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About Sunburst

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    Active Muse

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    Sydney, Australia

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  • Lyricist, Composer or Both?
  • Musical Influences?
    Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Mark Knopfler, REM, & a host of others
  1. All I Can Do Now

    Unfortunately, personal issues have left me inactive on this site for many months, but such is life. However I stumbled upon this tonight and felt it was worthy of a proper critique. At the outset I would say that I would not change a thing in these lyrics. There is such a raw output of emotion here that endeavouring to refine it according to some arbitrary rules governing lyric/song writing is, from my perspective, only going to dilute that raw emotion. I note from your introductory comments that you say this is about abortion, which I understand. However, for the record, I would suggest that this song would have a much wider audience, namely those who have experienced the loss of a child in a variety of different circumstances. I'm thinking here of parents who have had a still born child (either premature or full term); parents who have had to agonise over the decision to turn off the life support for a injured or terminally ill child, and so forth. From my own purely personal perspective, I connected to these lyrics strongly even before reading your introduction (I generally avoid reading introductory comments before I've read the lyrics as I prefer to form an initial judgement before reading explanations). My experiences relate to the fact that I was a twin but my brother was still born. Even in my late 50s, I still think of him on my birthday and wonder what my life would have been like had he survived. A mother thinking of an aborted child three years later is no surprise whatsoever to me given my experiences and that I still occasionally consider the difference it would have made to my life had my twin survived. From my perspective, this set of lyrics stands up with the best of the parental type lyrics that have gone on to be perennial favourites and I'm thinking here of songs like Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" and, more recently, Ed Sheeran's "Small Bump". What I think makes this really work is its investigation of human emotion without trying to bring moral or value judgements into the equation. Exceptionally well written. Sunburst
  2. Tone & Resonance

    Gidday all, I think there are some incredibly perceptive comments in this thread so far, but I really wanted to highlight a couple that I think have nailed it. Loved Salleys post on this 2nd page of the thread, but absolutely adored Lazz's comment that tone doesn't come out of a box. To explain, a reasonable knowledge of the physics of a stringed instrument (or for that matter, any instrument such as the flute, which Salley plays) enables you to better comprehend the ways you can elicit tone and timbre from your chosen instrument. When it comes to electric instruments, then a knowledge of how electronics and amplication works, is also, in my opinion, virtually essential. These are not things many musos actively seek to discover, but more often uncover the mysteries as they progress and begin to understand much better how to extract those subtle nuances from their instrument - which is why I suggested in my original post that book by John Taylor was well worth a browse. I read it in my early 20s and it taught me much more about tone production on all stringed instruments, than many, many hours of studying great players. Mind you, it was only after I'd read the book, I could see what the great players were really doing with their hand positions to extract all those subtle nuances from their instrument. The other area that I do think is really worth a bit of investigation is that of psycho-acoustics. It's not going to make you a great player, but it does alert you to the traps the human brain can lay for someone in search of great tone. For example, that sound that you absolutely love at 3am in the morning after 5 hours of playing, may sound like diamonds, but the next morning it sounds like coal! This has a lot to do with the way the human brain perceives sound over time. It's one of the reasons many top producers and engineers always recommend you go back and listen to your recording the morning after. As far as the great guitarists never quite nailing the tone they want, that's a pretty simple one to answer. The ear, like all human faculties, becomes more adept at detecting tonal variation over time. A guitarist who has been playing for 5 years, will never, ever understand the way the ear of another guitarist who has been playing for decades responds to sound and tone. That is why a muso with immense experience can take a basic instrument and make it sound superb. A guitarist will be adjusting exactly where they pluck the string to excite the harmonics/overtones they need to create the sound they want; a flautist will know exactly how much breath is needed to do exactly the same with their chosen instrument (correct me if I'm wrong here Salley - I've never played the flute so I'm just extrapolating from an understanding of the physics of the instrument). Nailing tone is far more about the ridiculous number of hours you spend with your chosen instrument, that it is about having a piece of equipment that is superb at doing the job. A carpenter with 30 years of experience will knock a nail in to a piece of wood in a fraction of the time it takes an apprentice to do the same job. A final comment: my view is that you upgrade your instrument when you begin to be able to hear its weaknesses! Sunburst
  3. Tone & Resonance

    Just had to add this supplementary post on the whole issue of tone. Just watched a doco on the life of B.B. King, one of the legendary greats. Toward the end, at the age of 85, he makes the following comment: "I can never quite get the sound I can hear in my head out of my guitar. I think, if I ever did, I probably hang it up and never play again because I'm sure I'd never be able to do it again". When we talk about tone, that's what it's all about. Oh, and by the way, B.B. Is on record as saying that he never, ever customizes his ES335s. He plays them stock standard through a stock standard Fender Twin. The only thing he ever does is make sure the intonation's right.
  4. Tone & Resonance

