instrumental loops to be layered and arranged. With a professional DAW (digital Audio Workstation) appearance, each track can have a comprehensive range of effects applied to it. This could be used as an introductory piece of software before going on to use similar looking DAWs such as Cubase or Logic.
Superlooper - KS4
Super looper allows pupils to play in drum, bass, chords and 2 synth parts all by using the mouse to click different areas of the screen. Parts can be recorded and looped to create on the fly compositions and performances with ease. This is a great application for quickly creating and performing very funky beats.
Viktor - KS3 & 4
Viktor is a virtual keyboard synthesiser tool which allows the user to explore and tweak sounds using a range of parameters. Viktor contains a keyboard with modulation and pitch bend facility. The keyboard is mapped to the computer keyboard to allow for live playing and performance.
Websynths - KS3 & 4
Websynth is a comprehensive and versatile web based synthesiser with an extensive range of customisable features to allow users to create, tweak and perform using their own synth sounds. Having a large library of pre-set voices, this synth produces some very rich and full sounds which can be played using the computer keyboard.