Song order decisions

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by realdynamix, May 26, 2003.

  1. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) Hi! When I listen to some of my Favorite CD's. I get the impression that a story is unfolding as the tunes progress.

    Like no one ever told me that Abby Road has a progressive theme, but I easily detected it, right up to the end. ..."and in the end the love" etc... plus the little ditty to follow.

    When you arrange songs for play, what do you look for that makes them flow together, or make an impact, like a quiet song to a very dynamic song for effect? This must be a developed art in itself for sure.

  2. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Edit: Whoops. I just realized that the thread topic is about song ORDER, as in, the ordering of tracks on an album. I mistook this for ordering WITHIN a song. My bad. Original post follows, but is blatantly off topic. :) MAN, do I feel silly, now.
    End edit

    On two different occasions, I wrote up a "paper" of sorts about chords and chord progressions, and how they can tell a story that has as much meaning as the lyrics of a song. Neither occasion's paper survived - bad timings of hard disk failure and server problems, etc.

    It was quite theory intensive and time consuming to write... basically it focused on how each chord (relative to the key) had its own emotional character (I being complete, V being anticipatory, IV being hopeful, etc) and how these chords strung in a row could let a story unfold.

    In all my compositions so far, chord progressions and manipulation has been my forte. I stick mainly to instrumentals because quite frankly, 5-year-olds could write better lyrics than I can, and I sing like a horse with bad dentures. So, since my music usually has little-to-no lyrical content, I rely on other things to pique interest. Transpositions, etc can really bring out the story and add some emotional impact to the chords being used.

    One example of transpositions in play:
    This I did almost a year ago, when I first got really interested in tracking my own music. There are a couple of interesting transpositions later on in the track, and I think it showcases the use of certain chord progressions very well. It was done on a poor midi interface and the guitars were a Danelectro Daddy-O right into the soundcard input. (Ouch) I actually want to revisit this song and use some better sounding samples for the midi instrumentation, and the PODxt for the guitar parts. :) The most moving songs are those where the music adds to the impact by underscoring the moods delivered by the words.

    Ooh, one name that instantly comes to mind when we're talking about moods via sheer music alone is John Williams. A lot of the Star Wars music (especially Episode 5 stuff) was really well written. Atonal, modal, stuff with a solid key - everything flowed together to portray the emotions presented in the movie.
  3. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) Ahh, the complexities of the song in itself, I will edit my header to song order, but this post of yours is great! Another great example of this story telling is "Day's of Future Past" Moody Blues. The arrangement takes us through an entire day into a romantic evening. Gershwin mastered this in one single song "Rhapsody in Blue." Which is an LP in itself.

    Even with random recording mixes, slated for a collection on CD, there must be criteria for song order that adds that "wholeness" to the project.

  4. omegaarts

    omegaarts Member

    I agree there must be some order to the flow of songs. In keeping with falcon2's reply may I add..
    when I pick song order I try and make sure the keys are realitive from song to song.
    Example song one: tonic
    Song two: 4th
    Song three 6 minor
    I always look at keys when I record or produce to see if I can make a logical progression out of the record as a whole.
    If there is a song in a non related key it must fit in a place to redirect the flow of the project. Does this make since?
  5. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    I know for a fact that most Christian P&W CDs arrange the songs either fast-to-slow or fast-slow-fast reprise, even when the songs have nothing to do with one another.

    Hmm... if that post of mine generates discussion, the thread will go off topic. Maybe I should get someone to split-shuffle it off to Audio Streaming & critique? I *DID* originally think this thread was in that forum... By-product of having so many browsers open at once. :(
  6. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    I think this was important from a technical point of view more during the LP era. When cutting a side it helps to put something more subdued at the end of a side to get better quality on the last cut & better level throughout the entire side (space could be "made up" at the end of a side). On digital media this is no longer a factor at all.

    This opens up all sorts of artistic possibilities for the CD artist. A story can truely be told throuh song sequencing. I worked on a Joe Jackson CD "Blaze Of Glory" where the artist wrote in the liner notes:"This album is intended to be heard as two continuous sequences of six songs. Starting points for each track have been inserted at the most musically logical points, however endings will tend to come during musical transitions........etc.

    Flow of the music should be considered before mastering. It's just too complex a concept to have tossed away casually at the last moment. Not that this hasn't happened. I believe a project can benefit greatly from a artistic flow of the program from beginning to end & this can really add to the listener's enjoyment.
  7. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) Cool Don! What do you think of the posts from Falcon2, and omegaarts, Falcon thought he was way off topic, but after reading into their reply's, I realize that there is a lot of heavy pre-planning going on in the minds of composers, artists and producers. IOW, they invision the flow of the final product. It apparently is very detailed, way more than I ever imagined.

    That, as seperate, when you have a client with a hit single merged into a full collection of newer less known songs, where is the most common place in the TOC for the hit? You know, like when a sticky lable is placed on the cover "featuring Bla Bla hit" etc.

  8. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    Not being a song writer myself, I had no idea either. But I'm glad that this amount of planning is happenning. It's so much an artistic set of decisions & I guess the depth of it depends on the degree of thought that the artist wishes to put into it.

    As far as the other question, if I remember correctly, often the "hit" was placed as the first tune on Side 2 of a record. Again, nowadays, I think that is more fluid. You don't want to bury it & yet if it goes first, then you stand the chance of people not listening to the rest of the program contents (especially in this era of short attention spans).

    I think that the flow of all tracks should be taken into account & the "hit" placed where it "belongs". Not so far in that it's buried, but not first either: maybe third or forth song.... If it seems to "fit" there. Of course, people can program CD players or put on random play in a changer. Then all that thought & planning goes out the window and the CD becomes a collection of individual tracks.
  9. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Depending on the overall mood of the CD, I think I'd put a few "laid back" tracks first, then build up to the hit song, so that when it comes in, it's like, BOOM. Third or fourth sounds just about right.

    Then again, I have practically zero experience when it comes to this, so...
  10. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:
    i am a songwriter and 5 of my songs will be featured on my bands cd (which is now in the mixing stage) - my bass player wrote 6 of the tunes and the last 2 were written by our lead guitarist.

    We all have very different writing syles - and even within my 5 there are 5 different genres of music covered - i have not a clue how to arrange this from the perspective of 1sr to last - but i suppose the band will form a committee and go from there.

    From my own perspective though - in my opinion the best cut was written by my bassist - and i really want that to lead in the cd.... his classical guitar piece (him alone ) is going to close the cd as a bonus track. OUside of that - who know?

    One thing is the concept of the cd - a little sumthin sumthin for everyone

    am wide open for suggestions.........

  11. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    It would be impossible to say without knowing what genres the songs are, the moods, etc.

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