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Critic's corner - post your finished compositions here


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The other "check out my recording" threads in other forums tend to either emphasize performance or recording techniques; this is the forum for discussing the songwriting and composition of a recording.

 

Music is subjective, so it's hard to give / receive good feedback around here and keep the convivial atmosphere we all love. It's tough when all you see is "cool" and "well done" (although those are nice to see), but is it too brutal to suggest something like "the bridge doesn't work for me"? The point is not to offend, but to offer opinion (everyone's will be different) and perhaps educate.

 

So jump on in :thu:

 

(This intro text is an alteration of a post RicBassGuy made) ;)

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Originally posted by Tedster:

You mean, you want us to bare our asses for a collective laugh at our expense? :eek::D

Exactly ;)

 

Ok I'll start off - though it is an instrumental.

 

The song is called Learmont

 

Critique away ;)

 

P.S. Welcome Chris! :thu:

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Originally posted by David Holloway:

Ok I'll start off - though it is an instrumental.

Hey Dave,

 

I was only able to listen to it on my crappy computer speakers at work, but I'm going to try to check it out again when I get home, cause I really couldn't get a sense of the bottom end on computer speakers. I very much liked the mood overall, but I was left waiting for a bit more variation in the lead line (perhaps some arps, or a bit of a counterpoint to track the main line?). Of course, the mood conveyed by keeping the lead line relatively simple througout is a nice and relaxed, and that may be what you were going for (so my expectation of more variation/motion may not be right for the piece).

 

I really liked the chord changes at the bridge (maybe expand that a bit?), and, as I said, I really liked the overall mood of the song. The melody and backing synths were terrific. Just my initial thoughts. Really nice piece! :thu:

 

Cheers,

Mark

"I don't know anything about music. In my line, you don't have to."

-Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

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Mark, thanks for the very kind words!

 

You are right about the lead variety - it perhaps could be a little more varied. It's similarity throughout is based on two premises:

 

1. I was going for a thematic sort of vibe

 

2. My limited chops make variety hard work :D

 

I do intend on re-visiting this song. I did post a link to it on KC a few months back and got some suggestions ariund beefing up the rhythm a little.

 

 

Again - thanks! :thu:

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Hey David, thanks for putting up this thread and starting it off right!

 

For Learmont, I like the "experimental" sounding intro and the way it is revisited at the end of the song: the synth-voice thing. I think it's chancy; it took a couple listens but it's grown on me. It reminds me of Laurie Anderson. So much so that I expect to hear her voice speaking poetry once the groove starts. (Sorry if this is way off base; I'm not that familiar with the genre.)

 

The whistle/beep accent synth (sorry, don't know how else to describe it) really creates an interesting texture for me. The drum line is interesting and its repetitiveness fits the song, more so than other genres where it's hard to get away without real drums. The use of bass line -- entering and exiting, not always there -- is effective in creating a little dramatic tension.

 

The melody synth is colored just enough to stand out from the rest of the "orchestra", but not edgy enough to be a sore thumb. The chords are nice and simple harmonically, leaving a lot of sonic space and lending to a lighter, airier mood.

 

The chord structure works to keep the piece moving, especially the #4 chord that creates a dark tension against the brighter perceding 3 chords. The bridge helps break things up a bit.

 

Overall I found the peace very easy to listen to, and very relaxing. I see it more as a mood piece (whatever that means), but it could also work for some dance scenes (although it might need to be lengthened for that).

 

My (hopefully constructive) comments follow. I think you could expand your thematic melody in at least a couple of different ways. The synth already provides some variety from the phase (?) effect, but you could also use a different voice with a different color tone the second time the melody is stated (just like a standard orchestra passes the melody from the flutes, say, to the saxes). Another thing I hear is a 2nd voice echoing the &2& theme on &4&. Not a note-for-note echo, just matching the rhythm. Probably voiced a little lower and more mellow, like the slightly mellower viola would compliment a bright violin. Occaisionally these voices could come together for some harmonies. Like the bass, this 2nd voice could come in and out.

 

Speaking of bass -- and this is my primary instrument -- I could use a little more (of course). It's a fine line, though, to becoming too heavy and dark for the piece. I'm fine with it laying out, but when it is playing I think it could be a little more interesting. This is questionable and I realize it is probably just my personal bias speaking.

 

Do you have a piece of poetry you could speak over the top of this? It's not necessary -- I don't mind an instrumental song -- but some people relate better to words. If you've never done spoken poetry like this it might be fun to try.

 

I'm not crazy about the repetitiveness of the chords, but I can't say they don't work well enough. Since adding more notes to the chords may unnecessarily clutter up the piece harmonically, maybe some connecting tones might make me happier. Then again, they may just overload the piece, too. Between adding connecting tones or a 2nd echo-like counter melody, I'd rather have the latter.

