Never forget a song idea again
Never forget a brilliant song idea again. With these methods and tools you can record your lyrics and melodies. If you also store them in a structured way, you can also access them quickly and never forget a song idea again.
The problem with forgetting a song idea
Yesterday I had the idea in my head before I fell asleep, in the subway I could mentally sing the melody several times and during the last phone call with a friend I came up with the brilliant text idea – but what was it all again?
In most cases, such glorious ideas do not come back. So capture them immediately! What methods and tools can you use for this?
There were times with me when I just “jammed” for myself on the guitar for up to two hours, and had come up with many ideas and approaches. However, all of them were not so exciting for me at the time and so I didn’t write anything down or record anything. A big mistake!
Because a maybe “not so great idea” can grow mightily in another moment and develop into one of the best own songs.
When I reached that conclusion, I must have already lost a lot of good ideas and approaches, which probably never came back. So it was time to change this state. In the meantime I have a pool of about 80(+) song ideas, some of which consist of only one chord progression or one melody/hook line. In addition, there are at least as many lyrics with a few lines or complete lyrics, which are still missing a melody. Every now and then I fall back on them in my own songwriting or continue with an idea. And of course, new approaches are always added there as well. Here are a few methods:
Record the song idea
We have the technical capabilities, so take advantage of them!
The quick uncomplicated hold
Your smartphone (might be an iPhone or Samsung or…) surely has a recording or memo app. Here you can make instant recordings, name and save them. You can record lyrics, sing melodies, sit down at a piano or pick up a guitar and instantly capture the musical idea.
The more complex demo recording
If your idea is already more than just an approach, you can of course start a demo recording right away. For this, however, your recording setup should be ready immediately. If you have to set up and wire everything first, then the idea is either already gone or you don’t have the time to turn everything on and record at that moment. So it makes sense to have a way to capture a rudimentary recording at short notice in any case.
In both cases, however, it is very important that you listen to them from time to time and also store them in a folder on your smartphone or computer so that you always have an overview.
Write down the song idea
The notepad or a book
A notepad/book made of good old paper: I had exactly such a notepad/book with me for years. My “red book” in which everything, but really everything was noted. From lyrics, to themes, stories, to chord progressions and notes. This book was always with me 90% of the time and also slept next to me, so to speak. But at some stage you get to a point where you lose the overview and the search in it takes longer than thinking up something new.
A note app
A lot of things are easier with an app. The phone is usually with you anyway, you can structure and sort everything. Search functions help you to find certain things faster and it is also much more readable than a scribble shortly after getting up. In addition, there is the synchronization with other devices, such as the music computer. I’ve been using the notes app on my iPhone for a long time, because Apple’s iCloud synchronization is very convenient for me.
A note app for chords
In the meantime, I have also purchased an iPad including the Apple Pen and am thrilled with the GoodNotes app, for which there is also an iOS and macOS version and also synchronizes via iCloud. I use this to quickly write down chord ideas or melodies.
TIP: Create your own pool of song ideas
Build your own pool of ideas – but keep the overview
- Many ideas are only useful if you can find them quickly when you need them.
- Prioritize if necessary with a note: TOP, Okay, Less good – but never delete an idea!
- Build a structure and stick to it consequently
The structure for a pool of song ideas
If you are constantly developing good ideas to build up a pool, then you need a structure to find these ideas again in a targeted manner.
Example for your song lyrics
With the note app from Apple or also the GoodNotes app, folders/subjects can be created. There you can make distinctions like e.g.
- By language: helpful if you write in different languages.
- By individual lines or phrases: You have a great line, an idea for a chorus. If you miss this in another song or get stuck there, you can fall back on this
- Theme ideas: This is what you’ve always wanted to write about. A story, an experience, a feeling or situation. If you don’t know what to write about, look at this list and pick a topic that fits your current feeling.
- After more complex approaches: Sometimes a lyric just bubbles up out of you – this is the place to record everything song by song.
What I really like is the synchronization via Apple iCloud, as all notes are immediately accessible on my Mac as well and I can immediately use it there. There’s also the search function within the app. I used to have all my ideas in Word or Pages documents. The overview and search within the notes app for ideas are just better to my taste. Only when a text takes on a certain form do I transfer it to a Word or Pages document and delete the ideas or approaches used in each case from the notes app.
Example audio recording
I have created several folders as “stations” for a song development and a specific name identifier to keep track.
- Approach_Idea (Here are all approaches and ideas. These can already be sessions from a DAW or just recordings from my memo app. Each idea gets a working title (WT) and a number as well as a hint ID: WT-047-ROCK-funky_hook
With this identifier, I have a sequential number, the genre, and an indication of what this idea or approach is about.
- FOLDER Demo: In demo status, the identifier may change when the song content already becomes more concrete. Then the demo already gets a name: AWT-047-Come_together. Often it becomes this title then also at the end.
- FOLDER In-Work: From here on the rudimentary framework is set and it goes into the final recording stage. Then the title runs with me only under its song name “Come_together” and the WT-047 appears only in my database/song list.
- FOLDER Edit_Mixing: Here are all the titles that still have to be edited and mixed
- FOLDER Mastering: The final mastering is still to be done.
- FOLDER Archive: All DAW sessions with the original demos end up in this folder.
- FOLDER Out: This is where all the tracks that just didn’t pan out end up. Within 2 years I look in here again and every now and then I find something that I can now process after all. So – never delete an idea, even if it seems trivial.
Conclusion to never forget a song idea again
- To capture an idea, you don’t have to start the DAW right away, it’s enough to have a quick and rudimentary recording function at hand.
Even humming a melody can be useful as inspiration later on.
- Write down every text idea you have, even if it’s just a line, a feeling or a topic you’ve always wanted to tackle.
- Keep your idea structured so that you can access it without having to search for it.
- Don’t delete an idea or an elaborated approach – at some point you might go back to that very idea.
- Even after using the idea, keep a structure for the approaches until the song is complete.
Feedback & Questions
How do you structure your ideas and approaches?
Do you have any other proven tips for quickly capturing ideas and making them accessible?
You have countless ideas and approaches and don’t know how to organize them in a meaningful way? Just get in touch with me. I will be happy to support you in finding a targeted approach to a solution
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