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pinkheadedbug
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4th January 2012
Old 4th January 2012
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Post your rough demos

Huge props to the Gearslutz Gods for providing this forum!

This is a thread to post rough demos of songs, for critique NOT of production but of composition. So out-of-tune vocals or crappy recordings are totally fine -- this is about the song, not the performance.

Here's a song I just finished but am still noodling on. What I like about it so far is the chordal structure, the way the chorus kicks in, and the way it keeps on modulating. Not sure about the lyrics yet.

http://soundcloud.com/sportswriters/hold-on-to-love-rough-demo
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4th January 2012
Old 4th January 2012
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Hey PHB. That's an early hit with me. I listened a couple of times in 'analysis' mode and then a third time cos I just wanted to enjoy it.

It could well be a candidate for the perfect pop song, or perhaps the perfect pop-song writer's pop song - I thought I got fleeting (and pleasant) aftertastes of Alan Parsons Project, Beatles, Dire Straits, Dylan, and even a bit of Monkees :-)

Did you consider bringing out the guitar solo you couldn't find space for and using it for an instrumental chorus at 2:47, or even using it to extend that chorus after the current final one since you probably have space before infringing the 4 minute mark.

I am in two minds about the additional key change - one is interesting, two feels like you're making a point. But if it really took you that way like you said on SC, who are you to deny it its freedom to wander? Rules are there for the breaking.

I wouldn't be sure about the lyrics either. I mean, the message of the song is actually kind of clear which is great. The slightly unsettling thing, I found once analysis mode had been running for a few minutes, was not exactly a mixed metaphor but an oscillation between two domains (tactile - 'hold on', 'slip away', 'by your side' etc; and visual - 'smoke in your eyes', clouds, sun appearing etc). It made me wonder whether I shouldn't stick to one or the other somehow, so that I wasn't holding on to love but keeping it in sight. However, the sheer power of that phrase 'HOLD on to love', with all the impact after that drum build-up that you like about the start of the chorus, is a valuable part of the song. Just a thought. Thinking about this a bit more, the mixed domains could actually seem less confusing in the literal video that could accompany it, i.e. while you are shading your eyes from blinding sun or else furiously venting away the obscuring fumes of whatever, your 'love' in the guise of your actual girl could quite clearly up and off and slip away because you took your arm off her for an instant to open the window and failed to hold on to her ;-)

Nice work and thanks for the tune - hope you continue to work on it cos you can easily hear that being played on the airwaves :-)
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4th January 2012
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OK- this one's really rough. Just a structure, really. No melodies/lyrics yet - these will likely be worked on by all three members of a band I'm in.

In the interest of discussing process:

- I really like ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid". I wanted something kinda sorta like it. Listened to the song once as a refresher, aped the overall vibe/structure as quickly as I could, obviously not being too precious about it.

- I programmed the basic drum beat using samples I recorded years ago

- Put down the guitar track. I had the riff/verse/chorus ideas, but I improvised the middle section.

- Put down the bass.

- Put down the Juno "lead" (haha)

- Put in the crashes, did a few edits in the drums

- Did the little "mute/stutter" edits toward the end

The writing/demoing process, so far, is at about 45 minutes.

Feel free to chime in, I'd love to hear opinions about the process and the music.
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4th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzzymackenzie View Post
It could well be a candidate for the perfect pop song, or perhaps the perfect pop-song writer's pop song - I thought I got fleeting (and pleasant) aftertastes of Alan Parsons Project, Beatles, Dire Straits, Dylan, and even a bit of Monkees :-)
Ha! Well, thank you. You are so right about the "pop-song writer's pop song" thing -- I often think there are two kinds of pop -- the kinds people actually listen to on the radio and then the sort of stuff that songslutz whittle away at in their studios. I'm a big fan of the latter -- Pernice Brothers, New Pornographers, Matthew Sweet, Aimee Mann, Lloyd Cole, even Eliott Smith to an extent.

I'm really interested in using the traditional instrumentation of 60s/70s pop to make something which sounds reasonably fresh. I sort of feel that a lot of that era's music (eg Supertramp, Elton John, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac) which I and many other people LOATHED at the time, is due for a re-evaluation. I think you are already seeing that to a certain extent with Iron & Wine, Jack Johnson and quite a few others. I think it's potentially great counter-programming to dance music/rap on the one hand and generic rawk on the other.

Quote:
Did you consider bringing out the guitar solo you couldn't find space for and using it for an instrumental chorus at 2:47, or even using it to extend that chorus after the current final one since you probably have space before infringing the 4 minute mark.
The solo was originally after the bridge but it robbed the song of that build you mentioned back into the chorus, which is why I ditched it. Putting it towards the end is not a bad idea at all. I can hear one version of it over the final bridge section then coming back in after the build to an instrumental chorus and fade. Very 70s!

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I am in two minds about the additional key change - one is interesting, two feels like you're making a point. But if it really took you that way like you said on SC, who are you to deny it its freedom to wander? Rules are there for the breaking.
The way I thought about it was that at that point, the key change in the middle of the chorus actually becomes the melody. It feels a bit flat if you don't modulate, because the modulation is such a kick in the pants in the second chorus. But it's something I'll think about for sure.

