"LiPhone" - Bare Bones Demo/Proof of Concept

"LiPhone" - Bare Bones Demo/Proof of Concept
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Hi all, here is a really bare bones demo of a new track, called “LiPhone”.

At present it’s just acoustic guitar, drums, bass and vocals that I have thrown together as I thought of ideas.

I feel like it is working pretty well at this point, but I’m keen to get some input on suggestions to flesh it out some more and/or any changes that might improve it. Thanks!

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yep that is sounding good. on first listen i feel like the vocal has to much of a full on vibe. bringing it (note, speed, volume) down in places I think would be my suggestion . I know that is a bit change and probably not one that everyone would agree with so take it as it

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Thanks for giving it a listen and commenting, Eric - It’s early days yet with this, so I’ll definitely keep playing with those aspects.

I’m envisioning a bit more full-on sounding production in the finished song, so I may be somewhat unconsciously angling the vocal performance in that direction, and with that sound in mind. That said, I quite like the feel of the bare bones thing it has at the moment…

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I like the intro and how the acoustic guitar and drums kind of lock in together through the song. The acoustic guitar seems to function almost as a percussion instrument, except that middle section with the pretty acoustic melody. Is that a snare side-stick in the intro (0:02-0:11), or just a drum stick effect on some surface?

The song has a pretty full sound to it. I can see the Bare Bones/POC element, though a lot of it is working quite well as is I think. The mult/backing vocals are wonderful, and a slimmed-down production supports them being showcased I think. If you want to elaborate, I’m curious how you layered the vocal parts.

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I love the guitar/bass/drums synergy groove going on here. Really nice. A lot of energy. I absolutely love that. It’s catchy and powerful. The balance is nice. Yeah, great forward momentum. Powerful.

So, IDK if this feedback is legit, cuz I haven’t listened to it yet on my monitors, but when I listen on my Sennheiser 600’s, it feels maybe a bit muddy down low: It does not sound muddy on my cheap apple earbuds, or on my laptop speakers, but my Sennheisers have a flatter frequency response profile. They don’t embellish the high end much. So I’m not sure, but just thought I’d throw that out there. I’m thinking it’s cuz the beginning features the guitars being very percussive on the low strings, and then the bass and kick. Where you start strumming more with the unwound strings, say around 2 min, it doesn’t sound that way anymore.

The vocals (esp bgv) are a little pitchy maybe at times.

I could hear some electric lead riffs coming in on the later verses. A lead guitar break would open this baby up.

Love the lyrics, Andrew. This is a cool song. I’ve listened to it about five times. It’s catchy and memorable. This is a winner. I remember from the Who here does what thread that you play guitars, drums and bass. Are you doing all parts on this piece? Vocals too?

Very cool song, man. Nice mix, nice arrangement.

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Hey Andrew, I really like the bass sound on this. Would love to know about your signal chain for the bass. Was this DI?

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That’s exactly right Stan - When I first wrote the song, I layed down a rhythm feel just by playing muted strings on the acoustic and then looping it on my iPad. I actually used that loop to build this recording. It is the very first thing you hear.

That is actually a tom rim-hit. But yeah, similar idea.

Cool - I kinda felt it was working as-is, so at that point, it’s sometimes tricky to know what to add and when to stop.

Yeah, I feel like the chorus could flow a little better, and the instrumentation could develop more, but I don’t want to overdo it.

It’s very simple actually. I doubled the verse melody vocal once. Then I sang a single parallel-ish harmony line lower than melody and doubled that. I spread the doubled harmonies hard left and right, and then put Antares AVOX Duo (basically a vocal doubler) on the single doubled melody line and spread that hard left and right as well. Here is what the solo’d harmonies and double sound like without the lead vocal mixed in:

Cool, thanks man! That simple, driving drop D acoustic riff is what formed the basis for the song.

No worries, I didn’t get super microscopic about tightening the low end at this stage. I’m super familiar with my monitors & sub, so I just dialled it until it felt right on them. Definitely not going for perfection at this stage.

