Titling processes

Haven’t seen this thoroughly hashed out anywhere here.

What’s your process for assigning names/titles to your songs/works/videos/albums?

I keep an iCloud-synced Notes doc with interesting phrases I come across, but I’m also a fan of opening up a random book from my shelf and digging around for phrases. Similarly, I’ve had interesting results from assigning a track name from a line in a short poem, where the entire tracklisting becomes the poem. As you can tell, my methods tend more towards external influence than an internal creative process.

Curious how others approach this (lesser?) part of composition.

A thread on graphic design (set design/videography, for the YouTube and Vimeo folks) would be equally interesting.


I’m sure I have seen this covered somewhere here before

Oddly you do almost exactly what I do! Poetry books tend to be a very good source - I’m currently mining a particular Allen Fisher poem for a series of tracks…


Same thing here, got a list of song names, list of dog names etc

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I also use a list. It’s got some ridiculous stuff on it – a lot of it pulled from posts at aiweirdness.com – which I won’t necessarily use directly, but something about the sound or shape of the words often inspires a better title.

(I did use the wackier neural network stuff directly when I was cranking material out experimentally and super quickly, so I’ve got some things named “FLlp0oo2dr ST4rr”, “Don’t The Mountain”, “Borb!”, “Snox Boops” etc. :grinning:)

I rely on the list for working titles about half the time (the rest of the time, a title suggests itself while I’m working on the thing). And then about 1/4 of the time, I replace the working title before releasing it.

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I love this, and it absolutely holds true for me as well. It’s not always the found phrases that I find interesting, but something tangential to them which I then re-interpret it a bit.

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I do my best to *not overthink it – typically just a gut-reaction nickname related to how it makes me feel or how I felt when I was recording it. I do have a few things saved as ideas that sometimes resonate with the above, but I am hyper conscious to not force an unfitting name on something just because it fits with some other context.

Edit — added important *not

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As a video artist working with galleries and festivals, I usually use my titles to reinforce, or even explicitly state, the themes of the work. “Wash Away The Effluvia of the Capitalocene,” “How to Heal With Color,” etc. Maybe a bit too on the nose, sometimes.

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I tend to try and harvest names from whatever is rattling around in my head at the time, and most of the names I use for art pieces tend to be short two word phrases. Repeating a phrase or word dozens of times will often yield new associations between disparate ideas.

Sometimes a wikipedia dive is a worthwhile endeavor to pick new phrases.
I’ve been playing with this portmanteau / rhyme generator and feeding things into text/speech.

Another fun generative text app is to use the (free!) Microsoft Seeing AI iOS app to capture handwriting from my notebooks and hear how it mangles the interpretation. There have been many magical moments with this app. Microsoft built it for the visually impaired. I can’t believe it is free.
As a bonus, it also has a light theremin built in that is a blast to feed into effects - the more light it sees, the higher the pitch generated.



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I’m there, too - one album named because it seemed like a lot of work (The Means Of Production), and one with songs named during a momentary fascination with the Czech Republic.

When I used to do tons of presets for plug-ins, it was too hard to depend on the brain rattle, so I would purposely have a movie or video series running during preset creation/naming. Hence, I have one plug-in where all the names are superheroes, another where it is hidden references to the Godfather trilogy, and another focused on latin medical terms. Some of those didn’t make it to release (as you can imagine…).


I used to think I didn’t have a process for naming tracks… but I’ve come to realise I have a very deliberate system…:

When naming the first sketch of a new project I found I could easily be stuck on trying to find a name for half an hour or more… which led to me not saving my sketches and losing work. Furthermore the name of the sketches could easily influence what I wanted to do with it when I later opened it after having forgotten it.

So I’ve started naming all my sketches after the date when I first save them to disk. Then I refrain from thinking about the name until I feel it is a complete track and ready for release.
Finding the final name is a process that differs from track to track. It is sometimes easy and sometimes I end up releasing singles with names like “untitled”…

And I still don’t know what to do for albums and EPs…


That was part of why I started a list – indecision about a filename that delayed saving my work seemed a really cruddy reason for losing it :sweat:

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a title to prime the audience. Ever since the “words in music” thread started here, I’ve been half considering a project where I get unmistakably political with titles, express my frustrations and fears and hopes in the music but still otherwise stay true to the way I tend to work creatively.


Generally i’ll have a basic theme in mind that feels semi-related to what I think the album is kind of about - like ‘geometry’ or ‘sci fi space travel’ or ‘time’ and I go looking for a bunch of words across the internet related to these themes. I painstakingly whittle down the words to 1 per track and assign them, name the tracks, declare to everyone that is their names.
After living with them for a week or so i’ll decide that they’re all waaaay to pretentious and scrap all except 1 or 2 and replace with words that carry more emotional weight about how the music makes me feel and motivated me to make it in the first place. Those words end up being very relevant to the loose theme I tried to use initially, though in a far less explicit way, and the one or two names that are explicitly related to ‘geometry’ or ‘space travel’ etc help tie the meanings of the other ones together.


The thesaurus is invaluable for me when titling. I usually come up with some mundane word that evokes the feeling that I get from a piece. I then put that in a thesaurus and look for related words, hopefully ones that have multiple meanings. I generally prefer single word titles.


I often just bang out a filename as good as randomly when I need to save something, and then sit with it and see whether it will also work as the title. The more I work with field recordings the more I find those sources feature in the titles. That can work really well when the sounds are really obscured and when the sounds are really obvious, imo.

I do also have more than one list of possible titles, but I don’t think I’ll ever actually call something Snoop Dogg, But If He Were Raised By Bears. :smiley:


I’ve got a collection of phrases from spam email and blog comments.
‘Don’t live with the pain, dodecahedron’ is one of my favourites, as is ‘A Terrible Fact Concerning Your Lovely Japan Fantasy’





Whatever keeps me busy in my head during the time I’m working on a track. While I using the grid for the first time properly in a track AND while trying to incorporate my many Ego-States into one I actually named the track Mono-me :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

These are great! Kind of reminds me of the titles from The Locust’s ‘Plague Soundscapes’

‘Recyclable Body Fluids in Human Form’#
‘Listen, the Mighty Ear Is Here’
‘Pulling the Christmas Pig by the Wrong Pair of Ears’