Music Theory/Software Needed
If you don't want to use a computer for your composing, skip to the next chapter.
For this tutorial, you will need notation software, aka a Note Editor. A good point to start is free and open source MuseScore, which works on GNU/Linux, Mac and Windows, and has a built-in synthesizer, eliminating the need for setting up MIDI. There are also several alternatives for Linux. For Windows, Coda Technology offers Finale Notepad as a downloadable, ten dollar version of their commercial Finale notation software. Alternatives include Lilypond, MusiXTeX and various abc notation programs
There's a free music workstation called Frinika that features piano roll, score, and tracker interface as well. It's opensource and written in Java. You can run it without installation through Java Webstart.
(If you are using windows but don't want to pay money, try downloading Ubuntu at http://www.ubuntu.com. If you don't want to put it as a permanent operating system, then you can use VMWare to make a Virtual PC.)
For this tutorial, we will be using NoteEdit. To download it on Ubuntu, go to Application -> Add/Remove. From there make sure 3rd party programs are enabled, then do a search for NoteEdit. Check it, and press OK.
If you aren't hearing any sound, download EasyUbuntu, http://easyubuntu.freecontrib.org/, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK MIDI!!!, then type this into the terminal.
timidity -iA -B2,8 -Os -EFreverb=0 > /dev/null &
This command only needs to be typed in once, but will have to be redone every time you restart Ubuntu.