    Gidday Mort, Just thought I might chime in on this one, although as always late to the party. If you can lay your hands on it through a library or the Internet, there is a very old but unbelievably great book on the physics of guitar construction - it's called "Tone Production on the Classical Guitar" by a guy called John Taylor. The book is divided into two basic sections, the first deals with the physics of how a stringed instrument produces different tones, and the second deals with how small movements from a player on exactly where they pluck the string can actually accentuate very different tones from the instrument. This is all about the physics of vibrating strings and how certain harmonics can be accentuated to deliver different tonal characteristics. It even includes an incredible section on how to file your fingernails to get the best possible tone from a classical or acoustic guitar. Turning to electric guitars - tone production on electric guitars is predominantly affected by the pick-up positions and the tone controls. This is not the place to go deep into the physics, but it really relies on the nature of the pick-up design (magnetic pole pieces, coil windings, and the electronic components attached to the tone controls - capacitors and resistors). Many guitarists muck about with these factors in some endeavour to find that magic sound that suits them. The type of wood on an electric guitar affects the sustain of a note, rather than the tone (but traditional luthier jargon means they keep talking about tone woods). Try this quick and dirty test (otherwise known as the poor mans amplifier). Strap on an electric guitar but don't plug it in. Find an internal door in your home, because internal doors are usually hollow. Place the tip of the headstock against the door and play a note or strum a chord. You'll find the door actually acts as a very crude amplifier. This demonstrates that the wood in the guitar is actually vibrating with your playing and is then transmitting those vibrations to the door, which is now acting as a very crude sound box. There is a thing called "sympathetic vibration" if the wood of the guitar vibrates easily, then it will excite the string to vibrate just that little bit longer, thereby giving more sustain. So when choosing the wood for a solid body, the issue is how much sustain do you want, rather than tone. Tone on an electric guitar is an art form. It comes from setting your tone controls on the guitar, setting the tone controls on the amp, and then setting the tone controls on whatever fx you might be using - takes time, but well worth it. It also relies on the amp you like, the type of strings and gauge you use, how new they are and the pick you like. Also realize, you'll probably never get the tone you can hear in your head for a very long time. It's a learning curve. Finally, watch a really good electric guitarist play and you'll notice something really fundamental. They're constantly busy - volume and tone controls on the guitar constantly tweaked, plucking hand position subtlety moving from close to the neck to close to the bridge, all things that change the actual tone of a note. Then, occasionally, they'll dart back to the amp and tweak a control or two, not to mention the fx rack. Last time I saw David Gilmour play live, he had a bank of about 8 Boss GE-7 equalizers set up to enable him to change his guitar tone with a simple push! Sunburst
  5. Anyone up for the job of moderating? :)

    Sorry everyone for bumping what is essentially a dead thread, but I thought it only fair to explain why I didn't end up applying. It was more a time-zone issue than an unwillingness to take up the role. I saw the thread late yesterday afternoon, but then got waylaid cooking dinner, helping out with high school homework, etc. more importantly, my favourite football team had a really big game on tv last night and there was no way I was going to miss it. By the time I woke up this morning, everything had been decided. That doesn't worry me in the least, and indeed there is probably advantages in having mods who live in the same time zone as most Musers. I really want to thank the Musers who nominated me for the role, and the others who were prepared to support me - it is actually quite flattering and unexpected - and hope I haven't let them down, but when you live 'down under' you're out of sync with most of the world. I think Zmulls is a great choice and totally support Jodi's decision. Sunburst
  6. The Gypsy

    Thanks Stewie, Spanish, G and Hugo for your comments. Glad you appreciated the message. For what it's worth, this is a true story. Back in the early 1990s I worked with a woman who used fortune tellers regularly. Some days she'd arrive at work happy, the next day she'd be totally depressed. We chatted quite a lot about the nature of life and, over time, I discovered her mood swings were frequently the product of the latest 'telling' she'd been given. As time passed, I also discovered that the one that virtually ruled her life happened late one night in a bar, when some half-drunk joker had told her he could read her fortune. He'd told her what she wanted to hear: her life would always be miserable, that she'd wouldn't find a partner until she was in her 50s (she was 24 at the time). She'd adopted this 'fortune' as a prophesy for what her life was going to be like. I suggested to her, on many occasions, that if there was anyone in the world who could really tell the future, then they'd probably be earning ridiculous amounts of money in the employ of major corporations, but the message never really got through. So, one night, after I'd gone home having one of these ridiculous lengthy conversations with her, this song just blurted out. I still don't think she ever really got it, but I got a half decent set of lyrics out of it. Funny though, I'd sacrifice the lyrics just to have seen her happy for a little while. But I've always been a softie at heart. Sunburst
  7. Songbird

