Some of you may remember this song from almost a year ago. I was never really happy with it, and I get occasional requests for me to put this in online stores/streaming, but I never wanted to release the version that I had because I didn’t like it. So I started on this new version almost a month ago. This song has been through so many freaking revisions! Needless to say I worked very hard on this. That doesn’t mean you can’t bash it! But I want to point out some things that I tried to do better on this recording:
I focused more on “groove” than I have in the past.
a.) This is the first time I’ve written/recorded a bass part on an actual bass. I’ve never played the bass before, but I don’t totally suck at it because I’ve been playing guitar for so long. Writing a bass line was NOT easy. It was very fun though.
b.) I tried to make my MIDI drums sound more realistic. I tried to add more variations, and also write something that an actual drummer might play, rather than just filling in MIDI notes where I thought it sounded good. I used my drum kit to help me flesh out ideas and translated them into MIDI. I also used something called “ghost notes” on the snare sometimes. I like what that added.
c.) Something I’ve struggled with in the past is playing fingerstyle guitar with rhythm. If I play it solo it sounds fine, but once I add it do drums or something the notes in between the main beats are noticeably off. So what I found helped me was to raise the volume of the hi hat loud enough to use as a metronome, and that helped me play all of the notes closer to the grid.
I also focused on the low end more than I have before. It may be a bit messy… I tried to balance the instruments though. There’s the bass, the electric piano and the guitar that all have some low-mid overlap. Let me know how you think I did with this.
I guess that’s about it. I can still tweak the mix before I release it, so let me know if you have any tips there! Otherwise I can use advice towards my next song. Thanks!
This is a really pleasant track to listen to! And its very near ready for release in my opinion. All of this is super nit-picky stuff… the kind of things an A&R or publisher would probably have picked on me for if I was releasing it Some of this stuff may not even matter to you which is completely understandable, but I’ll throw it out there in the interest of trying to be helpful. And keep in mind, when it comes down to nit-picking at specific cymbal hits and specific words, you know you’re in real good shape and that you’re 99% there!
How much automation is on the vocal at the point? Whats the db range of the fader moves? At 3:23 the syllable ‘Blind’ sounds a hair detached from ‘ded’ because its a tad soft. There’s a couple spots vocals that you might want to consider automation rides through… what I do when fine combing through a nearly finished draft is ask myself if there are any places where certain words surge ahead of phrases in ways I don’t want them too.
Another thing I’d suggest here is doing super subtle automation moves brining the acoustic guitar up in the gaps where the vocal is either elongated “Everything changes_______” or under “blinded____” or anywhere there are gaps in-between the phrases. Its a trick I’ve been using more myself to make an ostionato or a picking pattern ebb and flow underneath the vocal. Just like… super subtle. Almost to where you can’t detect it even if your listening for it, but you ‘feel’ it subconsciously. On the topic of guitar, the fret noise at 4:14 really jumps out on laptop speakers. I would remove this with Izotope RX, but I’d have to look to see what other options are out there. I can’t remember what DAW you’re on.
At 2:31 “I don’t wanna look back” did you cross articulations by accident in the drum software? It sounds like a brushes through most of the song, but were those ride pings a stick based sample? I think the cymbal hit on 'Lesson I didn’t want to learn" (2:50) is a little aggressive. Its good that its there, but it might be a tad harsh.
I didn’t do any volume automation. I think that’s a good idea actually; some of the breaths stand out too much too, I think. And maybe the vocal is a little loud overall. It’s overpowering on my laptop. I may turn it down a bit. I like the idea about bringing up the guitar slightly in parts where there’s room for it.
I’m not sure that the VI drum kit I’m using has a lot of brush cymbal hits… I’ll check. I may not have liked the way they sounded. I’m sure it takes away from the authenticity but I’m not sure most people will notice.
I think it sounds great. A couple things stuck out to me, but they aren’t major things.
The vocals felt a little loud. It’s a vocal centric song, so they shouldn’t be buried in the mix, but they are just slightly louder than I would have done, if that means anything.
They electric keys feel a little loud too. Or a little too much low end in the keys. I think you could get away with taking out quite a bit of the low mids and lows on those keys, which would allow you to bring the vocals down a little without being buried.
I wish the guitar had a little more space. It sounds like it’s just mono and slightly panned, which is fine, but compared to everything else, it sounds a little small space wise. It starts out a little bit low-fi-ish being centered, but when the drums and bass come in, it pans to the side but doesn’t fill in as much as I expected it to. It’s sort of hard to describe.
First off - this is the nicest way to start the weekend! What a beautiful song with a lovely vocal performance. I’ve listened to it like a consumer, so I tried listening on my apple AirPods and my ATH M50’s. Here are some notes for what they’re worth:
I too find the vocals a tad loud throughout, but that could be personal taste
I agree with the ride cymbal being hit by a stick, and having played the drums with brushes the sound of rides being hit with brushes is quite unique. I’m not sure if your samples are going to have this sound though.
