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Just a thought - what if professional songs were by one of us?


grace_slick

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The title I put for this is not clear, but I am currently in love with this song called Show Yourself by Jefferson Starship (no relation whatsoever to my own song called Show Yourself to Me)...and yet, despite my love, it feels almost as if it's not QUITE right...and I was thinking (perhaps blasphemously), if I wrote this song myself, I'd want to just tweak certain bits...somehow. NOT the vocal though. I'd never touch a true Grace Slick vocal, ever. I could only DREAM of being able to sing like her.

 

Here's the link, but I understand if nobody clicks on it. It's using Megaupload, which in my experience is somewhat annoying, but Picosong wouldn't let me do it (too big)...

 

[link removed by mod for copyright reasons -- sorry, Gracie!]

 

Anyway...so what if we posted a song that's written by established artists and/or bands, and then people gave feedback? Would it be much the same as our own songs in terms of the kinds of feedback it'd get? Cause really, there's no reason why professional songs are "untouchable" just cause they're done by those known people, right?

 

So...just for fun (I hope this allowed Blue! Sorry if it's not)...what would you think if I posted this song as one of my own? Any good? lol

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I don't think I could participate in this one. I haven't yet developed "musician ears". It's damn near impossible for me to do any sort of logical critique of someone else's music. I'm terrible at pinpointing and explaining why I may or may not like something.

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If I understand your point correctly then yes, I'd hope any feedback I'd get would be the same as if the song were submitted by a well known artist. If I'm going to be judged, I want my stuff to be subject to the same criteria that you'd use to judge the very best. If that means I end up being judged harshly then I need to work on developing my art.

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Golly!

I tweak known songs all the time AS A RULE. if I feel the songs needs to be tweaked for my personal benefit then I jump all over it. Changing words, arrangements and adding my own verses are all things I've done to better suit the tune to my style.

 

My friends have a band and only wish the original song to stay the same. I can hear harmonies in my head but these guys won't change anything. they say there are no harmonies in this song. I say SO? it will have after I put them in there.

they have no vision.

they are cookie cutter musicians.

For all their talent they still suck.

 

Here is a reworked version of an untouchable classic. I touched it all over the place. goode touches.

 

[video=youtube;bV6zLsWFa9Y]

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I don't think I could participate in this one. I haven't yet developed "musician ears". It's damn near impossible for me to do any sort of logical critique of someone else's music. I'm terrible at pinpointing and explaining why I may or may not like something.

That comes with practice. Keep at it and you'll get better. If you take the time to really listen, if you think about what you hear, and if you apply a little extra golden rule*, a little empathy (one thing I've found is that sometimes the really good writers who seem like they should be bullet-proof are actually quite sensitive to even what seem like considerate, constructive criticisms), and if you're sincere in trying to help, I think that will guide you. Just be natural.

 

And the effort to explain why you might or might not like something -- even if it's only to yourself when you're trying to decide what, if anything, to write -- actually will likely help you as much as anyone.

 

;)

 

 

*When I was a callow and rather insensitive youth, I assumed everyone was just like me and so, my take on the golden rule was to treat everyone just as roughly as I expected to be treated -- or thought I was tough enough to take. 40 years later, there are memories that still make me cringe at my absurd lack of sensitivity and perspective.

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[EDIT: Maybe I misunderstood the basic ideas above. See my post below Stack's, below.]

 

I'm going to surprise you guys... I like the idea of applying songwriter workshop type critique to established songs and I think the effort could be instructive. Within defined limits, of course.

 

Of course, we wouldn't want it to distract from the primary purpose of this forum -- which we can all probably recite by heart now.

 

But just as the Friday Influences Threads provide a valuable (and nicely contained) outlet for us all to talk about existing work from outside artists, I think this effort could be fun and valuable.

 

 

My first inclination was to say, hey, folks could simply bring that effort into the F.I.T. -- however, because of the nature of that thread (people posting work they were inspired by in some way), inviting others to dissect such songs might be problematic.

