How Do You Save and Organize Ideas?

Andrew0568

Member
I'm terrible at sitting down and working on a full piece from start to finish. I have tons and tons of short phrases, chord progressions, loops, sound designs, musical ideas...but I never know the right way to save and organize them. Right now I have a bajillion random Logic sessions and sporadic Soundcloud uploads for listening in the car.

How do you title ideas? Where do you save them? How do you organize?
 

Living Fossil

Senior Member
If you have "tons and tons" of short phrases, chord progressions etc. maybe the best thing would be a hard cut. Pick five _good_ ideas, or less, and put the rest in a folder called "ideas", which you hide somewhere you don't have to bother with it.
Drowning in too many unfinished stuff is killing creativity and productivity on the long run.
And you never get any routine, which mainly comes from the process of finishing pieces.

Personally, i have a yearly project folder.
Inside of this, i have a folder called "ideas" and one called "tests". (the latter is e.g. for comparisons of different plugins etc). Sometimes, i create folders inside of project folders that contain project related ideas.
But it's important to keep a balance between unfinished ideas and stuff you actually bring to an end.
 

szczaw

New Member
I had similar problem. My solution was to write a phrase librarian and scanner. I have four main categories: mono phrases, poly phrases, chord progressions, tracks with vst instruments. Scaner transposes 1/2 tone every phrase and chord progression 11 times incrementally and categorizes according to scale and key, each phrase has tags, rating, basic stats that be used to limit selection. I can easily get to let say phrases that are in D minor and start or end with a given chord. It's all done with scripting inside of a daw I use.
 
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gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
I'm terrible at sitting down and working on a full piece from start to finish. I have tons and tons of short phrases, chord progressions, loops, sound designs, musical ideas...but I never know the right way to save and organize them. Right now I have a bajillion random Logic sessions and sporadic Soundcloud uploads for listening in the car.

How do you title ideas? Where do you save them? How do you organize?
I do "save as" and add a number and then go back and forth between ideas. once there is something more concrete ill change the name.

so have one folder of similar ideas like pulses and inside each project folder.
01dramapulse (some info)
02 drama pulse (loop)
03 drama pulse (chord)


even if each one has something specific they are all part of a pulse drama album or whatever.
 

jonnybutter

Senior Member
I bounce a quick mp3 with the main idea and name it the same as the Logic file. I try to be descriptive, but it can be hard at times! Anyway, with an audio file, you can just select it and hit the spacebar and hear what it is. Works for me
 

Hywel

Never knowingly underscored...
On my hard drive I keep individual Cubase projects in folders which are themselves stashed in yearly folders.
Along with this plan. I also use Cubase's Media Bay with a filter set to MIDI Files and Projects and utilise the name, comments, album, rating, etc, etc columns to further aid my aging memory.
When I have something tangible, I also export an MP3 and transfer to iTunes, keeping the same titles, comments and year labelling.
I have about 1000+ of these mp3s cluttering up my hard drive and yearly folders going back to 1995.
Oh, and I also have the original sheets of paper with my musical doodles on that I also keep alphabetically and in actual physical, filing boxes, labeled by year.
How OCD is that?
 

BassClef

Senior Member
Just a hobbyist here... my very simple little scheme...

Every little sketch I like (chord progression, melody, ostinato, instrument combination) is saved with the word "sketch" using the next available number. So it might be "72sketch". Then if I come back to that sketch and begin developing it into something bigger, I simply change the name to "72project". If I complete the project to a finished piece, I again change the name to "72opus" and at some point give it a name like "72opus Canon" but always keeping the number. This way every thing is chronological, so I see he next available number for a new sketch. And I can easily search for all sketches, projects or opus.
 

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
I have a folder where I save all my unfinished starts, etc. But over the years, I've come to the realization that I rarely ever revisit or develop these into full compositions. When faced with a project, I almost always prefer to start from scratch and create something new, fresh, and relevant to the project.

That's not to say that the process of dabbling around and coming up with unfinished ideas is unproductive. Quite the contrary. Not only is it enjoyable, but it provides an opportunity to flex my creativity in a non-pressure situation, and enables me to experiment with production techniques and explore libraries I've been ignoring. No effort goes to waste, even if I don't finish something, I usually learn something in the process that I can apply on a future project.

