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Showing content with the highest reputation on 04/05/18 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    After @Moso 's kind words on Donna and my song "Coyote" I simply have to respond to his request to talk about how the vocals and bridge were done. I don't pretend to be an expert in production (there are many with more knowledge than I on the Muse) but maybe others will get some ideas from my process and add them to their own. First off you need to make a track with your background music, or at least enough of it to sing along to. The arrangement should be decided before you track vox IMO. I find you need instruments in the backing track that are close in frequency to your vocals - such as a piano or guitar. The surest way to sing out of tune is to sing to a bass track Use a decent mic that suits your voice. I use an old Shure 545 dynamic cartridge mic. My vocal is naturally "tinny" and needs some bottom end which this mic provides. Use a screen pop filter Gets rid of explosives caused by puffs of air. I find a screen filter works better than a "foam" one which I find changes the EQ of the mic. Distance from mic I sing about 4-6 in from the pop screen which is about 2 in from the mic. Mic pre-amp Use a mic preamp so that the input level is high enough that it doesn't clip, but has a high s/n (signal to noise) ratio so you don't get any hiss. Rather than spend $300, I use the mic preamp in my stereo audio system which is pretty clean. Don't over-sing! This is a mistake I kept making in the past - I'm trying to rid myself of it. I worried about every phrase, pronouncing every word, making each note pitch-perfect. Don't think about "impressing" anyone with your singing - serve the song - that's the only one you need to impress. Do multiple takes You can then pick and choose best tuning/phrasing etc. from each track. Copy/paste together to get a final raw track. I use Audacity for recording and editing mainly because I'm familiar with it. Effects/plug-ins are done in my DAW - either Acid Pro or Reaper currently. Amplify/reduce words/phrases that seem too low or too high in the mix This is a pre-compressor process for the really low/high stuff. I also amplify soft consonants like an "s" or "f" at the ending of words as these are sometimes lost at the compression stage. Silence regions where there are no vocals. Apply compression on the raw track. I use Isotope's 3-band vocal compression plug-in. This levels out the vocal so everything is heard clearly. Create a new track for wet only reverb and create it by applying a decent reverb plug-in to the compressed track. I like to bring reverb up or down depending on parts of the song. For parts where there is less instrumentation, the vox need less reverb and vise versa. Edit the reverb track to change these levels where needed. I don't typically double-track a lead vocal. I have done this in the past, but it makes the vox seem unnatural to me. I sometimes sing a track an octave down or up, or both to strengthen the lead vox if I feel it needs it. Harmony Vocals The main thing I try to remember with harmonies is: Don't compete with the lead vox! Sing these a bit further from mic sing harmonies like a background singer would - don't compete! EQ away from lead vox - sometimes I pull down low/mid freqs compress 1st harm only - this keeps the level below lead vox consistent space harms across stereo field - don't center them! lower in mix than lead vox avoid too many harmonies - you'll sound like a barbershop quartet! use them to build the song - typically leave them out in the early stages. don't put harms on every lead line - stay out of the barbershop! give them more reverb than lead vox - makes them less distinct - less competitive line up timing with lead vox Greek chorus This is what I call any oooo's/aaahhh's or falsetto bg vox mix them extreme left/right in the stereo field give them the most reverb of all vox - almost like the audience is singing them lower level in mix than harm I usually end up with six mixed-down stereo vocal tracks: - compressed lead vox - lead vox reverb (based on compressed lead vox) - harm bus (all harms that are not greek chorus) - harm bus reverb - greek chorus - greek chorus reverb Then I mix the song down to a stereo unmastered track. Remember: "Lead vocal rules!" "He is King for all to serve!" - every other vocal and instrument is there to support him. And of course, mastering the track will help the sound of your vocals - I use Isotope again for this. Their "Country" preset was used on Coyote. I'll add another entry for the bridge development. Hope I haven't bored you! cheers Paul
  2. 2 points
    For more purposeful, structured demonstrations I often do...
