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audio "Elizabeth's Song" Orginial Composition

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by Jeremy Dean, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    This is a song my Mom and I wrote together in 2013 for one of our church's dramas. When I recorded this I had very limited equipment, experience, and knowledge about mixing. Because of this the tracks themselves have some issues, namely noise. Some of them are in fact very noisy. But I like the song and wanted to try to fix it and bring the quality up from where it was 3 or so years ago. I've heard it so many times now that I may be losing clear perspective on what it sounds like to everyone else, so any comments on how to make this better is much appreciated.
    A couple things to keep in mind: I'm open to different directions for this song, but the sound I've been going for is a more "homey" sound. It doesn't need to sound super polished, but I don't want it to sound like garbage either. Also, when I put it up against a professional mix mine sounds a little darker, not as bright. If I EQ it to match other mixes it sounds brittle to me and loses it's warmth, but like I said I definitely don't have fresh ears on this mix anymore. Thanks in advance for lending me your fresh ears! :)

     

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  2. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Any thoughts guys???
     
  3. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    Hey Jeremy - cool that you and your mom make music together. With musical drama and sacred music in general there's often conflict between the melody as melody and the attempt to force the lyric into it -- generally what gets lost is the poetry of language, and phrases end up getting packed with too many words and syllables. Your song has some of this for sure -- it's part of the charm and natural earnestness of the composition and performance, but also something that limits it to either the musical theater realm or the "here's the song mom and I wrote in 2013" listening session at the next family event. For this song to get beyond this stage I think you'd need to re-track the vocal and have the singer really study and work out the phrasing and her breathing a little better. That more than anything is dragging it down for me at this point.

    If I break this down into the question of how you want it to sound I'd say part of your difficulty is that it's trying to be (or could be) several different genres at the same time - you've got the Folk, Americana, Country and even some Modern Pop in there (that whole Avril Levigne/Alanis Morissette Vibe with the run-away vocal), so I think the first thing you want to do as a producer and the writer is decide on the genre and let that guide your production. There's no right answer here but I particularly got confused in the transition between the Avril Levigne part and the near yodeling country vocalizations at the end....

    I'm going to suggest two songs for you to listen to for production notes: One - Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles. The second song is really two songs as one song on Heart's 1977 album Little Queen called Sylvan Song & Dream of the Archer (Sylvan Song is just the musical intro to Dream of the Archer). Have a listen to those (especially the Heart songs) and tell me what you think? Does it give you any ideas production wise?

     
  4. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Thanks for commenting DogsoverLava! I appreciate your thoughts.
    Are there certain lines that feel this way to you, or does it sound like as a whole that the lyrics don't fit into the melody? My Mom wrote most of the lyrics and I did the melody, song structure, and such. I had recorded just me singing and playing an acoustic guitar as a demo to give to the 2 singers to learn the song from(they are a mother and daughter duet by the way). I remember on tracking day that the Mom was having trouble getting the chorus sung all the way through because of there being so little time to take breaths. Is it just the chorus or other parts that feel this way to you?
    I like so many different styles of music that I do a lot of genre mixing. This kind of sound was actually what I originally had been going for when I was forming the sound for this song: () It definitely changed a good deal! Somewhere along the way I turned to more of an indie-folk sound. The two singers I chose I knew had experience singing folksy, bluegrassy, country like music with their very musical family, so they definitely gave the song their own flavor. The Mom sang the lead part and she isn't as spontaneous and flowy with the way she sings as her daughter is. The run-away vocal part was actually suppossed to be done by the Mom. On the demo I recorded I just sang what I felt at that part. I think I and her daughter sing alike in that sense. So, in the studio when I told her she could sing whatever she wanted there, whatever she felt, she didn't know what to do with it. That's when I decided to have her daughter give it a whirl and honestly I liked it a lot. I guess maybe all the genre mixing isn't everyone's cup of tea? I have a friend who is an avid music listener who has strong opinions about how he likes his music and when he heard this song at the drama performance he asked me to put it up on YouTube so he could listen to it when he wanted to.
    I gave those a listen some and I'm familiar with "Here Comes the Sun". I think the melody is reminiscent of it. So your saying you would enjoy the song more if it was more bound to a particular genre?
     
  5. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    The problem of wordiness is exaggerated because the lyrics and melody have not been optimized to fit each other with respect to phrasing that preserves the meaning of the lyric while achieving the poetry of the song. If we were working on this together I take it apart line by line with you and have you sing it re-phrased several different ways until a more natural flow was achieved that actually gave strength to the lines themselves. As an example: take the opening line the first musical phrase "so men-ee" is interrupted by a big pause before being completed with "days have be-come years"...

