If I could Only - Pop Ballad, Piano and Female Vocal

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Paul881
KVRist
66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Tue Jan 11, 2022 2:21 am

This is a song that I have just recorded and produced for a published songwriter who wanted a tribute to his wife who unfortunately died after a long illness. It relates to their shared love and how, as the end for her was drawing near, they used to walk to their favourite spot near a river and watch the sky, birds and river as they contemplated their lives together and gave thanks for it.

Personally, I love the lyrics and feel it hits the spot without being too overly sugary or sentimental.
All I effectively had from the songwriter were the lyrics. This is the first "live" recording I have done in my new studio, so I'd be interested in any feedback, but especially composition, mix and mastering.

https://soundcloud.com/stablegate_music/if-i-could-only
Music is the food of the soul!

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eassae
KVRist
474 posts since 18 May, 2021

Post Tue Jan 11, 2022 7:58 am

Beautiful ballad. Particularly the transition 1:27->133. In terms of mix I though the piano resonances could be tamed just a bit. Sometimes it competes with the vocal a little more than I would like. The vocal is slightly sibilant at times.

All that said, maybe if you tamed it too much then it would loose some of its power?

In general, I enjoyed it.
eassae.com
Audius | SoundCloud | NAUGHT
"Arts and crafts have been canceled due to poor taste"—Bill Murray, Meatballs

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Paul881
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66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:46 pm

Thank you! And your remarks are spot on; I spent hours trying to balance the singers vocals with the piano, especially in that loud transition part where you can tell where I used compression and automation combined to duck the piano to stop it overwhelming her voice. Even so, its still not as I would have exactly liked it.
Recording this singer was problematic as she has such a dynamic range, getting the recording levels right was a real challenge. There is a de-esser on there but again, I had to dial it back otherwise it introduced other artifacts. It was only the stock Ableton plugin so maybe a better pro-tool may work better? Similarly, with the reverb; she has such a pure voice that I only wanted the reverb when her vocal fell below a certain level as with reverb on throughout, it muddied the mix but hitting the right level throughout the track was extremely difficult as the quiet passages had the reverb all over it whilst the louder parts had none and then fell away quickly so it wasn't consistent. Maybe I should try automating the reverb sidechain levels better? Hmmm.
Thanks for listening and for your comments, it was very helpful to get your ears and their perspective!
Music is the food of the soul!

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jackoo
KVRian
880 posts since 3 Jul, 2006

Post Wed Jan 12, 2022 6:19 am

Love the vocals!
The piano is a little too upfront. It's not the level, it's (if I dare say) too detailed, too crisp. Maybe some combination of reverb and filtering could reposition it more in the background.
Overall a very enjoyable song.

shawshawraw
KVRist
327 posts since 4 Aug, 2020 from Montreal, Canada

Post Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:59 am

Beautiful song, and I love her voice! And congrats to the new studio!

Songwriting wise I'd love to avoid too many phrases banging on the beat 1s. For a sad/fragile song, it just gives way too much certainty and stability. Check "front-heavy" vs "back-heavy" phrasing. Also check out Pat Pattison's course on coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/songwrit ... s#syllabus - Week 5 "Pieces" discusses this with a cool example, another piano/vocal song.

I've long given up learning mixing so I'll skip! But recently I happened to record a piano/vocal song too. If you want to listen to what my mix engineer has done, it's the first link under my link below.

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Paul881
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Topic Starter

66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:07 am

jackoo wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 6:19 am
Love the vocals!
The piano is a little too upfront. It's not the level, it's (if I dare say) too detailed, too crisp. Maybe some combination of reverb and filtering could reposition it more in the background.
Overall a very enjoyable song.
Thanks for your comments, which I think are fair. I'm going to have a look at redoing the mastering to take into account your suggestions, especially the reverb, although I don't want to have it swimming. The sound I am trying to emulate is a simple solo singer and piano in a single space so unifying the reverb across vox and instrument is the challenge.
Music is the food of the soul!

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Paul881
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Topic Starter

66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:40 am

shawshawraw wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:59 am
Beautiful song, and I love her voice! And congrats to the new studio!

Songwriting wise I'd love to avoid too many phrases banging on the beat 1s. For a sad/fragile song, it just gives way too much certainty and stability. Check "front-heavy" vs "back-heavy" phrasing. Also check out Pat Pattison's course on coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/songwrit ... s#syllabus - Week 5 "Pieces" discusses this with a cool example, another piano/vocal song.

