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Hi. Excited about getting feedback on my song Driving. I'm experimenting with song structure and tempo shift. Any thoughts would appreciated!

 

 

Are we all only lonely strangers

each with our own individual angle on things

or are we all threads in the fabric

sharing in the happy and the tragic news

and our souls are like cars on the freeway

and our thoughts just pasify the time

as we move through from where we came

to where we’re going to 

Driving

or along for the ride

 

And contrary to popular belief we’re still ok

got satellites, cable tv and ten lane freeways

we watch the whole world on our tv

wondering where in the world

we’d rather be

and our souls are like cars on the freeway

and our thoughts just pasify the time

as we move through from where we came

to where we’re going to 

Driving

or along for the ride

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Dude, that was awesome.  I love the ambient sound of (traffic??)  along with the well-articulated acoustic.  The vocals did not suit my brain well at first but then they grew on me.  Fu*king awesome!

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oh wow. thanks RoadDog. I'm super stoked you dig it. I've spent most of my energy covering up the fact I'm not a great singer :) 

 

Any insights into how the vocals were abrasive at first? 

 

Yeah, the background is cars on a highway.

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Hi R

    The ambient beginning was great. Reminded me alittle of Brian Eno's "From The Same Hill" off of the "Music For Films" album. I think your vocals were fine for this. I guess what seemed to be abit disjointed was your percussion elements. There were certain pause points in the beginning of your song when the vocals came in that seemed out of line. And when your strumming became more rhythmic, the tempo of your percussion seemed to drag it down. I would give you an example of America's "Ventura Highway" as a song that varies in tempo in it's percussive approach to glean from as far as arranging aspects of varied tempos in a song.  But overall, it had a nice creative approach and overall feel.

 

Cheers

R-N-R Jim

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This is really cool.  First off, your voice is much better than you think.  You'll never win a singing competition, but I find the character in it more appealing than any soaring high note.  If there's something that you need to work on, it's timing.  You drift at times, which usually makes it feel authentic and unpolished, but sometimes it just sounds like a mistake.  

 

Add me to the list that enjoyed the open, that you can create such a lovely and complete sound with just background noise and an acoustic is very impressive.  I disagree with Jim about the percussion.  For me, all the different elements seemingly tapping to their own rhythm worked surprisingly well....


Up until the time change at 3:00.  You totally lost me there.  I get what you were trying to do, but the song gives no indication it is asking for that kind of change, so it ends up coming off as experimentation for its own sake.  The audible driving sound does nothing to bridge the gap; it seems like it was shoehorned in to hide the fact that the pieces don't really fit together.

 

FWIW, on one listen, I clicked away after the change and came back.  Upon returning, I started where I was and found the music enchanting, which made me wonder if I may have formed a hasty conclusion.  Upon listening again, though, the parts were just as disjointed as before.  

 

As we say around these parts, keep or sweep.  I can only offer my opinion, it's up to you how much weight to give it.  :)

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Hey guys, thanks for the awesome feedback. Very encouraging! It's amazing to be able to hear good hard "how it could be better" critique. I've been on an island too long.

 

@R-N-R JimPercussion is a weak spot for me, as I have to rely on loops currently. Truth be told, I tacked on the percussion on the end without near as much thought as the guitar and vocal parts. A big mountain to climb is crafting solid percussions. Too many years just playing acoustic. Am very green in creating the beat. Will check out "Ventura Highway" thanks!

 

@OswlekI couldn't decide if the disruption in the middle was a helpful "Attention reset" or just weird. You're right, the "revving engine" sound byte is to cover up and usher in the shift. Funny, this transition is a lot more natural when it's just me on my acoustic without a metronome. After I added multiple instruments it became an exercise of "herding cats" from old time to new. Thanks for the outside perspective. Awesome!

 

 

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Not much to add . The intro is fantastic and the rest would be as good without the rhythm problems between the instruments.  I found your voice very nice.

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@HoboSage @Zeligovitch

 

hey thanks for listening! I will work on tightening the coordination of (and better harmonizing) the elements. Awesome input.

