Pkboo3’s Songs From the Archives, Part 2

I ran over my character’s limit for one post, so I’m creating my second. Almost done! Maybe this one won’t be so long!

Apr 12, 2018
HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, Version 1

“…dropped the level of the guitar if I could in the mix and tried to bring your vocal forward.

From an arrangement perspective, per haps would’ve worked to simplify the playing in the verse…fewer strums or flat picking the cords even finger picking and then strumming the chorus.” (DavidP)

CONCERNING COGNITIVE SKILLS & MEMORY ISSUES

“You’d certainly be surprised if Eric Clapton or Neil Young sat down for a solo MTV Unplugged performance and had song sheets in front of them. But some weeks ago, after a Toastmasters event, I stopped out for lunch with old friends and there was a lady playing and singing at the venue. She was doing great. She had a music stand slightly off to one side and flipped through to each song. Watching her like a hawk (as I do) she certainly wasn’t referring to it continuously. Maybe she glanced occasionally. Maybe not at all and it was a safety net. Not for a second did I think … what the XXXX … what kind of performer is that. I just sat back enjoyed her performing, thinking … Hmmmm … how much of that could I do (not enough …yet) :)

So I’d say, let it go, keep playing and enjoying playing the songs you like. I’m thinking about having a flip file of all the songs in my repertoire that I could play if I was ever at an open mic or asked to play for some people (some people talk about it but haven’t turned the idea into action … yet). And in time you’ll find your confidence and capability will grow.” (DavidP)

“Don’t know the song but while I think you did a great job on it. I think it is kind of choppy. Just MHO but I think your voice is very good and would do better on longer passages in verses and chorus sections. That shows through in spots in this where you get to stay on and sing some notes. Mind you I am not saying your choppy but the song is.” (LBro)

LBro, I was recently told a way to do the tracks when coming across a song like this that is “choppy”. Sing every other line and make two separate tracks. I may have to give that a try. Thanks for commenting.

May 4, 2018
HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, Version 2 (I won a Monthly Competition with this one!)

When I uploaded this in the AVOYP section, I got a comment that the song is a bit “choppy”. Another friend gave me some advice on how to remedy this, hopefully. He said to make it more “flowy”, I could do 2 takes of the Lead Vocals - by doing every other line, i.e. lines 1,3,5 etc on take 1 and 2,4,6 on the next. So that is what I did. There are some spots that, to me, don’t seem to match up because of this. I’m sure it takes practice. I did a separate guitar track & some of it may be off a bit too. First time I’ve done a separate guitar track.

Also, I still used presets on the vocal and guitar tracks, but I also added a “Room Reverb Effect” on the lead vocal called “Female Warm”.

From previous comments also, I tried to make the vocals a little louder than the guitar track. It may be too loud now.

Also, it seems slower than I actually played it. Wondering if I set the tempo wrong in the DAW or if I actually sang/played it that slow.

“Mix wise … I agree that I would suggest slight increase on the guitar level, particularly for the verse. The chorus level was closer, maybe just the smallest tweak. And that makes me think that applying a little gentle compression on the guitar might work well, not so much to squash the dynamic vol change between verse and chorus … just enough so that a small level up based on balance in the chorus was sufficient combined with compression to get the verse more prominent. And of course this is all subjective, my taste.

What I would recommend is that you edit out the silence at the start of the track. Takes about 10s before the intro starts, which felt “long” to me. And that is pretty straight forward to sort out.

I’d suggest you make another mix with some level tweaks and post that on AVOYP. Once you get to the point that you are totally happy with the levels and balance, based on your ears and others feedback then you can save that and use it as a reference when making future mixes. I followed that approach and find it helpful, anyhow, since doing that nobody has commented about that aspect of my recordings.“ (DavidP)

I’d suggest you make another mix with some level tweaks and post that on AVOYP. Once you get to the point that you are totally happy with the levels and balance, based on your ears and others feedback then you can save that and use it as a reference when making future mixes. I followed that approach and find it helpful, anyhow, since doing that nobody has commented about that aspect of my recordings.“ (DavidP)

David, thank you. Yeah, volume and balance still need work. You talk about compression; could I just increase the guitar volume just a bit? Oops on the silence at the beginning. Not sure what you mean about levels but I’ll try to figure it out. Thanks so much for your critique and nice comments.

“Pam, I am sure you’ve mentioned what DAW you are using but I forget. That said, I’m sure they all have the same mixing desk view that shows the levels of each track with faders to move up or down to adjust the sound level. What I mean by level is the volume level of the individual track in the overall mix. So yes, just pushing up the fader on the guitar would work. Also pulling down the level on the vocal track. And you are not looking at a major problem, rather fine adjustment to get it sounding good to your ears.

I only mentioned compression, having noticed that your guitar is at a higher volume level in the chorus. So need to be able to up the volume level in the verse without that increase in volume level resulting in the level in the chorus becoming louder than you want.

Compression would help with that. And I assume that your DAW will have a stock compressor plugin.

