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A song for critique

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A song for critique

Postby Soundseed » Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:35 pm

Hey all

http://www.soundseed.com/napier/01%20MOR%20Song.mp3

A few ropey vocal moments... :-) ... but be interested in any thoughts, on the song in general - ta!

Cheers
Chris
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Mark Stothard » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:20 am

Wow, what a beautiful intro.
I listened to this four times as i was typing. It’s not that i am slow at typing, I just stopped to concentrate every couple of seconds as i was truly blown away by this.
The vocals and cello come in and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Each person’s vocals are unique as are yours, but they reminded me of Chris Martin from Coldplay, a band i like very much.
The music in this is some of the best i have heard. The cello, staccato violins, the piano plays perfectly too. This is going straight on my ipod if you don't mind?

I noticed the vocal anomaly, maybe it doesn't need to be held that long?

Can i ask what you used to compose this wonderful piece? Daw, instruments. You do everything with so much skill i could only admire. The mix is professionally mastered.

With minor repairs to the vox, you must post this to as many places as you can, as you are doing an injustice to those you don’t allow to hear it.

Fantastic work.
Mark.
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Soundseed » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:37 pm

Hi Mark

Thanks for the praise .. much appreciated. I don't really write many songs, though I've certainly recorded plenty. It is a demo, but if can ever get my hands on a string quartet I might have a crack at tidying it all up a bit.

All recorded in Logic Pro @ 44.1/24 via a Fireface 800. Mic was U89, and the channel strip was a UA 6176.

Of course you're more than welcome to stick it on your iPod. Honoured, my dear sir! :-)

Cheers
Chris
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Oscardelta » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:15 pm

This is a great track. It's really high quality. The vocals are super - a kind of hybrid of Chris Martin and Radiohead. I wish I could be as brave with my vocals as you are. It's also really well produced. My only thought would be to add a slight bass lift across the track - but that's subjective.

A really engaging, well thought and heart-felt piece. Excellent.
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Mark Stothard » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:39 pm

Sorry, but this needs to be bumped. It too good to go sliding down the page without folk hearing it.

Mark.
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Re: A song for critique

Postby ktheo86 » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:35 pm

I really dug this track. I liked the use of instrumentation and roles each instrument played within the work; Despite the fact that so many different instruments came into play, they were used in a way that helped the song develop into a fuller, more intense sound, which I enjoyed.

I see what you mean regarding some of the vocal bits in this piece; most of them didn't seem to hurt the song too much imo, except for one particular part(it disintegrates in your hand) where it sounded like you were trying REALLY hard to fit that phrase within that particular bar, with unfavorable results.

Overall, I enjoyed it.
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Theremax » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:28 pm

Vocally and melodically it's very, very Coldplay/Chris Martin - spookily so in places - (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your opinion of Coldplay!)

There's some nice sounds and textures in there and it builds nicely.

Vocally, as you mentioned, there's a couple of wobbly moments - I think you may just need to sing it with a little more confidence - and I agree with ktheo86 in that a couple of the lyrics seem to struggle to fit in/sound a little jarring (not sure if that's the lyrics or just the phrasing).
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Soundseed » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:44 pm

Hey gents

Thanks for the comments. Chris Martin??? Not listening, not listening ... bleh :-)

Well okay statistics suggest I may be in denial here... Not really sure where it comes from, though it feels natural and unforced singing that way... Three takes and a quick comp. No autotune or flexing :-) I have to say I find it really hard to get enthused about singing - its like taking the bins out first thing on a baltically cold winters morning, kind of "do I have to ... really ... ?"

Interesting about the "forced" line in the chorus. Its probably my favourite bit - I really like the effect of triplets against quavers, which plays quite a significant role in the strings at end. Vocally is it a bit odd, but the line effectively references itself - disintegrates, so it is deliberately "broken". I had intended to emphasise it to quite an extreme effect, but after various attempts I couldn't find anything remotely close to what I was hearing mentally, and gave in.

Thanks again.

Cheers
Chris
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Axonaut » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:56 am

The arrangement, production and vocal are all really good, as everyone else said.

It builds up rather slowly. The intro is long (though good), and I expected drums to come in by 1:20. This isn't a criticism, it's a perfectly valid approach, unless you're using this song as a demo for people with chronically short attention spans.