 

So maybe what we need is a Monday Morning Quarterback Thread...

 

But while it might be fun to really let loose and give Britney or whovever one's favorite target is both barrels, what I would suggest would be that we would approach those critiques as though the artist was there in the thread with us -- so that we didn't get into the habit of thinking we're all big city daily crits whose entertainment value is based on cheap shots and broad slaggings.

 

I wouldn't want to see us fall into bad habits. ;)

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Oh... wait... did I COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTAND?

 

I thought the notion was critiquing the existing song (sort of FIT with crit :D ) -- not reworking covers!

 

Yeah... no... that is just too far outside the mission of the forum, I think -- potentially too distracting. As we all know, there are truckloads of non-songwriters who would really like to get their covers listened to by more people and I could see that being a problem.

 

 

But, definitely, I don't think we should mess with the Friday Influences Threads!

 

They're fine just as they are and I think a lot of us look forward to them.

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I don't think covers are allowed at HCSWF.
:cop:

In before the lock!

Yeah... covers is one bridge too far. Uh... no puns intended.

 

 

BTW, I'm with Taylor on bringing something new to covers. I can't see any reason why an artist would strive to be as close to the original as possible. That's why we have DJs. I remember the dreadful days of the mid-70s in LA when it was almost impossible for an "originals" band to get a gig in LA. There was a real competition among the bands to see who could come closest to completely copping the studio sound of many records. Safe to say the best of them probably sounded closer to the record than the actual bands ever did. It was awful.

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"A FIT with crit" idea is an interesting idea. Perhaps by reigning it in with just one song and everyone chiming in -- perhaps something like that could work? Try to look at everything from lyrics to music (harmonic and melodic analysis, so to speak). It could also be instructive to hear, if possible, different versions by established artists. For example, I recently started working up Bye, Bye Blackbird and, along with reading through the sheet music, I listened to versions by Julie London, Joe Cocker, and Three Dog Night (and more).

 

btw, I've never been in a band that strove to cover songs note-for-note. Interpretation has always been the M.O.

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I like the "FIT with Crit" idea, as well as the "Monday Morning Quarterback" name. Thread is devoted to one performance of one song - posters should analyze the song: what works, what doesn't, what you would change, what you would keep.

 

Choosing a suitable song seems like it could be quite challenging.

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Yeah, I'm feeling the one song focus, as well. Maybe we could 'vote' on the next week's song each Monday (and hope that YouTube doesn't pull it before the week is up :D ).

 

Stack... you know I look to you for English usage guidance... While I've used strove before, it seems like I pretty much always stop myself in mid-sentence because it just sounds wack... so, is it strive, strove, striven? That would make the shriveled part of my brain that hoped for logical consistency in language happy... but whenever I think something is just too sensible/logical, it usually is...

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I did this a while back ....

 

The riff at :10 is tremendous. No, I take that back, the whole rhythm guitar part is great. I love the way you integrate clean single note riffs and arpeggios with crunchy partial chords and then make the whole thing work in the context of the vocal melody. Not totally crazy about the backwards lead guitar - it adds something, but your chops are obviously top notch - just let the tape run forwards and really knock my socks off.

 

I was paying so much attention to the guitar (did I mention that I think you've got an awesome guitar tone as well) that I didn't pay attention to the lyrics until about the fourth time through, but the lyrics are pretty cool. Some of the lines are a little ... far out, but in general it works with the transcendental theme of the song. I guess I can accept that "a golden winged ship comes passing her way" is a metaphor for an escape from human frailty/physical handicaps wrapped up in solar imagery, but the way you phrase it just makes it sound like you are tripping your ass off on LSD. But outside of that line and a word here or there, I really like the two portraits of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown", and the imagery in the chorus ("Castles made of sand/Fall in the sea/Eventually") is pure gold.

