Suggestions for this instrumental?

Kind of quiet around here so I’ll put this up for bashing. This is a demo and I’d like to get some feedback, direction, criticism if you will. All suggestions are welcome including “forggetaboutit” :wink:

Thanks for listening!

This has some nice stuff going on. I like that scale that runs up at the beginning. This music feels a bit like background music for a movie or some kind of show. The little computerized bleeps and beeps give this a somewhat quirky vibe. There’s somewhat of a meandering feel to this which isn’t a bad thing. Every song doesn’t have to have a steady structure. A couple of memorable phrases added and repeated might make this stick in someone’s mind more though. The walking bass line that kicks in at about 1/3 of the way through the song might just be the hook that could be repeated. I think if you added a very simple and catchy guitar lick (or maybe a riff) on top off that bass line you could really spice this up. As it is, I think the jammy, somewhat meandering approach you got here works fine, especially for TV background music. If I’m being picky I might say those toms are too robotic but I don’t think they’re all that bad for this style. The unceremonious ending sounds a little abrupt. You could always fade that out, or rework the ending.

Good to hear some more of your recording, @ingolee !


I’ll agree with pretty much everything Wicked said. It’s interesting, some interesting ideas and novel sounds, though it sounds a bit unfocused. Great for background listening though. If the guitar playing were featured in something else I think it could be quite notable.

For some reason, this strikes me as being similar to some “atonal” music I heard a few years ago. I don’t know if that makes any sense in context, but it’s kind of so “out there” it becomes its own thing.

1 Like

Thank you @Wicked for listening and giving good suggestions! That’s a great idea, I’ll have to try that.

I think I can loosen them up a bit, hopefully without losing the drive, we’ll see. I was wondering about adding a vocal or using different guitar sounds but the track seemed to work as is, I’m still not sure.

1 Like

Interesting composition! I like the quirkyness (is that a word?) that somewhat reminds me of Zappa.

I found the drums somewhat unusual too, partly fine (why should there always be a 2-4 snare in the foreground) and partly distracting because the levels of some of the instruments were all over the place. The bell/ ride for instance is very prominent in many parts of the song but the level drops rather dramatically in some parts without the drop in level having a relation to the other instruments. Overall the bell sounds too loud in my ears in relation to all the other drum parts. The snare is way back in the mix , sounds like the highs have been filtered out rather drastically? Another thing about the drums: if you have a number of crashes quickly after each other: use more than one (size) crash to distinguish the sounds. If a real drummer hits the same crash twice you get a different sound with a lot of wash. Drummers tend to play different crashes consecutively to make them stand out better. If you only have one crash I’d suggest you use an open high hat instead.

Oh and I don’t mind the lack of an obvious catchy riff. I suspect it would distract from the (atonal?) structure of the song. Unless you could come up with an atonal catchy riff :sweat_smile:
Hope that helps!

1 Like

You might get a good result trying the “humanize” feature in MIDI. As long as it doesn’t loosen things up too much. I think varying the volume levels of each Tom strike could help also. Just vary the volumes a little, so that it’s just barely distinguishable. I think the hi hats could come down a bit too and they might sound more realistic by varying their volumes in the same way as I referred to above with your toms. @Aef mention something about the hi hats and drums and I agree with what he said. Some slight variations in temp and dynamics may be able to improve them. It’s really not a matter or right or wrong though. Everything that we suggest is purely subjective and you have to remember that we all have preconceived ideas as to what sounds good and what doesn’t. So I’m speaking from my own personal “conditioning”.

Personally, I’d be interested in hearing a vocal in the song. You can have an instrumental version and a vocal version. The song might work even better with another different guitar flavour panned towards one side. Maybe just a few chords or notes. The thing about writing and arranging is that it can become a never ending process where the song/ recording is never considered finished. Sometimes it’s good to leave the song alone for a few months…or even, years, and when you come back you might have a clearer picture of what needs modifying.

1 Like

Hey Ingo - very unusual and interesting piece of music!

It sounds like a cross between progressive rock and fusion. The harmonies are pretty sophisticated… the melodies are very modal. Personally it doesn’t strike me as “atonal” at all… It’s just not a typical diatonic approach.

My main thought is that it is kind of linear at present, in that it doesn’t really seem to return to any particular theme or “head”. That’s not a criticism per se, just an observation. Personally, I always crave some sort of familiar theme to return, but sometimes that might not suit the purpose of the music… it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

For me, music is all about tension and release, so I look for the different sections of a song to resolve back to something familiar. If the song keeps on changing, it remains in a state of tension, but once a theme returns the tension is released.

Of course, if your goal is to suspend your audience in a state of tension, then by all means, do so!

If you choose to go down the “theme” route, I find the intro riff really quite catchy - I would like to hear that again. It actually reminds me somewhat of this Adrian Belew tune, maybe because of the serpentine riffs:

Looking forward to how this develops!

1 Like

Thank you @Stan_Halen for your always insightful comments. You’re right that this piece has a different approach to harmony than main stream rock. The first and last sections are in Em (actually probably E phrygian which is similar). The middle section is in C#m which is the same as E major so we get a minor major contrast in sound between the sections.

This approach to harmony is more of what we call modal than atonal (as Cold Room Studio points out above). People argue about what all this really means and these definitions are certainly fluid. Atonal generally means you can’t tell what the key is so there pretty much has to be all 12 notes used in a fairly short space which gets pretty raucous.

Here’s an example, although again some would question calling this atonal. This music is abrasive and seems random but as he gets further into the piece you will see some incredible piano technique. If you last that long :wink:

1 Like

This is a very good point @Aef ; the drums need work. You’ve given me some good guidelines for refining them, thank you for that.

It certainly does help! I will consider adding a part like that.