The lyric-less section from 1:20-1:52 drags on a bit, I guess it's just not finished, but otherwise, you're too early in the song to have earned a break like that :)


The song could be much stronger if you developed the harmonic structure more. Maybe you were planning to do that, because the melody kind of suggests you're reaching for that already, but anyway, here's what I mean...

Apart from the intro, there are two main sections. Maybe it's more complicated, if you consider chord variants, bass & melody notes, but you can show the basic structure like this:

1) Alternating chords Am and E 'Nailgun, plaster...'
1a) This repeats with a more complex melody at 1:52 'Unexpected...'

2) Alternating chords C and E 'Listen for the absent memory'



Either or both of those sections can be developed to lead to a new section with a different feel:

Section 1a

Am | E | ...
then double the rate of chord changes...
Am F | Em G7 | or F Dm | G7 E7 | (or maybe Am F Dm G7)
(the melody shifts up from A to C from the start of this section, as you've already done on alternate lines, but adjusted to fit the new chords)
C...

-> this brings you to a new section in C major (There's a million different things you can do here, but just for example: you could start with chords C Em F C, with a version of the melody from section 1 shifted up to C, so the melody notes could be C G B D2 etc...)


Section 2

C | E | C | E
(F | E |) - optional
F | G |
C...
you can keep playing the same melody, but adjusted to match these chords. So e.g. F chord would have the melody shifted up to start on A. For the G chord, melody starts on G, ends on B

-> Same as 1a above, this brings you to C major
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Soundseed » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:03 pm

Hi

Thanks for the detailed thoughts ... appreciated - definitely an interesting and distinctly insightful take on how it could be developed.

Originally, the first chorus section was doubled, so there was a bit more time before I reached the break ... but ... I felt it balanced out a bit better with just a single chorus. You might be right about the break though - too long, to much noodling :-).

Chord wise I actually liked the narrowness of the harmonic structure - I felt it "funneled" the song towards conclusion more directly, gave a progressive, streamlined flavour which enhances the effect of the cluster when you get to the close of the second chorus. If I was aiming to extend it though, I do agree that developing the chords along the lines
of your suggestion would have been nice. I don't have a keyboard to hand at the moment, but I'll definitely try your suggestions out when I do, and report back. (moving house soon 'ish, so a lot of stuff in storage)

the point about the drums is interesting - I did want to give the song a feel of gathering intensity, and leaving the drums till second chorus felt to me like it cemented the build up. Coming in earlier would have lifted the first chorus, but on balance perhaps detracted more than it added through the break and second verse. That said, I may go back and have another look at that .

Thanks again for the comments - really good points :-)

Cheers
Chris
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Johnny Guitar Man » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:16 pm

I think the intro is a bit too random sounding, at least it does not go on for too long.

Maybe you could play the first few lines of the vocal melody with a slightly different phrasing on the piano in the intro.

The rest of the song is really nice, despite the slightly off tune ( I agree with the Chris Martin comparison) vocals. At least your song is not miserable like Coldplay, sounding more Radiohead or even reminiscent of Pink Floyd.
The vocals tuning issues don't detract from the song- if anything it adds character- a little humanity in the flaws. Although the phrasing of the lines "see the structure, it disintegrates in your hand" feels forced and a little too wordy. Could you not re-phrase that or stretch the words over a longer bit of song- maybe instead of some of the "whoa ohs" that follow? At the moment it sounds like you are struggling to get the words into those bars.

Very nicely played and recorded, lovely atmosphere to the track and arrangement and I like the way the track gradually builds, although I feel that of the recent songs on this site "Baltimore" is a better song and has a better singer.

Do you mind if I put it on my iPOD?
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Re: A song for critique

Postby Soundseed » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:11 pm

Johnny Guitar Man wrote:I think the intro is a bit too random sounding, at least it does not go on for too long.

Maybe you could play the first few lines of the vocal melody with a slightly different phrasing on the piano in the intro.

The rest of the song is really nice, despite the slightly off tune ( I agree with the Chris Martin comparison) vocals. At least your song is not miserable like Coldplay, sounding more Radiohead or even reminiscent of Pink Floyd.
The vocals tuning issues don't detract from the song- if anything it adds character- a little humanity in the flaws. Although the phrasing of the lines "see the structure, it disintegrates in your hand" feels forced and a little too wordy. Could you not re-phrase that or stretch the words over a longer bit of song- maybe instead of some of the "whoa ohs" that follow? At the moment it sounds like you are struggling to get the words into those bars.