 

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Enjoyed the llisten...I'll give you the good news first. :)

You've picked up 3 new subscribers for your YouTube channel...all me. ;)

 

Quote

I'm experimenting with song structure and tempo shift. Any thoughts would appreciated!

As luck would have it, I have thoughts on both.

 

Song structure

Let me begin by being completely honest...when I pulled your song up the first time, I listened for a little over 1 minute, heard nothing except sporadic acoustic guitar & background traffic noise, became quickly bored & turned it off.

Several hours passed, I got home from work, saw that several others had left comments pertaining to vocals & additional instrumentation...so I figured I'd give it another shot & listen to it all the way through.

I've now done that, but I gotta tell ya'...my best guess is that many, many ordinary non-musician listeners are going to do exactly as I did...turn it off early.

Why you ask?

Simple!

Because typical listeners focus on "the vocal"!

 

The structure you chose waits until the 1:27 mark to even bring a 2nd instrument into the mix. At that point, there's still no hint of a vocal, but at least we know there will be more to the song than a single acoustic guitar.

At the 2 minute mark, your vocal enters for the first time letting the listener know that the song isn't an instrumental.

MHO that's, far too long...'nuf said.

 

Tempo Change

Yep...it occurs right around the 3:10 mark...after your first minute of vocals.

I have only one question.

Why?

 

Best I could tell, it's wasn't part of a larger shift (modulation, time signature, etc..).

You simply continued playing the same thing s l o w e d   d o w n

To be brutally honest, it didn't sound cool, it didn't sound creative...it sounded random & it sounded incorrect.

Once again, IMHO your song would be far better off without it.

I've always believed that the objective of the critique process was to assist the poster in their efforts to improve what they already have.

When you boil it all down, that's what I'm doing...sharing my qualified opinions about how your song might be improved.

The decision about how much weight to give my opinions is entirely yours! ^_^ If you chose to disregard everything I've said, no harm done.

 

The only other thing I wanted to mention has to do with the presentation of your vocal.

Again, IMHO that is the most important part of your song.

Bottom line - my impression was that you didn't spend much time on the structuring of it, or the final performance (recording).

Many of the lines sounded awkwardly phrased.

You'd be better served to focus a little more on the best way to comfortably fit each line of lyric into the space allowed for it.

Try to make your lines flow more naturally, rather than sounding forced. Tjhey shouldn't sound like youforced them into the allotted space.

And when you double a vocal, the fact that you've done it should be barely noticeable. In many spots your doubling is poorly timed & pitchy.

Again, it's simply a matter of how you assign your priorities.

I'm suggesting that your vocals be priority #1.

 

OK, I'm all done...hopefully you find something I've said here useful. If not, no harm done & good luck with your material & musical efforts. :D

 

Tom

 

Sorry, I do have one more question.

Out of curiosity, were your drums recorded last...after everything else?

If the answer is "yes", a simple way to correct that tightness issue others mentioned is to record them "first".

For the areas of the song containing no drums, leave a click track in their place.

THEN record all the other tracks, using that previously established percussion track as a timing center.

 

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1 hour ago, tunesmithth said:

Because typical listeners focus on "the vocal"!

 

And this must be where I am different,  the ambient aspect drew me in like a moth to a welding arc.  Upon a second listen I find the guitar even more focused against the traffic - almost like a six-string oasis focused on serenity.   It almost reminded me of Bruce Becvar.  The vocal is secondary (but this is my brain)  - but I have  to admit, it did surprise me a bit - but not in a bad way.  It is somewhere between song and spoken word.  It is interesting how we are wired for this stuff. 

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Quote

The vocal is secondary (but this is my brain

Ah yes, but you and I aren't ...

Quote

ordinary non-musician listeners

I can honestly say that the overwhelming majority of folks I've known who aren't, focus on the vocal...& the delivery of it.

I've always attributed that to the fact that human beings are drawn toward things they understand & are capable of personally identify with.