Thanks so much for listening -- much appreciated.
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4th January 2012
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@pinkheadedbug - great tune, really upbeat...reminds me of Lennon-McCartney. By way of positive feedback I should say that for me the track sounded 'too full' in the first section and IMO a more laid back intro would allow you to bring in the fullness later as an effect. Great track tho.

@evangelista - really cool vibe...the fullness works here from the outset as it's hooky...great guitar tone...maybe a dB at 230Hz on the snare would add definition/punch to the mid-low. Great sound though...classic sounding.

I'd appreciate feedback on this track which was written and recorded in a few hours as part of the ShareCloud Sunday group on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/arthurstone/miss-smith

It's a bit rough but I'd appreciate any advice on composition (or anything else). Thanks
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4th January 2012
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Hey Arthur -- that's a lovely track.

My only comment is about the arrangement. I'm not a huge fan of the electric guitar which comes in and feels like it clutters up something that is very sparse and elegant. Also, up until then the track is very much in its own style, but the electric tends to nudge it into a familiar kind of Roger Waters groove, which I find a bit of disappointing.

I would be tempted to do lose the electric guitar and do two things --

1. Bring in a cello part which basically echoes the drone you have going on the guitar and intensifies the modal feel you already have.

2. Bring in a very clean and simple vocal harmony towards the end, maybe sticking to fifths, again to echo the chordal feel you have going on the guitar.

Other than that, I really like it. The vocal performance is excellent, very characterful. The string arrangement is good too -- could be made more of, which is why I suggest the cello (would also fill out the bottom end a bit).
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4th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
@pinkheadedbug - great tune, really upbeat...reminds me of Lennon-McCartney. By way of positive feedback I should say that for me the track sounded 'too full' in the first section and IMO a more laid back intro would allow you to bring in the fullness later as an effect. Great track tho.
Yep. I think the intro should probably just be fingerpicked acoustic, then the toms can bring in the piano, and the big tremolo guitar can wait for the chorus.
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@pinkheadedbug - thanks so much...great feedback. I'm glad I posted it now. Totally agree about the end guitar...something I've felt a bit uncomfortable with. Great advice too on the harmony and cello (which I hope to get a session musician for).
Hopefully a revised version will make it onto a project album this year and I'd be grateful for some more advice before it's released...or should that be - unleashed?
Best, Arthur : )
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4th January 2012
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This is the final mix and master that will be released as a single in March, rest of the album is almost done as well (just need some vocals and a bit more piano recorded):

http://soundcloud.com/redtraces/once_were/s-sQVae

Let me know what you nice people think,

Cheers,
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@Monsiuer X - I like the vibe and smooth vocal. Positive feedback: IMO the track sounded too constant all the way though...it would be good to have some demarcation between sections. Hope this helps
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5th January 2012
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PHB,

What can I say? I thought that was a rather great song. You know I was not sure at first, something put me off - I think it is the last note of the first verse going down to E. Still not 100% sure on that, is sounds a bit of a downer. But it makes more sense in the second verse when the chorus kicks in.

What I loved about it was starting the first verse immediately, I do love songs that don't bother with the 16 bar intro and get straight into it.

I am not sure if it is fair to speculate on influences or artists I think this sounds like, but I will, because for me it is a positive. You ever heard of Badly Drawn Boy? I hear some of him in this song, and like I said, I mean that as a good thing.

I really like this sound. Great effort.
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5th January 2012
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here's some songs I can recommend from a great writer - not mastered yet.....

Particular favourites Forgive Forgo For Good and When you Forgive Me...

SINGLE LIFE | Paul Henry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
@Monsiuer X - I like the vibe and smooth vocal. Positive feedback: IMO the track sounded too constant all the way though...it would be good to have some demarcation between sections. Hope this helps
Brother, you are totally right, I feel the sentiment and the same exact remark you've made was said by the the drummer (one of my greatest friends) after I recently sent him this song mixed.

Many of the other songs on the album really have a lot of contrast between sections. I know that the album as a whole will be well rounded, so I was willing for this song to kind of go it's own way.

But again thanks for the things you've mentioned, you are absolutely thinking the way you should be.

Cheers!

Last edited by monsieur x; 5th January 2012 at 01:26 AM.. Reason: Typo
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Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Justin who?

Seriously Chris, you got the skillz man - love the hand action - I might try and emulate that for my next video; also good to see you sans lunettes de soleil...

...is that the Sony CG800 in action?
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5th January 2012
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Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug View Post
Huge props to the Gearslutz Gods for providing this forum!

This is a thread to post rough demos of songs, for critique NOT of production but of composition. So out-of-tune vocals or crappy recordings are totally fine -- this is about the song, not the performance.