  3. 1 point
    Hi all, Working on a new song idea. Wrote the 1st verse and chorus. Before I continue, feedback is most welcome on what I have. Also feedback on if I should add a solo or leave the mid part as an instrumental break. Thanks in advance and rock on! FALLING SKY (Words by Jonathan Linton, Music by Jonathan Linton) Tonnes of steel Hid in a hole Mankind Out of control 14,000 Ways to die Button pressed And blown sky high Dodged bullets of extinction Now you’re obsessed with Jurisdiction Your conviction Nationize Human demise You keep the scouring Miss the warning Only realize When the sky is Falling! When the sky is Falling! Falling!
  4. 1 point
    Pretty rough guitar instrumental. I'm not really sure where I want to go with this, or how to get there. Obviously needs a bass line; the only bassist I've been able to get together with couldn't seem to do much more with it than hit root notes, so I'm probably going to end up finding a cheap bass somewhere and doing my own (something that's a distinct line of its own, ala John Paul Jones or James Dewar). I'm also thinking of a keyboard part, kind of an ambience-type thing, like Pink Floyd (intro to Shine On You Crazy Diamond), with a pedal A in the little bridge thing. The big question to me is, does this song lend itself to a vocal melody? I'm not sure; it seems to me to be structured more around a feel hopefully conveyed by the opening and closing voice fx, and I don't know that vocals wouldn't be more of an intrusion than anything else. But, of course, I'm open to ideas. The lead lines are also something I'm working on polishing up a bit. Anyway, all feedback appreciated. Faron Abandoned, on SoundCloud ETA- just listened to the link, and I didn't realize how muddy that version sounds. I'd have preferred to link to my BandMix version, but couldn't get that link to work properly. I should also mention that I've been having issues with hearing loss for the last few years (seems to run in my family, and I am 61, after all), so what I hear and what everyone else does may be two completely different things.
  5. 1 point
    I write in various styles. What works for me is to define the foundation first. Style/Genre Tempo Key, Song Form then the Progressions. That's the easy part. Then I work out the melody and solo parts. It's not a jam. I use devices found in music theory and I craft the parts. I've written out my full verse and chorus along with putting in ideas with the solo. The problem was that the first time I didn't record the parts and the next day I'd forgotten what I did for the A section. So I started over remembering the devices I'd used. Then my A section no longer worked with my B section. While it looked good in my head I may have to re-write my be section but first I need a decent cap for the a section. Every time I try to close it out it's either not working or it sounds like a rip from something else. That something else a McDonalds commercial for criminey sake. One thing I like about lyric writers is they go through the rewrite process publicly in the forum and they are more than ready to accept input from others. Yeah, I like it but I find it hard to do myself. When I have something to show (if I don't give up first) I'll most likely post it here.
  6. 1 point
    (I'm afraid this is a bit of a test post, just to see how things work here. I don't mind if it blows up in my face. About the song: I hear this one played by a Big Band, but it could just as easily be a lone acoustic guitar or a piano, just as long as it's a happy dance number for couples who can maybe go in pairs like the animals entering the ark.) Chorus: Two by two came the crocodiles Two by two, the giraffes Two by two, the hyenas, who are always good for laughs. Two by two ... - with a snarl - with a smile - down the garden path - down the aisle Verse 1: When Noah built the ark and stowed the crocodiles below He knew he had a place where Mrs Noah wouldn't go So down he went to smoke his pipe and play his harp at night To crocodiles with miles of smiles in Noah's candlelight. Bridge: And Noah sang a song about the sunshine of his youth Six hundred years before the rains came down When he would stroll the countryside with Zipporah or Ruth And later take her all the way to town Chorus: ||: Two by two :|| etc. Verse 2: When Noah sang his song, he beat the rhythm on the rug, And sixteen thousand animals, each goat and cat and bug, Would pair up with its mate and start to dance the dance of life. Then Noah went upstairs to do some dancing with his wife. Bridge: And Noah sang a song ... Chorus: ||: Two by two :|| etc. Verse 3: Now when the rain stopped falling and the clouds began to pass, The sea spread out for miles and miles, as smooth as any glass. But that old ark kept rocking on the shiny, briny sea. Where all us happy creatures danced the dance of eternity Bridge: And Noah sang a song ... Chorus: ||: Two by two :|| etc.
