Using technology for songwriting, saving melody ideas, etc. What do you use?

Triocd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
850
What are some examples of simple technology I can use to assist with songwriting?
Each time I sit down to practice I'll try and get a quick iphone recording of any licks, progressions, or melodies I come up with that I like. I also sometimes play new chord progressions through a looper pedal and try to build melodies and other things on top of the chords.

Does anyone do anything like this and if so what works for you? I end up just having a bunch of clips on my phone or loops on the pedal. I wish I could easily get them on my computer and save them as loops so I could continually listed to some of them to develop them more.

Anyone have any simple ideas?
 

vivaoaxaca

Member
Messages
288
I use a free recorder on my phone. It allows me to send the recordings via email, so if I needed to have those recordings on my computer I'd just email them to myself. I tend to only use it for short bits of melody which I either whistle or sing into the recorder so that my lazy brain doesn't forget them while it's busy doing other things. However, I'm with Motterpaul on this one. Writing with pencil and paper always helps me more than anything else. Once I get a melody past the point of inspiration and into the actual work of developing it into a song I'm sitting at a piano with a pencil and some staff paper.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
25,228
What are some examples of simple technology I can use to assist with songwriting?
Each time I sit down to practice I'll try and get a quick iphone recording of any licks, progressions, or melodies I come up with that I like. I also sometimes play new chord progressions through a looper pedal and try to build melodies and other things on top of the chords.

Does anyone do anything like this and if so what works for you? I end up just having a bunch of clips on my phone or loops on the pedal. I wish I could easily get them on my computer and save them as loops so I could continually listed to some of them to develop them more.

Anyone have any simple ideas?
Audacity (free)
Pro Tools
Logic
welcome to the future!
 

Papanate

Member
Messages
19,820
Anyone have any simple ideas?

Do you have an iPhone and a Mac?
If so use Airdrop to get files on to the
Mac. You could also setup your iPhone via
Bluetooth to the Man - using the onboard
Microphone to stream your ideas to the Mac.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
25,228
any audio memos on my phone I can email to myself ,or anyone, so there's no need to 'collect them on your phone'.
 

bluejazzoid

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,817
Emailing is the only limitation with what you're currently doing (at least in my opinion). I use a Zoom H4n... small, portable, great sound, and easy to transfer files to computer, etc.
 

gennation

Member
Messages
8,106
I use my phone almost daily to grab ideas on my own. I play it and talk through it for reference.

I picked up a zoom 2 audio/video handheld device for use when capturing band ideas. I bought this to use in an original "writing" band where we are setup to come up with ideas on the fly and talk through them. The zoom is phenomenal for capturing audio in a loud room. You can turn the video off too, so I'll keep the audio recording throughout the session and if there is anything anyone wants video reference of, I'll turn the video on just for that.

For things I NEED to play, like for gigs, I'll hand write everything out. Sometimes I'll enter it in GuitarPro too but no where near as much as just writing it out.

I also picked up a nice video camera that I'll use if I'm learning a "show" or gig. For example, currently I'm learning tunes for a Bowie tribute "show", I have learned the material, have it all hand written out, have revisited each tune fairly extensive to fix my charts where needed and now I'm ready to just play the material over and over. I'll record video of me rehearsing. It serves a couple of purposes, one...I can listen back and and be critical without my guitar in hand, two...I have it for future reference along with my charts...I know for sure I'll be doing more Bowie tunes but in might not be for years from now so instead of having to go back and do all the critical listening I can use the vids to coach my way through. This is kind of my standard when learning things...keeping plenty of references.

In the past I've used many different things for recording. For one, I ALWAYS kept a tape recorder on Record/Pause so I could sit down, unpause the recorder and play with no hassles. For my evolution of full on recordings I've used 4 and 8 track cassette decks, 2/4/8/16 track reel to reel, Silicon Graphic Indigo workstation for mixdowns from analog to digital format, full computer recording with Cool Edit Pro and Adobe Audition, 8/16-track digital recording decks, to many different analog and digital devices together.
 

gennation

Member
Messages
8,106
What are some examples of simple technology I can use to assist with songwriting?
Each time I sit down to practice I'll try and get a quick iphone recording of any licks, progressions, or melodies I come up with that I like. I also sometimes play new chord progressions through a looper pedal and try to build melodies and other things on top of the chords.

Does anyone do anything like this and if so what works for you? I end up just having a bunch of clips on my phone or loops on the pedal. I wish I could easily get them on my computer and save them as loops so I could continually listed to some of them to develop them more.

Anyone have any simple ideas?