The other way to address that if you find the chorus getting louder than you want is through automation. Using that you can set the song up so that the level of the guitar track is increased at certain points in the song automatically. I haven’t really used this feature of Reaper yet. And again assume your DAW will support this.” (DavidP)

“One suggestion: really hit the chorus hard – especially the last chorus. I’m talking volume & attack with your pick on the strings. Carry some energy into chorus by really accenting the “and 4 and” beats right before the chorus starts. That would set the chorus apart from the verses and really catch the listener’s interest.

The mix: as you & David said, I think the guitar should be slightly louder. I don’t want to get too technical with recording, but a cool trick (especially with your really good harmony) is to record two takes of the same background vocal, and pan one to the left, and the other to the right. It makes the recording sound really wide and opens up space for the lead vocal & guitar parts. Try it sometime!”(AdamT)

“A couple of things that perhaps might make even better.
The guitar is a little low on volume, perhaps a bit more volume next mix. I’ll be interested to hear it with less echo on your voice.
I think a short string pick on the intro would be a nice addition, it can be simple on the chords, but as it is such a nice ballad, a slow intro would be great.” (Pulsarlight)

“Pam, if I may offer a suggestion based on what I have learned through study and experimentation.

For the vocal effects I use another track. I create that either by duplicating the vocal track or by “sending” or “routing” (not sure what this would be called in your DAW) the vocal to the second track. Then apply reverb and also suggest adding delay to the second track. You can just take the preset for this, without tweaking controls. Then in the track mixer I pull the second track fader right down so I can only hear the dry original vocal. Slowly push up the wet vocal track until you begin to hear it. How much is a matter of taste. I aim for just enough of the wet so the vocal sounds a little warmer, fuller, more natural sounding. But not so much that it sounds overly processed.” (DavidP)

David, some of that makes sense, but I’m still so far behind your level. I started watching a few videos for my DAW but haven’t in a while. I’ve got to get back to it. I’ll reread your suggestions when I try again and see what I can comprehend. Thanks so much!

“The guitar is a wee bit hesitant at first but then you start singing and all is good. And with it the minor issues on guitar (a few small timing fumbles on chord changes, a hesitancy to ride the dynamics up and down) blend in to the background as not being so prominent.” (Close2U)

“Vocal is working really well with the eq and reverb you added! This song has some difficult phrasing on the lyric and you did real well - but singing along with the original will help I think!

I think the guitar is little a quiet now, but not much, and better this way than the other!

The harmony works well, and it would be worth exploring that more - you voice will really suit it!” (Justinguitar)

“And the winner is…

You Pam. See you soon - drop me an email and we’ll sort out a mutually good date and time! well done.” (Justinguitar)

Oh my goodness! Just read this and my jaw dropped to my chest! And my eyes teared up just a little. Really surprised! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to meet Justin, but will be nervous!! :wink:

Jason: I forgot to personally thank you. It’s so exciting and totally unexpected. Can’t wait to meet you on Skype!

Jul 24, 2018
I’d Rather Go Blind

This tune was really hard for me to get the timing down correctly. I tried for the longest. I never could get it down like it is on the record, so I made it my own way. The chords are pretty easy though. I added maybe one hammer-on Em, but didn’t do any of the upstrums, or the little RIFs. I will keep practicing them. I can do them, but probably would have messed up in the recording of it. I’m mostly singing in the video, but the other tracks are me too; both guitar and vocals.

I do enjoy the melody of that song. Sometimes I feel a little unsure of the actual lyrics - you know - “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Truthfully, I’ve never had a love entirely that sacrificial. But it’s still a pretty tune so it just struck me as one I wanted to do. To be honest, the harmonies towards the end were actually accidental. Just a couple of off-timed tracks that actually fell in just right to make it sound pretty good, so I kept it in. Wonder if I would ever be able to do that twice, hehe!

“The reverb took me a bit by surprise, because I instantly had Etta James’ live performance in my mind when I read the title of the song. Sometimes reverb has the ability to put a bit of a distance between the singer and the audience (IMO), so I had to accustom myself a bit…
Nice work on editing/mixing! I know the struggle with syncing audio/video. You could have left the black screen instead of the last clip, because it’s a bit confusing when the sound is fading out and we can see you playing - just a minor recommendation :)
In regard to syncing: It might help you clap before start recording, so there’s one ‘clear signal’ “ (max_mue)

Yeah, the Reverb just needs a little I suppose; not overdone. I’ll try the clap next time too… Also, the only reason I added that last clip is I felt I didn’t showcase my guitar playing enough in the clip so just tacked a short one to the end. This is after all a guitar sight. Didn’t want the singing part to eclipse the playing part, but I suppose it did anyway.

Sep 6, 2018
I’d Rather Go Blind, V2
This is a second version submitted. Guitar and Vocals are done by me. Forum friend, LBro, volunteered to put them into his DAW to improve the sound. It’s for the purpose of teaching me and giving me some valuable pointers in my process of learning the art of recording… Huge thanks go to LBro for helping me simply because he wanted to help someone do their best to improve and learn. He noticed my Takamine and advised me to go back to the strings that originally go on it. I did that and was pleased with the richer sound.