  7. 1 point
    I sometimes end my practice sessions with a freestyle drill like this. Yesterday it dawned on me that it might make a cool video, so I set up the cameras & shot it. 'Nuf said (approx. 2 minutes long)
  8. 1 point
    I agree with everything Paul has said. It is always interesting to hear about other's processes. I have a few comments, and a couple of different ways of doing things . With vocals and other acoustically recorded tracks such as acoustic guitar, unless you have a treated room at home it is nearly impossible to get a professional sound. The room reflections just give too many EQ issues. So I say do your practice vocals at home then pack up your lap top interface mic stand and pop shield and go to a studio and dry hire a sound booth, track the vocals there. In the production process I only do one process in solo mode all other processing I do in context with the whole track. The solo button is the enemy of a good vocal mix. You can not get the vocal to sit in the track forwards backwards left right or up and down if your processing in solo mode. How would you know? What might sound great in solo, in context be too far back. In solo mode I will do the following. Subtractive EQ: Create a boost EQ of say 15 to 18 db with a narrow Q, say eight. I will then looking at the frequency analysis, sweep up and down the range listening for any unpleasant noises. If I find one I will expand the Q until I hear some good stuff coming back in. I will then back it of slightly narrow it. Then zero the db, switch off solo mode, and in context with the track pull down that frequency until I feel it sounds right. I will then in context AB the EQ to see if I have improved the sound. I will check for any low end noise that may be there, and roll it off if necessary. There may be more that one frequency that needs subtractive EQ. Track prep: I will remove any paper rustle or incidental noise from the track. Label everything, colour code everything. Boring but it helps with speed, speed is everything. I always colour the same track types the sane colour for every mix I do so I can find things instantly. The following processes are all in context that is the solo button is not used, I always have the track playing. I will decide if the lead vocal can be on one track. And if it can not I split it. An example of this could be, if in the verse the singer is whispering and screaming in the chorus you have no chance of EQ-ing or compressing the track with the same settings. So in that case I will have a Lead Vox verse track and a chorus track. Gain staging: I will insert a gain plug in, and adjust the gain to that the vocal is peaking most of the time at around -14db. I will then clip gain the odd parts of the vocal that are exceeding this or way below this. This is not precise amplitude editing, it is just getting rid of the major variations. I will then insert my vocal correction plug in ahead of the gain plug in as the first in the chain. print the vocal take to the plug in. Check that the plug in analysis of the take is correct and fix any issues. I will then seperate the consonants from the words. Then with the whole track playing I will hand tune, and time the vocal track and do finer amplitude adjustments. Compression: Then I will add first compression to even out the amplitude further from the gain staging, and hand amplitude adjustments I have done. I am only doing 2 db here. Genre dependant. Then I will add second compression, here I am setting the attack and decay times so I can hear the lyric clearly in the mix, hear all the low level detail I feel the song needs. This is genre dependant. I will then add colour to the vocal compression if I think it needs it. Note I switch briefly to solo mode when I am compressing to do one thing, and one thing only. Set the out put volume to the same as the input volume. Louder always sounds better, so to tell if your compression has actually improved the vocal it needs to be the same volume in by pass as it is when the compressor is active. I go back to context and A B the compressor in and out and ask myself, have I made it sound clearer more distinct. If I have then all well and good and I can press on. I will then with a note pad listen to the whole song listening for problems and jotting them down all in one listen. This is important because to retain my objectivity I need to listen to the track as little as possible. Otherwise if you listen long enough, loud enough bad stuff starts to sound good. At this stage I may have to go back to the vocal editor plug in and make finer adjustments, say the compression has created the odd plosive issue and I need to physically turn that consonant down or, I can't get a particular word to pop while still keeping the compression at a seamless level and I need to physically turn it up in volume. Now I need to refer to my reference track. Before I do, because this has already been mixed and mastered, I have to level the