    Poetically I'd suggest you'd want the pause to be after "days" so you'd sing "So many days <pause> have be-come years" or even more interestingly "So many days <pause> have be-come <pause> years". Because the whole first musical phrase "So men-ee" is nonsensical (because you break it up with two syllables) if you pause after it -- my brain doesn't even hear it as "so many" at that point because without "days" there is no context --- " A pause in musical phrase is like a comma in conversation -- musical punctuation and how lyrics fit into phrases with their own logical integrity are part of the power of how a song is delivered with meaning. A skilled orator can deliver the same speech as a less skilled orator saying all the same words -- but without the right inflections and punctuation and control of where the meaning is delivered you've just got words on a page (or in a song).

    The issue here is less about you as a writer and more about your singer as an amateur and you as a novice producer. You want this stuff worked out ahead of time as much as you can unless your singer is really skilled -- if skilled they'll bring an interpretation to the lyric which will inspire it's own phrasing (then you can get into those battles about phrasing and meaning with your singer - a whole other thing). That's why the song had this feel of someone trying to make the vocal fit the melody because I think that's generally what happened. It was obvious the melody trumped the vocal which I think is the exact opposite of a worship song's intention. For me it resulted in the feeling of the song being more wordy than it actually was.

    The issue with the choruses were again phrasing - but more specifically they were technical singing issues. I liked the phrasing as it was intended, but your singer didn't technically know how to sing them so they were broken up by breaths in the wrong places (and with wrong technique). Fixable - but also something you as a producer have to jump in on and correct during the session if it's going off the rails.

    I've got a few other thoughts - The daughter sings the last more emotive impassioned girl chorus and then the outro vocalizations yes? I thought their voices worked good in harmony but not in contrast on the chorus. Momma is way more reserved and for lack of a better description - very vanilla. Daughter has more colour and expression in her voice so the story tells differently - it's a different experience. I'd recommend you tell the story in one voice --- the other voice supporting the first. BUT if the point there was to actually show the contrast in spirit between mother & daughter (which it could have been) then the outro vocalizations needed to be as impassioned as the last chorus -- even more so. We didn't get that - she totally held back and was scared to let go and let it out. I wanted her to testify but she suddenly put the breaks on after stepping out a bit then ended with that weird throaty vibrato/yodel that sounded more like Dolly Parton parachuted into the end of the song.

    As for genre mixing - my suggestion was more production related - You said you had issues matching reference mixes to the song - I suggested the Heart song because it has both Ann and Nancy singing on it & some of the same instrumentation and folk elements. Anne's voice is so much richer and more expressive than Nancy's whose voice is more pleasant (like the mom's on your song) so I wanted you to hear those two voices in context with the instrumentation and how they were used on the song and how it was mixed as it might give you some ideas.

    ALSO to add: No matter what I say -- anyone creating music and sharing that with people (for enjoyment and criticism) is a hero in my book - so all my comments which are of course my own, are given with the highest respect to you as a creator. Don't take anything too much to heart and don't put too much weight on them because I'm just one guy. There are some real pros here whose opinions carry much more value and weight than mine so I'd listen to them. As I said in my first post - I think the song is very earnest and very much in keeping with the praise and worship genre it is in, and with a little more attention on the vocals phrasing I think you could get more out of it.

    One last question for you - is all your music praise and worship stuff? Do you play or listen to secular music too?
     
  6. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Thanks for the reply DogsoverLava!
    Thanks for explaining that a little better. I hear what you're saying now. The Mom definitely is more reserved in singing than her daughter in my opinion, so it did come out a little more robotic than I wanted. On the other hand though, I can't think of any examples at the moment, but I can remember hearing odd phrasing of lyrics in songs before and I've been attracted to those. It may not have worked as well here though because of the Mom's style of singing, not as expressive.
    Yes, the daughter sang that section.
    Yah, I can hera what you're talking about here as well. I'm moving to Colorado from Virginia in about 2 weeks and don't have time to re-do this one with them, so I'm going to have to mkae the best of it. People have enjoyed this one before, so hopefully whatver charms them about it will overpower the weaknesses in my producer skills. :D That's something I definitely want to get better at.
    Thank you! I feel your comments are valid and definitely point out some things that I need to work on. I actually have a recording session set for Monday with the same daughter and another girl to put the vocals on a song that was sung live in 2014 for another Christmas drama. The song has to be sung passionately to really be convincing. It's very theatrical and dramatic, so I'll be trying some stuff with them to get them back into the characters they played 2 years ago to get the same feeling and conviction we got from them on stage. They're both great actresses on stage, I just need to capture that in my studio.
    I've been raised in a Christian home so pretty much all of the music I listen to is Christian music. Although I did learn most of the intruments I play by listening to a band called ApologetiX when I was younger. They're a Christian parody band who has done everything from Elvis to Eminem. I don't listen to them as much anymore but I still enjoy them. I went to at least 7-10 shows of theirs over the years. I don't just play praise and worship music. I enjoy it a lot and play on my church's worship team, but there's a lot of Christians out there making other genres of music that I enjoy as well.
     

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