• Bob Hanna

Don't forget that Idea, now!


Inspiration comes and goes. You never know when it's gonna hit, or maybe you do - in the shower, in the car, first thing in the morning, late at night, or my favorite - when you are just about asleep but still slightly conscious and you are having some amazing thoughts, and in that moment, you swear that there's no way you could ever forget this... but you do. Every time. Unless you log it.

I know people who use all sorts of methods to log their ideas - hand held tape recorders, phones, lap tops, musical notation, note pads etc.

As depicted in this video, my logging tool of choice is a video camera. Particularly one that can be turned on and be recording within 5 seconds of picking it up. I started using Video recorders over the years in lieu of just sound recorders, because I find that it helps me to remember more precisely what actually inspired me about what was happening in the moment. Aside from being able see what I was playing or how I was playing it, visual cues like where I was sitting, or even what I was wearing (as silly as it sounds), help me to remember the head space that I was in. For example, from this video, I can tell you that the idea had almost nothing to do with the particular rhythm that I was playing, Now if all I had was the audio recording, I know from experience, at least for me, that when listening back, I would have taken it at face value (more or less), and maybe have even discarded it because "what the hell was I doing? what a sloppy mess!" But, because of the visual cues, I can tell you exactly what inspired me, and I can even remember for the most part, the series of thoughts that led me to recording this currently questionable-at-best thumb drum hackery. Let me explain.

So, I was in between sessions that day. I had about 10 minutes or so before my next session was to start. And as usual, instead of going to the bathroom, I picked up an instrument and began tapping away. This time it was my newly acquired thumb drum. As opposed to playing it the traditional way (by pressing down the keys with my thumbs), for whatever reason I was tapping rhythms out on the outer shell. The thing that struck me was the sympathetic ringing from the keys as I was tapping - my thought was that it might make for an interesting start to a composition to use those harmonic over-tones as the ground work and create melodic & harmonic material around such a rhythm. Probably the biggest tip off from the video is that I remember how awkward I felt - trying to hold the drum as close to the camera as I could (while still managing being able to play) so that the camera would hear the overtones. So just seeing myself holding the drum up there, it brought back all of those memories. No video - no remembering the original source of inspiration, which is what i'm always looking for when I log my ideas. Now that's just me. I met one guy who said he wakes up from sleep every night with his ideas, and so he keeps a note pad on the night stand right next to him. Aside from writing songs, he's patented several very impressive inventions, so he's obviously got his system down. I also know people that swear they "just remember". Everyone is different and remembers in different ways and is looking for different things out of their ideas.

I'm often surprised by the amount of people that I encounter that still utilize no method of logging. (In 2016, are you kidding me?!?!?! lol) They are frustrated by it, and it's always the same old story - "I came up with some good ideas the other night while I was sitting around with my guitar, and then I forgot them." Even entire bands - "we have these really amazing jams, but then the next time we get together, no one remembers what we did." ... Here's the point - I honestly don't believe that the revered creators that came before us somehow had this seemingly assumed gift of "always being inspired", or having "perfect memories". Rather, they found a method of logging ideas that worked for them, Then they took the time to go back through to separate the wheat from the chaff, edit and improve, and ultimately execute & complete.

So, how do You log ideas?

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