playing field, just like with the compression volume issue. I will insert a spectrum analyser on the mix bus, and the match EQ my whole track to that, so that the overall track has a similar frequency profile. I will add a limiter to the mix bus to simulate the mastering sound, and make sure that the reference track and my track are the same volume. I will AB the tracks insert an EQ on the vocal and do additive EQ in context which my whole track and the reference track. This is usually a high shelf boost up above where harshness happens. I will go back to the second compressor and fine tune the settings so the distance the vocal is back in the mix is the same as the reference I am aiming for. I will then D ess. I do not use a D-esser I go back into the first plug in in my chain the vocal correction plug in and turn down any s or consonant plosive that I had separated in the prep stage to remove any issues. I will now set up two to four Aux tracks depending on genre. Reverb Delay Chorus Effects for example throw delay or filtering I will create a production chain for each of those Aux tracks which will include Gain to make sure the input signal to the effect is optimal for the plug in. The plug in, delay reverb or whatever EQ perhaps compression I may on the delay Aux add reverb to the delay for example as well. I will set these effects channels to what is suitable for the sound I'm after. For example the length of the reverb tail so that it is in time with the vocal delivery, ie the tail fades before the next word. I will set the early reflections, the pre delay on the reverb to get the vocal to sit sweetly in the mix with out muddying it up too much. I am doing this with the send cranked up so there will be a bit of mud and the vocal will be too far back. The point is I am removing as much unwanted frequencies in the verb and pulling the vocal as far forward as I can with the verb exaggerated. I will then turn the send down to 0 db and slowly increase it until I can hear the reverb, then back it off 1db. Then I will listen too it critically and make automation notes. Automation. Before automation if I have conflicts with the vocal I may apply some ducking to the instrument that is causing the issue. Say a couple of db. compression on the piano side chained to the vocal track. This is about glueing the mix together more tightly. I will the ride the vocal fader with my mouse and create an approximate automation track for volume. I will then go in and fine edit the automation track. I will do the same if required for any of the say four effects aux channels. Like there might be a word where its appropriate to the prosody of the song to crank up the echo or whatever. Say the singer sings "I'm lonely" so I want him to seem like he's in a big empty room for that section. So I may increase the reverb and echo for just that word, by automation. If I am doing harmonies and back up vocals I copy the plug in chains and their settings directly across to the harmony tracks. This is a starting point I then alter the compression EQ etc to what is appropriate to backing vocals and harmonies. For example the attack and decay times on the compression are totally different for harmonies because it's support you don't want the low level detail you have created for the lead vocal. I usually tighten the harmonies up in the vocal editing plug in, by turning the consonants right down, our by just muting them. I will then follow the automation procedure for the harmonies. Thats about it. The thing is is to work fast from as few listens as you can to keep your ears fresh. To do broad bold adjustments to start and refine them through out the process. Cheers Gary
  9. 1 point
    Hi Paul, I don't think this is too preachy but it didn't totally work for me. It feels like a good idea for a song that can probably be improved with a few tweaks. For me, the best part of the lyric is the verse that starts 'Before politicians send our youth to war' although I wonder if 'youth' could be changed to 'kids' - might be more emotive and 'youth' is a word that I don't think is used much these days? Whilst I think that verse is great, I think it takes too long to get to that crux of the song. The earlier parts, with the explanation of how the words were used first by the child, didn't really grab my interest ... though that may just be me. I do get the context of a child saying 'use your words'. My eldest son was often overly physical at nursery and we were told that it was because he had a speech delay and, often, if kids can't express themselves verbally they express themselves physically. But I think having 4 verses before you get to the part about politicians sending kids to die is possibly too much. And, yes, as others have mentioned the 'And too often up in knots they're getting tied' sounded too much like Yoda speak. P.S. It does occur to me that there are certain politicians where the problems may start when they 'use their words' ...
