Musical ideas can come from anywhere. A lyric, a chord progression, a beat, a melody line. How to capture and organize those ideas and turn them into a finished product?
Short answer: Evernote
The first challenge is to get that idea “recorded” somewhere. Here are a few places I record ideas:
-pen and paper
-Notes app for lyrics or other thoughts
-Voice memo app (iPhone) for melody lines
-GuitarToolkit app for chord progressions
-Band in a Box (Windows)
-text file (Windows)
-Multitrack DAW app (iPhone/iPad) for musical snippets
-various drum apps for beats
And then those ideas have to be developed and combined into a coherent whole in a particular production environment or DAW. Here are a few of the things I’ve used for this purpose:
-Propellerhead Reason (Windows)
-Cockos Reaper (Windows)
-Multitrack DAW (iPhone/iPad)
-Korg iDS-10 app (iPad)
-Meteor Multitrack Recorder (iPad)
As you can imagine, keeping all this organized is a challenge. My current method is to use the Evernote app (evernote.com) as my hub. This is available on iOS and the web so no matter where I am, I can get to it. I have one notebook called “unfinished songs” and one notebook called “finished songs”.
As of today, there are 81 entries in “unfinished” and 26 entries in “finished” (going back to 2012 when I started this system.) Focusing on the first number could be depressing – “Argh! There’s 81 songs I haven’t realized!” But I prefer to think of it as 81 things I can pick back up and run with at any time and pick back up where I left off.