Tuesday, 16 Jul 2024

A Quick Guide to Capture and Organize Musical Ideas with Music Memos

While pursuing a career in the recording industry may no longer be my priority, music continues to hold a special place in my heart. From playing guitar in bands to writing and recording songs, I’ve experienced the joys of being a musician firsthand. But when I look at today’s generation of young musicians, I can’t help but envy them for having tools like YouTube and GarageBand at their disposal. And now, there’s one more addition to that list: Music Memos.

The Brief Introductory Session

Modern musicians rely on their smartphones to capture their musical ideas. The days of using a nylon guitar, pen, and paper, or an old tape recorder seem almost archaic. However, the arrival of Music Memos takes this evolution one step further.

Music Memos is a free app for iPhone and iPad that allows musicians to quickly and easily capture, organize, and share their song ideas. This sound recording app goes beyond simply capturing audio. It analyzes the song, predicts the chord progression, and even adds bass lines and drum beats that adjust themselves to your recording. I can only imagine how much this would have enhanced my songwriting days.

I immediately downloaded the app and highly recommend it to all the digital musicians out there. Once you install Music Memos on your iPhone or iPad, don’t hesitate to dive right in.

The Recording Session

At first glance, the interface of Music Memos may appear minimalistic and lacking in features. However, as they say, never judge an app by its appearance. Behind the simple display lies a wealth of magic tricks.

When you open the app for the first time, it will prompt you to save your ideas using iCloud. Since most iPhone and iPad users have an iCloud account, this option provides a secure backup for your ideas. Additionally, you can access your recordings from other Apple devices and open them in GarageBand on your Mac for further refinement.

Before you start recording, you can utilize the guitar tuning tool located at the top right corner of the screen. This tool helps you tune your guitar strings accurately, ensuring your recordings are pitch-perfect.

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To begin recording your song ideas, simply tap the large round button in the middle of the screen. Whether you’re singing or playing a musical instrument, Music Memos has specialized recognition algorithms for guitar and piano recordings.

You can also enable the app’s auto mode, which automatically starts recording whenever it detects music in the environment. This mode is perfect for songwriting sessions when you’re searching for the perfect melody or lyrics.

Once you’re done recording, tap the button to stop and save your recording. The file will be saved automatically to your device and iCloud. Depending on the file size and internet speed, the uploading process may take some time.

The Pre-Editing Session

When you finish recording, the editing session begins. Music Memos does most of the analysis work behind the scenes, allowing you to add the finishing touches. It analyzes your recording to determine the best chords, bass lines, and drum beats for your song.

By default, Music Memos names your recordings as “My Ideas” followed by a numerical order. However, you can easily edit the name by tapping and typing directly on the screen. I prefer labeling my recordings with the song title followed by the specific part of the song, such as “Adagio in G – intro” or “Chasing Shadow in the Dark – verse 2.”

You can also add tags to your recordings using the icon at the bottom left of the screen. Music Memos provides pre-determined tags such as Chords, Chorus, Riff, Upbeat, and Verse, but you can also create custom tags.

Adding or removing bass lines and drum beats is as simple as tapping the corresponding icons on the screen.

If you decide to discard a recording, you can easily delete it by tapping the trash icon at the bottom right.

The Bass and Drum Session

Music Memos utilizes technology from GarageBand to power its bass and drum features. These features have been simplified to align with the concept of capturing ideas quickly. While Music Memos can automatically generate accompanying bass and drum parts, you can also customize them to match your style.

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To change the playing style for the bass or drum, tap and hold the respective icon to open their “smart pad.” This pad allows you to adjust the playing style by dragging the dot to different positions. The top of the pad produces louder sounds, while the bottom produces softer sounds. The left side represents a simpler playing style, while the right side is more complex.

Music Memos offers two types of bass instruments: electric and upright bass. For drums, you can choose between modern or vintage drum kits.

The Clipping, Sharing, and More Session

Despite being a simple music recording app, Music Memos offers additional features in the “song ideas” section. Tap the icon at the top middle of the screen to access all your recordings and explore further editing options.

You can adjust the timing of the song using the tempo icon, allowing for greater control over the pacing of your composition.

Changing the chords for any region of the song is also possible. Simply tap the chord icon, select the desired region, and edit the chord accordingly.

The app includes a trim tool that allows you to delete unwanted parts of the song. By sliding the trim marker to the beginning of the desired section, everything before the marker will be discarded.

The note tool lets you add remarks, explanations, or reminders to a song. You can also provide information about the capo position and guitar string tuning used in the recording.

Lastly, Music Memos offers various sharing options such as email, instant messaging, iCloud Drive, YouTube, SoundCloud, and more. You can also open your recordings in GarageBand for iOS if you have it installed on the same device. For those without GarageBand, you can save the recording to iCloud Drive and open it later on your Mac’s GarageBand. The bass and drum parts are fully editable in GarageBand.

Thoughts and Opinions

As someone who has been eagerly awaiting a tool like Music Memos, I must admit my bias. This app impresses me greatly. It caters to both tech-savvy and old-fashioned musicians, providing a platform to extract ideas from their minds and compose catchy melodies and riffs. Additionally, it’s an enjoyable tool for aspiring musicians and amateurs to create quick music.

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However, like any early version software, Music Memos has a few areas that need improvement. During my initial exploration, I encountered one annoying bug: my recordings randomly appeared and disappeared every time I closed and re-opened the app. This issue likely stems from synchronization delays between the app and iCloud. However, after waiting for a few moments, everything returned to normal.

To be on the safe side, always back up your ideas using multiple methods provided in the sharing options. Additionally, manually backup your recordings to your Mac through the Apps section of iTunes. I’m confident that fixes for this and other bugs are on the way.

Music Memos reignited my passion for picking up my guitar and composing music. I urge you to try Music Memos for yourself and share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Music Memos on Android devices?

No, Music Memos is only available for iPhone and iPad devices.

Can Music Memos be used for other instruments besides guitar and piano?

While Music Memos recognizes guitar and piano recordings more accurately, you can still record other instruments, including vocals. However, the app’s algorithms may not analyze them as effectively.

Is Music Memos compatible with GarageBand?

Yes, Music Memos seamlessly integrates with GarageBand. You can transfer your recordings from Music Memos to GarageBand on your Mac for further refinement and editing.

How can I retrieve my recordings on other Apple devices?

By saving your recordings to iCloud, you can access them on any Apple device associated with your iCloud account.

Can Music Memos generate sheet music for my recordings?

No, Music Memos does not have a feature to automatically generate sheet music. However, you can export your recordings to other software or apps that specialize in sheet music creation.


Music Memos is a fantastic tool for musicians of all levels. Its intuitive interface and powerful features make it easy to capture, organize, and share your musical ideas. With the ability to analyze recordings, predict chord progressions, and even add bass lines and drum beats, Music Memos is a valuable resource for any musician looking to enhance their creative process. Give it a try and unlock a whole new level of musical inspiration.