Since it's tough for non-musicians to comprehend what's going on musically, they gravitate toward voice, perceived lyrical message & melody. 

None of that means I'm right, just opinionated. ;)

 

Gotta go...Have a good one!

 

Tom

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@tunesmithth

 

@RoadDog

 

Thanks a ton for the great feedback. I commend you on your brutal honesty. I feel like a man who has been in a dessert drinking his own cool aid. I'm glad I found this board, where I can learn from and contribute with peers. That is super cool and it's great meeting you guys.

 

All the feedback has me excited about doing another swing of edits. Although I don't agree ver batim with every suggestion, I know there is a kernel of insight in every comment that can help me expand outside my own ears.

 

You guys illuminated a very good point that I had not thought about, who am I trying to appeal to? I am a big Roger Waters fan, and love when a song weaves an atmosphere you can sink into and get lost in. I live for those headphone moments that let you forget where you are. Trying to harmonize one "sound" without any one sound taking the lead. Meanwhile, I cringe a little when I hear formulated "radio" songs that jump right into a melody and repeat with no real dynamics. I had a suspicion that the tempo change wasn't near as cool as I convinced myself it was, thanks for the confirmation. Want to play more with that.

 

Before posting, I would listen to my song and think "don't know what else I can do". After all the feedback, now I listen, and can hear tons of room to improve. Def want to tighten the timing. Also want to re record both guitar parts to be more clear and less messy. I will probably still keep the long buidling intro and "decompressing" ending, but maybe sprinkle a word or two throughout to help keep the listener interested while building a world. I think that's a great challenge.

 

Thanks again for listening and taking the time to provide feedback. 

 

ps thanks tom for the 3 new subs. As you probably saw, you are one of the few :)

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@tunesmithth

 

Sorry, totally blanked on your last question. Let me set the context with, I don't know what the heck I am doing. I've written songs for years, but have only recently decided to record and share in the year or so.

 

Currently I set a click track, and get my base song down first to that. Vocals and rhythm guitar. Then I will add other guitar parts and sounds, and then you're right, I add drums last. I don't know how to make drums, so I dig through pages of free loops that I can cut up and play with. For instance, the drum track I used goes between 1/2 time and full time per 8 bars in the verse. It slows to half in the first first phrase "are we only lonely..." and then full speed third phrase... "and our souls..."

 

Any tips on percussion for this song?

 

 

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Perhaps something here will be helpful?

Can't hurt! ;)

 

Tom

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Hello rwade,

 

Don't think I have heard your stuff.  Very impressive sound.  The good - love the sound of the acoustic in the beginning.  The bad - I agree with Tom that the intro went on too long such that I believe most would think it is not an intro at all, but rather just an instrumental.  Also agree with Os, that you have a unique timbre to your vocal that is a positive, not a negative.  The whole piece, in a way, vocal and music, gave me a Mark Knopfler feel on some of his solo stuff.  I also agree with David, that timing wise, there are some major issues.  For me, that was the most distracting part of the song.  This could be great, but needs some editing I think.

 

Dave

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@GocartMoz

 

Hi Dave. No I'm new to this board. I only signed up a week ago, but man, everyone is super cool. I've got so much amazing advice!

 

Thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts.  Great to meet you!

 

 

 

 

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Hello rwade... I don't have any critique to add that others haven't said already.  I enjoy playing with tempo in my songs as well.  In fact, almost all of mine adjust tempo somewhere I think.  I usually add any percussion (which isn't much) after recording guitar & vocals, and usually bass.  But, I usually do one at a time.  Like, add bass kick, then tamb, then maybe a snare or shaker, and so on.  It fits my style, and I think maybe yours as well.  Sometimes I use a midi controller and sometimes real instruments... depends on how it goes.   If I were trying to do an actual set of drums I think I'd have to record those first.  

 

I NEVER use a click track or drum loop or care about what my DAW says my song tempo is.  I just record the tracks and layer.  I actually can't imagine playing with tempo using the DAW instead of just naturally playing... that seems dreadful :S 

 

Best of luck and keep 'em coming !

