"Incomplete" - first original song by Brendan

Hi folks,

Well here we go :cold_sweat: I have been working on an original song for the past few weeks, and I think the time has come for me to stop twiddling knobs and put this thing out there.

This song started life as a sequence of chords that I just couldn’t seem to stop playing in my blind chords practice. I did not have any goals towards composition or songwriting, but I thought, I obviously like this sequence, why not see where this goes. Some dozens of hours in GarageBand later, and here we are.

The bass line was written by my brother Anthony, and apart from that I did all the writing, arranging, composing, MIDI programming, performing guitar and vocals, and production. I apologise for my lousy vocals, but it is the best I can do at the moment.

By far the hardest part of this for me was writing the lyrics, which came as a surprise.

I hope you enjoy the song, and I will welcome any and all feedback/criticism.

Lyrics:

Trying to be something else, failing to define myself.
Aimlessly drifting round, reacting to light and sound.
Formless shape, a will dissolved. Can I ever be resolved?

I am incomplete (incomplete)
You are incomplete (incomplete)
Undecided, dissolute,
We are incomplete.

Process ongoing, a pattern unfolding.
Repelling, attracting, deflecting, refracting
Burning and breaking, building and shaping

It’s only in change I consist.
Through all of this change, I persist.
While I’m incomplete, I exist.

I am incomplete (incomplete)
You are incomplete (incomplete)
Unresolved and resolute,
We are incomplete.

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:clap: :clap: :clap:
:champagne: :champagne: :champagne:

Bravo and congratulations, Brendan. A first original song that was a really enjoyable listen. Of all the challenges we confront when learning to play, I think there is something extra special in producing an original song and having the courage to share it.

I know that feeling about the endless knob twiddling and tinkering. But have to say there was nothing really major that stuck out to me that I think needed further work in the mix.

If anything, I might have bumped up the level of the vocal a wee bit. I think fair to say the majority of us here tend to dislike the sound of their own voice. I enjoyed the vibe of your vocal, the phrasing and timbre. Certainly not lousy. And maybe that subconsciously led to the level you settled on.

Lyrics are a challenge for many. I enjoyed the though-provoking nature of the lyrics and the choice of words.

All-round an excellent first production!

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That was really nice Brendan!! The chord progression is lovely, and overall it’s a rather catchy tune that’s nicely produced.

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I like originals and this came out as a good one… Boy if there was any way to lift up the vocals to a higher register, it would go a long ways on this one. To me your drums and bass are very distant. I can hear the vocals just fine. But as stated, those other elements are pretty quiet.

All the best and remember @Richard_close2u words. If you write a song your not 100% satisfied with, write another… I hope to hear more, but this was a great start!

Keep well,
LB

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Thanks for your feedback and kind words David, and you’re not wrong about me being instinctively shy on the vocal level. In fact when my wife gave it a test listen, she told me she couldn’t understand any of the words because the vocals were so far back in the mix. I dropped the guitar strumming back a bit and brought the vocal forward, changed the effects on it to make the words more clear. She was right, it was definitely an improvement.

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Thanks LBro, appreciate the comments! As for a higher register, haha nope. That D3 note (the “in” of “incomplete”) is about as high as I’m willing to attempt at this point in time.

A fair point about the drums and bass. The drums are not all that interesting to me in this track, but I think the bass probably could come forward a bit. When I first programmed it in, the bass was very prominent, but it kind of ended up getting swamped as I added more stuff. My brother might end up recording the bass line, if that happens I’d definitely give it plenty of space in the mix.

Getting a good mix is no joke. I did not appreciate the amount of effort that goes into this stuff until I tried to do it for myself!

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Super stuff Brendan! Loved the lyrics and the vibe you created. Really really impressive. You certainly have a talent for songwriting. I hope this inspires you to produce more. :sunglasses:

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This :smiley:

You did it- and that’s the most important thing.
Not only is it a first, but it’s a fine first. So many good things going on here.
Nice chord progression, well performed and produced. @DavidP & @LBro are probably right when it comes to mixing levels/fx etc. as they are much more into the mixing side of things, but it sounded good to these lugs.
I’m reluctant to offer criticism, but you did ask, so here goes.
You mention writing lyrics being hard. Stick with it.
Like everything else, you’ll only get better if you practice. I found it useful when on a songwriting course, we were advised to steer clear of vague generalisations and to try and use as much detail as possible, especially regarding our senses.
Rhythm is important, not rhyme.
I agree with the Brother that it sounded a bit low for your voice. You should think of revisiting this in a different key, allowing you to sing in a higher register.
It’s fun (and educational) to go back and rework a song after a decent period of time.

All the old-timers will nod when I give you vibes for this, good Sir. :sunglasses:

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Congratulations Brendan. That is quite an accomplishment. Lots of good advice given by @DavidP , @LBro and @brianlarsen. I think Brian makes a great tip which I’m going to have to take note of about using as much detail as possible (reminds me of that scene from Reservoir Dogs). I think you should be very proud of what you have achieved. Well done mate.

