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The rise in power of music production software is nothing short of extraordinary; today's powerful Apple computers and Windows based PCs allow for huge track counts, flexible routing/bus options, vast quantities of dynamic control and even greater numbers of effects. Many packages include a selection of software synthesizers allowing you to start creating immediately.
If Windows is your preferred platform, look at Steinberg's Cubase range or Cakewalk's SONAR range; both are powerful systems with Cubase offering advanced levels of integration with external gear and SONAR efficiently leading the way into a 64bit, multi-core computing world.
For Apple OSX users, Cubase is also available with exactly the same features as its Windows release; Apple's own renowned Logic series is also a worthy contender for your hard disk.