I'm going to be honest with you, your limitation of moving them around is due to the apple product. I have mac, ipad, droid, and windows devices and the apple is horrible for managing what people call "files". On droid and windows the "file" is it's own entity, it's just ON the computer, and it's "portable". On Apple, the MAC Pro is more lenient, but for iPad and iPhone the "file" is more a subset of a specific app, so it lives IN the app and opposed to ON the computer, and is as portable as the app allows. On Apple it's only portable from app to app. While Apple has a lot of cool music apps and stuff, it's VERY limited for managing your music as a portable file.

My suggestion is one of those Zoom device, or just pick up and old droid or even a blackberry cheap and you can record video and audio and transfer it to computer via usb. The zoom 2 I bought I got off craigslist for about $30, it was a GREAT purchase as I use it a lot and (again) it's incredible for audio and the video is optional, but the vid is good, you just don't always need it. I move it's SD card from device to computer, etc...to move the files to computer and mange them.

But a zoom, droid, or blackberry will do the trick, and they are CHEAP used. You don't need service on the droid or blackberry for recording and transferring with usb.

I still use my blackberry camera for this day!
 

RLD

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,001
I'm old school...when I write songs I have a handheld digital recorder going and I record all my noodles.
After a writing session I'll go back over the recording and pick the ones that sound like they will work as a song.
Here is an mp3 of one idea snippet that morphs into the finished version.

 

ZeyerGTR

Member
Messages
4,245
+1 for pen and paper - especially for writing down lyric ideas on my way to work (I ride a bicycle, so it's safe to stop and write... I do not endorse writing and driving :)).
I also use my phone voice memo recorder, although the format it records on needs to be converted to be played on my computer... so I have a folder full of ideas I haven't listened to...
If I'm at home I record a lot of ideas in Logic - I've got a separate 'riffs' project I use to quickly get ideas down. It's set up with 4:4 drum loop and a couple of tracks of amp sims. I can load it up, adjust the tempo and record the idea in a few seconds.
 

YOGA64

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,089
It may be the dumbest idea ever, but if it is "memorable" you WILL remember it..................
 

tarbuckt

Member
Messages
155
I actually use Garageband on my iPhone. The main benefits being:
a) I usually hear melody lines on synth or something other than guitar at the minute.
b) The basic sounds approachable cover a range of bases, but all sound bad enough that I feel like I MUST re-record when I get to my actual recording gear.
c) I can't play Garageband instruments nearly as mindlessly as I can on guitar, so I can't get carried away. That normally leads to a stronger melody when I come up with it.

Harmony is the tricky one for me, especially when I'm trying to shoe-horn more "harmonically complex" chords and Garageband sometimes struggles with Maj7 chords ha... So I tend to bare bones it and just have a bass/synth bass with the melody on top of it, and sometimes one of the preprogrammed drummers. Then I just listen back to it, get the idea that I had back in my head, and go for it properly when I have guitar in hand.
 

brad347

Member
Messages
1,260
for composed music or songs where recording devices are not inherently part of the composition process--

I tend only to record/sketch COMPLETE ideas--and almost anything will do. I don't record fragments, almost as a matter of principle. This is for four reasons--

1. Imperfect short-term memory is an incredibly effective pruning/editing device. If an idea is really worth remembering, I will certainly be able to remember it for at least a short time. If I forget it within a day or two, it probably wasn't great in the first place.

2. It is for me healthy to have some motive to complete things right then and there, as opposed to deferring until later. Once I've completed a piece of music, I can then record it or write it down, and move on. If I like this idea and am scared to forget it, the time to finish it is NOW.

3. It's part of an ethos which has served me well, which is to assume that creativity and musical ideas are in infinite supply, which they are. I never ever get "writers block", and I think this is because I don't treat good ideas as rare or precious. If I forget one cool idea, there will be another one, probably better, that will come just as easily. Not being scared to forget an idea is an essential part of this attitude, and constantly recording tiny fragments with no context runs contrary to hat.

4. Without context, an initial idea is meaningless and must remain changeable. Anytime I commit something to paper or recording, I'm likely to feel more locked into it literally, and less likely to change it, at least on a subconscious level. I must avoid commitment at too early a stage, or I can get "stuck" and become unable to complete the idea. It's ALL up for debate until it's done.
 

cram

Member
Messages
14,237
guitar, apogee dongle thing, phone w/garage band.
This is where I save ideas I come up with while playing. I export them to a drive for use later.

It has been quite good for me to return and realize something I scoffed at w/first listen or in the moment was really quite good.
 

thecornman

Member
Messages
2,428
You have an Iphone so I suggest downloading the free Garageband app and picking up a simple Irig to plug your guitar into to use with it! Easy to use and it has everything you need to record complete demo's of your ideas. Also it is free so why not?
 




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