Bash this: Arthur's Song

Bash this: Arthur's Song

This is a critical issue that we are hearing a lot about. We can now align and stretch any track to any grid setting we choose. Professional musicians learn very early the importance of timing and spend many hours developing control over timing and often also a preferred style which may or may not rely on a strict grid alignment. Listening to jazz, blues or classical you’ll hear off the grid playing as you know.

So this is a valuable skill and I’m glad to be learning to line things up but please don’t kill the groove!


Hi I don’t have the ears to dissect like others. I am a big fan however. Like everything about this. Some of the guitar licks are excellent ear candy. I might consider no percussion until 40 seconds to start out intimate?? very catchy congrats again

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I listened to this quickly the other day and was waiting until I had a chance to listen more closely.

  • The initial guitar lick is gold! I absolutely love it. Beautiful tone too.
  • You nailed it on the groove. Very cool and memorable.
  • Vocals. Your low register doesn’t “bother” me in the slightest. It actually really works for the song.
  • Cool little answer-back guitar bit @1:40! I like the tone of that one too.


  • The guitar line playing over the vocal on “I was looking over there” fights with the lead vocal. Would work better as an answer-back thing. (?)


  • Maybe hold off the harmonies/bg vox in the first verse to give more of a sense of solitude and allow the song to build more as it progresses.
  • I would like to hear “something” happen in the pre-chorus section to build/set it apart a little more and get us ready for the chorus.
  • A sustaining pad/swelling guitar part underneath the chorus could be really cool and make that section “bloom” if you will.

Great song! Looking forward to the long version. :beerbanger:


Such a dramatic developing arrangement, @Cristina! IMVHO, it is a pretty great song. Nothing is overkilled, and the guitar parts stand out strong in classic stereo grandness. I think you should hang on to most every minor timing flaws and only fix the problem offenders. Your singing is spot on and exuding notable and an appropriate level of angst. As is, I would consider this finished. I suppose, once the entire version is put together, you might do something more somewhere, but I can’t see doing that much.

Your western vibe is sounding good, and if good practice as well, you can’t hardly beat that! And I’d say it’s been paying off for you!


Okay, Cristina. What a beautiful song and mix. I love this. So, let me now make it official: I am officially a fan. I love your stuff!

So …

I disagree with you about your concerns about your vocal. I think this is actually quite a nice register for you. It really works with this song. Fits with the gentle, reflective style.

I could go either way in holding off the harmony, or not; but I really like the BGV. Did you sing those as well? I really like how quiet and subtle it is. Very nice.

So, the drums really work. Are these MIDI loops? AD2 maybe? I could stand for a few more fills maybe? Not a lot, but something to make it seem a little less mechanical?

I also like the way you built momentum at 2:22 or so. Very subtle. That’s what I’m trying to learn to do, and I never know how exactly to do it.

So, last question: what did you use for your string pad in the background?
Really like it. Smooth, subtle, moves nicely.

Nice job, Cristina.

Oh, "and another thing … "


Yeah, Vaughan just pointed those out to me in another post. See my reply there

Cristina, your comments on the importance of timing:

So, I think (to my ears, anyway), your timing is good. I am with you, though, in that I never appreciated how important this timing thing is. I’ve always heard how important it is to practice with a metronome, but (very arrogantly) I never thought it applied to me! I thought that was for everyone else. I never had issues with timing. :slight_smile:

I didn’t realize how huge this was until you bashed my song with your comments, and others as well, on my sloppy timing. :slightly_frowning_face:

Still working on that song, and will repost soon. Jonathon suggested I spend some serious time practicing to a metronome and getting my timing tighter. I’ve been doing it. It is now abundantly clear how important this is … and how difficult it is to play that tight with the drums, with the metronome. But golly, that makes a difference. It creates so much more space.

Again, thanks for that tip. I’m embarrassed to say it, but no question, this is a new horizon for me and will elevate my music to another level.

Yeah I sang the BGV as well. I think I’m going to leave them in the first part, and maybe add some new background element to the second verse to help the song build more.

The drums are NI Abbey Road drums. I can’t recall which kit. I could add a few more fills; it’s so tedious though haha. I’ve already done a lot of tweaking to try and make it sound natural. I don’t use loops–I just draw in the MIDI by hand or maybe play it in via my MIDI keyboard. Sometimes I’ll use my acoustic kit to help me write the part first, but I’m not a very good drummer so I can’t write anything fancy that way.

The pad is NI Reaktor Prism. I don’t recall what the patch is though. I love that synth. I’m not one of those people who are super into synths and can program their own patches and understand what all the various knobs do, but the presets in that one have been something that I keep going back to.

Yeah I’ve been paying a lot of attention to timing and spending more time practicing with a metronome! I think that you’ll be really pleased with the results as you start to pay more attention to timing as well. You can’t appreciate the difference that it makes until you see how much it improves your music.

I just posted a version 2. I messed around with a bunch of stuff and long story short is that I hope I didn’t make it worse. :confused: My wife was just telling me that it wasn’t pleasant to listen to anymore which was a real bummer to hear, so as a result I took off a lot of the crispness… that’s the biggest difference I hear between the two right now. I’m so burnt out on this.

Hi Cristina,
I really wanted to say that I prefer the new version but I’ve listened and compared them a few times now and I definitely prefer the vitality and sparkle of version 1. The instrumentation feels a little more cohesive in the second mix but the lead vox just sounds a little strange to me, it has lost a lot of the magical transients that capture my listening heart. Every now and then an ‘ss’ is cut off a little unexpectedly and it seems overall a little further back in the mix. I don’t find the first mix particularly crisp. Bummer about your best home-grown captive audience… I’ve learnt to temper mine… minimise the number of times I say ‘check this out’… it’s like a sort of dance… wanting to hear their opinion and yet not burn them out too especially when they are usually relatively non-discerning.

