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#262301 - 04/29/09 04:53 PM My most polished song yet (I think!)
Beakybird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/01
Posts: 2227
Song is called Vista. www.myspace.com/larrylevin or www.reverbnation.com/larrylevin

Drums painted by mouse generated by PSR-S900
Bass painted by mouse generated by Novation soft synth
Piano and vibraphone performed on PSR-S900
Real acoustic and electric guitars
Vocal harmonies created in Melodyne Celemony 3 Studio.

I would love to get feedback on this one. I'm waiting to get a subwoofer (Behringer B2092A) shipped to me so that I can get a more balanced mix. Hope you like it.

Beakybird

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#262302 - 04/29/09 06:30 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Bill in Dayton Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 2202
Loc: Dayton, OH USA
The tune seemed pretty cool...definately has your mark on it...

The thing that stands out to me is how much your intonation has improved.

On my low end computer speakers the bass is dominating the mix...


Good work with that...

------------------
Bill in Dayton
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#262303 - 04/29/09 06:57 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
ianmcnll Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 10606
Loc: Cape Breton Island, Canada
Great tune, Beaky...really nice hook and nicely balanced verse and chorus, both contributing equally to the song's message.

Harmonies well chosen and situated.

I don't usually comment on vocal tunes, but this one really caught my ear.

Very professional work.

Ian
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#262304 - 04/29/09 07:37 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
mikey_maestro Offline
Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 548
Loc: San Tan Valley, AZ
I loved it Larry!

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God Bless,
Mikey

www.mikeymaestro.com
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#262305 - 04/30/09 01:15 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14208
Loc: NW Florida
Yeah, this got my juices flowing, Larry... Much better than the last one, IMO.

However, I'm going to offer one criticism, if you don't mind. I think it is time to collaborate with someone about the drums. Painting by mouse is a pretty difficult way to get a good drum track in this genre, even with the S900 drum track as a starting spot. The area that blows it for me are the fills. Listen to ELO, or the Beatles (once again, you seem fairly grounded in their harmonic structure and arrangements) and try to spot two identical fills. You won't find them. Grooves, on the whole, will stay consistent, and song 'signature' fills like the opening pickup will also get played repeatedly. But you'll rarely find a fill other than those that remains the same for the song.

This is the bane of arranger production, and the reason why I always cry out for more fills from arranger manufacturers. A real drummer will take pride in making each fill musically independent, all the while fitting the song at each point. Repeated fills are the signature of automated production, and often lead to inappropriate moments. Believe it or not, a GOOD drummer will adjust his fills depending on emotional intensity, or word structure, even if only a LITTLE bit between different verses and choruses, but often quite a bit. It's their time to 'speak', to be creative, even if the groove remains constant.

So try varying those fills a bit more...

Oh, and one other thing... Your 'live' guitar playing is sitting a hair 'up' on the beat compared to the track. You might try to either relax a hair, or maybe just slide the guitar tracks 'late' just a few ms to line up with the drums. You'd be surprised at how effective that can be...

But I DID think the track very good, a strong melody and chord progression. As I so often say to those that start to get it right, it is perhaps time to stop hampering the song by using too much machine. Get a real drummer (or at least get a drummer to help in the track editing), get a real bassist, BV singers, etc., and start to do the song justice. Perhaps get a good drum library like EZ Drummer or BFD if you can't record real drums. At least then they SOUND like real drums...

Time to take it to the next level... You're ready
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#262306 - 04/30/09 04:12 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Beakybird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/01
Posts: 2227
Thanks everyone. RE Diki's criticism, hmm, will look at fills. I thought I did put in a lot of variety, but maybe there isn't enough, or maybe I did too much of the same thing with too many fills. I will go back.

And I will try delaying the electric guitar about 10 ticks. I assume you're not talking about the acoustic guitar, because that is sitting pretty deep in the mix.

Beakybird

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#262307 - 04/30/09 05:14 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
ianmcnll Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 10606
Loc: Cape Breton Island, Canada
Drums sound great to me, Beaky, even on repeated listening.

Fills were not overdone, in my opinion, and any sameness actually contributed to more cohesiveness in the song than any sort of distraction.

Remember, the vocals and lyrics are what people hear, and what I focused on when I first heard it....I played it for my girlfriend, who said the same thing.

