a quick word about two great applications I use while making my music. the screenshots link to the software sites.
"Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to record live audio; convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs; edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files; cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together."
I'm sure that a lot of amateur computer musicians/engineers already use Audacity, and it really is the best raw audio recorder/editor I've seen. the design is simple enough that it can be used for kust about anything, but it has a load of flexibility too. also, it's free.
"Melody Assistant is dedicated to music writing, printing and rendering. Easy to use, Melody Assistant offers a user-friendly interface and powerful capabilities. Now used by a very active community of thousands of people, it has become a favored tool for creating music."
this isn't free, but it's damn cheap. I use it for composition of all of my songs, in addition to working my finalized drum programming. it's just about the most complete sequencing/composing software package ever—scores, tabs, custom instruments, etc.