Here's a song I just finished but am still noodling on. What I like about it so far is the chordal structure, the way the chorus kicks in, and the way it keeps on modulating. Not sure about the lyrics yet.

http://soundcloud.com/sportswriters/hold-on-to-love-rough-demo
I hate to be nagative, but its kind of hard to hear the melodic contour and stuff due to the vocals being that bad. You cant ask someone to judge a song when you can't hear the song due to the performance on it. I feel that's probably why you've tried to exclude out of tune vocals from the critique, but I just cant listen to it properly because of it.
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Originally Posted by monsieur x View Post
This is the final mix and master that will be released as a single in March, rest of the album is almost done as well (just need some vocals and a bit more piano recorded):

http://soundcloud.com/redtraces/once_were/s-sQVae

Let me know what you nice people think,

Cheers,
Now this is STUNNING. Kudos my friend.

Current, relevant, cool as fook. I likes.
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5th January 2012
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Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Horrendous, that is.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davido View Post
I hate to be nagative, but its kind of hard to hear the melodic contour and stuff due to the vocals being that bad. You cant ask someone to judge a song when you can't hear the song due to the performance on it. I feel that's probably why you've tried to exclude out of tune vocals from the critique, but I just cant listen to it properly because of it.
That's a bit mean. This is a pretty cool forum usually.
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Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Yep it is, it's the one I own!...
Cool - it sounds great. If I may say so I found your video of far better quality than that Justin geezer.

I vote for hearing Davido's erm, ...work too
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Re: CG800 - it sounds smooth but also has presence and sits well. Nice.

C'mon Davido - we're hungry and it's feedin' time
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davido View Post
I hate to be nagative, but its kind of hard to hear the melodic contour and stuff due to the vocals being that bad. You cant ask someone to judge a song when you can't hear the song due to the performance on it. I feel that's probably why you've tried to exclude out of tune vocals from the critique, but I just cant listen to it properly because of it.
I can't argue with that... I slapped them on as soon as I finished the lyric and did the whole thing in cans so my pitch is probably WAAAY off.

I did a quick second pass for you and paid attention to the pitch this time and autotuned anything that was really bum, so forgive the Michael Bublé. Anyway see what you think:

http://soundcloud.com/sportswriters/hold-on-to-love-rough-demo
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6th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davido View Post
I hate to be nagative, but its kind of hard to hear the melodic contour and stuff due to the vocals being that bad. You cant ask someone to judge a song when you can't hear the song due to the performance on it. I feel that's probably why you've tried to exclude out of tune vocals from the critique, but I just cant listen to it properly because of it.
Don't be negative!

I actually liked the voice, it has a certain "un-manufactured" style which I think can sound excellent matched with the right songs - though it does need to be the right songs with a more gritty down to earth arrangement.

Have you never heard of Badly Drawn Boy? There is a songwriter who has done pretty well for himself despite having a voice that is very unremarkable. As I said earlier, this track does remind me in some ways of Badly Drawn Boy.

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6th January 2012
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Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
That's a bit mean. This is a pretty cool forum usually.
I have been constructive though. I am not a mean person, but I am honest. What is the point in us having a thread asking for critique, if we don't give, erm, critique?
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6th January 2012
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Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug View Post
I can't argue with that... I slapped them on as soon as I finished the lyric and did the whole thing in cans so my pitch is probably WAAAY off.

I did a quick second pass for you and paid attention to the pitch this time and autotuned anything that was really bum, so forgive the Michael Bublé. Anyway see what you think:

http://soundcloud.com/sportswriters/hold-on-to-love-rough-demo
Kudos for not being sensitive mate. I guessed from you starting the thread you wanted constructive criticism. The song sounds cool, its just hard to know if it IS cool. If you want to get it noticed/sell it, then this needs to be fixed. Will have a listen to this second pass!
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6th January 2012
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Originally Posted by Murphster View Post
Don't be negative!

I actually liked the voice, it has a certain "un-manufactured" style which I think can sound excellent matched with the right songs - though it does need to be the right songs with a more gritty down to earth arrangement.

Have you never heard of Badly Drawn Boy? There is a songwriter who has done pretty well for himself despite having a voice that is very unremarkable. As I said earlier, this track does remind me in some ways of Badly Drawn Boy.


HAHA! Have I heard of him? Recorded him twice, played with him about 5 times. Damon's a great guy with an incredible voice. Incredible songs and a great person.

I guess the fact the OP agreed with me proves that there was room for constructive criticism. If people were more honest, rather than just patting each other on the back, we'd all become better at what we do.

Please stop being so sensitive, and patronising, and lets all just get along and allow for criticism.
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6th January 2012
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Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Cool - it sounds great. If I may say so I found your video of far better quality than that Justin geezer.

I vote for hearing Davido's erm, ...work too
I've written many songs, released on Universal. In my band. Fortunately they did very well.

However, by your logic, no-one would ever be able to criticise anyone unless they were doing it themselves? So no-one can criticise Radiohead? The Beatles? Flaming Lips? Just because they're better than us?

Get a grip man and stop being so sensitive.
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Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Yep it is, it's the one I own!

Hey Davido. Let's hear one of your hit songs shall we. We'll see who's more horrendous, my stuff or yours.
Ah jesus. You're one of them.

What you;re trying to say is "are you more successful than I am?"

Opinions my friend. Its what makes music music. Its why a young 16yr old can come on the scene, and call everything around "crap" and try and better it.

Drop your ego, and just take it that some people wont like your material. Yep?
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