“LBro, would you be willing to break down what you’ve done, for the rest of us also working at learning more about recording and mixing to showcase our playing and singing as best as possible. This is a rare opportunity where we have an original and a revision where one can hear clear differences. That you can point out specific moments to illustrate the impact of what you have done.

My ears tell me that firstly you’ve lifted the overall level on the master bus.

Then the guitar is fuller, brighter and I am getting it in stereo. I imagine that is either a second track Pam has recorded to double-track or duplication of the original? Maybe also just levels raised?

The vocal quality also seems fuller, richer.

Would appreciate understanding what you’ve done to learn and try do better on my next production.” (DavidP)

“David, I think it too lengthy to repeat what all was done mix wise on the second mix. In addition there are attachments too. So I will speak in general terms. If someone really yearns to know they can PM me for details.

Yes all the tracks were redone by Pam. Such a pretty voice she has. She also supplied 2 tracks of her guitar and those were panned hard left and right, leaving the middle open. That is probably the biggest change made. That open middle area allowed the vocals to slide right into that spot. Add to that EQ, Compression, Saturation, Mastering plugs and it rounded out into a fairly good mix. There also was a lot of breaths in the vocals and noise. So I hand edited all of them out. That was a time consuming task for sure.” (LBro)

12 Dec 2018
BRAND NEW KEY

This was one of the very first songs as a teenager that I really paid attention to and when I started to love listening to music. I remember just laying on my bed with the radio on and loving this song. So for nostalgia’s sake, I wanted to learn it.

24 Jun 2019
PONTOON

This was on the charts in 2012. A big summer hit

“You’re playing a really groovy strum on this with the syncopation, muting and varying dynamic and strike between treble and bass strings.
Try to make your chord change to the very first upstrum of each bar that bit cleaner and crisper.
If you are used to playing a downstrum on the 1 and getting your bass string fingers in position on a chord first, it may be that you have built an unnoticeable and slight delay in to laying down the fingers on the thinner strings.
When your first strike of a chord is up then any delay in laying down the fingers does become noticeable and it happens several times here.
Air changes would help with this as would practicing 2-bar chord changes and progressions that lead from bar 1 to bar 2 with an upstrum on the + after 4 and a missed first beat on bar 2 so your first strike in bar 2 is on the + after 1.
Play these with muted percussive hits first to develop the rhythmic pattern then play with two chords, one per bar.
Something such as:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D D U U D U U D D D U”
(Close2U)

Sep 19, 2019
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU

I decided on this song, not necessarily because I loved it, but because it seemed to be easy for my vocal range; also a fun-sounding melody. This is an example of a song I would never have decided to play on my own if it hadn’t been in Justin’s BSB; which goes to show that we should try different stuff. We never know what might suit us. At least I hope it suits me! ;D

It had some challenges, i.e., the percussive hits, a strumming pattern that I had to work on, fast chord changes (which I still can’t conquer - even though I practice the one-minute changes quite often).

I attempted two recordings. The first one, a little more playful. The second one, a little more accurate. However, both have some flubs in them. So I chose the first one. It just felt a little more fun.

“Be careful with your strumming on the D chord in the ‘self-made man’ part … you’re just over extending the right arm movement a little and hitting the A string too heavily which is making the chord sound muddy.” (Close2u)

Apr 23, 2020
BROKEN HALOS

“Surprising vocal harmony part as well; great job enriching that part!
as tip I might suggest trying to making the harmonic interval between the notes bigger next time when going for the higher notes; the “fiullness” and “width” of the sound will even be more interesting.
A Simon and Garfunkel trick is have one vocal do big intervals while the others stays quite flat, almost monotonous for a certain run of notes, breaking the plain on just the right moments.

love how you posted a nicely written/painted version of the song as image.
that’s actually a smart trick to

  • add an artisan feeling
  • get people to read ahead and follow; making their transition into a new song faster. (you rather like songs after hearing them a few times, this actually helped achieve that effect a little bit faster)

I’m a fan of your style; don’t be afraid to make that underbelly work, singing from the gut.
you bring in it a wonderful tender fashion but I hear even more potential in you and I’m so curious to hear more of you in the future, discovering a bit more of that every day!” (LievenDV)

Thanks LievenDV! Yeah, it’s a beautiful song written by Chris Stapleton/Mike Henderson. Per Wikipedia, inspired by people who have passed away before their time. Recorded one day after Chris’ longtime friend passed away.

I’ll work on what you said about the harmonic intervals and check out examples from S&G. And belting from the gut. Great critique. Thanks!

Oct 31, 2021
BAD MOON RISING

Showing off my new guitar in this one. It’s a Music Man CT50SSS Sterling by Music Man in Seafoam Green..

2 Likes

I’d forgotten how much wonderful music you’ve made Pam. What a joy it is to revisit.

Excellent stuff Pam.

I loved, Brand new key.

Delightful to listen to you play and sing these songs again, Pam. Good memories.

Love your rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind, one of my favourite songs.

I listened to I’d Rather Go Blind again - such a simple song, and yet hauntingly beautiful. You really do a lovely version of this Pam.