 

Triffid

 

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Hey Triffid. Thanks for the advise. Using the click is dreadful, no doubt. Tethers the emotions. But I found not having a click track, makes it messy when I want to add any loops or percussion. Plus, I like to play with and tweak tempo as a last step, and that's hard unless everything is tied together in exact timing. Am going to try your suggestion and play with layering the drums in one sound at a time, instead of a loop. I might try untethering again and see how it goes. I often prefer my songs when it's just me and my acoustic (no click). Loses something genuine when trying to put it down and add accompaniment (with click).

 

Thanks for listening and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. -wade 

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A couple thoughts on clicks.

 

1) Playing to a fixed beat is like any other skill - it takes time and practice to become proficient at it.  At first you'll be thrown completely off by having to shore up sloppy play, and the unnatural feel will manifest in unnatural sounding tracks.  Eventually, though, you get to the point where it isn't a hindrance in any way.

 

2) If playing to a click never quite feels right, try playing to drums instead.  It's the same fixed tempo, but if you're like me the presentation of it is much easier to stay with.  Not only that, but sculpting the percussion track first can actually do more than just keep better time.  When you play the guitar by itself, you naturally want to have it fill in all the spaces.  By contrast, playing with the drums allows you to lean on the other track as if it were another band member.  The end result is a group of tracks that sound as if they were composed together rather than merely stacked on top of one another.

 

And that doesn't even count how much easier workflow is when you've maintained consistent time.  😉

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hey justin. great idea about using a drum track instead of click track. at the very least, could just use a temporary basic loop, until time to start building the drums. totally makes sense about composing vs. stacking. 

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Not sure if it was me who tempted you here (via a post on Reddit!) - but who knows....

 

I enjoyed this tune - the atmospheric guitar work at the beginning was excellent; when the lyrics came in, the song sounded a bit disjointed - not so much a time change but more a relaxing and slurring of time.

 

I think one way you might tighten it up a bit is by looking at the phrasing of the lyrics and removing extraneous syllables - for example

 

"each with our own individual angle on things" could easily be sung as "each with our individual angle" and its much easier and smoother to sing. 

 

this way you can pick up the pace (or add to the instruments) but allow the voice to convey the words in a more relaxing, compelling way

 

 

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@fabkebab Hi, thanks for the advice! You hit on a good topic. I've been struggling to not sing my phrases tightly within the bar, but rather spill over and blur the lines between phrases, as far as voice. Of course, this works better when everything else is super tight and spot on, which I also struggle with :)

 

I totally get what you're saying. Thanks for the head's up, gives me more to think about. Thanks!

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The intro is insanely long, I too would have thought it was an instrumental if I didn't perservere. Beautiful guitar playing, I think the vocals could be brought up in the mix, let those vocals shine mate,

 

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@RealKevM Thanks Real. Yeah, I like to build up the intro, but agree needs more to keep the attention. Thanks for the encouragement!

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I might cut everything between about 3:08 and 4:57, but the rest is cool. The words are strung together a bit loosely, but they mostly work in this context. I have played it back a few times now and I'm liking it more each time.

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Hey thanks Malcolm. i have considered cutting the long ending, but I hate to. My intent is to kind of "force" the listener to reflect in the final minute. Hopefully my words stir some thinking, and the ending is intended to be a "bed" for thought. Not sure this comes through however.

 

Maybe it could be more interesting then just a simple solo over the freeway sound ?? Or maybe I'm crazy and I should cut it.

 

Thanks for listening and giving feedback! As soon as my day job stops kicking my butt, I plan on redoing this one with all the great feedback I've received.

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I like it. its defiantly more ambient music that would suit a tv show or if you just had a cinematic sequence to play with the song. if your goal was to get people invested in it I feel like having an interesting video would do that as the intro is a bit long winded. that timing after the first verse did get a little choppy but... also I feel like the music was a bit busy over the vocals i would try more of a call and answer technique with the lead. I like your vocals man, at the end of the day its about story telling you don't need to sing 5 octaves. 

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