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Everything posted by PaulCanuck

  1. PaulCanuck

    How I do vocals

    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. The idea for this came out of the expression WWJD. Comments/advice is welcome - no music yet so be as brutal as you like What Would the Devil Do? (WWDD) I'm a pretty straight-up guy And when I decide What's wrong or right I know which side to choose But when I'm drinkin Things get askew And I get to thinkin'.. What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do? Would he pay up at the bar? Make his way out to his car? Or would he stay and chug this booze? What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do? My waitress brushes by Her pretty eyes Are hypnotizin' Now, that's a fine excuse To ask her out But my lips won't move My mind is shouting: What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do? Would he take that lady's hand? Would he be her faithful man? Or would he break her heart in two? What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do? {br} I guess I know the answer If I thought about it much 'Cause nothin' good can come from What's in the Devil's touch He'll never pull me under But that leaves me here to wonder... What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do? Head on out of here? What would the Devil do? Or buy another beer? What would the Devil do? Pack it in tonight? What would the Devil do? Or start another fight? What would the Devil do? Go home, get some rest? What would the Devil do? Or touch that girly's ... wrist! {now, get your mind out of the gutter!..} What would the Devil do? What would the Devil do?
  3. PaulCanuck

    May Song Contest

    Welcome to the May Song Contest – an open format contest. For any newcomers, open format means the entry can be at any production level - from just you and your guitar to a fully orchestrated masterpiece TO ENTER: You must post your song in this thread. The timeline is as follows: • Entries will be accepted now through Midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST) Thursday, May 31st, 2018. • Voting (scorecards) will take place Friday June 1st through Midnight EST Sunday June 10th, 2018. • Please don’t start scoring until I officially post the scoring instructions. • You must score all other entries or your entry will be disqualified from the contest - just saying! • I'll post the results shortly after scoring is completed. If you plan to enter, please review the revised rules, pinned in this forum. When posting your song to the Songs Feedback Forum, please include: •song title •writer credits (If it’s a collab with another Muser please make that clear by including their M/M id) •audio link Please include the lyrics on your post. Videos are permitted. (Voters are encouraged to refrain from watching any video until after they've scored the song.) All Musers are welcome to submit songs as contestants or score the songs as non-contestants. Any questions or problems should be sent to me (paulcanuck) via private message (PM).
  4. PaulCanuck


    Good work here - has a nice flow - and stays true to the hook to the end. Gets to the hook in a timely manner too Now, about the hook - it is good - but not good enough to support the kind of repetition you give to the whole phrase. If this were mine I would think about shortening the first chorus: Second time around I would do this: then the finale :
  5. PaulCanuck

    She's only watching the clock

    Hi Gary I like this A couple of "impressions" more than suggs: - At first I thought the verses seemed too long, then I realized that the verse is really only 4 lines, 4 lines, then 2 - the "she's only watching the clock" phrase seems to contradict other lines in the piece. She is doing other things - like holding his heart in a headlock, etc. not just watching the clock. Speaking of watching the clock, it might work better if this guy is nearing death and she's waiting for him to die otherwise I don't see the point of her watching the clock? Lots of good "ock" rhymes - you did your work on this. BTW - there are a few "your"s that should be "you're"s in this if I'm super picky Paul
  6. PaulCanuck

    I Took a Train

    Sorry - I thought you were wanting feedback on your lyrics. That's why most of use this forum. I'll refrain from offering any suggs on your posts in future. Good luck Paul
  7. PaulCanuck

    How I do vocals

    Some good points there guys. I am curious - does anyone here use distortion on their vocals? I started to notice it on a Black Keys album a few years ago - I wasn't sold on it when I first heard it, but I have heard that it can be useful for some songs where you need a dirtier vocal. I did use it once on this song a few years back (to mixed reviews) Anyone?
  8. PaulCanuck

    I Took a Train

    Hi malcom OK, since you mentioned "City of New Orleans", let's compare your opening lines to it: You : I took a train (she took a train) Steve: Riding on the City of New Orleans Do you notice the difference? Yours reads like a news report. Steve's puts us in a magical place that has its own history and backstory - not just "a train" You: because I cannot stand a plane Steve: Illinois Central, monday morning rail. Yours tells us superfluous information just to get a rhyme, Steve's tells us when and where and sets up the story perfectly. Sorry, but you are telling a story too - it's just not a very interesting one compared to Steve's IMHO Paul
  9. PaulCanuck

    'Why is modern art so bad?'

    knowing nothing about art, to me the guy sounds pretty convincing it certainly looks like the classic artists put a lot more work into their masterpieces. I suppose the same could be said for songs - many stand out because they have had hard graft applied, even if they are often simple compositions. Paul
  10. PaulCanuck

    Demolition Baby

    Hey SW - sounds like a good rock song to me Apart from the heart/apart clichéd couplet, I think it totally works. Paul
  11. PaulCanuck

    WWDD? (What Would the Devil Do?)

