being able to learn deeply about the tools i use to make art is very important to me, so i use only free software audio programs. it took me quite a while to get to a system that is smooth to use with that restriction, but now that i've found (what i think are) the best tools at the moment, i've been able to work without too much struggling.
i work almost entirely within ardour. it takes a bit to get acquainted with, but working with it makes setting up new projects much faster.
inside, i use a variety of instruments as LV2 plugins. FluidSynth serves as a base, usually playing a free acoustic piano from FreePats. i've found post-processing a simple piano sound leads to plenty of variety, and i often record processed piano to feed into samplv1, a sampler with full LV2 support. this has a dual purpose of creating a more consistent sound and reducing the load of effects on my weak CPU. i use drumv1 for percussive sounds which i record from a variety of sources.
sometimes i use Pure Data to process and create sounds. i haven't been able to get it to work well with JACK's MIDI system, so I only use it to process sounds without precise timing or to create tracks to sample indirectly.
i'm in the early stages of developing a MIDI livecoding program called
ctrlive. it is based on Scheme and uses Rust for interfacing with MIDI itself. i don't expect to be publishing it any time soon, but it's already becoming useful for sequencing sounds and finding new ideas.
i also use Little Sound DJ for both composition and sampling.
the only project here right now is my LSDJ tuner.