    Okay, so now you've really captured my attention. This is the second thing you've posted which I've found quite intriguing and well written, steeped in conceptual ideas, rather than mind-numbing overt statements (but that is probably more a reflection of my personal taste than it is a reflection on the quality of other lyrics posted here). A couple of things worth mentioning. I know Spanish made the remark this was 'tiny', and I think I get where he's coming from, but I honestly think 'tiny', with the right music, can work incredibly well. Dylan's 'Knocking on Heavens Door' springs straight to mind - two verses, and a chorus which is one line repeated (mind you, Dylan did add a third verse in some live performances long after the original version was recorded). A couple of very specific comments: to me the strongest part of this song is the bridge. I may be completely wrong here, but it seems to me to imply this idea of how, in life, we will often speak certain things which are not necessarily the whole truth, but if the listener is watching closely, then the underlying truth can be seen, even though it's guarded by lies, ie, the songbird tells the truth even when the speaker thinks they're hiding it. In some ways, you might want to consider using this as the chorus, and using your chorus as another verse. Up to you. The other thing that tripped me up, just a little, were the two lines: "Just because it's all we know, doesn't mean it's all we show". Leave them as is if that's what you're really trying to say, but the concept to me is a little uncertain. To explain: I can see a great connection between these lines and your bridge - that sense that what people say and what they really feel are different things. The songbirds at their side telling the truth, even though what might be coming out of their mouth is very different. Perhaps, and this is just a suggestion off the top of my head, so if I'm on the right track here you'll have to consider it and juggle the phrasing to suit your own style, "What we want you to know, doesn't mean it's all we show". Sunburst
  8. Easy Street

    Ok, I'm very much in Ron's camp on this one. Dylanesque is exactly what it evokes. And a damned good evocation here so it deserves some kudos. One thing I really need to say - tossing out a bunch of 4 line verses where the 3rd and 4th lines need to rhyme and still maintain the overall theme of the song shows an incredible inventiveness and craft, one I've never mastered, so I really admire someone who can achieve that. To me, the momentum that Ron talks about could probably be achieved musically, without too much lyric editing. By that's just my view. A couple of things that I might suggest, and they're just me and the way I write, so feel free to totally ignore me if I'm on the wrong track. But I always loved the way people like Dylan and Cohen could change a word or two here and there to provide an incredible twist to the meaning of what they wrote. So this is more my interpretation, rather than trying to put words into your song. The start of the second verse is currently: "As light as day as dark as night". If I'd written that line I'd probably phrase it: "As dark as day as light as night" - all this does is challenge perception and senses, but at the same time bring an emotional content that isn't immediately obvious. Bad things can happen during the day and good things can happen at night. Plus, it gives you this nice internal rhyme in the line. In the same frame of mind, I might well just mix things up again in the first line of the 3rd verse so you end up with: "The low road's high, the high road's low". Again, this brings a whole lot of other things to mind - people who are low often use substances to get the high; people who are seemingly high, can often be very low. Just adds another dimension to the meaning here, without taking away from the flow or content of the overall message. With your 1st line of the 3rd verse, the idea of light is repeated. I'm just wondering whether using the word 'morning' might not imply the same concept without repeating the 'light' idea? Finally, the last verse. Loved the line "when your feel you're empty you know you're complete". I wish I'd written that. But, I have to say, that the last line was just a little bit of a let down. Let me explain - it implies that there are some on 'easy street' who control things and can therefore take prisoners. I'm not sure that's the overall theme of the song, which to me seems to be wonderfully drenched in a cynical world view. If it were me writing this song, I probably phrase the final line this way: "We're all prisoners here on easy street". Sort of perpetuates that sense that there are no winners here, if you look carefully we are all losers. Feel free to ignore everything if said if it doesn't fit with your vision of the song. Go with your heart, not my stupid remarks. But I will say this: it's been a long time since something in this forum really captured my imagination and attention. This one did! And yeah, rules are rules. It's all about making sure we help each other out. But, we cut newbies a bit of slack until they work out what is expected, so don't stress too much! Sunburst
  9. "Birmingham And Beyond"

    I live a long way from the soil of the USA but know all about Ferguson - it dominated the news even here. There is a long standing recognition that when politics won't address an issue, it is academia and art that manage to 'maintain the rage'. This is the type of art that is not only creative, but also endeavours to promote change. Oh, and btw, the deep cynic in me always say: there are some who will learn, but there are just as many who will always refuse to learn. Good work! Sunburst
  10. The Gypsy