Huh! I actually felt the BVs were very in tune. I let the lead vox be a little more elastic pitch-wise. In any case, these won’t necessarily be final vocals. At least definitely not the lead vocal. I may use some of the BVs in the final.

I’m definitely open to embellishing the song with more guitar parts, however I don’t think I’ll necessarily add any lead guitar solos per se. I can usually naturally “feel” where a solo needs to go, but I’m not “feeling it” with this particular track… I like to on occasion resist my guitarists’ urge to put a solo on every song. Sometimes it improves a song, but sometimes it just feels superfluous.

That’s very nice to hear - thanks!

Yes, I’m playing/performing all the parts here. Only in this case, I just threw the drums together from some simple loops I created on my keyboard via midi. I deliberately made the drums very simple and repetitive, as I’m planning to hand the demo over to a drummer to lay down some live drums for it.

Thank you! And thanks for listening and sharing your observations - much appreciated! :+1:

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Very nice arrangement and performances as always. If you are looking for the weakest link, I would say you should work on the verse vocal melody.

Only a slight tangent, but it might prove useful to some on here ‘producing themselves’.

A thing I like to do when recording other peoples’ lead vocals, sometimes turns up a gem.

This is when I record them trying several harmonies, (some straight, some complex) and then chop the various new lines up and try different combinations in the lead vocal slot.

Of course, I don’t tell them I’m also fishing for a new lead vocal, they think its just a backing vocal, so are usually quite relaxed about it, and often take on suggestions quite readily… :innocent:

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Sorry, I just realised I forgot to answer this question. Yes, I DI’d my Ibanez Soundgear bass (drop D tuning) straight into my Steinberg MR 816 CSX Interface. That ran into Amplitube’s Ampeg SVT-4 Pro emulation. That is the sound I initially recorded with. Later I added Slates virtual mix rack and modified a preset called “Bright Punchy Bass” which included the London preamp model > Distresser emu > 1176 emu > Neve Eq emu > Custom EQ.

When I was mixing it for human consumption, I noticed the bass had some really slappy transients that were confusing the groove in some places, so I threw Boz’s Transgressors plugin in between the Amplitube and the Virtual Mix Rack and jus dialled out some of the slap.

You’re quite right about the verse melodies - they are very much improvised on the spot, with an emphasis on rhythm and emotion above melody.

I usually just go with the very first thing I come up with melody-wise and not judge it. I leave it and come back to it later. If I still think it works months later, then that it my litmus test. I knew I had a strong chorus here, so I tried not to overthink the rest.

Yes, I’ve noticed that harmonies actually produce decent alternative melodies at times, so I might consider that - that’s a good tactic!

Thanks for listening and commenting!

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Oh, one thing I forgot to mention was that, although I used the original iPad recorded loop more in the centre, in addition to the chords being held down by the left and right acoustic guitars, I also recorded muted, strictly percussive acoustic guitar strums and panned them hard left and right, as an additional percussive element to emphasise the groove.

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Yes, there’s a quite a bit going that fills out the sound. That’s why it doesn’t really sound “bare bones”, just intentionally spacious in arrangement. My first impression was that while the drum rhythm sounds kind of simple and minimal, it seems to work quite well. At least with the present arrangement. If you choose to beef up the whole song arrangement, the drums may need more embellishment as you mentioned.

I meant to ask about the ‘meaning’ of the song. There is certainly a story in there, and perhaps ironic that it’s some kind of a critique of the iPhone yet you used the iPad for the drum loop. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Haha, yes I definitely saw the irony in mentioning using the iPad. The title came from a throwaway comment by my wife about things like facebook, instagram and social media in general…

We were discussing how the social media culture has led many people to be always showing others their “best side” - what a great time they are having; how wonderful and beautiful they are; how much they had achieved etc etc. As someone who does creative things for a hobby/side business, and uses social media to promote her products, she noted that in actually meeting some of the people who projected such a pristine and “together” image, the reality was indeed far removed from the truth…

She cracked me up when she wryly commented that iPhones should be called “Lie-phones” due to their enabling this facade… So that is what inspired the song.