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Hi Brendan,
Well done, :sunglasses: :clap: :bouquet:…that must give you a nice feeling :sweat_smile:…it was nice to listen to and I’m looking forward to the version that your voice fits more with it,…just start sliding the capo as said…but above all a great first song,
Greetings,…

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Love it, love it, love it!

Your song is a winner Brendan. Your choice of words generate potent associations and deep emotion in me. Your voice, in all its aspects is an expressive reflection of your thoughts and it’s perfect just as it is, ditch the apology. Love the bass. This song is well worth adding to your set list. I can imagine it performed, sparse and vulnerable with just guitar, voice and you.

Well done :smiling_face:

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Cheers Brian, thank you for this advice, I will reflect on it.

I got a similar bit of feedback on some prose I wrote many years ago, this idea of trying to evoke sensory experiences. It makes sense (hur hur) to me. Words to do with sensing can help the audience to connect with what you’re trying to get across.

It was definitely my intention to write about the abstract concept of “incompleteness” which makes it hard to get specific. And, being honest, I will probably try to write about a big concept next time too :slight_smile: But I will think on how sensory ideas and relatable experiences could be used to connect into the big concept.

Really want to give my appreciation to everyone who responded, for your insights and positivity.

It’s an amazing feeling to have made a song, but sharing something I have created myself is scary, it’s on a whole other level of putting myself out there, compared with sharing a recording of a cover or a practice session. So the gentle and kind reception from you all is a delight and a relief. :heart:

It’s interesting that Brian, Bro and Rogier all said the same thing about transposing to suit my voice better. For me, this feels like it’s as squarely in the comfort zone of my range as I can get. If I tried to shift it any higher, I think I would be straining to access parts of my voice that I don’t really know how to use properly yet. Is it possible that you guys are picking up that it sounds like I’m struggling to find the notes (because I am :laughing:), but that’s more because my voice is poorly tuned in general, rather than being in the wrong key?

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Brendan, I’ve highlighted your comment about this feedback but could equally amplify my feedback about the vocal-instrument balance or LBro’s about the drums.

It is just feedback. Good feedback is specific and based on details in the performance/production (not just a general opinion). And feedback is just feedback. Once received how you make use of it is up to you. Some feedback may be on the money but not always. Your assessment of your voice may be on the money and the suggestion to transpose not something that would work for you.

I know how you feel and can’t commend you enough for taking the plunge. And for others reading this, I’ve been hanging out in the Community for just over 5 years and without exception this has been the response to every person taking that plunge to share their first (and subsequent) original songs.

As experience and comfort grows some people ask for more and more detailed critique plus opinions on how better to improve a song, which could include suggestions on every aspect of song production (arrangement, harmony, melody, lyrics, performances, mix).

As scary as it is, sharing an original song, is probably the thing that has given me the greatest sense of achievement in my own musical adventure, more than any home recording or open mic performance. So I encourage you to explore original song-writing, if like Brendan you stumble over a chord progression that sounds cool, let it bubble away and be open to allow the song within to emerge, and know that there is no safer place to share your musical creation than here in the Community.

Goodness me, I must be feeling better, having been inspired by Brendan’s song to ramble on, hoping to encourage and inspire others here.

Now, back to the Topic, and conversation about Brendan’s song …

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:joy: :rofl: :joy:
How good to read that you are all the way back including your ramble… we call (oude kletsmajoor :wink: :laughing: :sunglasses: :sunglasses: :sunglasses:)
Greetings…

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Loved this Brendan! Thanks for sharing it :smiley: You’re really inspiring.

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Good on you Brendan. I had a listen, sounded good. I’ll leave it to the more experienced for tips!

Kind of makes me think I should give this a try sometime. I’ve written a couple of songs, although not recorded or shared.

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Yes please JK, I’d love to hear what you have come up with.

That was excellent Brendan. I’m hugely impressed by your composition. The lyrics expressed emotion and vulnerability and your chord progression was very melodic. The hours you’ve spent on GarageBand have produced a mix you should be proud of.
After having listened, the thing I was going to say was that singing in a higher register might suit your voice better, but I see you’ve covered that aspect in your replies to others who’ve had the same thought.
Well done.

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Thanks Gordon!

In case anyone is interested in the chords I used, it goes like this:

Key: G major

Intro and chorus: G - D - Em - Em (I - V - vi - vi)
Verse: Am7 - D - G - C (ii7 - V - I - iv)
Build to chorus: Em - G - D - D (vi - I - V - V)

The idea of making the song about incompleteness came from the chords. I felt like the main progression kind of sets up this expectation that it’s going to be a I - V - vi - IV, but it never actually completes that sequence, it just leaves you hanging on the vi every time.

So I figured, why not lean into that idea and make it the topic of the song. And in the outro I take it even further, I don’t even complete the chorus progression, I end on a G - D - Em and the guitar arpeggio stops on the B string, doesn’t even totally complete the Em pattern that has been used throughout the song otherwise.

The idea that the construction of the music reflects the concept that the lyrics are trying to convey makes me very happy, that’s just the kind of dork I am. :grinning:

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