I've long given up learning mixing so I'll skip! But recently I happened to record a piano/vocal song too. If you want to listen to what my mix engineer has done, it's the first link under my link below.
Thank you for your kind remarks regarding the song which I read with interest. In terms of the phrases hitting the first beat, I did leave the singer compose and play as she saw fit but I take your point. And many thanks for the link to the Berklee songwriting course, I just watched a couple of the pieces which illustrates your point really well. I might just subscribe to the course because it looks so rich in content.

I watched and listened to your track; you are a very accomplished piano player that's for sure and I did glean a couple of things to think about from your mix. Thanks again for your response, much appreciated.
Music is the food of the soul!

shawshawraw
KVRist
327 posts since 4 Aug, 2020 from Montreal, Canada

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:33 am

Paul881 wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:40 am
Thanks again for your response, much appreciated.
I'm glad it was helpful :) Thank you too!!

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wagtunes
KVRAF
20717 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:12 am

Music is beautiful. Sadly, the piano competes so much with the vocal that you miss a lot of the lyrics. This really needs to be remixed. As it's only piano and vocal, it shouldn't be too difficult. But as it is, it does the song a disservice.

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Paul881
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Topic Starter

66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:38 am

wagtunes wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:12 am
Music is beautiful. Sadly, the piano competes so much with the vocal that you miss a lot of the lyrics. This really needs to be remixed. As it's only piano and vocal, it shouldn't be too difficult. But as it is, it does the song a disservice.
Thanks for your thoughts and comments, always good to get other peoples perspectives.
I agree that I need to remix for the reasons you and others have stated so have spent time in the studio again today re-mixing and mastering. Going to give my ears a rest and then hopefully repost the revised (improved?😊) version tomorrow.
Music is the food of the soul!

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ChameleonMusic
KVRian
1458 posts since 23 Nov, 2018 from Birmingham, UK

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:19 am

Good song and the production works pretty well overall...a few tweaks here and there can always be done for ever, but it works effectively in terms of putting the song over to the listener in a way that connects!

A lot more work, I know, but it would be interesting to hear a version where it 'grows' in terms of instrumentation as well...simple string ensemble? Or even a full orchestra with rock band?
Mark Taylor, Chameleon Music - Professional composition and sound design for all media since 1994.

https://www.chameleonmusic.co.uk/

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Paul881
KVRist

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66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Thu Jan 13, 2022 12:12 pm

ChameleonMusic wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:19 am
Good song and the production works pretty well overall...a few tweaks here and there can always be done for ever, but it works effectively in terms of putting the song over to the listener in a way that connects!

A lot more work, I know, but it would be interesting to hear a version where it 'grows' in terms of instrumentation as well...simple string ensemble? Or even a full orchestra with rock band?
Thanks for your comments, Mark, much appreciated. I am learning more about the craft of mixing and mastering better as I have never had the luxury before of a decent listening environment, so now being able to more accurately train my ears is a new concept for me to learn.

I did speak to the songwriter about putting strings on it but he wasn't keen; he just wants this track to send to a big label as a shop-window for his songwriting skills and ability, so all he needs it for is to be an effective selling tool without cluttering it up with too much production. However, out of curiosity, now you suggest it, I may well have a go at doing that. And I now know someone who could really help with that if I get stuck! :lol: We may also have a go at recording it with an acoustic guitar too.
Music is the food of the soul!

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Paul881
KVRist

Topic Starter

66 posts since 22 Oct, 2002 from Rose of the Shires, UK

Post Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:24 am

Hi All, I have now posted this version which I've remixed and re-mastered which as a result, sounds much better with the piano pushed back in the mix as others have commented. Plus other changes to compression, EQ, reverb and De-esser. The original is still up there for comparison too:

Remix:

https://soundcloud.com/stablegate_music ... al_sharing

And the original:

https://soundcloud.com/stablegate_music ... al_sharing

As ever, would be interested in any constructive comments. Thanks!
Music is the food of the soul!

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eassae
KVRist
474 posts since 18 May, 2021

Post Sun Jan 16, 2022 6:56 am

Paul881 wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:24 am
As ever, would be interested in any constructive comments. Thanks!
Sounds great, nice work :tu:
eassae.com
Audius | SoundCloud | NAUGHT
"Arts and crafts have been canceled due to poor taste"—Bill Murray, Meatballs

shawshawraw
KVRist
327 posts since 4 Aug, 2020 from Montreal, Canada

Post Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:24 am

I love the new mix!! Love how the vocal energy is leading the story now. And somehow the song feels faster too (I know it's not)!

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