my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

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badgrplayer
KVRist
45 posts since 5 Feb, 2018

Post Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:19 pm

After months of fooling around with vsthost and accumulating a ton of "good idea, I could make a song of it! But not now, I'm testing this new plugin. Yeah, I'll come back later to it.", I've decided to get my ass in gear make the big jumpg of writing and mixing a song (sort of...) in Ardour.

"Song" is a big word. "Layering of sounds" would be more accurate. I don't even have a title for it.
I just messed around with the beautiful synth1 and some user's presets (especially those from Chris Bank ) until I find some ideas that could fit together.
I wish I could say it was quickly done but it took me several months to make something else than a mere 20 seconds riff. :scared: ; I didn't even know how to finish it to be honest, it's a little abrupt.

But it's not really about the song itself that I want your opinion, it's more about the sound.

What are the obvious mistakes I made? Is it too muddy, too muffle, too piercing, not enough this or that?

I'll tell you more about my process later but right now I'm curious to have your opinion.


https://soundcloud.com/user-543148476/dirty-bag/s-PKz3r

thank you.

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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
1983 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:27 pm

Hi there. Not terrible. My initial thoughts are that everything is too distant, it's fine for some things to be reverby and distant, but not everything. I'd lose some of the verb' from the drums and that'll bring the drums to the front. It also feels kind of narrow, try spreading the instruments out a bit. But again, it's not terrible for a first song. :tu:

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Karma_tba
KVRian
1100 posts since 12 Aug, 2004

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:35 pm

badgrplayer wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:19 pm
After months of fooling around with vsthost and accumulating a ton of "good idea, I could make a song of it! But not now, I'm testing this new plugin. Yeah, I'll come back later to it.", I've decided to get my ass in gear make the big jumpg of writing and mixing a song (sort of...) in Ardour.

"Song" is a big word. "Layering of sounds" would be more accurate. I don't even have a title for it.
I just messed around with the beautiful synth1 and some user's presets (especially those from Chris Bank ) until I find some ideas that could fit together.
I wish I could say it was quickly done but it took me several months to make something else than a mere 20 seconds riff. :scared: ; I didn't even know how to finish it to be honest, it's a little abrupt.

But it's not really about the song itself that I want your opinion, it's more about the sound.

What are the obvious mistakes I made? Is it too muddy, too muffle, too piercing, not enough this or that?

I'll tell you more about my process later but right now I'm curious to have your opinion.


https://soundcloud.com/user-543148476/dirty-bag/s-PKz3r

thank you.
Instead of asking to hear "everything that's wrong" wouldn't you rather hear about everything that's RIGHT with your piece? What's left would be what needs work. If you open yourself up to critics you'll find that opinions are like assholes ….everybody has one! Soon you'll be making their music not YOURS! Who's to say they have any idea of what you are trying to create.

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wagtunes
KVRAF
17925 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Sun Dec 29, 2019 2:02 pm

I second what an-electric-heart said. Musically, it's also very stagnant. Sounds like a riff played over and over with just some slight variations sprinkled here and there. It's not totally uninteresting as there are all those subtle things going on. But that riff does get monotonous after a while.

There is definitely something here to work with. It is 10,000 times better than the first piece I ever did. So keep working at it. I spent a lot of time going to Youtube learning mixing tips, writing tips and all kinds of things. After a while, you'll start to notice a huge difference from your early efforts.

Welcome to the music cafe. Hope to hear more from you.

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Moonracer
KVRer
10 posts since 30 Dec, 2019

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:09 am

Hey man, for a first try not bad at all. I like the drum programming it shows some nice creativity, especially near the end. Underlying synth is good, a little too thin perhaps and a little repetitive. I can feel how you have progressed the track, it would be cool to try a guitar playing the mid synth, I bet that would work well with these drums!

Overall good job!

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Distorted Horizon
KVRAF
2993 posts since 17 Jan, 2017 from Planet of cats

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:17 am

Atmosphere yells drugs and rock n roll. I distantly hear Jim Morrison singing something..

I'd pick a similar song and copy the song structure from it.

The song woke some urge to grab a glass of whiskey which I think I'll do immediately :tu:

badgrplayer
KVRist
45 posts since 5 Feb, 2018

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:29 am

Thanks for the feedback.