  10. 1 point
    Oh, tell me about it! I get something and try it out. I sit down again and it changes. Then I get a lucky accident and spend a while trying to work out what I did so I can repeat it. Then I'm happy I have a decent idea. The next day it changes again I'll start working on it when it settles down into something repeatable. I mess with it every time I practice something else. It may move to something that is worth adding words to - or may not - or may morph into something else and reappear later. I don't record until it is practiced and repeatable. Then I have something malleable and can work out the kinks. There are always kinks. I don't have a song that isn't still waiting for a better line somewhere.
  11. 1 point
    I agree with the fellow who said he had no criticism and found it amusing. Good tight meter, clever rhymes and amusing innuendos. Well done. I would guess you already have music in mind for this, so any talk about whether there are too many repeats of bridges or such are going to be yea'ed or nay'ed once the music reveals itself. Nice job.
  12. 1 point
    Hi M Rather tongue in cheek. Nothing wrong with the chorus first. Again another folk song for sure. cheers R-N-R Jim
  13. 1 point
    I like this SongWolfe you paint a good picture with your words. First 2 verses are strong. Under Big ol' skies could be improved, though imho, give us more with that line. Verse 3 is great, you've got me caught in your woven visual. 😊 I think the chorus could offer a little more texture and contrast, it seems a touch bland after the promise of the verses. I don't think the field line is doing enough work. I would love to feel concrete or cement or smell grass or tar, etc. I feel like Boots has more of a story than just jumping straight to the doctor. This guy sounds legendary, tell me more about his adventures. Where was ge walking? Did he help someone one day. Did he do a midnight flick or rob a train? Anyway I think this is a good solid start to what could be an even more interesting lyric.
  14. 1 point
    I recently discovered this technique (though I've only used a drastic mid range filter so far, I'll have to try it with some distortion) and it really works wonders. No problematic artifacts on good speakers and a nice, present track on lower quality speakers. It has definitely been put into my every-mix-tricks protocol.
  15. 1 point
    Paul, Jonie, Quinton, Mike, and Oswlek, Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I had the first two verses of this before Christmas and the chorus was part of a different lyric thread but I couldn't get any further with either of them. On Valentines Day I saw this photo on the internet. This man had taken his wife's ashes/ urn with him and bought a card and took 'her' to lunch. And then he broke down. the waitress was so moved she took a photo of this poor guy. I left the wording such that it could be about this guy in the photo. the love interest could either be alive or dead but either way, her departure was so sudden and final that the guy is just beside himself with grief. When someone leaves without warning and you realize you will never get that last conversation it's pretty much like a death. You go through the same stages. He's going through the stages. The start of each verse was to show him living his life solo, seemingly normal, but not at all normal for him. Inside he's anything but. A minute. An hour. Maybe he gets that far without thinking of her, or maybe he doesn't. I could add 'not' if there was ever music for it. I was thinking about a bridge, but it's just been stuck as is for a couple months. I'm studying your ideas, so thank you. I know it's not finished.
  16. 1 point
    Wassup Paul, I really like how you change the view of the chorus that's great! One of the things that I notice is that you have too many verse. This can be fixed with two options: Take away a verse that is weaker than the others, or you can combine a verses with each other. Because having a lyric going over (verse- chorus) more than two times gets boring depending on the effects that you can provide throughout the lyric. http://donpharaoh.com/signup/
  17. 1 point
    I agree. Spaces and the art of letting a song breath. I believe this is one of the toughest tasks in songwriting, especially when you're writing by yourself and don't have a band to rehearse with, then the problem will solve itself, your bandmates will simply tell you to shut the hell up. It's difficult to lean back, and naturally let the music fill out the spaces. A lot of songwriters, when it's time to let the music "speak", a time when you should really let the lyrics (and vocal melodies) sink in, hit panic mode and instead fill the musical parts with vocals. What happens then is that we feed the listener with too much vocal and lyrical information so we lose their interest. I've gotten better at it but I'm guilty of this myself in the past. That's the hardest part of arranging, you really need to step out of yourself to be able to focus on what the song wants and needs, not what you want or need. A big difference and usually makes wonders once a songwriter figure it out. Again, not saying I don't do it, just saying I'm more aware of it nowadays and that alone helps a ton. Thanks for sharing Paul. Good stuff! /Peter