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My first song, "Something to Believe"

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My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby anna-marie music » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:20 pm

I recently started writing and recording my own songs... I wrote my first song, "Something To Believe", back in March, right as the lockdown/quarantine started here in Canada. Here's the story behind it :) http://anna-marie.bandcamp.com/track/so ... to-believe

"This is a challenging time for everyone right now, and I know it can stir up a lot of emotions. For me, I was feeling anxious about everything that was going on, so-- following the advice a fellow musician gave me at a benefit concert earlier this year-- I picked up my guitar and wrote this song.

Even though it can really apply to anyone, I wrote “Something To Believe” from the perspective of the grade 12 students who won’t be crossing the stage to receive their diplomas this year. I remember my high-school graduation a few years ago and how excited I was for this big moment; it was certainly the highlight of my life at that time! So, I can only imagine how heartbroken these students must be feeling… they’ve waited all their lives for this moment, and now they won’t get that chance. And I hope that this song can somehow inspire them to keep trying; to keep reaching for the sky even when it seems like their dreams are not coming together. Because there is always a way.”

I recorded all the vocals and most of the instruments myself, and sent the individual tracks to my cousin (who went to university for music production and was top of his class). He helped me put the song together, mix and master it, etc... and it's available for streaming/free download on Bandcamp if you'd like to hear it! I hope you all like it!
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I've always had a passion for music. Influenced by the likes of Michelle Branch, Kelly Clarkson, and Mandy Moore; my music style is alternative pop based with a little hint of country.

Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:20 pm

Hi Anna-Marie, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

I enjoyed your first song, and your voice, and the message it conveys. There's a lot of structure and some lovely sounds in the arrangement, and I'm still enjoying it on the fourth listen through.

Not sure if you're after more specific constructive feedback, but that's what most of us here find useful, so I'll press ahead with my own thoughts, and hope you find them useful.

1. First of all, watch out for tuning issues on your guitar - this starts to become obvious around 0:15, and while I don't think the extra 'jangle' spoils the song, it might put some listeners off ;)

2. I found your guitar and your voice a little 'disconnected', as the words are close and intimate yet the guitar sounds a lot further away with all that room reverb. Again, this might work if the guitar was from a backing band, but as a singer/songwriter to my ears you and the guitar should be in the same place.

3. That ringing kick drum sound works on the intro, but becomes a little overpowering later on once you start singing.

Hope you find this helpful, keep up the good work, and once again, welcome!


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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby anna-marie music » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:54 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Hi Anna-Marie, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

I enjoyed your first song, and your voice, and the message it conveys. There's a lot of structure and some lovely sounds in the arrangement, and I'm still enjoying it on the fourth listen through.

Not sure if you're after more specific constructive feedback, but that's what most of us here find useful, so I'll press ahead with my own thoughts, and hope you find them useful.

1. First of all, watch out for tuning issues on your guitar - this starts to become obvious around 0:15, and while I don't think the extra 'jangle' spoils the song, it might put some listeners off ;)

2. I found your guitar and your voice a little 'disconnected', as the words are close and intimate yet the guitar sounds a lot further away with all that room reverb. Again, this might work if the guitar was from a backing band, but as a singer/songwriter to my ears you and the guitar should be in the same place.

3. That ringing kick drum sound works on the intro, but becomes a little overpowering later on once you start singing.

Hope you find this helpful, keep up the good work, and once again, welcome!


Martin

Thank you so much Martin! Yes, I'm aware that the guitar is slightly out of tune... one of my musician friends pointed it out to me when I sent him the song, but by the time he told me about it, the track was already mixed and mastered (as I mentioned before, my cousin did all the mixing for the song). As this is a demo, I decided to leave it as is (the majority of listeners probably won't notice, unless they're musicians like us!)... but I'll remember to double-check the tuning on my guitar for future songs though! :D

The second and third points are very helpful as well! I didn't produce this song, but I'll keep that in mind for when I start to mix/master songs on my own (I've been using Ableton Live 10 for the past 6 or 7 months, and eventually want to get to the point where I can produce my own music :) )
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I've always had a passion for music. Influenced by the likes of Michelle Branch, Kelly Clarkson, and Mandy Moore; my music style is alternative pop based with a little hint of country.

Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby The Elf » Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:32 am

Unfortunately I did find the tuning problem distracting, and it was the first thing one of my non-musical listeners here noticed - "is that guitar supposed to sound wobbly?"!

But a good song and nicely performed. :clap:
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby anna-marie music » Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:33 pm

The Elf wrote:Unfortunately I did find the tuning problem distracting, and it was the first thing one of my non-musical listeners here noticed - "is that guitar supposed to sound wobbly?"!

But a good song and nicely performed. :clap:

Thank you!
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby OneWorld » Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:43 pm

I know as much about engineering as King Herod knew about childcare, so I can only listen to it as an ordinary listener and as for the song itself I would drop one of the dropouts, they teeter so close to cliches and they sort of afferct the structure, I don't think having 2 contributes to the song, especially the first drop down where the guitar sounds like the acoustic guitar patch on a cheap synth you'd find in the corner of a thrift shop.

Point I am making is, if you simply have to have that section, then either the vocals have to go into another sphere and sprinkle something novel there. or re-emphasize a particularly catchy part of the song, and/or the guitar should equally do something new as opposed what a standard off the shelf arpeggio over the chords. When writing look over a song and ask yourself - would the song suffer if I took out this that or the other part?

Now, onto the more encouraging astuff. I think you have a lovely voice, if Taylor Swift ever wanted to take a day off then you could take her place. And what is more impressive, even though there are some hints of other artists, your voice does not sound contrived, as if you are indeed trying to emulate someone else, your voice has an honesty, clarity and candour about that the song on the whole compliment very well. Guitar tuning etc are fixable, but if someone has a dull and unconvincing voice and delivery, then its time to call the job centre and see what they got going, and stop off at Cash Convertors on the way and trade in the guitar for an x-box, or whatever.

So, please whatever you do keep on writing and singing and playing, this was a quite refreshing and very enjoyable listen, and from my perspective, if I can enjoy somethign then that'll' do fine for me. You have somethign to belive that's for sure, in believing in yourself, nice tune and nicely done

BY the way, I hasten to add, I don't discount comments made by others regarding tuning etc, one of the things that sets the stars apart from us mere mortals is their fastidious attention to every little detail, being perfect is not good enough, it has to be exemplary and more
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby anna-marie music » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:28 pm

OneWorld wrote:I know as much about engineering as King Herod knew about childcare, so I can only listen to it as an ordinary listener and as for the song itself I would drop one of the dropouts, they teeter so close to cliches and they sort of afferct the structure, I don't think having 2 contributes to the song, especially the first drop down where the guitar sounds like the acoustic guitar patch on a cheap synth you'd find in the corner of a thrift shop.

Point I am making is, if you simply have to have that section, then either the vocals have to go into another sphere and sprinkle something novel there. or re-emphasize a particularly catchy part of the song, and/or the guitar should equally do something new as opposed what a standard off the shelf arpeggio over the chords. When writing look over a song and ask yourself - would the song suffer if I took out this that or the other part?

Now, onto the more encouraging astuff. I think you have a lovely voice, if Taylor Swift ever wanted to take a day off then you could take her place. And what is more impressive, even though there are some hints of other artists, your voice does not sound contrived, as if you are indeed trying to emulate someone else, your voice has an honesty, clarity and candour about that the song on the whole compliment very well. Guitar tuning etc are fixable, but if someone has a dull and unconvincing voice and delivery, then its time to call the job centre and see what they got going, and stop off at Cash Convertors on the way and trade in the guitar for an x-box, or whatever.