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First off, as has been said, this is a killer groove and of course a solid production all around!

Here are some ideas I’ve been mulling over while listening over the last few days. Just some brainstorming to take or leave…

  • I love the irony that Bob pointed out that the iPad got this thing started. What would be REALLY ironic, is to literally weave some sort of iPhone sound into the song - and/or mangle that sound with some processing or something. Or maybe layer in the message “ding” with a cymbal hit or something like that. That could be a lot of fun. :stuck_out_tongue:

  • As has been said, the song feels “wide open” or “all out” most of the time, and as a result, for me, it gets a little wearying. I think it could use some more dynamics in regards to the energy level and flow, a little breather here and there. With that in mind, perhaps the bridge (2:07) could use more of a dynamic build? i.e. drop the acoustics and just use bass/drums, then add for emphasis?

  • Along those lines, you could add/remove elements for additional interest/variety. Maybe you could drop the bass part for the 1st verse, then add it back in at the 2nd verse for more weight?

  • In my head, I like the idea of teasing the listener with that killer groove, then dropping it for the first verse so the listener is anticipating and waiting to hear it again…

  • I’d try to make verse 1, verse 2 and verse 3 different by adding additional elements or removing some so they are not the same from section to section and stand apart from the chorus section more.

  • Another possibility as Tesgin said, could be an electric guitar (or even an acoustic!). Maybe start with some answer back type fills for the 2nd or 3rd verse? You could even replace the 3rd verse with a solo and concentrate all the lyrics into fewer words. I know, you don’t want one, but it could really add more texture and a different energy.

  • Finally, I know you are more than capable of doing all the parts, but what if you brought in a “hired gun”? you could have another player do a solo or add some parts? It could stir things up - in a good way. For me, I find it is more satisfying to work with other musicians because of that. That’s what I always liked about playing in a band. The different perspectives and ideas that others can bring to the table are invaluable.

Anyway, just some ideas and suggestions from the peanut gallery. :slightly_smiling_face:

Great tune!

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Wow thanks Mike… You’ve put a LOT of thought into this - much appreciated!

I really like some of these ideas a lot, and some of them…well, not so much :grimacing:

One thing is for sure - the next time you hear it, it will differ quite a bit from what I have here. A lot of this version is “novelty of sound” - testing the limits of a specific idea.

Thank you once again for your thoughts!

…Just one disclaimer about the subject of this track: Sometimes when you give a bit of information about what inspired something, people automatically interpret it as: “Oh, then it means THIS”, and quantize the meaning to a very narrow lane indeed. In truth, songs (at least my songs) are hardly ever about one definite, specific THING…More often than not, my songs are about being conflicted by two or more ideas/viewpoints/whatever…

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As I said, just throwing some ideas your way. :slightly_smiling_face:

Looking forward to hearing how this progresses!

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Maybe we should start calling the digital façade … “iLife”. :thinking:

No wonder I had been thinking about “ambivalence” yesterday, though I didn’t make the connection until you gave the backstory and pointed out the conflict element.

Ambivalence is a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs, or feelings towards some object. Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having an attitude towards someone or something that contains both positively and negatively valenced components.

That’s a great songwriting aspect that helps the listener figure out their own feelings and viewpoints on a topic.

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Yes, that is very familiar territory… Here’s a demo of a song I wrote & recorded around 13 years ago, entitled “Ambivalence Man” :thinking:

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Fun song. The “try, try, try” breakdown was really cool and interesting. I think ambivalence is both a blessing and a curse. Being able to look at (or feel) things from all sides, can yield a well-rounded and multi-faceted person. But it can also be frustrating in trying to make decisions and move forward. The line “it’s still the blind leading the blind” seems to indicate go ahead and take risks, and take failure as it comes rather than overthink it. I can’t tell for sure in the lyrics whether your dilemma is internal or external. I’m kind of split on which way that goes. :wink:

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Hardy ha ha…but then again, who’s to say it’s even my dilemma?

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