 

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?1764347-castles-is-up-on-soundclick.-first-RELEASE-from-new-disk&p=24389574&viewfull=1#post24389574

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That comes with practice. Keep at it and you'll get better. If you take the time to really listen, if you think about what you hear, and if you apply a little extra golden rule*, a little empathy (one thing I've found is that sometimes the
really good
writers who seem like they should be bullet-proof are actually
quite
sensitive to even what seem like considerate, constructive criticisms), and if you're sincere in trying to help, I think that will guide you. Just be natural.


And the effort to explain
why
you might or might not like something -- even if it's only to yourself when you're trying to decide what, if anything, to write -- actually will likely help
you
as much as anyone.


;)


*When I was a callow and rather insensitive youth, I assumed everyone was
just like me
and so, my take on the golden rule was to treat everyone just as roughly as I expected to be treated -- or thought I was tough enough to take. 40 years later, there are memories that
still
make me cringe at my absurd lack of sensitivity and perspective.

 

 

I'm gonna be honest, and say that I'm reluctant to develop such a skill. I've always listened to music primarily as a listener, devoid of any critical analysis. I don't want to get to the point where I'm constantly dissecting an artist's song structure, chord progressions, vocal timbre, and choice of words - basically developing "musician ears". I'm not sure I'd be able to totally go back to how I used to listen to music. At this point, not sure how much - if at all - analyzing would benefit me anyhow.

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I actually critique EVERY song I hear, especially the ones that are supposed to be big. Mostly I find the lyrics to be the weakest link in most music, they're either random, shallow and generic, or too cryptic and metaphoric.

 

Also mostly happen to find at least a couple of spots in the song where I expect to hear a note but I don't, and no matter how many times I listen, I just can't get over it...

 

I like finding what I don't like about songs, no matter how much I love em, or how " classic " they might be, I think it helps me develop a sense of who I wanna be as a musician.

 

That being said, there are songs I wouldn't touch at all, but those are rather rare.

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I'm gonna be honest, and say that I'm reluctant to develop such a skill. I've always listened to music primarily as a listener, devoid of any critical analysis. I don't want to get to the point where I'm constantly dissecting an artist's song structure, chord progressions, vocal timbre, and choice of words - basically developing "musician ears". I'm not sure I'd be able to totally go back to how I used to listen to music. At this point, not sure how much - if at all - analyzing would benefit me anyhow.

 

Boy, that is an excellent cautionary note!

 

Twice in my life I was so hung up on sound and the technology used to capture and recreate it that I almost stopped listening to the music. The first time was when I was going into junior high, built my first stereo rig because I'd always been into music and when I first heard stereo (Arthur Lyman's Tabu, a really stunning introduction to it) I was immediately hooked and kept pushing on my folks to get a stereo. Unfortunately, when we got it, it was an all in one flip down portable and you had to pretty well stick your head right over the changer between the built in speakers to hear any separation.

 

The second time was when I was in my early 30s and went back to school to study commercial recording. Although, it wasn't nearly as bad that time. While, in junior high, I found myself -- at least for a while -- saving up to buy records of trains going by and stereo demonstration and test records, probably my worst excesses in my 30s was buying ABC's Lexicon of Love just to really tear apart that then-stunning, groundbreaking, teflon-slick sound.

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I actually critique EVERY song I hear, especially the ones that are supposed to be big. Mostly I find the lyrics to be the weakest link in most music, they're either random, shallow and generic, or too cryptic and metaphoric.


Also mostly happen to find at least a couple of spots in the song where I expect to hear a note but I don't, and no matter how many times I listen, I just can't get over it...


I like finding what I don't like about songs, no matter how much I love em, or how " classic " they might be, I think it helps me develop a sense of who I wanna be as a musician.


That being said, there are songs I wouldn't touch at all, but those are rather rare.