So, please whatever you do keep on writing and singing and playing, this was a quite refreshing and very enjoyable listen, and from my perspective, if I can enjoy somethign then that'll' do fine for me. You have somethign to belive that's for sure, in believing in yourself, nice tune and nicely done

BY the way, I hasten to add, I don't discount comments made by others regarding tuning etc, one of the things that sets the stars apart from us mere mortals is their fastidious attention to every little detail, being perfect is not good enough, it has to be exemplary and more

Aww thank you for the compliments on my voice!!! <3 I've had a few people say that my voice reminds them of Taylor Swift (specifically in her newest song "Lover", which, coincidentally enough, I covered at a benefit concert earlier this year :) ).

Keep in mind though, that my co-producer did all the mixing and whatnot; I didn't really have much of a say in the production on this song, so there isn't really much I can say regarding the first point you mentioned. In fact, a lot of this information is totally new to me haha!! So thank you for bringing it up! What exactly are the "dropouts" anyways? I'll listen to the song again and take some notes about all that!
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby OneWorld » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:23 pm

Hello Anna-Marie. My comments were not so much a critique of the production, just saying how I might have done it.

The drop-outs I refer to is where all the intruments stop, except the guitar and the vocals. I sometimes wonder that 'cliche' in a tune might better serve the tune if there were a new element added, say a change of key, different melody, and if changing key probably not the obvious relative minor.

However these are just my take on things, your song your choice. I found this when I have played in bands. I might have written a tune at home and basically done all the parts.

Then the song is played in a band situation and say the bass player comes along and says, that's ok but how about this....and plays a bass line I would never have even thought of and it really compliments the tune. OK as a solo singer/songwriter that is difficult to reproduce.

Personally, seeing as this is an early effort I would consider the points made by various people and your thoughts and carry those over to your next song. Stevie Wonder was once asked which would he consider his best song and he replied "That'll be my next one"

Last night I watched a documentary on the BBC called Rockfield, about a studio where some of the most iconic contemporary music was record and apparently the location of the 'Wonderwall'

There was an interview with Chris Martin of Coldplay and he spoke of when the band were hanging about during recording. Martin had been playing about open tuning on his guitar and came across one of thords that just sort of captures the moment, at the same time he had been listening to a recording by a singer he admired and noted that singer always had a characteristic lilt to the way he sang some words and Martin sought to write a tune where he could use that particularly lyrical style but had no words. At that point in time his gaze fell on a copy of the Yellow Pages and thought "That's it I'll call it 'Yellow' "

He sketched out the bones of it and eager to get back to recording went amongst his co-workers and sought their approval and they said words to the effect of "nah, if you think you're a writer, give up the day job" the usual encouragement fellow band members are wont to impart LOL

Anyway, he had the belief and went on to finish the song off and second time around the others of course instantly knew they had something that was shovel ready. I look forward to hearing your next song, make sure to let us all know about it here as I am sure I speak for others too
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby anna-marie music » Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:44 pm

OneWorld wrote:Hello Anna-Marie. My comments were not so much a critique of the production, just saying how I might have done it.

The drop-outs I refer to is where all the intruments stop, except the guitar and the vocals. I sometimes wonder that 'cliche' in a tune might better serve the tune if there were a new element added, say a change of key, different melody, and if changing key probably not the obvious relative minor.

However these are just my take on things, your song your choice. I found this when I have played in bands. I might have written a tune at home and basically done all the parts.

Then the song is played in a band situation and say the bass player comes along and says, that's ok but how about this....and plays a bass line I would never have even thought of and it really compliments the tune. OK as a solo singer/songwriter that is difficult to reproduce.