 

I could do with a little more length. Perhaps you could, too, and this is just the short demo format?

 

Despite my hangups, I still give Learmont a thumbs up! :thu: It wouldn't send me hunting for another radio station and may actually be a good commuting song to help curb some of my road rage tendencies. Or a relaxing day lying at the beach with the sound of the surf. Or a nice gentle dance tune instead of yet another upbeat hustle.

 

Thank you, David, for sharing, and remember in this subjective world of music there is no right or wrong, there is only opinion. And the only person's opinion that really counts in this case is your own.

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The odd synth sound at the beginning that runs for a few bars reminds me of the murmur of a crowd talking in say...a big reverberant train station.

 

I take the repetitiveness of the chords in a purposeful, ambient way...it does sound like something that would work well in a soundtrack type situation.

 

If you did want to try poetry, I've got something that might work...

 

"There once was a man from Nantucket...

 

OOPS...nope...wrong page...sorry, er...I'll have to find it... :D

 

That "crowd murmur" effect is very interesting.

 

I liked it!

 

Now, to toss one of mine to the wolves...

 

http://tedster.net/thewayitgoes.mp3

 

There's no bass on this...and it's a very rough demo. You'll hear nylon string guitar in the left channel and steel string in the right. Still in the refining process.

 

BTW...Hello to you Detroiters from a former Port Huronite.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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RicBassGuy - thanks so much for the detailed critique - you've made some superb points - I like the poetry idea in particular. You are right in assuming it is a soundtrack piece - that is its intention :thu:

 

Again - thanks heaps for all the time you spent checking it out!

 

Ted - will try to listen to yours in next day or two - currently downloading a 103 meg Reason 3.03 update...

 

 

;)

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Ted, I'll give yours a listen this weekend sometime. (Grass needs mowing and all.) Thanks for the heads up on the roughness of your recording; as long as we can hear the songwriting and composing aspects it should be fine. (This isn't The Project Studio afterall.) ;)
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Ok Ted, I gave your thang a spin or two. I like the kind of jazzy vibe you've got going here. The "doo doo" (A) section is infectious; I look forward to it coming around again and (trying) to sing along. The verses (B) borrow from the previous (A) section and add some variety in the chords and melody. The refrain/chorus © is also catchy; to me this is the hook for the song, using a somewhat common saying, "guess that's the way it goes". The introduction of the F chord here adds some tension, as earlier you were playing G D/F# E (?), i.e., either the F or F# is out of the key/mode.

 

The guitar work supports the vocals and covers a lot of ground -- you almost don't need any more instrumentation -- so the song works as a singer/songwriter piece like I'd hear at a local acoustic open mic night. I liked it so much that I sat down with my guitar to try to figure out what you were doing. Good stuff! I like the fingerstyle non-strummed chords; they have a lot of motion.

 

I'm going to skip commenting on the content of the lyrics as (a) you didn't provide them in written form and (b) my language skills are pretty shoddy. So there. :P

 

The melody is nice and fluid. Overall, the song flows well. [You don't even notice the 9-measure phrase (A) until you try to write it out.]

 

Hmmm ... constructive criticism. And these things are relatively minor, as overall I like the song very much as is.

 

Probably the thing that bothers me the most is the turn in the refrain that connects its two phrases. To me it doesn't seem to flow as well as the rest of the piece. Maybe it's because the preceding F chord sequence sounds like an ending to me? However, it does do the job, so if you like it I wouldn't change a thing.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the verses, either. The vocals seem a little rushed to me, I guess. It's not any faster than the "doo doo"s, but it doesn't have the same kind of flow. I don't know; maybe it's just me?

 

The other side to the double-edged sword of such a full guitar part is that it doesn't leave a lot of room for other instruments/parts. Just be careful if you do add anything else. I don't know about you, but I think some of the stuff on Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill would've worked better if left to just her original vocal and guitar arrangements.

 

Oh, and thanks for leaving a verse open for my bass solo. :D

 

Overall, well done so far. Can't wait to hear the final!

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Probably the thing that bothers me the most is...like you said, the verses seem rushed.. I agree. Not sure what to do...but you've confirmed my suspicions. I'll have to play with it a bit.

 

The turn between the F chord...yeah, I can see that as well. Not sure if I'll do anything different with it, or if I should, but I understand.

 

Actually, I was thinking on having a friend of mine who plays jazz flute do the solo. And of course, add a bass solo. And more cowbell. :D

 

Thanks for listening!

 

Oh, BTW...the A section, the "doo doo" ;) bit was the first thing that came to me...just screwing around with some guitar chords, and that part sang itself. At first I was going to try to write words, and then I thought "someone like McCartney or Billy Joel would just scat that part"...

