Capture Your Song Ideas


From the inspiration you have been storing up from the last section. This section will teach you how to prepare for capturing ideas when inspirations strikes. In my experience song ideas are fleeting and need to be captured to remember. For me I can be watching a movie or listening to music and all of the sudden a song idea or feeling pops into my head.

I will typically grab my acoustic guitar and start strumming the feeling of the idea. Then I will start to hum or add in “filler” lyrics to get a vocal cadence going. Then I need to record the idea of my playing guitar and/or singing immediately. I have had times where I will have such a great sounding idea for a song going and then say to myself, “I will record that tomorrow” and wake up the next day and have ZERO idea of what the idea was.

In the next section I will show you what I do to be prepared to capture song ideas.

When inspired hit record and capture idea (creative) quickly get to recording to stay in creative mode.

(technical) Get ideas organized into your DAW, Logic Template, different day than song writing.

(Note you can start here, in your DAW ready for song-writing if you do not have an idea already captured. The key is to stay in the correct state of mind or mode in each of these distinct steps of the process).

Record Ideas As They Occur (Creative)

I have used four tracks, voice machines, Logic Pro, writing down chords and lyrics, diaphones with cassette tapes in the past to capture ideas. All with varying success. In the end, what I highly recommend is using your smart phone to record ideas through the mic on the phone.

I use the Voice Memo App (on iPhone)

It is very important to keep this step 99% in Creative mode. The only Technical aspect is to quickly open the Voice Memo app and hit record. I currently have around 100 songs ideas from the last few years and intend to turn them into full songs using this same process I am showing you now.

My process is the following:

  1. Have my iPhone ready for when inspiration strikes. This is easy since my iPhone is usually close to my side.
  2. I grab my guitar and play the mood of my inspiration and add in lyrics as placeholders.
  3. I then save the recording, sometimes with a working title or a name that gives me a reminder of the subject or mood.

Find Reference Tracks (Technical)

Reference Track – This track will be used for you to listen to as a baseline template for how you want your song to sound. This will most likely be different for every song you create since songs change mood, tempo, instrumentation and song structure.

We will use the same method that we used for “Finding Your Inspiration”. We will go to Apple Music to listen to songs that we want to use as our reference for our song idea, purchase it and drag it into the track right under our song idea track, which I will call our scratch track.

  • Find the song you wish to use as your reference track in Apple Music, click the three dot ellipsis to the right of the song, then click Show in iTines Store.

  • To purchase the song, find the song and click on the price button $1.29:

Prepare Your Song Ideas in Your DAW (Technical)

For me this is typically a different day than from when I capture the song idea, but this should happen as soon as you can after having an idea captured. This is a Technical mode task and should not be done when capturing the idea, which is because you are in Creative mode then.

My process is the following:

  • Open my MacBook
  • Open the Voice Memo App
  • Open Logic Pro, File -> New from Template, My Templates, choose your Template.
  • Then drag n’ drop the music file from the Voice Memo App into Track 1 of Logic Pro. (Exactly like you did in the “Finding Your Inspiration” step).

I now go to File -> Save As and save the song to a working title that I like and save it to a folder named CAPTURE. This is where I initially put all my Captured Song Ideas that are imported into Logic Pro.

Since the tempo is set to Adapt Tempo, the tempo automatically changed from 120 bpm to 74.6535 bpm. This is what Logic Pro has calculated for the tempo. You will see later this is an important part of the process and will playback the Drum kit at that tempo to give you the beginning of a tempo to work from.

Once the audio file is in the Scratch Idea track, then it is time to trim any beginning silence. When you hit play you will hear the SoCal Drum Kit playback at the new tempo.

Import Reference Track – Drag ‘n Drop them into Logic Pro into Track 2

This is the song you purchased in a previous step of this process. This will be referred to while writing and producing your new song.

So now you should have your captured song idea from Voice Memos in track 1, which I called Scratch Idea below. And you should have the reference track that you purchased in track 2, which I called REFERENCE below:

Add more tracks in Logic Pro (typically audio and software instruments) to match the song you want to create.

Ex. Add in one Software Track for piano, then three Audio tracks for guitar, bass and vocals.

Finding Song Tempo (Technical)

This is a very important Technical step. DO NOT skip this even if you think you do not want to work on a grid or with a metronome. Believe me you need this!

This can be admiringly frustrating and this is exactly why the is a TECHNICAL mode task and NOT Creative. Once you realize this you will instantly learn to relax and solve problems and not worry about performing right now. These Technical tasks should be done on different days from Creative days. Once Technical work is done it lays the path for staying in pure Creative mode!

  • Click on Transport window and make sure to choose Adapt Tempo
  • Drag the Voice Memo song idea onto Track 1 in Logic Pro
  • Logic Pro will calculate the tempo throughout the song. Now towards the bottom right of the screen, choose Constant and Logic Pro will change the Variable tempo to a constant tempo.

Now you will see an average Constant tempo of 104.8 in this example. You can double click in the transport window and type a new tempo, but this is a start.

You will also see in my SoundCaptor Studio Template I use track 3 with a SoCal drum kit to create what is called a Simple and Loud non complex drum beat, which will now play at the tempo and be used as a basic drum track. I like this better than a click track since it makes me feel more creative as I will rerecord the guitar part with this drum track at the correct tempo.

Re-Record The Scratch Track (Creative)

In this case this is a guitar part. So I engage Track 14 named Guitar in my template. I will solo this track and track 3 the SoCal drum “click track”. So I will be playing the guitar part until I get it right.

I also sometimes choose to engage record on track 13 Main Vox to also capture scratch vocals as I play since I like to come up with ideas as I record.

By the end of this recording you will have the very beginnings of your new original song. Guitar and possibly a scratch vocal track recorded.


So now you should have a method to capture your song ideas and get beginning of your songs started inside your DAW. In the next step I will teach you The Art of Songwriting and this will help build out the song idea that you have now started.

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