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Lars68

May I ask a favor?

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I have been going through twelve of my original songs updating previous recordings with new vocals and some other bits and pieces.

 

I now wonder if some of you kind souls here would mind sampling a few of these songs below and give me some pointers going forward?

What would be the two or three most important areas needing improvement in order to make the sum of the whole better? It could be in regards to vocals, lyrics, playing, song construction, recording/mixing, or anything...

 

Here are a few examples of where I'm at:

 

https://soundcloud.com/lars1968/way-up-on-a-hill with Gibson SJ

https://soundcloud.com/lars1968/an-invisible-hand with Gibson Hummingbird

https://soundcloud.com/lars1968/den-ha-r-stan with Martin D-28

https://soundcloud.com/lars1968/over-over-2 with Gibson J-45

 

Lars

Edited by Lars68

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Lars I'm nor comfortable, or qualified, to judge music. Music is art and is open for interpretation. Stuff I can't stand might be your favorite music. I hate punk stuff, but I like bluegrass. Some here would be the complete opposite. I think rap is not even music, but it sells. A lot. Somebody likes it.

 

There are singers making millions who don't sing well and awesome vocalist working clubs and bars who will never be "discovered" living in poverty.

 

There are great writers on youtube and Soundcloud who will never make a dime with some of the best lyrics ever written, and even more who write stuff down and throw it away.

 

Put it out there.

 

People who like it will find it.

 

Jerks will be jerks.

 

And so it goes.

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Murph, I agree with what you say above. Music is indeed art and should be judged with an open mind and not over-analyzed. However, most of us frequenting this forum share, more or less, a common musical platform. We make acoustic singer-songwriter type music, which could with very few exceptions be genre determined as Americana, in one way or the other. I know that there are lots of people here, you included, that make art I prefer to my own within that genre. This is a fantastic resource and knowledge base, and I'm attempting to learn from the insights of these people and find out what they think could help make my stuff better art going forward.

 

Someone telling me I'm the next Jason Isbell is not going to make me quit my day job anytime soon, and someone telling me eveything I have ever done is a complete waste of time won't make me burn my beloved guitars [biggrin]

 

Lars

Edited by Lars68

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I will qualify this by saying I have no business being a critic of anothers art. However, you asked, so I will put tis out there. Lyrics - simplify where you can, it will often make the song flow a bit better. Avoid using words that are more than 2 syllables long where you can, and even try to cut down busy extraneous words - one example : "...he dropped a few coins..." could easily become "....he dropped some coins..." To me it can make the song easier to sing, timing wise, and easier to follow, when the extraneous words are thinned out. Keep on writing - keep on singing, its very rewarding.

Edited by duluthdan

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Thanks, Dan. That's the kind of specific advice I'm looking for. Suggestion noted and filed to memory.

 

Lars

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IMHO I think you need to lay back on the beat just a smidge seems just a little rushed to me. I'm no coach on The Voice but in my own vocals I try to completely fill the outro chord and the top line can always stand to come in just a tad behind the beat. Think Willie Nelson as an extreme example. Just my 2 cents for what it's worth...

 

HH

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IMHO I think you need to lay back on the beat just a smidge seems just a little rushed to me. I'm no coach on The Voice but in my own vocals I try to completely fill the outro chord and the top line can always stand to come in just a tad behind the beat. Think Willie Nelson as an extreme example. Just my 2 cents for what it's worth...

 

HH

 

Thanks for the comment! Do you mean the timing of the vocals in relation to the beat, and that you think the vocals should be a little more "behind" the beat? Also what does top line refer to? Perhaps the vocal line leading into the last chord of the phrase? This is interesting stuff, which I have never given much thought. Everything I do is 100% by instinct. I'm looking forward to trying to learn the actual tools of the trade, not just the basics, and figure out what makes particular songs/performances great, then try to apply that to my own stuff.

 

Lars

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Murphs hit the nail on the head

 

Once you start thinking about what you think people will want then your art changes from letting out what's inside you

 

Timing etc should be instinctive and not mathematical

 

The secret to a great performance is akin to a golf swing , a snooker shot , a bullseye , it's when everything in your head disappears and all is left is you and the song

Much harder to do that than actually learn to play , which any one can do

Youd be much better having the subject of the song, and the feeling that it grew from , in your head than your brain thinking about when you should or should not start singing or stop singing

Always think about that girl who broke your heart when singing dont think twice for example

 

Great actors immerse themselves in their characters to give the best performances, and will instinctively know how a character would say certain things , al Pacino has starred in some stinker movies and yet hes fantastic, picked the wrong film because of money , misdirection etc

 

You can bet his greatest roles didn't involve him asking anyone what he should or shouldn't do

 

Great music only comes from the heart and soul

Brain remembers the chord shapes etc ,

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Murphs hit the nail on the head

 

Once you start thinking about what you think people will want then your art changes from letting out what's inside you

 

Timing etc should be instinctive and not mathematical

 

The secret to a great performance is akin to a golf swing , a snooker shot , a bullseye , it's when everything in your head disappears and all is left is you and the song

Much harder to do that than actually learn to play , which any one can do

Youd be much better having the subject of the song, and the feeling that it grew from , in your head than your brain thinking about when you should or should not start singing or stop singing

Always think about that girl who broke your heart when singing dont think twice for example