Thank you for explaining that... I've been playing music since I was a kid (started learning piano at age 7, etc.), but never actually was involved in it to this extent, so I'm still learning a lot :D

I originally wrote "Something To Believe" as an acoustic song, and wasn't expecting it to be a straight-up pop song; in a way it's very similar to Hanson and their infamous 1997 debut single "Mmmbop", before the Dust Brothers turned it into a radio-friendly, 100% pop mix. I think maybe I'll rerecord my song in the way that I envisioned it ;)

OneWorld wrote:Personally, seeing as this is an early effort I would consider the points made by various people and your thoughts and carry those over to your next song. Stevie Wonder was once asked which would he consider his best song and he replied "That'll be my next one"

I love that response so much!
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby MOF » Thu Jul 23, 2020 1:10 pm

The drop-outs I refer to is where all the intruments stop, except the guitar and the vocals
Strictly speaking you’re referring to ‘a/the drop’, a term used in dance music where there’s a build up, a sudden break and then the beat resumes. Drop-outs are from the days of tape recording where a poor quality edit or excessive wear on the tape caused a drop in level, especially at the higher frequencies so that it sounded muffled.
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby BJG145 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:13 pm

Welcome to the forum Anna-Marie.

If you want to learn about dropouts you've come to the right place. :thumbup:
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby RDavidM » Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:45 pm

First off, I think that you have a really pretty voice, and I was drawn in to both your vocal tone as well as the lyrics. You're very talented, and it's great that you shared this piece.

Like others have mentioned, I felt that the vocals could've been mixed in better. That's not your fault. To MY ears, it sounded as if your vocals were way out in front of the rest of the mix.

Guitar tuning is something that can come back and bite after the fact. Many times I will begin a session with the electric properly tuned. After numerous consecutive takes, trying to nail the part, I will finally get it to my satisfaction. What I forget is that I've now been playing for a solid half-hour off that initial tuning.

One thing I would suggest is gradually teaching yourself to mix/master on your own. No matter how many times you explain your tonal goals of the track, the engineer/producer will instinctively mix it to HIS/HER tastes. Pick up a decent set of monitors and headphones, and begin experimenting on your own.

Bottom line, you certainly have talent....
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby anna-marie music » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:16 pm

RDavidM wrote:First off, I think that you have a really pretty voice, and I was drawn in to both your vocal tone as well as the lyrics. You're very talented, and it's great that you shared this piece.

Thank you!!!!

RDavidM wrote:Guitar tuning is something that can come back and bite after the fact. Many times I will begin a session with the electric properly tuned. After numerous consecutive takes, trying to nail the part, I will finally get it to my satisfaction. What I forget is that I've now been playing for a solid half-hour off that initial tuning.

That's totally what happened to me when I recorded the guitar! I could've sworn I tuned it properly... in fact it sounded normal when I listened back to it! And once the song was finalized, I sent it to a musician friend and he mentioned "yeah... your guitar is slightly out of tune." Back to the drawing board! (And of course I'm a perfectionist, so I couldn't capture the same feel of the track once i had re-tuned the guitar, hence why I left the original track in)

RDavidM wrote:Like others have mentioned, I felt that the vocals could've been mixed in better. That's not your fault. To MY ears, it sounded as if your vocals were way out in front of the rest of the mix.

One thing I would suggest is gradually teaching yourself to mix/master on your own. No matter how many times you explain your tonal goals of the track, the engineer/producer will instinctively mix it to HIS/HER tastes. Pick up a decent set of monitors and headphones, and begin experimenting on your own.

Yes, I will definitely be learning more about producing my own songs.
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:49 pm

If you're looking to start recording and mixing your own stuff (it's a wonderful hobby by the way!) then I'd seriously recommend a couple of books by Mike Senior: Recording Secrets for the Small Studio and Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.
They're good introductory texts that walk you through the process from simple beginnings, but they're also solid enough to keep referring back to for a long while afterwards as well.

And a subscription to Sound On Sound is always a good bet too. ;)
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Re: My first song, "Something to Believe"

Postby RichardT » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:52 pm

For a first song this is very good.

One thing I found disconcerting was the long gap between the first and second lines of the lyric. That’s unusual. If it’s an effect you deliberately chose, then that’s fine, but it did leave me wondering when the next line was going to arrive.
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