 

 

 

That's certainly a way to go about it. But I think that if I start analyzing the music I listen to (which ranges from Hindustani Classical, chiptunes, Afrobeat, Plainsong, harsh noise, Cantonese Opera, Detroit techno, Chanson, Fado, Gamelan theater music, underground Hip Hop, anime music, folk/roots music from all around the globe, and every in between) I'll start missing out the subtleties that really draw me into the music.

 

How can I put this? Music to me is an amalgamation of infinitesimally small elements that layer and build on themselves to form a fully realized piece of music. Kinda like how DNA forms living organisms. In order to not ignore the ebb and flow of the subtle interactions of elements as well as what a certain combination or cluster of elements may produce I have to have really BIG ears. I have to listen very deeply and broadly instead of focusing on one or more obvious characteristics of the music. In the end I can hear a particular piece of music many times and still have a different listening experience every time. I'm not sure I want to give that up.

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Art is knowing what to leave out.
:D

 

That's a completely different thing, I agree with that :) I love when it's an interesting rythm that takes a while to get used to, you know, that you wouldn't expect to hear on the first listening, but sometimes the song just screams for that note that would seem so logical to wrap it all up, but for some reason, nothing. Can't really think up of any examples from the top of my head, cause it's 2 AM atm, and my mind is in a semi-hibernation state, but I hope you get what I mean?

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That's certainly a way to go about it. But I think that if I start analyzing the music I listen to (which ranges from Hindustani Classical, chiptunes, Afrobeat, Plainsong, harsh noise, Cantonese Opera, Detroit techno, Chanson, Fado, Gamelan theater music, underground Hip Hop, anime music, folk/roots music from all around the globe, and every in between) I'll start missing out the subtleties that really draw me into the music.


How can I put this? Music to me is an amalgamation of infinitesimally small elements that layer and build on themselves to form a fully realized piece of music. Kinda like how DNA forms living organisms. In order to not ignore the ebb and flow of the subtle interactions of elements as well as what a certain combination or cluster of elements may produce I have to have really
BIG
ears. I have to listen very deeply and broadly instead of focusing on one or more obvious characteristics of the music. In the end I can hear a particular piece of music many times and still have a different listening experience every time. I'm not sure I want to give that up.

 

Well, as you said, every time you listen to a song, it's a different experience, because of the circumstances, or perhaps your mood. Maybe the instrument you're paying attention to at the time, too. For example, sometimes when I feel energetic I focus on the drum beat and play along with my fingers, and it gives the song a completely different perspective.

 

And also, I do have my standard brain-off switch which allows me to just take music in as it comes, without thinking :) so it's not like I'm giving anything up? Though I have to say since I've started playing an instrument and generally getting into music more seriously, I got a completely different view on music then when I was just starting to discover my mum's old CD's, though I think that's a good thing :)

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Oh... wait... did I COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTAND?


I thought the notion was critiquing the existing song (sort of FIT with crit
:D
) -- not reworking covers
!


Yeah... no...
that
is just too far outside the mission of the forum, I think -- potentially too distracting. As we all know, there are truckloads of
non-songwriters
who would really like to get their covers listened to by more people and I could see that being a problem.



But, definitely, I
don't
think we should mess with the Friday Influences Threads
!


They're fine just as they are and I think a lot of us look forward to them.

 

No no, my initial idea was to critique existing songs, by known people. Songs that have somehow for whatever reason become known and professional, you know? To critique them just the same as we critique our own, unknown and unprofessional songs.

 

I have no interest in covers.

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There aren't many perfect songs. I have critiques of almost everything I listen to. I also routine eat food that is undersalted, wear clothes that are too tight in the crotch, and live in a house with some infuriating design choices. Nothing is untouchable, but a lot of stuff is good enough.

 

One of the most infuriating flaws in pro songs is "great concept, iffy execution", where the IDEA for the song is amazing, and the author isn't able to do the idea justice in the nuts and bolts. The song is popular, because the idea is good enough to carry it, but it could be so much better. John Prine has a couple that drive me batty: "Jesus: The Missing Years", "Christmas in Prison", "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian", and maybe a few others.

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