Great ideas, catchy melodies, unforgettable hooks — they don’t always come when it’s most convenient, but that just means that creators should be prepared to document their ideas at any time. Here are a few ways to capture moments of inspiration when they strike.
Maybe a memorable beat comes to you, or an idea of how a harmony or melody should sound; being able to record yourself humming or singing an idea that can be played back later is so important. There are a number of apps that work in similar ways. If you have an iPhone, you have access to Voice Memos, which allows you to push a button and record easily. Evernote allows you to write a note or record audio, then syncs with your desktop so your content is easily accessible on either your home computer or your phone. SoundCloud allows you to save audio to your account, and Four Track lets you record on a digital four-track and features professional elements like faders and latency compensation.
There are many more apps to discover, so be sure to explore your smartphone’s store and try out several before deciding on the app for you. Once you’ve found that sweet spot, share it with your fellow creators!
Musical Instrument Apps
It goes without saying that musicians typically have a guitar or keyboard nearby, but if you don’t want to carry one everywhere you go, consider a guitar app like Pocket Guitar, a piano app like Piano by Gismart, or even a harmonica or synth app. They can be a fun way to experiment with sounds, but make sure you can also record your work through the app, as this isn’t always a built-in feature.
Pen and Paper
Tried and true, a notepad or notebook and a pen make it easy to scrawl lyrics or ideas anytime and anywhere. The catch is making sure you have one everywhere you might be without your phone. Put one right outside the shower (or inside it, if you have a waterproof pad), one next to the sink, another in the car, another next to the bed, and so on. Notepads are cheap and most effective if you sprinkle them everywhere (and always with a pen). Or grab a pocket-size notebook to carry in your pocket!
If you play guitar, look for guitar-specific interfaces like GuitarJack, which you can just plug into an iPhone or iPad to let you record your guitar playing, a singer, and other instruments live. Because Guitar Jack uses a dock connector, you no longer have to connect through a headset minijack and can record quality sound. There are several options for Android phone users as well; a quick Google or Amazon search will show quite a few to choose from.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
If you find yourself coming up with great ideas but forgetting them by the time you book a studio, it may be worth investing in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) so you have the basics of a home recording studio at your fingertips. PreSonus’s Studio One, Cakewalk by Bandlab, MixPad Audio File Mixer, or the free Apple Garage Band will let you record sounds, mix them, add and delete elements, and, most importantly, save your work.
To refine your sound, try any of Positive Grid’s multi-effect processors to capture tones and effects, download them to the built-in 8-track recorder, and then export via email or file sharing. There are countless DAWs worth exploring at many different price points, so it’s best to investigate, try some limited trials or free versions, and make sure you take the time mastering the tech that meets your needs.
Go On, Be Inspired
These methods of capturing your inspiration for new songs are just a starting point for what might be most effective for you. Take some time to figure out what helps your creative process in the best way possible and share those methods with other creators in your community. This gives you an opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded creators who you may even work with on one of those ideas. Just be sure to register your songs and their splits to ensure you’re not leaving any money on the table down the line once you’ve finished them and had them distributed. And if you’re stuck on what to write next, check out our writing prompts to get you unstuck.