Richendahl, an epic celtic antiwar song

Occasionally I create a song that I think is significantly better than my average song, and this is one of those. It is certainly longer, and that is the challenge.

I’ve been fiddling with the extra parts to hopefully keep the arrangement interesting, fiddling with the instruments to be more palatable, and now I’m at the point I think it is passable.

Long songs are an anathema in the ADHD age, but that is not to excuse shortcomings in the songcrafting itself, not to mention incorporating a serious celtic feel with rock elements which is not traditional. War is basically a depressing topic also. Let me know please what you think.

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Hauntingly beautiful. :slightly_smiling_face: I’m not sure I have listened to all of it, I did listen to sections. This one may take me a few days and multiple listens to digest. My one suggestion might be to vary the ‘doppelgänger’ vocal a bit, have it there sometimes and other times not, or move the timing together (like a harmony or duet) at times and then let it spread wide like it seems much of the time now. It’s a very interesting effect, and could be used to suggest when two people (singing) or two parts of the inner self (conscious/unconscious) dialoging with each other are in harmony or separation/conflict. Onomatopoeia, of sorts.

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The two voices themselves in isolation are ok, its the musical parts all driving the same ‘bass progression’ that makes it a little dirge like.

There is a lot of repetition in the musical parts thats creates uncertainty.

Just because its Celtic, you still want to give each instrument its own space in the arrangement. I don’t hear any of that.

Hope that helps.

Ooh yes, really like this song!! It gave me goosebumps right from the beginning, a big emotional response.

I made a few notes as I was listening so will chatter away…
I was interested in your choice of lyric ‘as many a good man dies… today’. I thought initially that the ‘today’ felt a little ‘ajar’ and didn’t easily flow but when the phrase was repeated at the end of the song, it had a poignancy because of that recognition, like an implicit accent if that makes any sense? Effective.

I didn’t find the song too long at all, there is plenty of variation and a lot to listen to. Some really interesting things going on and nice instrumentation. Loved the harmony, the double vocal was really effective for me and gave some heart-catching moments. I did find the vocal sound quite harsh and fuzzy at times. Funny, because it’s a war song, I had an expectation of a more folky vocal sound which is probably why my ears were seeking a less processed sound. Having said that, the vox felt a little too loud/strained at times and made my infinity speakers crackle as though it was just a little too hot - compression?

Really nice drum bridge, I wondered if it could be even a little louder, slightly more punchy? Fitted really nicely into the production. Ooh those lyrics around… ‘just take them off the corpses feet…’ fabulously gritty and powerful… ooch… loved how you did that. Around that part, my ear caught a couple of pitchy moments at 6.20 ish : One thing’s certain… in the afterlife".
Loved the guitar riff coming through at around 6.29, very nice… could be even louder maybe, just more of a growl? Overall I wondered about a little more definition and space for the individual instruments - they feel like threads that carry the listener along.

Great song, an age old theme with a different twist and edge. Really enjoyed this. Something I will listen to again and enjoy…

Hi Really like the vibe. Your vox and harmony sound good. Like the strings.

Good balance. Almost simon and garfunkle at times. Got a little funky for me at 2:44 ha ha Ok, I can go the full 8 minutes. Just wanted to say I did dig it.

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Nice, Steve. I especially like your strings in the background. The guitars are nice and sit well with the strings.

It’s tough to pull off a song that sounds this full and without percussion. Speaks to the strength of the instrumentation.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, it’s not “from whence,” but just “whence.” My son is a grammar-Nazi, and I guess some of his neuroticism has rubbed off on his dad. :blush:

Thanks everyone for the encouraging remarks! I think this style of song is easier to like than a lot of other styles that are equally if not more musically valid. No matter, I am glad you enjoyed it, and based on your feedback I was able to make a new mix.

I definitely turned up the volume, Emma. I do think it is much more impactful this way.

I think I brought up that growly guitar in a couple of places with some automation. Did a little panning. I tried not to overdo it, but it almost all in the center all the time. I think I could go further but this is hopefully better.

You nailed it, and it bugged me this whole time. I’m making excuses to myself that celtic male singers often are slightly off key that it was OK, but it stood out. So I don’t pitch correct vocals as a rule, but I do resing the problem spot and use it instead. I do a lot of stretching, and it is a long song to sing straight through correctly for me as I am not a great singer. So I think the patch matches the rest close enough and definitely fixed “in the”.

I attached the lyrics below, Emma, if you’re interested. I must say that it was the basic melody and vibe of the acoustic guitar that inspired the song idea of Richendahl, a fictitious medieval battle site, and the rest came right away. It is such a lilting poetry, a song like this, and I just tried to go with what fit the song, and it ends up somewhere between cliche and catchy I suppose.

I didn’t try that yet, Stan. The vocals are fairly natural and I am not sure I have the technical ability to do that. But it sounds cool.

The ‘bass progression’ sameness I haven’t addressed, and I suppose it is a dirge,
although I hope the side instruments panning helps the space issue.

It is long! But I stuck with the two part vocals, I find I go up and down too much and overlap three part harmonies and easily confuse myself. Hence, Simon & Garfunkel. And the strings, you know how you always like strings, a string section or orchestra on the side? But the truth is it is not for every song, but this one ate it up.

From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part. -Shakespeare

Although your son is technically correct, it has been used incorrectly for centuries. I used it for its medieval soundingness with poetic license and the meter of the line. For example, “I know not whence it came” also fits the meter. English is a handy language for poetry, I think.

