Digital Voice Recorders: A Must Have Tool for Any Musician

In the first post that really drew some views on this little blog here I run I discussed the drum machine as a must have piece of gear for any guitar player -- serious or otherwise. 

I can’t tell you how much I’ve benefitted from having my little $180 drum machine.  The gains in skill that I’ve acquired just through playing along to the Alesis SR-18 on a regular basis have merited every penny of the purchase.  It’s just one of those devices that pays for itself. 
In the spirit of this original gear-related post, I’m here today to talk about another nifty little invention that I’ve found to be indispensible to my musical career in so many respects over the years – my digital voice recorder. 
It’s one of those “capital goods” – that is, one of those items that serve as a means of production.  Not a mere item to be consumed for personal pleasure, but one that facilitates the acquisition of more pleasure.

My voice recorder is the Olympus WS-110.  I purchased it for about $80 some 5-6 years ago at Best Buy -- and it still works as good as new.  I kind of wish it had a rechargeable battery (it runs on a single AAA), but I guess it is getting to be an outdated model. . .
Now, obviously, these devices were made for recording the human voice (as their name would imply) -- and to this I can attest they do quite well. You’d be amazed by how well these compact little devices pick up sound with clarity --even from inside one’s pocket. 

I’m here now to discuss their utility for guitarists and songwriters.

I’ve found three main benefits: (1) memo-keeping, (2) working in a band situation, and (3) personal nostalgia. The first two points are more pragmatically oriented. The third is more about personal pleasure. The three points overlap, but are made distinct for purpose of presentation.

Memo-Keeping:
This one is the most obvious.
I remember back in the 1990’s hearing some female pop singer -- I think it was Mariah Carrey or someone – remark in an interview that she would always carry a tape recorder around with her so she could capture a melody that would pop into her head while she was driving, at the mall, grocery store, whatever.
We’ve all had the experience --we think the melody is so good that we won’t forget, but we invariably forget. This is why having the voice recorder around so that we can capture the melody when it arises can be invaluable.
It’s an easy practice to adopt that could very well pay dividends in the future -- provided that the melody is really that good. 
Working in a Band Situation:
In today’s fast-paced, post-modern world, people are always looking for ways to make their lives easier and more efficient. In a band situation, this becomes super-important. People are often juggling multiple jobs, families, friends, and other interests alongside the band. Quite simply, you can’t expect everyone to remember how that song you worked on in practice goes, let alone their own part in the mix. This is when having a recording of what you worked on comes in handy.
By simply recording the song during practice, you can send each member an MP3 of the rehearsal via email or Facebook afterwards. Each member can then review the song and come to practice the next week prepared to rehearse the old and move on to new material.
Provided your band mates did their homework, the group is then saved the hassle of reviewing material from the previous week, which frees up more time for succeeding tasks, making the whole process far more efficient.
Another benefit is that if each member has a recording device, they can capture their song ideas in private and then send these to band mates via a Facebook or email message thread. The other members can then come up with complementary lines, decide which ideas are good, which are bad, etc. It’s a great way to utilize technology in a collaborative context.
Overall, the voice recorder makes the process of getting a band ready to perform so much easier.
Personal Nostalgia:
We’ve all had the experience of jamming with friends, getting in the groove, and experiencing that sweet moment of ecstasy when everything starts interlocking, both rhythmically and harmonically, and you just think, yeah this is the moment – pure bliss.
Obviously, we would want to relive such an experience on future occasions should we feel like it.
Like a talisman, the recordings are something to look upon fondly, providing a source of emotional energy when one needs it.  Just getting into the habit of recording our music, when alone or jamming with others, lets us relive the same experience over and over again.
You never know when you might stumble upon a melody -- or series of melodies -- that you’ll be glad to have recorded in the future.
It’s one thing to have a memory of something, but when you have something recorded it’s like having reality captured on a tray. You can then serve the exact same reality up to others, so that they can share in the same experience -- experiencing it in just the same way you yourself experienced it. In other words, the recordings “speak for themselves.”
Conclusion:
Overall, the digital voice recorder is so compact and portable, providing quality and convenience in such a small package, that it is superior to most other methods available for recording music in the field.  You never know when you’ll come up with that brilliant melody that has a chance to become the next big thing. 
Until next time.


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