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Turn Your Voice Memo Song Ideas into Full Recordings with a Collaborator

Author: Aluminum BoyTime: 2024-01-20 13:10:00

Table of Contents

The Power of Voice Memos for Collaborative Songwriting

Voice memos have become an essential tool for songwriters to quickly capture ideas and sketches of songs using only a smartphone. The simple recording interface requires no complex production knowledge yet has the power to turn a fleeting melodic inspiration into a permanent building block of a song.

Many musicians start a new song by developing short demos or voice memos which form the core DNA of a track. These can be brought into more advanced production software like Logic or Ableton Live later. The raw and unedited quality of voice memo recordings helps capture emotive energy and off-the-cuff creativity.

Accessibility Empowers Creativity

The built-in Voice Memos app provides free unlimited access to a basic yet capable recording system - ideal for getting musical ideas out of your head. The intuitive one-touch interface means you can react immediately when inspiration strikes, without distractions. This accessibility empowers creativity for all musicians and songwriters.

Fuel for Collaboration

Voice memos also facilitate remote collaboration for musicians, providing musical fragments to share ideas and riff off each other. Piecing together voice memos into a song structure forms a conversational creative workflow. Chicago musician Brian D'Alemale and LA songwriter Owen Misterovich used this process together resulting in new levels of musical chemistry and their collaborative track "Red Tomato Word Soup."

Assembling a Song from Shared Voice Memo Sketches

Owen and Brian started their remote collaboration by sharing old voice memos they rediscovered while digging through their phones. These half-formed ideas resonated with both their individual styles and sparked inspiration to keep developing them.

Soon a verse and pre-chorus emerged built from Owen's piano patterns that Brian expanded into a full pop song structure. Trading voice recordings back and forth over Zoom calls and email, they steadily assembled a complete song.

Rather than laying down final takes from the start, they let the idiosyncrasies of their homemade demos guide the style and production choices through the entire process. Much of Owen's warped lead vocal made it unchanged into the final mix due to its intriguing texture.

Filling Out The Song with Overdubs

Once the core structure was mapped out, Brian and Owen overdubbed additional instrumental layers to fill out the arrangement into a lush indie pop production. However, they were careful not to overproduce the whimsical character established in the initial voice demos.

Brian added a distinctive bassline influenced by the syncopated style of Motown records. He also incorporated colorful percussion elements like shaker and tambourine which subtly bolster the rhythmic foundation.

Meanwhile Owen doubled keyboard melodies with fuzzed-out guitars and crafted an expressive guitar solo using guitar effects pedals to further develop his initial sketches.

Retaining Spontaneous Energy with Considered Mixing

Despite accumulating many overdubs, Brian's mixing focused on carving out space for the parts to breathe rather than creating a dense wall of sound. The result left room for the innovative sparks in the original voice memos and conversation between the musicians to shine through.

Thoughtful sonic choices like double-tracking vocals and guitars give a satisfying depth and cohesion without losing the forward momentum established in the demos. This considered approach mixing and production elevated the musical chemistry into a fully fleshed-out indie pop gem brimming with ideas.

Takeaway Tips for Voice Memo Songwriting

Brian and Owen's collaboration shows the creative power unlocked by simply recording musical fragments as they occur to you. Some key takeaways:

  • Capture any musical inspiration right away using Voice Memos or other recording devices

  • Listen back and develop promising ideas into structured song sections

  • Share voice memos with co-writers to collectively riff on musical concepts

  • Let the raw qualities guide production choices as you flesh out arrangements

Using voice memos in this open-ended way throughout the process retains that initial spark even within a full production.


Q: Why are voice memos useful for songwriters?
A: Voice memos allow songwriters to quickly capture melodies, lyrics, and musical ideas before they are forgotten. Listening back later fuels inspiration.

Q: How can you collaborate on a song remotely?
A: By sharing voice memos and session files, collaborators can build a song together without being in the same location.

Q: What should you focus on first when starting a collaboration?
A: Establish the core structure and main melodies first so you have a solid foundation to build upon.

Q: Why record drums and guitar early in the process?
A: Laying down drums and guitar gives the rhythm and general feel of the song for later layers.

Q: What finishing touches can elevate a mix?
A: Adding bass, percussion, backups, and small embellishments creates distinct flavors that make the mix shine.

Q: Why take time mixing and mastering?
A: Careful mixing and mastering unifies all elements for a professional, radio-ready sound.

Q: What's the benefit of collaborating on songs?
A: Collaborators blend styles and ideas, resulting in more creative and well-rounded songs.

Q: How can you start collaborating on songs?
A: Share voice memos with other musicians and build upon the ideas together, even if working remotely.

Q: What makes a good musical collaboration?
A: Mutual respect for each other's ideas, communication, and playing to each person's strengths.

Q: Any tips for refining songs?
A: Don't be precious about original ideas. Keep what works best for the song overall.