Very nicely played and recorded, lovely atmosphere to the track and arrangement and I like the way the track gradually builds, although I feel that of the recent songs on this site "Baltimore" is a better song and has a better singer.

Do you mind if I put it on my iPOD?

Hi Johnny

Thanks for the comments :-)

The intro technique you suggest did cross my mind - I've found myself saying that to folks on quite a good few occasions where an intro hadn't been thought through, or lacked something relevant... but I wanted to avoid convention, and make it more of a wee preamble/ramble into the verse kinda thing.

I gotta say, on the vocal front, this is the first time I've ever done a track with me singing and not reached for Logic's pitch correction ... yes there are some ropey bits, but as you say its human. I put this down tom acquiring a pair of HD650 headphones ... really a revelation for singing with. .. I appreciated the comparison being closer to radiohead + pink floyd than coldplay - definitely two of my fav bands.

Of course, feel free to stick it on your ipod ... I'm flattered that anyone might want a copy.

thanks again!
Cheers
Chris
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Re: A song for critique

Postby alex870 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:29 pm

Wow, suprisingly good. Lots of random thoughts - I'm going to critique against a professional standard since it's close enough to that to warrant it. In no particular order:

Vocals need a heavy dose of selective Melodyne processing to fix pitch, especially when it comes to using harmony. Being slightly out of tune can really work well in a track like this (usually when singing solo with minimal instrumentation), but it needs to be used sparingly and only in the right places where it works. There were definitely some areas where it didn't work, as you've already acknowledged.

Bass management: It felt like a deep sub-bass component was needed for the bassline (later in the track, either for 2nd verse or when drums come in). The bass that's there doesn't need to be louder, you need a new instrument added in the mix that's working 1 or 2 octaves below. I also think that would make it sound more modern.

I do appreciate the cautious appoach taken with mixing the bass and most ppl go too far the other way and typically overload the track. I suggest taking your mix into your car and listening to it in comparison to other similar styles of tracks. It's amazing what you'll hear about your mix since car stereos are quite sensitive to bass mixing. Actaully driving around while you're doing it is even better. Take a voice recorder to make notes!

Track compression - definitely no more than you've already got. Tracks like this should have dynamics. You might even mix it to emphasize this a little more - contrasting dynamics between the various sections of the song.

Vocal harmony would be key on a track like this - you're on the right path, but I think more variation (depth and complexity) is needed.

I'm not keen on the drum pattern once it gets introduced (perhaps bringing in something reduced little earlier then the full drum mix later would work. What's there currently doesn't seem to do anything to elevate the song or extra interest - definitely needs reworking.

As others have said, the intro was too long without something happening. Maybe we all have ADD these days?

The piano was a little muddy for my taste. It seemed to lack definition. While a dark sounding piano sounds like it would be right for this genre, this particular piano didn't do it for me. EQ could fix the muddyness, but there doesn't seem to be and high-end transients to emphasize - it's like it was run through a LP filter.

Cheers - I did enjoy listening to it and you got so much right!
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Re: A song for critique

Postby erichodge » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:53 pm

took 2 listens for me to get my mind around it since it's a bit different from what i listen to on a day to day basis, but i think it's quite phenomenal!

i think the vocal get a little too quiet at points, like around the 3 minute mark, for example. the piano is stellar, amazing.. the cello, riveting, the guitar, perfectly balanced and melodic and supporting it all so well. there isn't much else apart from the vocals during that section i can think to provide any constructive comments on... release it!

cheers,
eric
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Re: A song for critique

Postby forumuser669739 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:06 pm

My god, I can't believe this almost missed my radar. Absolutely love this - essentially it has everything that I love in a track, from violins, glocks, vibraphones to acoustic and piano.

I can see what you mean about the ropey vocal in places, but to be honest that could probably be corrected with a bit of melodyne, and it doesn't detract from a good song. The character is all there.

The only thing I was wanting personally was a bit more warmth. It feels a bit clinical, but that's a subjective matter, as I'm sure it comes across fine.

I don't think I've ever said this, but don't suppose you'd allow me to have a go at remixing it? No pressure at all - just for fun! Got quite a few oddball fx units I'd love to process a few instruments through. :) PM if keen.
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