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Basics of Recording and Creating Music with Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)

This page provides resources that the Consortium for Innovation and Transformation in Music Education at Arizona State University curates or creates to get started with basics of recording and creating music with Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). What is a DAW?

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an application that allows you to create and record music. You can record and manipulate acoustic and electric sounds and instruments by using digital audio aspects of a DAW. You can also record and manipulate MIDI information. 

Why would I want to use a DAW?

A DAW provides people with an immediate way to record and create music. Free and inexpensive DAWs, some of which are web-based allow learners to explore endless possibilities with sound and music. The music literacies that people use with DAWs are not specific to or reliant on staff notation. 

What are some DAWs I might want to use?

There are numerous DAWs available and people have their own preferences. It is not possible to include resources on every existing DAW so we will share some resources for DAWs that are more common in music learning and teaching settings as well as those that are low cost or have characteristics that make them well-suited for music learning.

You can start making choices by exploring some of the following DAWs

What do I need to use a DAW?

You can pretty much use any computer and in many cases a mobile device.

To use web-based DAWs you will need to create an account.

Other DAWs will require you to download the application.

If you want to record audio with decent quality, you will also need some type of microphone (and in some cases an audio interface). If you want the experience of playing instruments to create music with MIDI you will need some type of MIDI controller. 

Getting Started

How do I record audio with a DAW?


Recording Audio with SoundTrap

Working with Audio in SoundTrap

Recording Audio in GarageBand

Ableton Live

How do I create with MIDI in a DAW?


Work with the MIDI editor in BandLab


Creating with MIDI with Piano tool and Piano roll 

Use the Piano Roll for MIDI in SoundTrap


How do I export or download my music?


Export MIDI in Bandlab


Export/Download tracks in SoundTrap

Download music as MP3 in SoundTrap

Download and share music from SoundTrap to Google Drive: 

Download music from SoundTrap to a Chromebook


Multiple options for sharing or exporting your music from Garageband

Export music from Garageband to your desktop

Multiple options for sharing or exporting your music from Garageband on an iPad

Multiple options for sharing or exporting your music from Garageband on an iPhone

Ableton Live

Exporting Audio From Ableton Live

Exporting Audio from Ableton Live Session and Arrangement Views

Exporting Music from Ableton to Create a Mix

Setting Up Projects