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Ted, I too have had a listen, and my detailed response is:

 

I like it ;)

 

But you know I'm a fan anyways :o

 

I actually like the pace of the verses, makes the whole song a little different. I too like the Doo-doos though unsure if maybe there are too many of em sprinkled throughout the track.

 

Overall though, this one is now in my iTunes library.

 

:thu:

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Hey Ted,

 

I finally got around to listening to this today and add me to the list of admirers! :thu: It's got a really great "Stevie Wonder-like" feel to it. My take is that the whole thing could drop about 5 bpm and sound a little more gelled and less rushed. However, I agree with Dave and think your chorus is a nice pace relative to the verses.

 

You might think of adding a bit of percussion in the background (samba), but, if you do, keep it soft, since it has a great vibe with just the guitar and voice.

 

I think it's great the way it is, though.

 

--Mark

"I don't know anything about music. In my line, you don't have to."

-Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

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Hey Tedster. I like this demo a lot and am impressed with the complexity of the structure, yet it comes off lite and breezy. Maybe thats why the scat parts are my favorite too! BTW Im envious of the sound of the signal chain on the vox and guitars. I can also sense the Stevie Wonder Sunshine vibe but a funny thing happened: I listened to this the first time and then went out to mow and as I was riding along with this tune in my head it morphed into (Shes Come) Undone by Guess Who! But the song really isnt ripped from either of them. :idea:

 

I think the lyrical content is fine, theres a continuity of theme and no convoluted sentences, but I also agree that it gets a bit jumbled-up during the versus. Thats an awful lot of words! The delay effect may be contributing to the overcrowding. Wonder if it would help to double the speed of the delay? Of course, the more difficult fix would be to take a word-comb-filter and try to re-write the phrases with fewer syllables. I dont think it would be a matter of trying to turn a bad song into a good song but rather to turn a good song into a really good song! ;)

 

Hoop

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I am not authorized to view that page, RicBass...

 

Not a cheesy working title...remember, "Yesterday" had the working title of "Scrambled Eggs" :D

 

Thanks for the suggestions on my tune, guys. Yeah, I had planned to add some very light percussion, y'know, like Bonzo :D No, seriously, sort of maracas or something would probably be about it...maybe a some light congas. I want to get a buddy of mine who plays jazz flute to do the solo.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Hey Ric...nice ...I could hear it in a soundtrack. Has a "clocklike" quality about it. The flute (synth?) fit very nicely. I kept waiting for it to kick in to something...but, of course, if it's intent was more as a soundtrack type thing it wouldn't have to.

 

Which brings up a valid point...people write for various reasons. Some write for more ambient purposes, or soundtrack type stuff. Some are geared toward a verse/chorus etc. type thing. It's all good!

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Tedster, you have, as you use to do, written a very good song, even though I agree that the verses seem a bit rushed. I like the guitar parts very much, and agree on that you should put a lot of stuff on there. However, I'd be very interested in how soft jazz drums (with brushes) and an upright bass both played sparingly, (is that a word?) so that they stay in the background would sound. And of course I'd like to hear the flute! :thu:

- Bob Freebird

 

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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Originally posted by Tedster:

I kept waiting for it to kick in to something

Yeah, I didn't come up with a bridge/chorus and I kind of liked it the way it was, so decided to keep it and not fight it or force it into something else. Hence, it's on direction for some sort of soundscape kind of thing. Thanks for the review and kind words, Ted! :wave:
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  • 1 month later...

Hey all.

Sticking my toes in the water here...

I have 4 tunes at myspace, the link in my sig should get you there.

 

I know RicBass has heard these (and offered astute commentary), but additional observations would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance, apologies if this is too spammish. :)

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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EDIT: Got it to work, Wraub. I'm listening to "Itchy Shuffle" right now. I dig the interplay and syncopation of the drum beat, basslines and guitar (high bass?) riffs. I dig the hemiola transitioning into the guitar (high bass) solo, and the subtle change in drum groove. I think maybe the drum groove could change a little more drastically at that point. Minimalist funk, though, is very very cool.

 

"Eastern Beat" - awesome groove, again. I love the change-ups in the layers and in the drums. I really appreciate the various synth sounds and textures, too.

 

I'm also on MySpace (follow the link below) and I'd appreciate any feedback you guys may have. :)

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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Hey David R,

 

I wandered over to your MySpace. Man, I absolutely LOVE that stuff! If I could play an upright, I'd move to Montreal and your regular bass player might have an, um, "accident". ;) Nah, he's safe. And a darn better upright player than I'll ever be. :thu:

 

I was trying to think of who your stuff reminds me of. Unfortunately, I'm not up-to-date with the current heavies, so I don't think I could give an accurate impression. But I definitely hear the older influences, mostly Ellington and Monk. No Art Tatum, that's for sure. And at least in these two pieces I don't hear Corea, even though you've listed him. (I also like Ahmad Jamal's work, which is a little different.) So, to me, this is really cool, 'cause I really dig the older swing and bebop and I like the way you draw on these for your compositions.