The percussion works fine in the context of the tune, unless it's a part that you want to feature?

The more I listen to this song, the more I like it.

Nice piece of work.

Ian
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#262308 - 04/30/09 06:40 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
tony mads usa Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/16/02
Posts: 14376
Loc: East Greenwich RI USA
Larry ... nice work ... not that your earlier tunes were bad, but you've come a long way ...
great job ...
t.
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#262309 - 04/30/09 08:11 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
SemiLiveMusic Online   content
Senior Member

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 2206
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Wow, Larry, this is bordering on sensational. You sure do have a McCartney / ELO connection. And that's a good thing!

I don't know what you have done but man, your vocals are 1000% better than a few months ago. I don't know what kind of processing you are doing but it is working!

My first reaction to this song was a bit of frustration. It has a very busy lyric and I thought the song did not build enough in the beginning. It required me to concentrate hard to understand what is going on. I am a stickler for being able to understand words and I struggled in spots. But the beginning is the most important part of the song. I would work on enunciating as clear as you can. Plus, maybe build a bit. Your intro was very short and then the song just kind of took off full tilt. On second listen, it wasn't as bad but still, I struggled to get it.

Overall, this is really good and you have much talent, I'm impressed with this. You have some major league changes going on in that song, haha. Excellent job on such a seemingly complex piece.

And I would like to know what you are doing to your vocals, if you have time to comment.
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#262310 - 04/30/09 08:22 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
captain Russ Online   content
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 7293
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Good Stuff!

R.

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#262311 - 04/30/09 10:10 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Beakybird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/01
Posts: 2227
As far as vocal processing, I am using Melodyne Celemony 3 Studio (same as Cre8, essentially) for tuning up my vocals. Then I am using some pretty heavy compression to compensate for some bad vocal technique. If I write a hit, I'll use the money for voice lessons.

Very little reverb and delay are used. No EQ.

When I get my subwoofer, I will do a remix, and I might make the vocals a little hotter, 'cause the lyrics are one of the best parts of the song.

I don't know if I want to mess with the whole sequence of chords to build up more. I think I have a well crafted pop song that's just shy of 3 minutes. Will probably mess oh so little with the fills, as per Diki's suggestion.

Beakybird

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#262312 - 04/30/09 11:49 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14208
Loc: NW Florida
I think that, while the melody and lyrics are what the non-musician notice first, there is a LOT of subconscious evaluating going on. The difference between success and failure is not as simple as just the melody/chords/lyrics. We have ALL heard many great songs with great lyrics and melody that fail to chart.

People are listening to MUCH more than that, even if they can't articulate it. Untrained listeners even like classical music, without having the slightest clue to form, structure and orchestration. And they will be able to say that they like one piece over another. But rarely WHY (other than 'I know what I like' ).

The devil is in the details. And so is God...

Personally, I think that when you are trying for a legacy style (this one still sits firmly in that early 70's ELO/Beatles camp) it is wise to look at how the original productions were structured and performed. Because those tunes have already gone through the washer of public opinion. Mess with that formula at your own peril...

If you really LIKE the repetitiveness of machine production on the song, you might want to look at a more 80's style production, where the general public has already shown a liking for that kind of approach, but only married to that kind of sound. While there ARE mavericks that can manage to successfully cross stylistic boundaries, they are few and far between. For every Beck, there's a thousand who fail to click. Far easier, IMO, to stick to what has worked in the past. And pay attention to those things that the 'average' listener doesn't even know they are hearing..
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#262313 - 05/02/09 08:51 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Beakybird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/01
Posts: 2227
I like the idea of live drums on my songs. I think I have something good enough to get someone to publish the song and maybe help fund redoing it in a studio.

I would be happy if whoever ends up producing my songs would use some techniques to freshen them up with some modern production techniques and musical approaches so that they don't sound like relics.

Beakybird

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#262314 - 05/02/09 01:00 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
DanO1 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/31/01
Posts: 3602
Loc: Maryland
Larry,

You may want to get a Ketron SD2 for your drums. I think it would make a difference.
Good Job !
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#262315 - 05/02/09 04:24 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14208
Loc: NW Florida
I would still take a closer look at EZ Drummer or BFD (although BFD takes greater skill to get to sound good).