 

Great actors immerse themselves in their characters to give the best performances, and will instinctively know how a character would say certain things , al Pacino has starred in some stinker movies and yet hes fantastic, picked the wrong film because of money , misdirection etc

 

You can bet his greatest roles didn't involve him asking anyone what he should or shouldn't do

 

Great music only comes from the heart and soul

Brain remembers the chord shapes etc ,

 

I understand this point of view, and mostly agree, but I think all greatness comes from first learning your craft. I used to be a pretty good tennis player, and I know from experience that you cannot get to the "zone", when your mind is blank and you just act in the moment, without first practicing that swing in detail, over and over, while analyzing and getting feedback from good coaches along the way. I think the same analogy holds for music. For me, I'm still at the practicing/learning stage, at which I'm sure also Al Pacino sought outside guidence. I don't see the stuff I linked above as me trying to present a finished product to the world. It's a only a practice run, and I do hope to learn enough about this great hobby, so I can one day find the "zone" and never leave [biggrin]

 

So far I have learned two valuable things. Be careful with the amount of words, and how they fit into the pace of the song. Consider timing of vocals in relation to the beat. That's vauable input for a hack like me...

 

Lars

Edited by Lars68

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Murphs hit the nail on the head

 

Once you start thinking about what you think people will want then your art changes from letting out what's inside you

 

Timing etc should be instinctive and not mathematical

 

The secret to a great performance is akin to a golf swing , a snooker shot , a bullseye , it's when everything in your head disappears and all is left is you and the song

Much harder to do that than actually learn to play , which any one can do

Youd be much better having the subject of the song, and the feeling that it grew from , in your head than your brain thinking about when you should or should not start singing or stop singing

Always think about that girl who broke your heart when singing dont think twice for example

 

Great actors immerse themselves in their characters to give the best performances, and will instinctively know how a character would say certain things , al Pacino has starred in some stinker movies and yet hes fantastic, picked the wrong film because of money , misdirection etc

 

You can bet his greatest roles didn't involve him asking anyone what he should or shouldn't do

 

Great music only comes from the heart and soul

Brain remembers the chord shapes etc ,

Right and left brain at one time - excellent!

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Hey Lars... Dan gave me that same advice, and its great advice.

 

I also think Murph's post is perfect.

 

I am listening to one of yours now - I'll try to get to the others later.

 

Cheers Swedish brother and keeper of most fine guitars...

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Hey Lars... Dan gave me that same advice, and its great advice.

 

I also think Murph's post is perfect.

 

I am listening to one of yours now - I'll try to get to the others later.

 

Cheers Swedish brother and keeper of most fine guitars...

 

Yes, agreed, most solid advice. I don't want my response above to come across like I think otherwise. There is no mathematical equation to solve, or a paint-by-numbers solution to make any kind of great art, but I do think that there are tangible skills that great singer-songwriters have in common, which they use as a platform when creating. I'm looking for my platform.

 

And Sal, regarding my guitars. I can most honestly say, that the better I get at making my own music, the less I feel an urge to trade/buy guitars. I think guitars, from a materialistic point of view, have been my way to immerse myself in this hobby, when I could not do it musically. It's not until the last six months or so that I have finally started to make the guitars justice. I would gladly travel to the nearest crossroad and strike a deal with the devil. My guitars for the ability to find the ”zone”. I would make that deal! [biggrin]

 

Lars

Edited by Lars68

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The topline is the most important aspect of any conventional song - music without a topline is not a song, but as anyone who's ever belted out a tune in the shower knows, a topline without music is. When writing a melody it's best to use short phrases that link up to form bigger lines as not to overwhelm the listener. Dylan was king in that respect. Laying back on the beat just makes it seem not so contrived. Ever here of a guy named Frank Sinatra? Not the greatest singer but what a great singer. If that makes sense.

cheers

HH

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I'm no expert, and I can't remember the last time anyone actually took my advice, but....

 

-- Dan is correct. You have to edit mercilessly. Sometimes, I'll write a song and do a word count and then decide to cut it by a certain percentage -- usually anywhere from 10 to 25 percent. I figure out how many words that is and set about cutting. It is a helpful exercise. EVERY word has to earn its right to stay in the song. Don't spend five minutes saying what you could say in three. In his "Songwriting Manifesto," the late singer-songwriter Jack Hardy said of editing: “The first step of editing is to get out anything that is bad writing. The second step is harder to learn: You have to get out even the good writing if it does not serve the point. It is difficult. The lifeboat is leaving. There are too many people for it. They are all good and deserving people. But if they all go in the lifeboat, it will sink!”

 

-- I get a feeling you're not entirely comfortable with your voice. (I'm not comfortable with mine, either....) Phrasing is important, and that's just something that comes with practice. Eventually, the parts of a song will fit into the rhythm they should. And if they aren't fitting, it is probably a good sign some rewriting is necessary.

 

-- If you haven't already, go to YouTube and watch Pat Pattison's series of videos on songwriting. They are great and you'll learn a lot.

Edited by dhanners623

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Thanks HH and David. I'll look up the youtube songwriting videos. I really like that kind of stuff.

 

Unfortunately my Soundcloud page crashed, so the links above don't work. I reloaded my songs, and for anyone who would like to sample my efforts, it's now all here:

 

 

Lars

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