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Sometimes I have a very nice musical idea, with orchestration too, and I clearly hear it in my mind as if I was listening to a CD.

But I cannot retain it. The only way is to play it over and over in my mind, but then I cannot even walk or drive.

Cold you suggest some technique for "saving to hard disk"? (Somehow so that as I have time I can later write it down.)

I have a degree in classical piano, I also studied classical composition for some years, so I have a musical background.

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I occasionally have moments where I think up a melody and my brain fleshes it out into an orchestral piece -- no idea how -- but I know very little about composition, so I can't write anything down. Very frustrating. –  Matthew Read Jun 25 '11 at 15:22
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@Matthew Read: I highly, highly recommend practicing transcribing your ideas. The ability to turn melody into notes is highly complimentary to the ability to turn notes into melodies. Developing that skill has vastly improved my sight-reading. –  Babu Jun 26 '11 at 16:30

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This won't help with full orchestration and the like -- if you're hearing all that clearly then you're way ahead of me. But for melody, shape of harmony, rhythms you want to capture, etc, a voice recorder can help. I've found that sometimes a melody deteriorates as I try to transcribe it from my mind, so I start by singing/humming/la-la-laing it into a recorder and then I work on it, falling back to that copy if I need to. If you have a smartphone, there's an app for that. :-) (I don't, so I can't tell you its name.)

Of course, the process of writing it down can improve it, such that I no longer care about the version on the recording. It's ok; I wasn't going to share that recording with anybody else anyway.

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On Android, Voice Recorder is normally bundled with the phone :) Good idea, +1. –  Matthew Read Jun 25 '11 at 15:24
    
Thanks, it is probably the only thing to do. Now smartphones are very popular and what you suggest is doable. In the past it was mandatory to always have a tape recorder at hand... Not very pratical at all. Yes singing some melody at least it can be a sketch. By the way hearing a full orchestration in the mind is somehow also a self-illusion, it is not a real composition, it is a kind of illusion, this means that anyone it must be re.composed from scratch, but having a line to follow (recorded on smartphone) it can help. –  user193655 Jun 26 '11 at 13:39
    
By the way for anyone interested in trasnscribing music by ear there is a non ortodox approach in this book I read in the past (the author is dead): rongorow.com –  user193655 Jun 26 '11 at 13:40
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I record each line that I'm hearing, one after another. There's no reason to only record the melody! –  Babu Jun 26 '11 at 16:31
    
ok, by melody I mean the "main idea", some sketch that will allow me later to recreate what I heard, even if of course not with 100% accurancy. –  user193655 Jun 27 '11 at 7:41

The best solution is probably going to be just transcribing the idea in musical notation but if you are able to sing the melody, any multi-track recording software on a smartphone should suffice to get enough down to jog your memory enough to get back to where you were (look out for software that has a looped recording capability as this is especially good for getting down harmonic ideas fast)

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