#1
So I've always wanted to write songs, but haven't really gotten into it much until recently. It's not the instrumentals that's a problem, it's the lyrics/vocal melodies. The way my main band works is we basically come up with a tasty jam and our vocalist immediately starts coming up with words and melodies. This is great because we put out some good stuff. However, I want to be able to do what she (the vocalist) does; lyrics and melodies just roll off of her tongue.

Anyways, I got together with my friend to put together some songs that I have been working on recently, and we're hoping to record an album of acoustic-rock type songs, sort of just to say we put out an album. I've been really excited to lay down some ideas, but through the whole process I've been pretty unsure if any of my stuff is actually any good. The day we got together with a drummer (the drummer for my main band, the three of us jammed together way back before the current main band) elicited a pretty unanimous decision that we are way better at coming up with cool jams/instrumentals than putting words to them, so this kind of halted the process a bit.

So to get to the point, what I would like from you guys (especially the regulars here who I'm familiar with) is to have a listen to my stuff and give it an honest critique. To make myself clear, I'm not looking for a kind of parental validation like, "yeah honey, it's... good..." because honestly I have no emotional attachment to this material, and have no problem putting it aside and trying a different approach. I just honestly would like to hear some outside opinions, and I feel more comfortable sharing this with people whom I've never met.

Here's some of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUwvE_nlCXU
With bass overdubbed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW6I32gs8fs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZdmCBNagwk
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0w601IqcEE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bux4PZlfepY
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWSicP8zFuI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P87cd5IXOR8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvYXHF5J_kY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeXGY8bZR8w
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEoJ7jWWDsA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zQDdg8UKO0
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVYQm7ZrCrU

You can comment on as many or as few as you would like, I'll take any comments I can get.

Thanks a lot.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Mar 20, 2011,
#2
an honest critique...

the music itself was pretty decent, i could see it being a bit more than what it was once you throw in some chord subs and a tasty bassline

edit - i listened to the songs with the bassline overdub, pretty decent sounding. it's all about taste there i suppose, i'm kind of a "if the guitar parts are fairly simple chords/melodies then i like have a little busier bassline" but again thats all a songwriting/taste thing.

the vocals - they're not bad, but they're not great. you have some decent melodies in there with them but it seems like theres a bit too much repetition. repetition IS good but when its the same melody over and over and over it gets to be a bit much after 3+ minutes. all in all i think my major recommendation in the vocal front would be to sing more and become more comfortable with you voice and try out different melodies that you hear in your head. personally when it comes time to record vocals i'll usually sit down with a pad and pen and just jot down some words that i think fit then i'll play the sections of the track over and over again until i get down the melody that i want for that passage. i've found that if you don't have to worry about playing an instrument it makes it easier to focus on what you're trying to do be it writing words, humming melody ideas or simply singing the song.

all in all, needs a little work but nothing you can't take care of with a little practice/studying/patience and all the other stuff that musicians do.
Last edited by z4twenny at Mar 20, 2011,
#3
Commented on one of your videos, Submission #2.

Don't hold my opinion in high regard mind, I don't normally listen to that style of music
#4
Yeah I'm not so much worried about my voice/playing. I know what to work on to make my singing sound better, and I think I'm making strides.

You have a good point with the singing while playing thing. I'm actually surprised I made it through that submission #4. Playing that while singing is tough for me. Like I said though, I'm not so much worried about this kind of thing, because separating these into multiple tracks will let me focus on my vocals a bit more, plus this is stuff I know how to work on.

What really kills me is the repetition. I can either end up with a solid 1:30 song or a 3-4 minute song that's way too repetitive. Any advice on overcoming this?

Thanks for the comments.

Quote by griffRG7321
Commented on one of your videos, Submission #2.

Don't hold my opinion in high regard mind, I don't normally listen to that style of music
Ah yes, the repetition issue is a good one to comment on. As you can see, Z made the same comment, and honestly that's one of the things I was worried about beforehand.

So do you think it would be good to just shorten it/clip sections out, or do you think the solution is to add more sections that change it up? Maybe a bit of both?

One problem I have is that I get one idea and I can't get my head outside of that one riff/melody/feel. This is one of the problems I encountered when we were trying to put the drums with it. Since I wrote most of these with just an acoustic and my voice, my brain is so set on that sound that adding drums felt weird. My brain does weird things...
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Mar 20, 2011,
#6
Quote by griffRG7321
Introduce new sections? Modulate, develop themes?

