At some point a few years ago, hellpellet and I went on a weekend trip. I wanted to take sone time on the getaway to work on some songs, so I brought the most stripped down setup I could: my Tascam 4-track, a Boss Dr. Rhythm drum machine, a crappy microphone, and my Parker Fly guitar. I could easily cobble together some basic ideas with that setup, and everything except the guitar fit into a backpack.
Fast-forward to last week. In my current one-footed state I’ve been reduced to sitting on the couch with one leg up while playing guitar. A fellow songwriter asked me to send him a riff that I had played so we could collaborate. Did I crutch around trying to find the 4-track? Nope.
I set my iPhone on a pillow next to me, used a voice-recording app, and played the riff. After I was done I reviewed the recording, then immediately pulled up email and sent the audio file.
I’m no stranger to technophilic geekery, but being able to do stuff like that still blows my mind sometimes.
It doesn’t have to be an iPhone, either. Other mobile phones can do similar stuff, and there’s the whole portable recorder armada (like Zoom and Sony handhelds) that make on-the-spot idea capturing easy. No more monkeying around with cables and microphones and some boxy recording device. Now we can plop down a little piece of gear, set levels and capture rehearsals or jams on the fly.
I used to have ADATs set up for recording rehearsals. When I got back to the studio I’d have to transfer the audio to a computer in real time, then convert the resulting files to mp3s for sharing. Not anymore. Now the audio can be rendered as mp3 files from the beginning, and transferring them via USB is comparatively instantaneous.
It’s exquisite to be able to capture ideas wherever we happen to be without having to carry a pack full of gear and cables. Of course it’s no substitute for a dedicated studio/recording rig, but for getting something down so that you don’t forget, it sure beats the bulkier alternative or the call-your-voicemail-and-hum-a-few-bars routine.