Trigger Warning: The song is political. It's not my intention to start a political argument on this forum, nor will I engage in one.
I've been writing songs for 52 years, and I think this one is my best. Best lyrics, best melody, best production. Unfortunately my 70-year-old voice has seen better days, and my engineering skills need some improvement, but the emotional quality still comes across.
The song was heavily inspired and influenced by Synfire. I'll elaborate if there's sufficient interest.
Sat, 2023-11-04 - 14:59 Permalink
Excellent songwriting, thanks for sharing! Your experience really shows. I like the subtle harmony, because it mostly emerges from background melodies. Your voice maybe rusty but that has something to it.
Not that it's really similar, but "This is not America" from Bowie came to mind when I listened to it the second time.
Production-wise it could have more punch and depth. And breathing room (reverb) on your voice. And a second voice. Just my subjective thoughts.
In this stage it's a (very good) demo tape. It's always a challenge to mix one's own songs. Someone else with absolutely no memory of all the things you considered while making this is more easily able to identify the elements that really matter. They might even hear something you never imagined.
Sat, 2023-11-18 - 03:08 Permalink
I've been meaning to respond, but I had a really bad case of Covid, and am just now getting back on my feet.
IMO all of your comments were spot on. Thank you.
I tried to use an AI voice (Synthesizer V Studio Pro - Natalie) to provide harmonies in the chorus, but I've yet to be happy with the results.
Interestingly, I had a melody in mind for the verses, but then decided to try using the melody factory. The very first result sent me off in a totally different direction, and I soon forgot about my original melody. The melody suggested by KIM was far from the eventually finished melody, but it was enough to get me started.
Sat, 2023-11-18 - 08:38 Permalink
The melody suggested by KIM was far from the eventually finished melody, but it was enough to get me started.
Generated melodies almost never survive for long. But as you said, they send you in a direction and that reduces the infinity of possibilities to something concrete you can handle.
Get well soon!
And when your voice is back online again, sing the second voice yourself in a different register and timbre. I did that a lot and it worked fine.
Sat, 2023-12-30 - 23:18 Permalink
I’m not certain anyone is interested in hearing the new production (at the same Soundcloud link) or reading this, but here goes…
1. I sped the song up from 106 BPM to 110. Basically, as fast as I felt I could get it without making it feel rushed when sung.
2. I tried hiring a professional vocalist who works with a studio in Los Angeles, CA, but he had a problem following instructions, so I once again sang the song myself. I also added a harmony in the chorus. I’m fairly happy with my vocal this time around.
3. I added better drums (Superior Drummer 3). The original drums were essentially a placeholder.
4. I added a bass line (EZbass). I’m not sure why I at first thought the song didn’t need bass. It really adds a lot of energy, depth, and forward movement to the production.
5. A company called Mixed in Key recently came out with a plugin called Human. It’s based on research done by the Max Planck Institute. Long story short…they found and analyzed fractal patterns in the drumming of Jeff Porcaro (of Toto and studio fame), and the Human plugin emulates these. So instead of just introducing randomness into audio and MIDI in an attempt to make the groove less mechanical, it emulates the push and pull common to human players interacting with each other in a band. I applied the plugin to the MIDI of the drums, bass, and chords, and it imparted a more human feel to the song. I had been looking for something like the Human plugin for a long time. On the minus side, the plugin is a bit clumsy to use (in Cubase anyway).
6. I’m under no illusion that this song will find mass appeal. In fact, I think that of the small number of people who will even hear it, most will hate it due to its non-mainstream political nature. But the song is straight from the heart, and I found a way to say exactly what I wanted to say, powerfully and with some degree of artistry, so I consider it a success.
7. This song was originally started in Synfire and intended as an instrumental project, but I got stuck when I had only what became the chorus section…no B (or verse) section, and of course no melody or lyrics. This was in early 2021. Just by chance I revisited the project in mid October and decided to try writing a song around it, which I did over the course of the following five days. I find it much easier to get inspired to write a song when I have a somewhat fleshed-out project to work with, and Synfire is great for that.
Sun, 2023-12-31 - 01:35 Permalink
thanks for sharing your journey with this song. Hope it gets a lot more exposure as it deserves it. Be proud of your voice, i'd kill for one that sounds like that. I think this version works a lot better, the slight increase in tempo has made a big difference to the feel even though the change is small. That human plug in really is subtle but does make it sound more like a performance than a programmed arrangement. Very few songs shared on these forums actually have a singer, most of us are too afraid to use our own voice, preferring to produce instrumentals, use vocal samples or lately, vocal synths. Good to hear a proper song.
Thanks again for sharing.
Sun, 2023-12-31 - 12:25 Permalink
Wow. blacksun already said it. Well done and much better.
From a distance it almost sounds like there's only a single chord with lots of variation and changing extensions. If you listen more carefully, all the beautiful subtle background melodies shine through (the sounds are great). An ear charmer!
Mon, 2024-01-01 - 21:15 Permalink
Thanks to both of you for your comments.
Re my voice, I used to be able to sound like that in real time, but not anymore. I sang this song all the way through 20 times, and then painstakingly picked the best of each phrase to compile into the final take (It’s called OCD). I used a Neumann U87ai microphone and an Avalon 737 channel strip on the way in (preamp, EQ, compression, de-esser), and then multiple additional compressors and de-essers in Cubase. And of course, Autotune. An outboard reverb unit also helped.
I think the biggest improvements over my original production are the better vocals (with harmony in the chorus), and the bass guitar.
But I’ll admit that I found it somewhat intimidating to post a song that features my vocals to this forum, and I understand why others may be reluctant to do so.
Re the Human plugin, I used it at the next to lowest setting, which they call Subtle Groove. I didn’t want to add too much slop because the chorus has an electro feel, and that genre is known for being locked to the grid. But it’s possible for the plugin’s effect to be much more obvious.
I going to let this project sit for a week or two, and then come back to see if I want to make any minor tweaks. At the moment my left ear is still clogged up from my recent bout with Covid. And I know from experience that after working on a project for a long time, one can lose perspective and objectivity.