@an-electric-heart

Do you think it's too distant because of the panning, the balance?
The drums, especially the snare, has a lot of reverb but it was intentional. I started my project in mulab and I thought the "rock kit" was perfect for the drums, especially the snare with the church reverb.
After that, it was a little difficult to reproduce that sound in ardour (the muverb plugins does not include the church reverb settings) but I think I obtained what I wanted. Mostly.
I've followed a swap and flip eq tutorial to separate the instruments but I feel like the instruments are not separate enough. What do you think?

@Karma_tba

I don't ask what's right because I already know it. ;).
At least I know what I like but I don't know what's wrong or what could be better. And I also know that some things are wrong but I don't know how to fix it (the crash cymbal, for instance, sounds horrible. But after days of tweaking, I gave up).
And I'm really asking about the sound mixing, production, techniques. For the song itself, I don't really care. I'm opened to any remarks about the song structure, but in the end it's not really important to me. A lot of my favourites bands are unbearable to my friends so... :D

@wagtunes

Thanks for the detailed response.
It's indeed a little monotonous, that's why I added some volume automation on the track.
I also wonder if the tempo (74bpm) is quite right for this.
Obviously, it's not the melody (B/E/D/E, B/E/D) that I was interested in. It was the contrast between the "dirty bag" preset (from Chris Bank) sound mixed with other sounds from very different presets.

Some of my favourite bands use this "long repetition with subtle variations" formula, instead of the usual verse/chorus/verse.
I like both.

> It is 10,000 times better than the first piece I ever did.

That's nice, thank you. When I say it's my first song, I mean the first that I bothered finishing, arranging and mixing.
I have a lot of 10 sec riffs, theme, ideas here and there. But when it comes to really working on it I'm like "later, later".
For instance with this song, in my head I clearly knew what kind of drums I wanted. But it took me months before I start to write the midi track for it. :scared:
One one hand I just want it to be fun and pleasure, not something professional or deep. On the other hand I don't see the point of making it at all if it's not exactly like I intended to be. :dog:

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plexuss
KVRAF
3565 posts since 8 Jul, 2009

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:47 am

Nice! I like it. Just follow your ears. Listen to a lot of recorded and live and music and bring those learnings into your work. Try this: solo each track in your mix and make each track sound as good as you can, one by one, without listening to the others. Then, determine which tracks work together in pairs and solo the pairs and tweek to get the pairs to sound nice together. then unmute them all and tweek again so they all sound good together. draw on what you've heard with recorded music you like in terms of making your tracks sound similar to tracks in recorded music.

You are way ahead of me: Here's my first "track" I ever created. This is c1977 using Radio Shack gear back in the day, to cassette. Actually I used 2 cassette decks to do over-dubs...

https://soundcloud.com/musicofplexus/od ... to-hear-v1

badgrplayer
KVRist
45 posts since 5 Feb, 2018

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:11 pm

plexuss wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:47 am
Try this: solo each track in your mix and make each track sound as good as you can, one by one, without listening to the others. Then, determine which tracks work together in pairs and solo the pairs and tweek to get the pairs to sound nice together. then unmute them all and tweek again so they all sound good together.
I've tried this but it wasn't as easy as I thought. One track isolated doesn't sound the same at all when there's 10 others tracks with it. If it was only balance and panning, it would be easy.
But when I have to use eq or compression it's a nightmare...
I know the most important is to use your ears, but I'd like to have a few basics to start with.
You are way ahead of me: Here's my first "track" I ever created. This is c1977 using Radio Shack gear back in the day, to cassette. Actually I used 2 cassette decks to do over-dubs...

https://soundcloud.com/musicofplexus/od ... to-hear-v1
Nice work, I'm certainly not ahead of you.
I like how the kick (it's the kick?) is really clear in the mix.

Oh, I have the same keyboard!... In VST :D
(I haven't really used it actually. I download a lot of free stuff that I never take the time to use. Like many of us I guess.)

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thejonsolo
KVRAF
2404 posts since 13 Apr, 2008 from Charleston, SC

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:49 pm

This hit me from a whole different angle.

It is raw. But that is part of the charm.

In the first listen, I suddenly remembered the main theme from Inception. 4 chords. That is it. No melody. Completely vertical build.