    There's postcards from forever Tacked up against the wall Beneath the unread messages From the strangers that have called To let you know that time Has just about run out Your last chance is a-fading As you sit and nurse your doubt The gypsy he was crazy But he had to be believed You could tell from his dark eyes His hunger had turned to greed He was just another victim Whose heart had turned to stone So he told anyone who'd listen They would always be alone He knew that you were coming He knew that you'd be there In every crowded bar There's someone drowning in despair And when you finally walked in The sadness in your eyes Told him he'd found another He could destroy with his lies As you listened to his words A shadow covered fate But whether it was his or yours You never tried to separate So you gave life to his telling Capricorn aligned with Mars Your future was now determined It was written in the stars Each day as you awaken You recall his prophesy And bear it like a burden From which you never will be free But his vision was just one frame In a movie you direct You have choices every day Nothing says his script's correct So take those postcards from forever Down from your wall Read all your messages Return a few calls It's time to take control You are stronger than you know Your life is in your hands Come on, let the gypsy go. Copyright © sunburst 1993, 2014
  11. Jesus Smiled

    Jonie, This is quite brilliant. If I might offer a 'left field' suggestion here. I think this could really work, as is, with the right music behind it. Ok, it's not going to be a hit song if you do that, but it could make a great album track. To give you some vague idea of where I'm coming from, and the sort of thing I could hear in my head reading this: a few years after Jim Morrison died, The Doors went back into the studio with a bunch of tapes of Morrison reciting his free verse and put it to music. The resultant album, 'An American Prayer' has remained one of my favourite albums of all time. Superb words combined with music that resonates with emotion. The last track, which interprets Albinoni's Adagio in G minor on electric guitar, with an overlay of Morrison's recital, just kills. Thought you might think about doing something similar here. Sunburst
  12. The Hour Glass

    Thanks for dropping by Mike. I agree that free verse gives you the capacity to work out what you might want to use in your next song. The film noir concept is just right - I'm just a really dark guy when I pick up a pen, mind you I prefer to tell jokes and laugh in day to day living. Feel like coming over for a BBQ, I'll throw another shrimp on for you. Oh damn, that was the stupid Paul Hogan advertising campaign a few decades ago. Okay, so I'll take you to beach where a shark will bite you. And yes, the buggers hang around a lot. But they're not the real pain, it's the snakes and spiders that will kill you! Hahaha!
  13. The Hour Glass

    Jonie, Appreciate your very candid response. I have to say that it hurt me emotionally a little, but not for the reasons you might initially assume. To explain: one of the closest friends I've ever had in my life went through the tragic discovery that his father had committed suicide. I spent many, many nights with him trying to console him, to help him to understand that he wasn't to blame. Later in life, I spent 14 years in my non-music career investigating heavy transport accidents (mainly trains and buses) and saw the devastation such events could inflict (it's really hard dealing with 5 year olds whose brain matter is splashed across the road or 40 year olds who've decided to end their own lives). I had to give testimony many times in coroners courts about the circumstances of an accident. Because I did this so often, I learned that a coroner will rarely hand down a verdict of suicide unless there is a note left behind by the deceased. They want to protect the survivors. Because I was frequently the lead investigator into accidents, I spent inordinate amounts of time dealing with bereaved relatives. I only tell you this so you understand that I can see both sides of the spectrum: the reasons people reach a point in their lives where they think death is the only alternative, and the trauma their friends and loved ones must endure after it's over. Because I've been on this site a few years, I know you've moved on from your experiences to something better. That's exactly where you deserve to be, and thank you for being so honest!
  14. The Hour Glass

    Thanks Spanish. As I said to G., I was very unsure about posting this. Supportive reactions make me feel just a little more secure about sharing some of this rather esoteric stuff.
  15. The Hour Glass

    Thanks G. I write this stuff to help me write songs. Sometimes, just rambling about ideas of life, I trip over a line or two that later surfaces in a song. I've never posted anything like this before, mainly because I see this stuff as the origin of a good song, rather than something that has a life in its own right. Was quite ambivalent about posting it, because I've got countless notebooks full of stuff like this which I've always regarded as the way I brainstorm ideas for a song. Might post a few more in the future though, based on the response I've had so far. From my perspective, it's a great way to come up with a good line or two, or an idea, that you can embed in a lyric later! Just let the muse flow and see where it leads. Away from rhyme and meter, ideas can just flow. But after that, you unfortunately have to reinvent them to fit into a song.