Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to instantly record your ideas on your computer.

Sometimes a flash of brilliance pops into our collective heads and when that happens, the person that remembers it and uses it in a creation....wins. What happens alot is that we hear the idea, and we think "Oh, that's a good one. I am going to remember that!" But alas, moments later, not only is the idea gone, the recollection of even having the idea is gone! But worse (for me) is playing an idea it or humming it or whatever and then booting up the software, setting the input, pressing record and then uh...oh wait the input is not plugged in...OK, now press record and VOILA-- the idea is gone.
So, I started looking for an instantly available recorder for my music computer that would with one stroke, be ready to record. Some of you are smarter than me and may have a dedicated mini recorder sitting next to your piano (or guitar or violin, synth etc..) I keep one of those in my car and I have another (a Zoom H2) that is sometimes sitting on the piano and ends up in different places as it is my field recorder too. Also, I have found that these ideas are sometimes usable in a multitude of ways and I really wanted to bypass the need to either transfer it to the computer or re-track it if it happens to be a great take. Many times, that inspired "first take" of an idea has an energy and groove that is hard to replicate.
Back to the search- after looking a bit I found very little in the way of an always ready, instant recorder. I wanted something that would have a small footprint on the CPU and not conflict with other software. After a bit more pondering and fiddling, I realized it that I have software on my machine that is prefect for this application. (and you do too!)
Quicktime has a shortcut in both OSX and Windows that allows you to record a mic input or your DAW input (or anything that makes noise)
In windows it's Control+Shift+N. Press the red button and you are recording.
In OSX its Control+Option+Command+N.
I have my Roland Piano always on with and ready but you could (for instance) have a computer mic or other microphone always plugged and ready so that it will record anything in the room. On most notebook/laptops, the built in mic will serve the same purpose. Instant memo.
I have put Quicktime in my startup group so that it is always available when the machine boots up. On a Mac, go to system/users/startup programs and click the +
Browse for the Quicktime app and add it to the list.
In Windows, you can either tell QT to add an icon to your taskbar and double click then the shortcut (edit/pref/quicktime pref/advanced) or to add it to the bootup:
1. Click Start>Programs, then right click on Startup folder and choose Open.
2. On the Startup window, go to File menu and choose New>Shortcut.
3. Drag the icon to the window or Create a new shortcut (file/new/shortcut) or specify the path and it will startup, everytime you boot.

Remember that QT has to be in the forefront (single click it) for the shortcut to work.

I hope this helps you catch the idea that turns into your next Hit/Score/Sound Design!