If you're looking to make SNES-like music, you might try a tracker-style DAW like OpenMPT (easily your best bet), Jeskola Buzz, MilkyTracker, or Psycle, all of which are free, or Renoise if you want to pay a little bit. Most trackers are inherently sample-based like the SNES, and were used to create video game music for computers at around the same time as the SNES was popular. The fact most of them are free doesn't hurt.
On the other hand, the interface isn't anything as intuitive as a piano roll. You input notes vertically like a list or spreadsheet. Volume and effects are entered as hexadecimal numbers. That would turn away many people, but since you said you were a programmer, for all I know I just made you more interested.
Either way here are a couple tutorials for extracting samples from .SPC files, which you can get from SNESMusic.org:
About the software in the tutorials: SPCTool works fine, if a little crash-prone, but OpenSPC won't even start on 64-bit Windows. Lastly, if you want to convert the samples into soundfonts, Viena is a good choice.
Edit: You might also want to check out C700, a VSTi that emulates the sound of the SNES.