How do you get your ideas down quickly?

I often come up with ideas for melodies and rhythms throughout the day. When I get in front of the digitakt they vanish in menus and finding samples.

How do you get your ideas down before they vanish? I was thinking of humming them into my phone but, as silly as this sounds, I’m so scared of singing I can’t even sing to myself.

Maybe I should work on that.

Maybe I should carry a small piano with recording capability with me everywhere. OP-1… or something similar but cheaper.

What are your methods?


I sing it into my phone and recreate it later.


Twenty characters of me too (phone)


I’ll often get ideas that bounce around my head for a couple of days. Sometimes I’ll record a sketch using my voice on the phone, sometimes I’ll write a few lines…

99% of the time the actual idea doesn’t work out as expected. However, the creative process I have kick started usually leads to ‘something’. Often it’s a springboard to something completely different, but still interesting


If you’re happier saving ideas via keyboard, and presuming you have a smartphone, there are myriad possibilities for app-based pianos and recording therefrom. Perhaps easier than carried around a separate device.


When I have a specific melody in mind (which happens rarely, tbh), I try to get it down first without caring about the sound (or samples in your case). Any melodic sound works in that moment, because if I listen to a lot of other things before getting the melody out of my head, the idea gets lost just as in your case. In Ableton I would use a piano first to write the melody and then synthesize the sound I have in mind after.

For a while, I would also sometimes take notes of melodies in a kind of simplified notation I made up. It was mostly to illustrate rhythms and relations of tones to each other, and sometimes, that alone helped me to get the melody back into my head.

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Voice Memos app on my phone. Fun to go back and listen after a couple of years to all the great ideas you had and forgot! :slight_smile:

Hi really like the idea of a tiny phone sized device that is just a tiny push button keyboard, a record button, a play button, scroll up/scroll down buttons and a headphone output. Recording is unquantised but limited to maybe 30 seconds, and record quality is chiptune level. Maybe a tiny tiny screen to indictate which recording is currently selected. I get that there are phone apps that could definitely do this but I just love the idea of some dedicated hardware you can pick up and immediately get an idea down onto.
Thinking about it, does one of the pocket operators roughly fit this description?

I write it down, note book, brief note on the concept , the feel, an odd phrase. develop a language to describe what you mean to yourself. I never find melodic ideas worth saving- esp in a sung way -as voice is monophonic anyway.Some of those chord bot apps are useful on a phone sometimes- i mean they sound terrible but are good for sketching up chord sequences. Sure there must be some free melodic synth apps you could sketch up on quickly.dont worry about the sound too much.
It sounds like you want to record sung lines though so my approach isnt much help I guess.Im more of a verbal / concept type thinker. My ideas usually start as titles. One good trick is to convert rhythmns into short nonsense sentances. I love doing that.
I give each ideas a new page and will add to them on subsequent flick throughs.
I rarely task myself with recreting anything faithfully from the original idea but i enjoy conceptualising stuff while im on the tube or somewhere.Having a ntebook full of ideas is good for generating more ideas.

Like lots of people I am haunted by those great feeling ideas i have just before going asleep that i never wrote down. They were probably not that great but they just might have been.

Even when I’m at my desk with equipment, sometimes even opening a DAW for me is enough to lose an idea. So i’ve gotten into the habit of using Audacity as a notepad of musical ideas. It’s simple and effective for this purpose.

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TBH that’s what I’m using instagram for. I just jam and share whatever sounds ok. I almost always describe how I made the sound in the caption because otherwise I’d forget. That process is like building muscle memory for me. When I come to make something “longer” I hope I have a lot of quick ways to create the sounds I like.

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