 

I'm afraid I can't give an as in-depth review as I did other pieces without more time. However, Settled In Shipping overall has a nice ABA format, with the softer opening statement revisited at the end. The more rollicking middle gives a nice contrast. If I had to guess I'd say this is about something (or someone) in their normal state that gets shipped and jostled around and then returns (settles) to their normal state once it (or he or she) arrives. Beautiful dynamics, something sorely missing in other pop genres.

 

Enumeration is a little more up tempo. In constrast to Settled, this piece features solos by the other members of the trio, but otherwise follows the same overall ABA structure. It's interesting to hear the bass and drums alternating lead, but I wonder if it wouldn't sound better in a more traditional arrangement where they take separate rides? I'd also like to hear things tied together a little more thematically. (Either I'm oblivious to the theme or it's a matter of performance, not composition.) I won't bother trying to guess at the significance of the name; like abstract art, sometimes you just can't make the connection without reading the liner notes. ;)

 

In your About, you state the trio is "a striking brand of modern acoustic jazz". Yeah, ok, we all have to market ourselves. ;) And I'm not trying to bust your chops here. But honestly, what's "striking" about your compositions? Is it the performance? Now, truth be told, you could say the same thing about my work: there's nothing about it that is really fresh and different. But, you're what, about 20, still in college? You've got time on your side. I challenge you to look beyond where you are now and to really take a chance with your music. The trio has good performers, and I'm sure it can book a lot of gigs with the sound you have now. No need to change that. But work on something more, that trademark David R sound. Know what I'm talking about?

 

I know one of the guy's in Gold Sparkle Band . Their stuff can get really "out there". Like you, they list Ornette Coleman as an influence. But they're different. I'm not trying to say "go out and copy these cats"; I'm just offering one example of taking a risk musically. They'll never be big sellers in the mainstream market, but I find them refreshingly different. (Others may say they're just wanking off and making noise.) ;)

 

Ok, back to your tunes. Loved them! If you ever make it to Windsor/Detroit it would be great to hear these the way they should be heard: played live. Unfortunately, I don't make it to Toronto often enough, let alone Montreal. Your compostions are entertaining and well-schooled. Unlike other genres, jazz is a little more complex compositionally than just throwing three chords together and singing about love. Hence, you don't see child protege jazz composers. To be where you are at this point in your life is an accomplishment, and I look forward to hearing from you as you grow musically.

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Ric, thanks for the incredibly in-depth comments! Thanks so much.

 

The composition part of it is mostly in the head, not so much in the improvisations, although as a trio we are working on getting out of head-solo-head forms (as you mentioned) and organizing the improvisational structures in more compositional ways. We are actually playing more free improvised material as well, in addition to abstracting our current repertoire a little more. And the trio is definitely a performance-based aesthetic, more than compositional.

 

The pieces aren't really programmatic at all. The title "Settled In Shipping" comes from the development of that piece: originally it was a lot of unrelated fragments strung together, and my piano teacher looked at it and said, "Here. Write a new tune using only THIS fragment." So I did, and the process kind of reminded me of that warning you see on cereal boxes: "Contents may have settled in shipping," so that the net weight is still there but they're broken up and all over the place.

 

"Enumeration" was inspired by an assignment in another music class, where we had to write something utilizing Coltrane's major third matrix. I wanted to subvert it a little and not make the matrix so obvious. The title's a pun on the Coltrane tune "Countdown." Countdown, Enumeration... get it? ;):D

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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David, thanks for your kind comments. Much appreciated.

 

I really enjoyed the first listens I gave your music, although the (built-in) speakers on this computer don't do it justice, I am sure.

I hesitate to label it too much, but I definitely think I get Jamal/MJQ, some Monk. I'll try to post more fully when I can actually make out details on my home speakers. :)

 

I would also welcome a live reading in a dim, smoky club somewhere. Very cool stuff.

Toronto is not that far away...

 

Thanks again. :)

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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With a great deal of trepidation, I'm putting this up for consideration. It's a meditative piano piece rendered through a synth; I'm currently unable to get decent piano recordings. But that's what this thread's for, right?

Everyone's opinion is welcome. Critiques (constructive or not) are good too.

 

[septembre Triste link deleted Oct 10th because of lack of interest from this forum -- Hugo H]

Kawai GS-40 grand & other keys
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