There's a fair few sections in this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMJk4Edm8rU
Yeah the problem is my brain gets stuck in a single section and I find it hard to branch out. Check my edit on my previous post, I commented on that.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#7
I'd say the structuring you normally use for all of the songs makes them all sound similar from a listener's standpoint. Try spicing that up and work with build ups, slow downs to peak attention. Bass and drums are definitely key for this.

Stuff like Boz Scaggs' Loan Me a Dime and other blues go on for long on the same progression but it feels like it's going somewhere constantly because of the slow build up of the bass and drums.

About the structure, try starting on something else, not all movies start at zero and build up, some start right in the action and so on.
Last edited by Pillo114 at Mar 20, 2011,
#8
Quote by Pillo114
I'd say the structuring you normally use for all of the songs makes them all sound similar from a listener's standpoint. Try spicing that up and work with build ups, slow downs to peak attention. Bass and drums are definitely key for this.

Stuff like Boz Scaggs' Loan Me a Dime and other blues go on for long on the same progression but it feels like it's going somewhere constantly because the slow build up of the bass and drums.

About the structure, try starting on something else, not all movies start at zero and build up, some start right in the action and so on.
Good advice, I'll work on that.

I guess I need to change up my thought process/approach to writing a bit. I have a really hard time coming up with these dynamics and what not by myself, so maybe I need to just jam out on these with the other guys more to get a feel for the structure/builds.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#9
Its a lot harder than it looks, isnt it? Respect for putting this out there and opening up for honest comment...thats not easy. We all want to be good at this and reach others. I'm like you, I know how I feel about my stuff but have zero control over how you might hear it or receive it. Hence I have no information to tell me if its any "good". I only know from the fans I get if Im reaching anyone.


That said...


Some good ideas at times, I could hear some potential, but overall...the melody was not "accessible" to me. What made you choose your chords? How intentional did you try to apply theory to what you write? To me a song is the most important thing...as a whole. Not just does it musically fit together, and then dig in to derive meaning from what you have created. The song starts when you perceive a melody that moves you.

Did any of your songs move you?

Sean
#10
How did you work to get the melodies you have so far? Do you work the melodies musically first?

Im with Sean about the melody, as it sorta seems you put a lot of effort into the harmony and then you sort of wing the melody.
#11
Quote by Sean0913
Its a lot harder than it looks, isnt it? Respect for putting this out there and opening up for honest comment...thats not easy. We all want to be good at this and reach others. I'm like you, I know how I feel about my stuff but have zero control over how you might hear it or receive it. Hence I have no information to tell me if its any "good". I only know from the fans I get if Im reaching anyone.


That said...


Some good ideas at times, I could hear some potential, but overall...the melody was not "accessible" to me. What made you choose your chords? How intentional did you try to apply theory to what you write? To me a song is the most important thing...as a whole. Not just does it musically fit together, and then dig in to derive meaning from what you have created. The song starts when you perceive a melody that moves you.

Did any of your songs move you?

Sean
Wow that's some serious stuff to consider. I'm not sure if I have a response to any of it yet, but thanks for the words.

Most of these I would just mess around and once I hit that chord progression that sounded like it would work, I would try to come up with a melody that I liked and words to accompany the melody, sometimes words first, sometimes melody first.

Some of these came easier than others. I think the songs/parts that came easier are the ones I feel more confident about.

The first one was all about experimenting with different alterations and substitutions. I started out on the piano, then everything came pretty easily after that. I like this one for the most part, but it's repetitive.

A few others in which the melody just came to me were Wasting Time and Colors. Wasting Time came to me during school, I wrote down the lyrics, then figured out the chords later. Colors came to me as the guitarist I recorded it with was showing me those chords that he came up with. These two are ones that I feel pretty confident about; but they're short.

The rest I like for the most part, but I just feel like most of them lack true substance or completeness.

Quote by Pillo114
How did you work to get the melodies you have so far? Do you work the melodies musically first?

Im with Sean about the melody, as it sorta seems you put a lot of effort into the harmony and then you sort of wing the melody.
Yeah, for the most part you could say that. Like I said before this edit, a few of the melodies just came to me.

It is true that I'm way more interested in harmony, so that's usually what I focus on, at least at first. It's a lot easier for me to hear a melody once there's harmony than to work on a melody first.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Mar 20, 2011,
#12
Quote by food1010
So I've always wanted to write songs, but haven't really gotten into it much until recently. It's not the instrumentals that's a problem, it's the lyrics/vocal melodies. The way my main band works is we basically come up with a tasty jam and our vocalist immediately starts coming up with words and melodies. This is great because we put out some good stuff. However, I want to be able to do what she (the vocalist) does; lyrics and melodies just roll off of her tongue.

