I’d like to share my first combined (if not primitive) solo effort at writing, performing, producing and engineering an original composition. Titled, “Lock the Door”, the mood & lyrics were inspired by Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On” (1972) and clocks in at about 4 minutes or so. I’m playing all the instruments and doing the vocal. A ’95 MIJ Strat was the guitar used and a MIDI for keyboard, bass, and chimes effect. Before you listen, please note:
This project involved conceiving the story-line, crafting the lyrics and structuring, learning the recording software (Ableton-Live Lite), the interface (Focusrite Scarlett 2i2), and the MIDI (Akai MPK Mini). I also took a crash course on audio-dynamics (Kahn Academy) and sound engineering for good measure. I have burned a lot of hours and precious brain cells on this, but came away with a valuable new respect for producers and engineers who tease out polished hits from artists’ raw material. A huge challenge became trying to listen with a fresh ear while mastering, and so I come to the community. After a lot of re- mixing, I’m still unsure if each element is ‘seated’ properly in the mix. For this, I welcome your observations and constructive comments.
Best to all and thanks in advance for taking time to listen!
Btw – I’m also a visual artist and have included an image of a statement called “Approaching the Singularity” (currently in a private collection) - I hope you enjoy!
Thanks for listening!
Bravo, Gary, that is a fine production that you can be proud of. It’s got a catchy vibe and groove to it. Your arrangement, lyrics, vocals, guitar playing … all worked well together.
As for mixing and production, beyond the most basics it is ever so subjective. Every person who listens is likely to have an opinion, and really reflects more about personal taste than your mix.
That said, I if I’d mixed this, I would have mixed the instrumental melodic leads around 2’00" and 3’00" up a little louder in the mix. My rule of thumb is to balance instrumental leads with the vocal level, not necessarily exactly the same but closer.
Then in terms of the recording quality, and note I am listening through mid-fi ear-buds, it seemed to me that there was some signal noise on the vocal track. Perhaps that was intended atmosphere, but if not it’ll be something to look at. If it is the case then my guess is that the gain was low, your singing soft, and when you raised the level in the mix it amplified the signal noise on the mic. But I may also be smoking something at the end of the work day here.
Irrespective, I say bravo and look forward to more songs from you.
Hats off, I say!
As someone who has dabbled in small-scale productions of my own, this is Les genoux de l’abeille (dogs danglies equivalent)
They say you have to just keep working at it to get good/better, but you seemed to have taken a bit of a short cut, (though I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it!)
Overall it works well for me, and it’s interesting.
The spoken intro reminded me strongly of Townes Van Zandt’s The Hole (which I love)
On a nitpicking, personal preference level, I’d prefer less strongly panned guitars and perhaps less audible breathing, but hey;
Take a bow, man.
That was super cool
First, thanks for listening, but thank you even more for the great feedback. I’ll remember your remark about mixing and production preferences being personal and will remember your rule of thumb for mixing in the leads - good stuff! Also, you were spot-on that my voice (or lack of it) was very weak when recorded. I should have mentioned that it was also my first attempt at singing in about 50 years, and was so terrified that I made my wife leave the house while I recorded it . Even so, it was barely a whisper so I compensated with more gain. Nice call - pretty intuitive of you, I’d say. Thank you again.
Hey thank you for even listening! You paid me the best compliment ever by saying that it held your interest
I appreciate the remark about the panning, likely a result of my incompetence with the software, which I will look into. As for the breathy vocal, I should have also mentioned that it was my first attempt at singing in over 50 years. I was so scared of anyone hearing me, that I even made my wife leave the house. Between my paralyzing fear of singing and old unused vocal chords, well…
Anyway, I really, really appreciate your comments and encouragement - thanks again!
You are too kind. I wish these things came to me easy, because during the process, there were many times I would end up screaming my frustrations into a pillow. But I always remind myself to persevere. Thank you for noticing my art!
Sincere respect and admiration Gary. You’ve given yourself to this project, no holds barred and it shows in the quality of your work. You’ll have more brain cells now and they’ll be all shiny and bright!
There’s a huskiness in your voice I’d like to see you develop. There are some breaths that I find intrusive and distracting, others work because they suit the subject matter and atmosphere.
Oh yes Gary I hear you. The good thing is that you didn’t give in.
Gary, I’m sure we’re missing each other here. I never read anything you said in any reply to anybody, that makes me feel you owe me any apology. So let’s erase that
In a nutshell, great first music production, great art work, look forward to hearing and seeing more.
Actually if you start a Learning Log in #community-hub:learning-logs then I’d love you to post more pictures of your visual art works. Over the years we’ve had a few members who are active painters and brings some of us here more enjoyment and deepens connections when the art work is shared.
Oh yes, I like this a lot.
It is very noire and subtle and understated.
For all the good folk that frequented the old forum before we moved here, you will understand my name-check here.
It reminds me of some of the wonderful original music created by @Birdland
For those that know, you will recognise that for the compliment it is.
Lo-fi home spun songs that had a spirit, an essence and a tang.
Thanks for following up, David -
I initially thought I may have accidentally mixed up the folks I was replying to, but considered the alternative, such as you said, as well. Having said that, your compliments and critiques are most welcome, valued and appreciated. As for the visual art, it is my first calling. I have been practicing it sporadically with minor success since my earliest memories.
I’m speechless and humbled to by the association. I put a high value on response from the community because it is unbiased, intelligent, constructive and sincere; from seasoned players and moderators such as yourself, it’s pure gold and invaluable to my growth. Thank you.
Thank you again for taking the time to listen and respond with insight, intelligence and kindness.
Your comments about the ‘breathiness’ have been echoed by others. My voice is so weak (and I’m so shy to sing I asked my wife to leave the house) that I had to compensate by increasing the gain in the mix, which also increased the volume of any unwanted sounds on that track. While some vocal huskiness was intentional to help set the mood, the increase in gain amplified the breathing, and frankly, may be overkill. I will take these lessons to the next project.
Thanks again, Maggi!
Thanks for the great feedback and comments. Your note on the vocal ‘breathiness’ has been a common one in remarks made from others and is a result of both intended and unintended factors. As for the DAW, with seemingly endless capabilities, navigating the software and hardware is a real challenge for me and I’ve barely scratched the surface. But it is extremely useful and fun to explore all that a DAW puts at your fingertips. In my day it was reel-to-reel…
Good call Richard. The birds the word for sure on this one, very similar feel to some of those old forum projects. I’d have to go with Brian’s Mutt Danglies, so great first post Gary. Loved the atmosphere and vibe, with nice vox n chops. You should be proud !
It has all been said, but ‘double stitched hold on better’ we used to say her… I come back to your art every time after one post reading and I always get different associations … I like it very much.
As for your singing, boy oh boy, if you shed your insecurity, what are we going to hear then??? I can imagine that after 50 years it feels a bit insecure, but as a musician you also have to hear that you sing in tone …not false at all…send your wife away???don’t do that . …that’s what she said hopefully now that she’s heard your voice,…she’s got that, hasn’t she? …
For the rest of the total production…great job…just a good home recording to be proud of.
Throw off that insecurity… you’ve grown old enough with a good face and a healthy brain,…Enjoy enjoy
Looking forward to your next production,