As a guitarist, I find the guitar playing utterly beautiful. It’s great. I’m actually a fan of hearing the sound of a guitar being played, so scrapes and little thumps never bother me. There are the odd sounds that sound a little too loud though
The end section where the vocals go into that great reverb effect, the guitar sounds too clean - and I think some processing on the guitar could help. Overall, the guitar sound might be too “samey” for the whole song.
Lastly, and I say this with the utmost respect for a songwriter who’s put their heart into a song - but when I hear the synths in the background of the song I immediately think of low brass instruments. If you have some samples / virtual instruments that can replicate brass I think it might sound brilliant - but that’s in no way a criticism of your arrangement.
Hi Once again a dandy. I am the guy who always wants your focal to be heard, but yes it is a touch too loud. What I love about your delivery is how edgy it is. I bet you could write a song about somebody who was very nervous about something or was recovering to a hard life’s blow of sorts??. Loved the acoustic, squeaks and all. I play every day and it would be weird for me if there weren’t any. Big fan here
Acoustic guitar seemed a little dull, I’d like to hear some more
Same thing about the right hand guitar with fx - bit dark sounding and can’t really make out the chords/notes as well.
1:33 guitar seems to work well - but the panning is left and feels little strange to me, should be more to the center.
2:22 “bright” “blinded” I hear some artifacts , also “don’t look back” - maybe picking up deesser artifacts or something.
3:34 I hear acoustic guitar flub, also at 3:48 As a guitarist I would’ve retracked that or copied from previous part where I am playing that right, these pull off notes are a little ugh, or maybe I am picking it up more as guitarist.
Nothing really major, don’t get me wrong, probably song is fine as is, that’s the last 2 % LOL
Thank you guys! I uploaded a v2. I think this is the one I’m going to release. I did the following:
Turned down the vocals. I also used volume automation to make some of the breaths less stark. I kind of wonder if the vocals need a little more something to cut through the mix… I feel like it’s lost a little bit of energy.
Found some brush cymbal hits to replace the stick ones. I think these fit in with the song better, so thanks for pointing that out!
I did some slight volume swells, like Jonathan pointed out. It’s subtle, but I think it’s cool.
Turned down the keys a touch and scooped out a little more of their low-mids. I did choose that instrument to help fill out the low-mids, (like between the bass and the guitar,) but maybe that area got too crowded.
I left the guitar pretty much as-is. It’s honestly not ideal. I made a thread not too long ago about how I could get a better tone out of my guitar, because I was having such a hard time with this recording in particular. The highs were so unpleasant to me that I reduced them a lot. I also ended up recording this guitar part with an SM57, and had a lot of noise in the high end that I wanted to cut out as well. This was the best I could manage with it.
I know what you mean… I do have more reverb/delay on the guitar than is in the rest of the song already. I tried adding more but the whole thing got too washy for me. It was really the vocal that I wanted to sound washy more so than the guitar anyway.
And about the brass, I’ll keep that in mind for next time. I wanted to keep this arrangement simple and go for more of a “band” feeling than is typical for me.
Yeah I wanted that ending to feel really rough, so I left everything in one take. Same with the vocal.
I just listened to v2 on my iPad sitting on the couch with normal house activities taking place. I thought it sounded pretty good. I’ll give it another listen later when I have some time to pay close attention. I enjoy this song. You are definitely gifted.
Listening to v2 and you don’t have to worry about the vocals cutting through. I like how you have pulled it back in the break down. I find the vocals a little bright for my taste but i tend towards the dark side so take that with a gram of salt. Sounding good.
Hey, another great song from you with your own touch/sound/personality inside (which is pretty difficult to achieve by the way).
I only listened to the second mix but I read comments below so I’m trying to avoid repeating obvious things.
First, the vocal (which is the main instrument and sounds beautiful on its own) is very tricky since it isn’t that powerful (like whispers or so) but it lacks of some hi end that someone who’s screaming obviously has.
Bringing up an EQ on that part would also enhance breathing and/or mouth noises.
I think you could make the voice “clearer” by heavily edit all little noises then apply EQ and that way it would cut better thru the mix without sounding louder (you may lower its volume without any negative aspect).
The same thing with the guitar playing which is very soft but some noises really jump out here and there. I think this is something that should be handled to bring the song the overall tone it needs.
Here is a way of doing those things (from The Recording Revolution).
The overall tone of the song is pretty mellow but it has this kind of muddiness that brings a “raw” factor to the track…
I think you could hi-pass a bit higher and cut a bit of 200-ish to free the song from this thing.
Again, it’s really such a beautiful song, really nice work!
This, @Cristina, is a perfect example of a beautifully crafted song that was so very delicately fiddled with it is almost unnoticeable. I’m sure every little change was an improvement, but I think it was already incredible. It is possible you knock the corrected vocal volume down a teeny tad more overall and see what happens. Personally, I can’t imagine it doing anything positive to the mix, but I absolutely have no mixing expertise so trial and error is often my only friend.
Thanks for sharing, and it makes me wish I’d been paying more attention recently!