Keeping Tabs on Musical Ideas

by | Apr 2, 2021

I try to make a point of starting every day with making my bed, meditating, making a coffee and then committing to composing a new musical idea so that by 9AM I already have accomplished three things (four, if you count the coffee).


The ongoing challenge is to keep track of all the ideas that could be considered for new tracks for the next recording projects. So my process is this:

  1. Within my music hard drive I create a folder for the upcoming month
  2. I commit to spending at least one hour at start of day to come up with a musical something
  3. I mix the idea down (usually a melody supported by chords, often a bass, sometimes a drum groove) and save it to an MP3 (320kps)
  4. I’ll name the music file with date and a working title – YrMoDay Name (example: 210402 Hopeful) that is saved into that month’s folder


At the end of the month I import all the recorded MP3’s into my Summary work file (the blog image above shows the current visual) and listen to each new file and rank them in terms of the quality of the idea.

Having had a bit of time between the date of creation and the time of review, I can be pretty severe in critiquing my own work.

Some ideas don’t get to stay in the Summary file, however I don’t delete them from my hard drive, because I feel I need to still honor the creative process. Generally speaking, I’m pretty good in minimizing the material objects in my life (furniture, clothes etc). When it comes to stuff I have created, I’m an electronic packrat.

Rating the output

The most promising musical ideas are sorted by type – ambient, piano-based, strings/orchestral, uptempo, midtempo etc and whether they might fit into an album project. Then, within their genre, they are compared with previously reviewed ideas from past months and then ranked again, with the stronger ideas dragged to the beginning (left side) of the Summary project file.

Planning Work

Once I’ve got a group of ideas that I think hang together musically as an album project, I list them in a spreadsheet and weigh them in terms of:

  • composition (the melodies, supporting chords and overall structure)
  • arrangement (the choice of instruments)
  • mix (the balance of all the instruments relative to one another)
  • mastering (final production for public release)

Each category is assigned 25 points – whether the state of composition is 10/25 or 15/25 is subjective. A score of 25 means that area of work is complete, a song with a score of 100 is ready for public release.  Assigning numeric weights allows me to see what work is still required to push a track to the finish line.

Here’s what the current album project “Labyrinth” looks like:

Not 2 Not 1 was released on April 1st – here’s the page link to Spotify or AppleMusic

Blossoms will be out in two weeks, followed by Awake and Turning Corners. 

To be first to hear the new tracks as released, Follow me on Spotify

Thanks for reading!