You seem to be at that ‘Step Away from the Mix’ phase where a separation from the song is needed. Sometimes I find it helpful to burn a cd at this stage and play it in the car, or an mp3 - just any way of listening to it differently and hmmm, yeah, just thinking of Andrew’s comments on the other thread - pretending to be someone else listening to it. There have been a few quite sharp commentators on my work over the years and I always seem to hear their comments in the background when I am coming to the ‘end’ of a piece… hah… well, that can be helpful or unhelpful obviously… sigh

It really is a cool song and you are all-but-there… have a break gal!


Very cool, Very cool indeed. I like how it starts off and how it grows bigger as it moves along. For me, the drums seem lacking, dry and simple. I hear something a little unique maybe, more bass sounding. It seems like the drums throw the whole song into a simpler box than the song should be in, it limits it in a way. But this song is really a great tune, it keeps you hooked in and wondering what is coming next with the vocals, it’s not predictable and I love that.

listening to the second version. I am really liking it. If i was mixing it I think the first thing i might try taking some reverb off the vocals

and then add some delay on a send. Other than that you have good balance, clarity, movement and emotion. Nicely done

I disagree. I think that the contrast of the two makes the song better. This of course is personal taste.

get rid of the harmony vocals in the first verse and first bridge, after that its brilliant (the answerbacks etc. are great). Did MikeD already tell you that? I only listened to V2. One time. Awesome job.

Thanks guys. I took Emma’s advice and took a long break. I’ve had an upheaval of some of my long-held beliefs since the start of 2019 and I’m really taking my time in approaching music in a new way.

Unrelated to that, I’ve been trying something new with producing and mixing. That being that I’m listening in mono, and using these for monitoring:


And look this isn’t totally random, I got this advice from Recording Revolution recently and decided to run with it. It’s actually… really cool. I’ve been working on a weird (for me) new song lately with just these earbuds, and when I listened back it on my nice headphones I was like “whoa…” I’m making mixing decisions that I would never have made if I’d used those headphones to begin with, but they were decisions that I really liked.

And so my project for today is to take the unprocessed tracks from this song and mix it from the ground up, listening in mono with just these earbuds. Then I’ll go back in with my nice headphones and my computer speakers to make a few adjustments and panning decisions and whatnot. I’ll post the results later today. Go team!

EDIT: Okay I’m done and I posted it. I really like how it turned out. It sounds cleaner to me or something. It’s pleasant to listen to. I have been switching back and forth between the versions and that’s the one I keep wanting to leave playing. I deem this experiment a great success. Plus it only took a few hours and I had fun doing it. :tada:

Oh and if anyone wants the tracks to mix for themselves for fun, let me know. I already have them bounced so it would be pretty easy to zip and upload them.

Hi Christina,
Missed this one first time around. Lovely song as always! I listened to version 2 and 3 through headphones. I like both to be honest and for different reasons. I find it hard to choose. Version 2 sounds modern, clear, well defined, well mixed. Version 3 makes me think of a seventies recording somehow. Maybe its nostalgia (after all the best music period for someone of my age ;)). It’s like it has a bit of a blanket over it, but in a comfortable way. Is there some sort of mastering glue going on?

No, it’s not mastered at all. It’s really kind of quiet. I’m trying to master it right now but as usual have no idea what I’m doing. :slight_smile:

How interesting, Cristina! By in mono, do you mean keeping the stereo panning but listening through mono? Why would that be different than listening to mono on the headphones? I guess I’d have to see. But I do think mixing for headphones, phones, speakers, cars and TV consumption is one of my weakest skills. I am often disappointed with how my headphones mixed mix falters in other mediums.

But on to V3, it is much roomier than 2. Every part stands out clearer. These drums are bigger and have a lot more presence, where before it was Tracy Chapman or Counting Crows, it is now Cheryl Crow and REM. Frankly, I was enjoying the classic moody tone of 2 a lot, and I still do, but 3 does sound more live, more alive. I kept waiting for some of that original moodiness tone to be missed too much, but that never happened! It is such a good song in its structure that either one amazes the listener and inspires repeats to absorb it all.

But that said, 3 is my preference, although I might keep 2 just to remember.

I’m not sure I understand the question. But what I did was just hit the “mono” button on the master track in Reaper. The idea behind it was that if I could get the song to sound good in mono on relatively lo-fi speakers (apple earbuds) it would sound great once I listened to it in stereo on better systems. I think it really helped me with the EQ especially, which is why there’s more clarity between the parts. Kind of like being on deck in baseball and swinging the bat with weights on it. Then when you go up to the plate the bat feels light as a feather. If your parts sound distinct in mono they’ll sound really nice in stereo.

Ok, here comes the number one most lamest question of the century. I record a guitar track and put it 100% Left. I grab a capo or a different guitar, lay down a track, and put it 100% to the right. Bass, drums, and vox down the middle…done. Is that stereo. Seriously, I don’t know?

Yep that’s stereo! If there’s any difference at all between the left and right channels it’s stereo.

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O yay… this sounds lovely… with a sheen and sparkle and coherence… well done!!!

It’s interesting mixing in mono… and quite controversial sometimes within these audio circles. I tend to use it as a check and balance when my songs are nearly done and find it really helpful to get more balance in the mix. But because I play around a lot with panning and space, mixing in mono has clear limitations. It is a useful tool for sure and interesting how it enables you to hear some stuff that you hadn’t noticed before.

Hey well done with persevering, it’s a lovely povely song and really nicely done!!!

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