I do like that idea @Wicked but the main problem is I can’t sing! I do have songs with vocals but they rarely see the light of day. Thanks for the suggestions on drums.

1 Like

That’s how I see it @ColdRoomStudio , the opening and closing sections are Em/phrygian and the center section is C#m/E major so I think calling this a modal harmony tune is a fair description, good call! Atonality is usually a lot more chaotic as in the Cecil Taylor video I included in my reply to Stan Halen above.

Definitely one of the most important things happening I agree. I was trying to get that by returning to a restatement of the opening section but still trying to make it fresh to my ears. I will definitely rethink that as I look at this tune again, thank you for the insight.

Thanks also for sharing the Adrien Belew video, he gets very creative while still keeping a solid anchor. I like the tones he’s getting from the Parker Fly guitar, I need to try one of those.

1 Like

OK, thanks for the video and the explanation. I’m 3 minutes into the video and it’s interesting. These things pique my interest, but I’m mostly from the power-chord-and-shredding side of the fence :drooling_face:, so I can appreciate it without fully understanding it.

1 Like

Hi Ingo! Nice work there.
(I hope you dont take offense to some of my bashing :sweat_smile:) I am almost apprehensive posting in btr lately for more reasons than one.

Your drum and bass is coming across as underwhelming.
Your percussion needs some more double kick pedal action up for the type of genre you are hitting. Dont be scared to push the throttle there. I like your slow lead guitar, sort of adding a good anti climactic contrast to the track.


This is a good point @FluteCafe ; this tune has hard rock language in it but it doesn’t really rock very hard. When I posted this I called it a demo because I was considering adding other things to it so I hadn’t really mixed it all that much. I posted it as is because on the one hand I like the overall sound of it but I still feel it might not be complete.

‘Aef’ and ‘Wicked’ made some suggestions for improving the drum mix and your point fits well with what they are saying. I see the toms as driving the rhythm here so it will be interesting to let the bottom end get more involved. I’m hoping to spend some time on it soon.

As for being offended by criticism I want people to criticize my stuff because I want to improve. Of course there is always the question of personal preference; and if a song is a finished product it’s hard to tear it back down, especially if the changes aren’t something I believe in. So it’s good to get feedback early in the creative process.

The traditional music industry model is to have a producer take control of recorded material and there are good reasons for using this approach, usually because there is label money on the line. Most of us are not in that position, maybe by choice, because it is hard for any artist to take orders from someone else. But . . . I think the artists and songs we revere the most were created using that model so it’s probably a question of finding a producer that shares our visions.

I think we all have big egos, that’s why we’re here.

1 Like

yes that is very true. Some of the songs that are loved now and loved years ago have gone through a maddening culling process. Quite frankly I had no idea that happened, until I saw it happen with my own eyes. The heated discussions, shattered beer bottles and muffled screams with faces buried in the acoustic foam inside a billion dollar music industry is something I witnessed only recently :sweat_smile:
The producer that I am training with is one of the many producers for Rahman. Responsible for several multi million tracks. Rahman works with a web of producers that literally battle for blood over production ideas and I cant even believe at times.

The poor song writers, co-writers and backtrack writers like me are “shelfed” aside once a version (that we thought was final) is shredded and literally pulled apart piece by piece , note by note and tempo by tempo, chord by chord. Seems frivolous at times until the end result however, ends up being a marvelous masterpiece. I cant believe at times how that can possibly work.

1 Like

Typing as I listen, haven’t read any other comments.

Hmmm. Interesting one this. I like each element on their own, but I am finding it as a whole to be very choppy and it never feels comfortable with itself to me. (first minute)
Largely, I think this is the drums. You have a choppy riff which is cool and the solo over the top works too, but as there is no pattern to it as such, it leaves unpredictable empty spaces with the current drum pattern. Having a straighter drum to help ground the song so the chopy riff and intermittant solo can play around may help.

The crashes and ride are a bit harsh at times and a bit high up which is pulling me out of the mix (I realise this is not the finished product).

There are some really cool bits in there. I love that “Scheesh” sample you tucked in there, more so when it is used sparsely. I wasn;t sure if I heard it the first few times, a cool little easter egg.
Love the solo sound and some of the effect that you added in - eg the delay.

Personally, I struggled to get “into” it becasue I found there was nothing I could sort of “know” and latch on to, but I absolutely recognise each element it is in no way terrible either.
Not sure how the drums were done or if you are a drummer, but I think that some reworked drums would tighten this up quite a bit. Hope that makes senese. Feel free to completely disregard!

1 Like

I like critical reviews @danmanisa so you are definitely helping me here, thank you for taking the time to do this!

Other reviewers have mentioned the drums being an issue with this track so with that and your input I know I can make some improvements there.

Very perceptive comment that. I used to be into ‘heavy’ music and I still like it but I got into other stuff via ‘Yes’, ‘King Crimson’, ‘Coltrane’ and many others a long time ago. A lot of that music leaves out the straight beats and back beats and so the rhythm (and the harmony too) is implied only, which can be disturbing. I guess that’s an acquired taste; like spicy food sort of.

So this tune is me ‘threading the needle’; using some rock elements in a looser framework. We’ll see how it turns out! Thanks again for commenting.

1 Like

For me, your song does remind me a bit of King Crimson. By the way, I think “Elephant Talk” is King Crimson’s best song. If my memory serves me, that was the song that really inspired my occasional collaborator Jeremy Cubert to get into the Chapman Stick. Anyway, I think your song sounds pretty cool and a bit prog. Nice job! :slight_smile:

1 Like

@aaron_aardvark not worthy of that I think but thank you for the encouragement. KC has been around forever and has always been progressive and influential and I’d be very happy to get anywhere near their vibe.