At first I thought this was vertical. Then the second time through...wow, more horizontal than I initially thought. You could have developed more...especially once you brought that pitch bend sound in. That was a flavor! My biggest gripe and what I would call glaring is the missed opportunity at additional development. Your main hook, sound, drums...no change needed. But building around that pitch bend would have been great.

So moving forward...as you continue to learn your production, musical development would be my focus...if I were you, but I am not. That is just my suggestion.

Cruba
KVRist
292 posts since 13 Dec, 2015

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Tue Dec 31, 2019 2:38 am

You need to work on the drums. I guess yu're not a drummer, so you've to learn to think n behave like a drummer. best non tutorial is to just watch Purdie at work...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYfWpUvtJhs

badgrplayer
KVRist
45 posts since 5 Feb, 2018

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:28 am

@moonracer, distorted_horizon,

Sorry I didn't see your comments yesterday.
@Distorted_horizon. That my track made you want to drink some whiskey is the best compliment I could hear. :clown:

@moonracer I appreciate your feedback about the drums. Yes indeed, that final part was a pita. Drums are really not my place as Cruba guessed it and I didn't know what to do. I took some inspiration from some of the power drumkit samples. I copy/paste the midi patterns, and changed them at random until it was decent.

@thejonsolo,

I didn't know music could be vertical or horizontal but I guess you're right... :neutral:

@cruba
thanks for the link. But I have no drums, I use midi patterns.

I thought I could you a little more about my process.
For every keyboard I used synth1 from ichido toda.

The main riff is on the preset "dirty bag" from Chrisbank. For the ending the "effect" (ctl1, ctl2, level) is on.
The volume is lowered at some point and is 2db louder for the ending.
The layer starting at 0:37 is the preset "cygnus pad" from Chrisbank. There's some automation for the panning and volume. The sound in ardour was quite not the same as in VSThost. Much harsher in the high. I put an high-shelf with ReaEQ but it wasn't enough. I had to use ReaXComp on top of that.
The layer at 1:23 is the preset "yoshmanspyarp" from Chrisbank, with some pan and volume automation too. It was too slow at 74bpm, so I had to record it at around 120bpm and cut and edit a little to make it work.
Mixing these 3 presets was the basic idea I had from the beginning. The rest came later.

The parts starting at 1:48 and 2:29 were made on the "youngbraves" preset from Chrisbank again. I've duplicated it in 2 different tracks panned left and right. Sometimes I like that part, sometimes I don't.
The keyboard at 1:55 is set on "korg ds-8 mallet" from "Argon2005 electric dreams bank". It starts with the same notes as the main riff but one beat later and then it goes into some variations. I like this sound, but it gave me some work in the EQ.
The part at 2:18 is on the preset "Crystal 80 pad" from Chrisbank.


To everyone saying "you could add some guitar, you could change that..." If my track give you some inspiration please feel free to use it any way you want. It's free (if you make some money out of it I want 10% :D ) and I'd be really curious to hear the result. And if you need the original separate tracks, ask me.

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thejonsolo
KVRAF
2404 posts since 13 Apr, 2008 from Charleston, SC

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:11 pm

Well I think that is something founded in musical theory. Many times we associate it with harmony (everything that is happening at once). But in theory it goes deeper and involves song structure.

Vertical- a single idea that gets built straight up. Mostly heard in dance music...a hook that gets repeated and then things just get added and added with no new development of the original idea (synth loop, now add a kick, now add a high hat, now add a bass, now drop the high hat, now add another synth loop, now bring the high hat back in, now drop the snare, etc). Has little to do with what is being added and more to do with the melody not going anywhere.

Horizontal- a single idea that gets explored in various ways: sometimes rebuilt, sometimes abandoned and revisited in the same piece. Change does not happen because a new instrument gets added or removed, but rather it is melody and ideas that are developed (not merely added to) over time.

Hope this helps.

badgrplayer
KVRist
45 posts since 5 Feb, 2018

Re: my first track, tell me everything that's wrong about it

Post Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:43 pm

Thank you, I think I understand.

I didn't have any real idea behind this track. I just started a loop and I heard some sound in my head or I tried some different preset and thought "Oh, this sounds good."
Like I said, I don't make music to tell a story or express feelings - I wish I had this talent but I just don't.
I have a very naive thinking about it. I "play" with sounds until I find something hooking.

Happy new year!

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