Do you guys take notes while making music?

Hello fellow Elektronauts,

After having “hobby-produced” music in Ableton for some time, I’m really liking making music on
actual hardware (DN+DT), which I find way more satisfying.
I notice that even though I have pretty good organization of patterns, tracks and settings, I quite often get lost while trying to perform live for a recording.
My solution is a little notebook I keep on my songs, samples and patterns.

Anyone care to share their way of working ? Do you take notes ?

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It’s definitely a good practice to write about your work in general, whether it be pragmatic (writing down what patterns to chain, when to CTRL all certain things, when breakdowns are going to happen, etc) or to create new trajectories for yourself (running into techniques you don’t necessarily want to use right now, but would like to get back to later.)

That being said I’m really bad about it nowadays. Most of my writing comes in the form of having a “document” (hand written list) of what is on my sample chains.

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Back in the early ‘90s, I made an attempt at cleaning up my work/study area by moving my note taking from scraps of paper to a cheap bic pen and spiral notebook. As I moved into software engineering, I continued to keep paper notes: computers crash often, particularly when you are a teenager writing new software for them.

In 2021, I have a half dozen very nice fountain pens, twice as many cheap and bad fountain pens, a set of colorful gel pens and a large stack of premium notebooks.

New projects, whether software or music get a new notebook.

My current music process is a semi-journaling process. If I’m not at the synths and come up with an idea I’d like to play with, I put in a new dated entry and make some notes and maybe a diagram about my idea. When I’m at the synths, a notebook is great for recording exact values in the Elektrons, Virus, or anything else with numeric output.

You could probably design music projects in something like JIRA or Linear, but if I’m going to use those tools I’d better be making software engineering bucks. A good fountain pen and notebook is as pleasant to use as a well designed synth.

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I sadly don’t do this often enough, but! When I’ve done it, listening through a project that is well developed, and taking notes about what I should fix, and then fixing it is insanely productive. Sadly, I’m a silly unorganised fool, but the process is highly recommended

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The only thing that matters to me are the Notes used in a Track. So, when saving my Projects / Patterns, I usually write the Notes used in the file name.

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Yup. I write down chord progressions, lead lines, and the times where important things need to occur in the music. Very rarely gear-related notes, though. I come from the era of tape recording, so got into the habit of keeping track sheets.

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I rarely do :confused:

It’s something, where when I do take notes things work out so much better than if I don’t.

Yet for some reason it has never stuck with me. I actually want it to.

I think it comes down to that I always feel like I’m in a rush. Note taking feels like a time sucker (it’s not, and probably speeds things up in the long run). So I make the bad choice of just keeping track of everything in my head.

Near the end of high school I stopped doing homework and got through by remembering and getting really good test scores. I had a science teacher that was sure I was cheating (I wasn’t).

Don’t follow my lead, notes are awesome. I’d probably be better off in so many ways if I’d just take some damn notes. I’ll keep trying :joy:

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Yes, often just jot stuff down in a memo book (used the same type for years) anything from 303 or drum patterns, to patch notes/numbers etc.

But I also use post-it type notes too if I may not return to a session for a few days.

I use these:
image

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OMG that’s a blast from the past … reminds me of school days … used to come with a table of imperial/metric conversions on the back cover I think.

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I do but loose them :sweat_smile:

Field Notes.

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Only when finishing tracks. Specifically when listening to renders, without a DAW.

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The first time I ever performed live with just the Digitakt, I made notes that were almost like writing a chord chart. It helped a lot as I didn’t have to panic about missing a certain step that I thought would be cool. The next performance was with an OT/synth/bass guitar. Notes everywhere (I didn’t use the Arranger yet). Made a tape strip across the bottom of the OT similar to how you might do a mixing desk, but instead of track names, it was bpm info and general stuff like that. Really need to get better with the Arranger. Keeps things tidier, still allows for improvisation and you can write notes in there as well. Working on that now :slight_smile:

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Oh I forgot, I love sketching possible hardware setups. But that’s more drawing than writing.

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That’s a great time to do it. You definitely notice things in the car (or elsewhere)that you plan to change/fix later.

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Speaking of which, where can you get erasable, adhesive strips? Neutrik patchbays come with some excellent ones, but I ran out ages ago and masking tape is messy and non-re-writeable.

I keep a notebook for my Octatrack songs, with charts for parts, what’s on each pattern, chord progressions and key, and so on.

Having re-writeble sticky strips would be great for writing scenes direct into the device.

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Absolutely, and the fact that you can’t change anything in that moment makes you even more critical. I couldn’t possibly remember everything without writing it down. Or having written it down once.

These notes are usually quite boring, format:

mm:ss | instrument/track | ± x db

Or:
mm:ss | tedious loop, needs smth

Or:
Track name | mix sucks!

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I have this problem in my day job as well as my hobby.

I really envy people who can use gel pens effectively and know how to make good notes.

I’ve tried physical books; physical books with home-made notations; cheap notebooks and spendy notebooks; notebooks of different sizes; mind mapping apps, plain text apps; To-Do lists; to-do apps; piles of scrap paper tied with string (pile-o-fax); an actual branded File-o-fax; EverNote; OneNote. All of them have been “ok”, none have been “great” nor stuck as “my” method.

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Never. I hate taking notes of anything.
I try to keep it all in my brain. And fail :upside_down_face:

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I’ve tried a lot of different things too. I’ll do it for a little while and then it just disappears in a few days.

In few weeks/months something will make me try again. A few days and it just disappears again.

Rinse, repeat, my whole life.