I've accepted that some musical ideas will simply never become fully fledged compositions, and that's perfectly okay. They still served a purpose while I was working on them.
 
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jcrosby

Senior Member
I also have a folder I use, mine's called "Unused Concepts". I used to be really bad about letting it just sit there. Now I go through it every month or two, solo and export any useful layers. If there are some really good percussion sections I'll pull them into Quicksampler, slice them, drag the Midi to Logic's Apple Loops browser so I essentially have a rex file for later use.. (I even do this with licensed project stems). For unused ostinatos or harmony I'll export the midi if it's good.

This folder fills up pretty fast these days as well. I've been mostly writing for trailer briefs the past year, some tracks don't make the cut, others may have been poor starts but have really good signatures or layers.

Necessity makes it easier to find a purpose for these... If something's totally useless I move it to an external archive that also has an Unused folder. (I'll go through this once or twice a year too to see if I missed something that was actually pretty decent.) The tracks that have enough meat on them to make them worth finishing get moved to folders I have for specific music libraries, in each are a "To Be Completed" folder... Ive actually wound up finishing and repurposing some of these tracks and placing them so you should really try and break the habit of just letting them sit there...

Also, someone else mentioned Scaler which is invaluable. If there's a really good one in the bunch I'll do the same, open scaler, capture the harmony and save it to folders I've created based on genre.
 
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pinki

Active Member
Great question btw
I use DP's extensive Clippings which in DP10 got a real boost with a new browser view. I also use this for notes:
Milanote
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
I did that for 10 years, barely finished ANYTHING. Always finish a track, if it's an idea worth putting the time in. Evaluating worth is another can of worms you need to figure out. We change so much in even a few months time. A track is a snapshot of your current skills at this moment in time. Keep moving forward...
 

bill5

Senior Member
Drowning in too many unfinished stuff is killing creativity and productivity on the long run.
And you never get any routine, which mainly comes from the process of finishing pieces.
Disagree entirely. That may be true for you but it all varies. I have many bits and pieces (more so lyrically than musically but both) and for me it's a treasure trove of things to dive into when I'm looking for ideas or things to add or help complete something. And far more often than not, when something pops in my head, it's a snippet, not a whole or even half a song. Often those pieces help me finish a song and sometimes I'll grab several of them, seeing a connection, and there's a song.

But it's important to keep a balance between unfinished ideas and stuff you actually bring to an end.
No argument there, but again what the balance is varies for everyone. Not all of us are commercial artists, after all. We don't "need" to finish anything in particular at any particular time. To me trying to force that, THAT is what dampens the creative process.

Back to the OP...it's really a simple case of organization. I have folders, mostly by genre, to keep things tidy.
 

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarini GT 5300 Strada
How do you title ideas? Where do you save them? How do you organize?
GREAT question.

Here's my dilemma: What about an idea that hits you when you aren't sitting at the studio desk? If you hear ANYTHING that pops a melody or chord change in your head, what medium do you use to retain that? That's the workflow I'm trying to establish. I suppose a voice memo or quickly dictating into a Note on my phone gets it saved, but then I work best if I can sit down one night and go through what I've collected and pick what's most usable and get it in Cubase. THAT part of getting things saved in Cubase is fine, I keep a Sandbox project for snippets and stuff. It's the middle collaboration/collection part. I guess that'd be whatever I stored on the iPhone, I suppose I just answered my own question. Digging out voice memos and notes and remembering what hit me at that moment is the part that doesn't work. I'd love a simple app with a keyboard to play in the idea and save it in cloud of choice (OneDrive for me). Then later I'd like to directly import those idea files right into Cubase or DAW of choice and start running with it. Anyone know of something like that? I develop software but not iOS or Android, otherwise I'd be hammering that out.

ANYWAY, how do you all store ideas when not in the studio? Or do you at all?

==============================================

UPDATE: @method1 to the rescue with the solution (on the next page somewhere): CUBASIS 3! I own it, I thought it was iPad only. Never even thought to check... perfect solution.
 
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