Anyways, I got together with my friend to put together some songs that I have been working on recently, and we're hoping to record an album of acoustic-rock type songs, sort of just to say we put out an album. I've been really excited to lay down some ideas, but through the whole process I've been pretty unsure if any of my stuff is actually any good. The day we got together with a drummer (the drummer for my main band, the three of us jammed together way back before the current main band) elicited a pretty unanimous decision that we are way better at coming up with cool jams/instrumentals than putting words to them, so this kind of halted the process a bit.

So to get to the point, what I would like from you guys (especially the regulars here who I'm familiar with) is to have a listen to my stuff and give it an honest critique. To make myself clear, I'm not looking for a kind of parental validation like, "yeah honey, it's... good..." because honestly I have no emotional attachment to this material, and have no problem putting it aside and trying a different approach. I just honestly would like to hear some outside opinions, and I feel more comfortable sharing this with people whom I've never met.

Here's some of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUwvE_nlCXU
With bass overdubbed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW6I32gs8fs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZdmCBNagwk
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0w601IqcEE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bux4PZlfepY
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWSicP8zFuI


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P87cd5IXOR8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvYXHF5J_kY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeXGY8bZR8w
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEoJ7jWWDsA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zQDdg8UKO0
With bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVYQm7ZrCrU

You can comment on as many or as few as you would like, I'll take any comments I can get.

Thanks a lot.

Don't know if I'm considered a regular here or whatever but I'll just post anyway I think I have similar tastes in music to you so that might help.

This is the song I heard on your profile, definitely the best out of the lot. I genuinely had this stuck in my head for a couple weeks after listening. If it was properly recorded and you sand a bit louder/clearer I would definitely have it on my ipod.

Both these songs were good, again the only thing that makes the melody week is the emphasis on it, and I'm guilty of this too, I usually just kind of mumble/sing the melody. It is noticeable, and draws attention to it. Lyrics and pronunciation would do wonders.

Actually I was gonna do more songs individually but that's pretty much the same thing, although the last one was good because you were singing alot more clearly, just out of personal opinion I don't think the melody was as good as some of the others.

Not exactly a helpful post but I'm not really good at critique.

EDIT: I can't work out for the life of my how that turned out green sorry
Blog Of Awesome UGers.
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Which is annoying, cos I'm a girl and I like cock.

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Last edited by Venice King at Mar 20, 2011,
#13
Thanks for the comments, Venice King.

Quote by Venice King
This is the song I heard on your profile, definitely the best out of the lot. I genuinely had this stuck in my head for a couple weeks after listening. If it was properly recorded and you sand a bit louder/clearer I would definitely have it on my ipod.
Yeah I remember you commenting that you like this one. I'll probably end up recording most of these properly at some point or another (probably not until they're all done or thrown out though). What's your opinion of the repetitiveness?

Quote by Venice King
Both these songs were good, again the only thing that makes the melody week is the emphasis on it, and I'm guilty of this too, I usually just kind of mumble/sing the melody. It is noticeable, and draws attention to it. Lyrics and pronunciation would do wonders.
I guess it's just because they were the first two other than "Untitled," but I'm surprised that those are the two you singled out. The guitarist I play with says he likes #4 a lot. The only thing that sets these apart from the others in my opinion is that they have some semblance of a complete structure (however repetitive it may be). I remember someone commenting on #2 during that challenge these were a part of (I think it was z4twenny), that the main melody was pretty catchy, and I agree. I feel like it's pretty generic though.

Quote by Venice King
Actually I was gonna do more songs individually but that's pretty much the same thing, although the last one was good because you were singing alot more clearly, just out of personal opinion I don't think the melody was as good as some of the others.
Yeah there's really not too much to the melody in that one. I like those chords, but I'm not too keen on the melody/lyrics. This was one that I had those chords going, then kind of just followed along with the melody.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#14
Quote by food1010
Yeah I remember you commenting that you like this one. I'll probably end up recording most of these properly at some point or another (probably not until they're all done or thrown out though). What's your opinion of the repetitiveness?

I liked that part, it reminded me of Breaking the Girl's verse, with the repeating ascending chords and stuff, I think it was used well in this song, but it shouldn't be something to fall back on with ever piece.

EDIT: We were talking about Breaking the Girl in another thread, I swear I do know more than one song!
Blog Of Awesome UGers.
Quote by OddOneOut
I seem to attract girls.
Which is annoying, cos I'm a girl and I like cock.

