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Write it down vs. I'll remember it if it's worth it

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  • Write it down vs. I'll remember it if it's worth it

    This came up in another thread, and it's interesting to me, so I thought I'd start a new thread, rather than hijack his.

    Do you bring a notepad with you/scribble on napkins/write lyrics on your hand?

    Or do you think, "If I remember it, it's good. If I forget it, it wasn't worth it."

    I'm firmly in the first camp. The central idea/chorus/lyrical hook I can usually remember, but I have lost so many perfect/quirky/complex wordings by not writing them down immediately.

    What do you think?
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  • #2
    i usually don't carry writing utensils around with me just in case, but if i'm around paper/napkins/whatever and i have an idea for something I'll write it down and then later add it to my notebook full of songs in progress.

    i always try to do the remember it thing, but 9/10 times i dont remember it the same. (which is why i try to a crappy recorded demo of it as soon as possible as well)
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    • #3
      I always, always. always have a pen and paper with me. And of course I always write down my ideas. That way I can just let it flow and not worry about remembering it.
      The draw back is too many ideas. Too many partially finished songs. A couple of times a year I have to sort through the small mountain of unfinished stuff and decide if any of it is worth keeping. But I'd rather have too many things on the burner than only be working on a few. That's boring to me.
      I think, from interviews I've read, that most of the writers I like are note takers.

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      • #4
        I'm in the "I'll remember it if it's worth it camp." Sometimes I'll try to approximate the lines that were in my head earlier, but then I think, "Is that really the line I was thinking of? I was sure it was something a lot better," so I'm sure I'm losing stuff using this method.
        I used to carry a notebook, but it mostly resulted in a bunch of disjointed ideas that I didn't use.
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        • #5
          "We couldn't remember the greatest song in the world, no...this is just a tribute"

          I am a complete moron. If I don't write it down, it's gone - end of story. I record a lot of ideas, and many of them I don't listen to again until much later down the road. Many times I've had an "I wrote this?" reaction and couldn't remember the chords...so not only do I write down or record my ideas, I usually have to do both.
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          • #6
            With lyrics, I always try to write stuff down. I have a notebook I carry around with me during school. Summertime I don't use it cause I just sit on my ass in front of the comp most of the time anyways, but definetely in the first camp when it comes to lyrics.

            However, any music I come up with I just remember. I keep all my music in my head, partially cause it's a pain in the ass to write it down, even in tabs, and I'm just so used to memorizing things as a guitarist.
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            • #7
              I wish I had carried around pen and paper, but I don't. I should, though. I lose so many things. I mean, I'll write them down on a napkin/my hand/whatever if I can, sometimes, one in awhile, but not usually. Partially because I don't like carrying a lot of stuff around, partially because I forget/lose things all the time (physical objects... not ideas... though I lose ideas, too), partially because I don't like having to stop to write something down (I figure if something inspires me to come up with something great, then breaking that stream of thought/taking my attention away from whatever inspired me to write it down might be to my disadvantage).

              I also have this weird thing that sometimes if I write something down then nothing else comes to me, whereas if I leave it up in the air, the ideas will keep coming. So a lot of time when I'm writing a song, I won't put anything on paper until I have a complete or nearly complete song. Of course, I'm not sure this is the best approach since I forget half of them.

              *shrugs*
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              • #8
                Write it down. Pull over and write it down. Ignore the person you're talking with and write it down. Borrow a pen, a pencil, open a vein, write it down.

                Write it down.

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                • #9
                  Write it the **************** down...

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                  • #10
                    i'll remember if it's worth it vs. record/write it down....hmm..

                    for me, i know for a fact that if i don't get it recorded immediately, it's lost (even when i don't think it is). huh? let me explain. usually when i come up with a tune idea/hook concept/lyrical phrase, i record a clip of me singing/playing it IMMEDIATELY and move on to the next thing [feed the dog, take out the garbage, etc.]

                    if it's an idea that makes a good enough impression on me, i'll catch myself singing it around the house/work/etc. and even when i remember it well enough to sit down with the guitar/piano and immediately sing it again without referencing my original idea concept, a lot of the time, the original idea concept has been unconsciously altered a bit. it could be a shuffled 16th feel turned into a straight, or a bent note in the vocal melody that was originally dead on, whatever the case may be. i've recorded songs without going back to the original idea and been so surprised at how much i like the original concept more than the recorded version i just dumped time and money on. the rawness of a fresh idea can and should be referenced to often in order to make its development all the more fruitful.



                    and recording the idea right away has another HUGE benefit. to put it one way: i don't really have the best judgement about what is good 100% of the time. it happens all the time with new music i hear. some new project by a favorite writer won't move me the same way a past one did, so i write it off a bit only to find myself loving it after a few more listens. (this happened to me with extroadinary machine by fiona apple - one of the most critically-acclaimed records to have been recorded in a long time) flip side: something i really dug on the first listen just has no staying power for me and i wind up hating it and finding it shallow. (maroon 5) lol

                    so, if it's an idea that didn't make such a good impression on me at first, it's still recorded and ready to be expounded on. i can honestly say that some of the tunes i'm most proud of were originally unimpressive to me when i first came up with them due to what mood i was in or whatever. if i had subscribed to the 'if it's worth remembering...' school of thought, they'd be gone.

                    i'd always record. old ideas not only bring up songs, but they help you relive alot of what made you record them in the first place; making you more in touch with the emotional side and, as a result, hopefully more effective
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                    • #11
                      oh.....and by the way....most cell phones have a voicememo feature. that **************** saves my life sometimes
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                      • #12
                        i have a very good memory. so.. itworks for to remember things if they're quirky..and just forget them if they're not worth it.

                        i don't have photographic memory or anything..but i've got a few techniques that help me remember things. word associations..image associations..rhymes.. stuff like that.
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                        • #13
                          Write it down, write it down, write it down. It costs nothing and while it may not seem "worth it" at first, you never know if you can use that line somewhere down the road in some other song.
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                          • #14
                            No contest. Write it down. The put it away. If you remember it, brilliant. If you forget you can come back to it and work on it later to make it better.
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                            • #15
                              I use the voice memo on my cell phone and I have a small cassette recorder that I leave on my nightstand by my bed and take with me on long drives.

                              All my best ideas happen when I least expect it and if I don't jot it down or hum it into a recorder... it's gone.

                              Just last night I woke up at 30 in the morning with a really cool melody.... so I sang it into my recorder real quick and went back to sleep.

                              I got up and went to work today and completely forgot about it until I came back home from work. I listened to it and it was STILL really cool so I started up some basic tracks and I'll be working on the tune for the next week or so...and when I'm done.. it's gonna be great!!
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