None of our arrangers, no matter how much we like them, have even a fraction of the detail and realism of the GB sized drum libraries...
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#262316 - 05/03/09 09:32 AM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
DanO1 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/31/01
Posts: 3602
Loc: Maryland
As I said good job on the song.
After listening once more,have you tried slowing it down a notch ? just a thought..
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#262317 - 05/03/09 05:28 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Kingfrog Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 1099
Loc: Myrtle beach SC
Haven;t listened to one of the tunes since Millions of Stars...not being an early Beatle fan. So I will try not to comment too much on the style. I WILL say your voice has by leaps and bounds become far more polished.

I do get a hint of AL Stewart in your vocals...and yes I agree with Diki, The drums need a lot of work. EZ drummer is your friend..use it. The Fills in EZ drummer are well worth the entry price...

Questions
What vocal mike are you using?
Are you dry tracking the entire mix to Sonar or mixing from the keyboard? or a combination...


Since you cleary are influenced by the Beatles and ELO and I agree there is a market for non Beatle licensed Beatlesque songs, I would use some individual Strings to salt and pepper the song, or if you want to distance yourself from those influences try using a "hip" horn section instead.

You have a knack for structure. No need to read a book about ABAB etc. The syllables chosen don't collide with the melodies which is a hallmark of new writers, not to mention common predictable rhyming schemes.

To go out on a limb here I would also experiment with some vocal phasing EFX on this tune in some areas.
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#262318 - 05/04/09 03:51 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Beakybird Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/01
Posts: 2227
What mic do I use. I use an MXL 4000 Multi-Pattern condenser http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/pro...Mic?sku=270624.

It's a Chinese knockoff of a Rode's mic. I'm not a mic conosseur, but I think it's good.

In most cases, I start out on the arranger. I find a style that resembles the song I want to record. I record a midi on the keyboard. Then I load it into Sonar. In this specific case, I made so many changes to the drum and bass lines - and ditched everything else, that the style would be unrecognizable. As I went along, I added real acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, and additional keyboard parts.

What are vocal phasing EFX?

BTW, I am in the process of switching the drums to Session Drummer. A plugin that comes with Sonar Studio Edition. They have a "Tight Kit" that, compared to EZDRummer, by a tad more closely resembles the drum kit that I'm accustomed to in the PSR-S900.

I'm having trouble getting the right sound. I'm not used to having such a real drum sound. You have to remember that I am doing hundreds of shows with the PSR-S900, and these real drums sound weird to me. Isn't that strange? Session Drummer has an easy to use mixer that I'm using in an attempt to balance the sound.

When I'm done, I'm going to subject you guys to one more mix, because I have very little experience with drums, and I don't know how to balance the sound. Some voices sound too loud to me. Other's ring out longer than I am used to. I have no idea what FX to apply besides reverb.

Thanks everyone. I want to especially thank Diki. I don't agree with all of his assessments, but I can tell that he has good ears. And he's notorious for not mincing his words - which is exactly what I want.

Beakybird

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#262319 - 05/04/09 05:43 PM Re: My most polished song yet (I think!)
Diki Online   content


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14208
Loc: NW Florida
While you may have gotten used to the PSR drum sound, most listeners have NOT

I might suggest cuing up a real Beatles track, or whatever band you are shooting for, and A/B-ing between the two tracks as you go along. If, instead of playing with a machine, you played most nights with a real drummer, we wouldn't even be having this conversation!

Getting a good drum sound is definitely an art. And, I'm sorry, but I've heard better drum tracks even from PSR demos! The trick is knowing when it sounds right, rather than just 'what you are used to'...

Why not at least try to get a drummer involved with helping program the song..? Even if you can't afford to go in a studio and lay down live drums, a good drummer's input while you are programming can help enormously. They will definitely give you a reality check on the fills and groove structure.

I know the temptation is to do it all oneself, but even in the studio, there have only been a handful of über-talents like Stevie Wonder, Steve Winwood and Todd Rundgren that were capable of doing it 'solo'. If you have a good drummer as a friend (if you don't, you REALLY should get out more!), try bringing him in to listen to early versions. Might as well fix it as fast as possible...

Thanks for the kind words. I have never wanted people to 'mince words' about my music, say how you feel... it's the only way to improve, or at least not succumb to flattery. I'll keep telling it the way I see it (even if that ain't the way it is!), but be assured... it is NEVER personal.
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