I use Cakewalk by Bandlab - free – full featured, unlimited. PC only. I also have the Pro Tool Intro which is free but has a number of limitations (# tracks, FX etc) so i only use that for learning PT…
once i have done the composition in Hookpad, i’ll export the MIDI. then simply open a new blank Cakewalk project (or use my Cakewalk record custom template) and drag the MIDI file into the project. i’ll then consolidate instruments where needed - drums, bass, piano, etc and leave distinct tracks separate.
next up i’ll assign virtual instruments (Cakewalk has a number of them already, but you can download tons of them which provide lots of quality sounds - esp synths, etc. – i also have the free stuff for Kontakt player, Spitfire LABS, etc etc)
next - basic mixing with just the VI on the associated audio tracks (load each via with the “first output” checked and set the MIDI input to the import track). once i have a decent balance, i can use the powerful export function to create a stereo file, and i also use it to dump individual tracks.
i use a separate project file to import the audio tracks for mixing as the VI can consume a lot of CPU, and doing audio only mixing reduces the resources so i can use more plugins etc.
(like the VI there are a bunch of audio FX built into Cakewalk, and there are tons more of FX for free with some simple searching).
finally - another export to stereo.
so whatever free DAW you choose - RTM so you’re not “that guy” on the product forums
yeah Musescore (latest version) is much better for converting the MIDI to notation. sometimes i’ll import the MIDI into Musescore, do some additional work - combining instruments, fine tuning the score, before importing into CW.