Richendahl 9-


By Steve Bancroft

Instrumental Intro

Chorus 1
27So many arrive at Richendahl, the air was thick with smoke
The sky was cast a shade of grey that death it did bespoke
We turned our heads to face the west from whence came battlecries
Too late for fear, the end is near as many a good man dies today

Instrumental Break

Verse 1
The rank and file at Richendahl were poor men far and wide
And noble knights in armor shine and upon their horses ride
And all is pomp and circumstance, their uniforms crisp and clean
Their faces shaved and mustache waxed, boots polished to a sheen

Bridge 1
80And so it is at Richendahl before their foe arrived
With pageantry and rousing speech appeared so civilized
And each man felt heroic inside, their hearts near burst with pride
And to loved ones far away courageously pledged their life

Verse 2
105If only war was like that after the fighting ended
Instead in all directions there is only dead and wounded
One side won and one side lost, that is history
But on the bloody battlefield it is not too clear to see victory

Instrumental Break Bridge 2

145Perhaps there was good reason, the destruction justified
Perhaps a prince had stolen a neighbor prince’s bride
And neither would surrender, it was a point of pride
Negotiation’s failure was a price paid by each side so high

Verse 3
172If you came for glory, that you will not find
And if you’re seeking fortune, fancy boots are left behind
Just take them off a corpse’s feet who wears about your size
One thing certain he won’t need them in the afterlife

Instrumental Break

Verse 4
199And I am here to give account, its truth you can derive
For I am one of the lucky ones who managed to survive
I saw it with my own two eyes, of this I would not lie
And I would almost trade my soul to forget such gruesome sights

Chorus 2
226And so it was in Richendahl, the air was thick with smoke
The sky was cast a shade of grey that death it did bespoke
We turned our heads to face the west from whence came battlecries
Too late for fear, the end is near as many a good man dies today
As many a good man dies

So @Stan_Halen, I was thinking about what you were saying about the vocals, and I added pan automation to the harmony vocal and let it wander from off to the right to the center at emotional times then gradually walk back to the right. And this alone has generated a cool new dynamic to them to my ears. I’m not sure this is at all what you were suggesting, but what the heck! A subtle improvement, I would say, without changing too much at all.

Richendahl 10-

I think it’s better. My main concern with the previous one was it’s a long song and when one element stays the same over a long period of time the ears become less interested in what’s happening. So yes, variation was what I was suggesting and this seems to have helped. Maintaining the listeners’ interest was the main idea.

After reading the lyrics I found that the song reminded me a lot of the 30 Years War (1618-1648) in central Europe, especially Germany. I don’t know what informed your narrative, I’m sure it could be representative of many wars and battles, or the nature of war in general (no pun intended). The lyrics seem to fit quite well though with how I chose to identify the imagery based on my own knowledge.

That lead guitar starting around 6:28 is nice, though I feel it is a bit behind the ‘beat’ and the progression. At first I wondered if there was one note out of scale/key or something, but I think it’s just that the notes are not coinciding with the other related vocal and instrumental parts (due to being behind the beat). If this is MIDI, or audio you can ‘slide’ in time, I would suggest tightening it up a bit. Having it just a tad behind the beat is probably fine for something like this, the ‘drag’ feel can emulate an emotion of depression and sadness, but I think it’s too much at the moment. Just closer to beat and timing would be helpful IMO. When I say ‘beat’ regarding this song, I’m not talking about drums or percussion obviously, it’s the natural meter of the other elements. The song is maybe in 3/4 time or something? It’s almost like the lead guitar is in 4/4 time. Just one beat behind the rest.

Well, I advanced the lead guitar ever so slightly, even though in the midi sequencer it looked exactly in step. What I think is the guitar might have some slowness on the attack, at any rate to me it sounds better now.

I really appreciate everybody’s help on this, and I think it has made a significant difference. 11 may be a reasonable version to release as the final, even though it may have issues I haven’t addressed yet.

Richendahl 11-

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I’m late to the party, just listening to the latest version here… very cool vibes straight away. Like a Transylvania vibe or something.

Some thoughts on the vocals: they are a little off-kilter, with the two voices not being quite in sync. I’ll assume that’s intentional though. Sometimes it works… I guess I’ve gotten used to it by the end. :slight_smile: Also I am noticing quite a lot of distortion on the background vocal… it sounds like clipping to me. I can get behind a distortion effect, but this one is sort of distracting because it just sounds like clipping.

I like a lot of the instrumentation. I dig the part at 4:17. Great drums there too! I like that build. As far as the mix goes, I think it’s pretty good. Maybe a little bit heavy on the low mids, but that makes it rich. It does give an opportunity to make the track feel bigger just at certain times by filling in more of the frequencies which I don’t think you’ve taken full advantage of.

Anyway, I hope any of that was helpful. Cool song!

That alone was worth waiting for, Cristina! You have always been so musically active I am grateful you share your insights whenever you do, which is quite a lot.

I’m not a great singer, and the harmony requires a lot of stretching, sometimes cutting, to get it to line up. And it basically works for me now. I am trying hardest to get the starts and ends of lines to line up, but I pay less attention to the interiors. Anyway, what results is this not quite in sync issue. And I am pretty sure I stress out the sound stretching too much in spots too, so I’m sure it contributes to my other vocal inconsistencies and overall to what everyone hears.

I’m not sure about this yet. I do use a synth with frog rivets in the background at times that have nothing to do with the song, but it adds an ambience to me. So I wouldn’t be surprised if I was playing the clipping!

Thanks! That came late and turned out to be exactly halfway through the song, so it sort of kickstarted the second half. Now I can’t imagine it not being there.

That’s good to hear, Cristina. I’m happy with the “rich” mix. I think I will have to let it be this way for now. Maybe in the future I will relisten and with fresh ears imagine some important tweak.

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