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My Newbtacular Digital Composition Questions

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Hi, I'm new to these forums, so please be gentle. Heh.


I stand to inherrit a small fortune shortly, and it's been a long time dream of mine to delve into electronic music composition. I'd have started along this path several years ago, if I had the time and finance for it. It now seems that the planets have aligned in such a way that this now a serious posibility.


Though I gave up playing instruments a few years back, I've played the trumpet and french horn for about twelve years; so I'm not a complete novice when it comes to the fundimentals of music. Some time back I became very interrested in electronic music (trance, ambient, etc) and ever since listening to the stuff I've had my own songs bouncing around in my head. Without spending more than a couple thousand dollars (USD) I'd like to use my PC (in other words, Mac only software is pretty much out of the question) to compose my own music.


So I'm looking for guidance, where should I start?


Basic parameters


(1) Since I'm trying to avoid as much hardware expense as posible, I'm going to need to stick with my PC. This means that Mac only solutions aren't going to work for me.


(2) I am willing to make hardware purchases, just not entire computer systems. So things like optimal sound cards, storage devices, hardware components related to inputs such as midi keyboards, and general upgrades to meet software specifications are something I'm willing to spend money on.


(3) I'm not looking for any one program to satisfy all my needs. I know I'll need strong multitracking support, high quality mixing/exporting, a rich library of midi sound/control (drum, instrumental/orchestral, guitar, electronic 'techno', etc) and after effects (?) for manuplating the sounds of tracks and instruments.


(4) Though my mixing experience is limitted to Dance eJay (from way back in the day) and ACID Music (3 if I recall correctly) I'm willing to put the time into learning more difficult software if it means a higher quallity product. So I'm not necissarily looking for novice software.


(5) Ultimately I want to produce compositions in the form of mp3 or any such other format that will allow me to distribute my songs in a readily playable form for the largest audience possible. I'm not, however, looking to invest in podcast software or anything that's necessarily specialized to that end. I'm happy to distribute with mp3 downloads and CD-R should I progress to that level.


(6) Essentially, I'm looking for options that will allow me to invest $2,000 USD into what I (perhaps optimistically) envision as a 80/20 software/hardware expenditure ratio, looking to get the best quallity and variety for my buck.


Now I realise that's a whole lot of help to ask from a community I've only just joined, so if you know any equally/better suited communities I could be posing my questions to, please let me know. I'm certainly looking for as many opinions as possible.


Thanks for your time.

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