Quote by IRISH_PUNK13
Being an idiot should be illegal too.
#15
Quote by Venice King
I liked that part, it reminded me of Breaking the Girl's verse, with the repeating ascending chords and stuff, I think it was used well in this song, but it shouldn't be something to fall back on with ever piece.
Yeah, for sure.

Quote by Venice King
EDIT: We were talking about Breaking the Girl in another thread, I swear I do know more than one song!
Haha yeah, I like how we both brought it up.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#16
I only listened to untitled song #2, so some of my critiques may not be valid for you as a whole, but it will probably be worth a read anyways.

Focus on making your melody more independent from the chord progression. It's not that you need to be singing tensions for every note or syncopate every note, but it definitely seems like it could use some rhythmic motivation and contrast from the direction of the chord progression. It felt like it really tended to follow the contour of the chord voicings - when the chords ascended, the melody did. While this is a cool effect, it doesn't do much on it's own if there is no contrast. Check out some lessons in counterpoint, or listen to something like THIS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-rWNAQx1ZE , an excellent example of vocal countermelody to a bassline.

Also easy with the modal interchange :P The spicy chords are only spicy when they aren't repeated over and over. Keep doing what you are doing, because you'll be a better musician for it and come up with some more awesome stuff!
#17
It just seems like you're not INTO the vocals at all. There's just no feeling to them.
#18
I haven't listened yet, as there's a bustle of activity around the family room right now, but a couple thoughts as I read through this:

-don't worry about how long the song is. If you need to keep it at 2:10, then do so. Better that than to flog the same horse over and over again for four minutes.

-repetition is often necessary. There's an old rule in advertising that says, basically, "if you don't repeat your message seven times, then nobody will remember it." Make sure you have one solid hook and milk it.

-For me, personally, the more music that is already in place before I start trying to come up with a melody or lyrics, the more restricted I feel with the possibilities. By extension, then, if there is NO music in place, then I can start with the lyrics and melody (I also find that having the lyrics restricts my range of options for the melody, so if the two don't come together, then I'll prioritize the melody), and the melody can come as freely as I want it to. Once that's down, it's easy to come up with music.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#19
^+1 i'll often write words first but not think about them while writing the melody, this way im free to hum whatever i want and edit the lyrics to fit later.
#20
Quote by Windwaker
Focus on making your melody more independent from the chord progression. It's not that you need to be singing tensions for every note or syncopate every note, but it definitely seems like it could use some rhythmic motivation and contrast from the direction of the chord progression. It felt like it really tended to follow the contour of the chord voicings - when the chords ascended, the melody did. While this is a cool effect, it doesn't do much on it's own if there is no contrast. Check out some lessons in counterpoint, or listen to something like THIS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-rWNAQx1ZE , an excellent example of vocal countermelody to a bassline.
Quote by axemanchris
-For me, personally, the more music that is already in place before I start trying to come up with a melody or lyrics, the more restricted I feel with the possibilities. By extension, then, if there is NO music in place, then I can start with the lyrics and melody (I also find that having the lyrics restricts my range of options for the melody, so if the two don't come together, then I'll prioritize the melody), and the melody can come as freely as I want it to. Once that's down, it's easy to come up with music.
Yeah I generally like to write the chords first because I feel like it gives me something to work off of. Although I definitely see what you guys are getting at, that it was too tightly connected to the harmony. I'll definitely work on creating my melodies more independently from my harmony.

Quote by Windwaker
Also easy with the modal interchange :P The spicy chords are only spicy when they aren't repeated over and over. Keep doing what you are doing, because you'll be a better musician for it and come up with some more awesome stuff!
Haha yeah, this one was kind of experimental for me. It was kind of a culmination of Radiohead and Coltrane changes. I was kind of going for something more out there.

Quote by axemanchris
-don't worry about how long the song is. If you need to keep it at 2:10, then do so. Better that than to flog the same horse over and over again for four minutes.
Yeah that's relieving advice to me.

Quote by axemanchris
-repetition is often necessary. There's an old rule in advertising that says, basically, "if you don't repeat your message seven times, then nobody will remember it." Make sure you have one solid hook and milk it.
Yeah that makes sense. My problem is more about just not being able to come up with different sections and what not, but I certainly will keep that in mind when I'm working on my melodies.

Quote by Zycho
It just seems like you're not INTO the vocals at all. There's just no feeling to them.
Yeah for sure. I'm planning to re-record most of these in multiple tracks so I can focus on each part (particularly my singing) individually.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Mar 22, 2011,