    Thanks for commenting malcom - I intentionally left WWJD out - I figure it's gotten cliché by now.
  12. PaulCanuck

    Stick Figures

    Good name/theme/hook and you stay true to it - even finishing with it These lines didn't work for me: This is a strong opening IMO: And a strong closing:
  13. PaulCanuck

    I Took a Train

    Hi malcom I think it's an interesting hook that draws you in, and the assonance in "took a train" chugs along nicely. But when I got "in" there was no story to hold my interest! If you want to write a song like Gladys' or Arlo Guthrie's I would recommend you examine their lyrics - each has a story to tell. Like JOe mentioned, you kind of abandoned the hook mid way through, but with no story, it was getting samey anyway. I hope this helps and isn't too harsh. Paul
  14. PaulCanuck

    Summertime Song

    Just a sugg above to make me relate better The bridge is ace. and the chorus solid. I know you want to pay homage to those that sacrificed/died/worked but those lines still take me out of the fun mood. I would say "top it off" instead of "end it off". Sorry to be such a picky sh1t-stirring SOB - I hope you don't drop this one.. Paul
  15. PaulCanuck

    Daddy's Prize

    Hi Anna - yes as others have said - powerful stuff and nice rhyming/flow. To me this line doesn't work for two reasons: - stain/staining is redundant - it's almost the only "physical object" line in the piece It's a shockingly graphic line, and most folks here will say it works, but I think you can still have shock here without resorting to the physical world. Paul
  16. PaulCanuck

    Summertime Song

    Hey JOe Sounds like a fun song. 😎 Not much to suggest - other than I would avoid the heavy stuff - like people dying and working etc. Summer songs should just be about FUN IMHO. Paul
  17. The May song contest is in full swing You know that awesome song you just wrote? You should enter it - BIG prizes to be won!! OK I lied about that last part, but really you should click here to enter
  18. PaulCanuck

    How I do vocals

    See! I told you there were peeps better at production on this site than me. I haven't learned automation yet - just tweak volumes manually ATM. Doesn't vocal compression accomplish the same thing? Seems the more I experiment with my vox tracks the worse they sound
  19. PaulCanuck

    This is America (What do you think of this?)

    What gets me is - if this video showed something sexually explicit, there would be myriad trepidations as to whether there should be warnings on it, its suitability on a songwriters forum, the risk of children viewing it, etc. etc. But show someone tied in a chair being shot in the back of the head at point blank range and the content police go silent.
  20. PaulCanuck

    This is America (What do you think of this?)

    Yeah and this video is going to change all that Your words, not mine. Dick
  21. PaulCanuck

    This is America (What do you think of this?)

    I thought the song was great - very creative and well produced. Loved the bass synthy stuff. The video is just normalized gratuitous violence. Alfred Hitchcock didn't need to show this graphic shit to make good art. Oh yeah, and that guy needs a man-bra.
  22. PaulCanuck

    April 1+1 Song Contest - Results Updated

    Congrats to fab, Triffid, IronKnee and Donna - well done winning the hardware I had Places - rwade, Tangled in My Hairbrush - DonnaMarilyn, Passengers - Mike B, When I Find My Way - Triffid and Ted Talk - fabkebab all knotted up in a 5 way tie for top score. Thanks Justin for hosting Here are my (uncensored 👺) cryptic notes: The Countless Few (#meToo) - MondoArt nice piano chorus drops melody, lifts volume good vox lyric is solid, hook is a bit weak Cold Lover - ScenesFromPalacio nice chord progs hook is hidden - late, could be set up/supported better good vox too many sections in arrangement lyrics a bit 2 cryptic for my tastes Vampyres & Nuclear War - RoadDog too slow solid lyrics like the carry-over lines not catchy verses like chord prog in chorus sung a tad low register Just Trust the Tales - Zeligovitch excellent studio guitarist almost competes with lead vox melody not memorable, almost extemporanious lyrics cryptic, not relatable Total Loser Song - Hobosage a bit over-produced for a 1+1 good guitar work lyrics - I can't connect - i'm a total winner! too long vox perfectly in tune - a bit strained Places - rwade sb called tiny places nice folky tune good melody, lyrics 30 sec too long good intro/outro Tangled in My Hairbrush - DonnaMarilyn nice vibe, vox memorable hook cool piano work should have repeated bridge good length Passengers - Mike B nice chorus bridge a bit preachy vox solid verse lyrics a bit biased When I Find My Way - Triffid hook is late nice chord prog, guitar work a bit wordy, self-absorbed speeds up? vox good - a bit pitchy here and there In My Memory - Short Order Kook nice earthy vox good chorus too long timing issues? lyrics a bit cliche in places good hook Ted Talk - fabkebab wordy verses simple chorus - maybe too simple what's a ted talk? ( I actually know..) good energy good bridge perfect length That Empathetic Man - Ironknee great vox, guitar nice progs lyrics a bit trumpian Games Already Lost - Iggy vox good melody changes a lot lyrics cliche a bit hook is late, abandoned Perfect Light - Murphster Good vox - a bit low register Good lyric verse melody a lot like Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" Great change-up, timing changes
  23. PaulCanuck

    Collaboration Contest Results - April 2018

    Sorry about that - at least it wasn't in a nightmare Thanks for sharing that!
  24. PaulCanuck

    Comic Girl Life

    Hey Fab I liked this in the contest. It has a very poppy feel to me and the image of a female super-hero jumping from the pages came to mind. I can just see the video Like Justin and Mike I don't understand the "cut like ice" or "frozen" references. Chorus is a perfect length for pop IMHO. Paul
  25. PaulCanuck

    Empty Words

    Gets to the hook fast - I liked that. Good repetition of phrases - drives them home. I don't see much cliché here - maybe the scenario - but the word play isn't. It need s bridge IMO: That would embed the hook deep into the listener's fishy ears Good work - I'd like to hear this one. Paul