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My first real tune: Everywhere Are Signs


Dean Roddey

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OK, well, forty five years in the making, and cast of at least tens, here is my first real tune. It's not 100% completed yet. This is just a mix on the studio monitors, so it might be a little light on the low end on smaller speakers since I've not added any bass maximizer or anything. And the lead guitar part might be a little harsh on some smaller speakers because of the frequency it's at. Also, I'm not sure about the bridge. It definitely needs a few more parts, and right now it's just drums, bass and lead guitar, and I'm not sure it fits so I may replace it.

 

Everywhere Are Signs

As an MP3

 

* These are high quality files, so it's about 6.5MB and 8.5MB'ish respectively, but i figure everyone can stream that easily enough these days.

 

Keep in mind that I'd never recorded a thing before Feb of this year or touched a DAW, and I'd just done a sequence of test pieces to learn before this one. I started this tune probably in like late July or something and worked on it a good while. But, then I decided to sell my home theater and put together a reasonably nice studio, so effectively I started over completely and had all new plugs, new guitar, new pre-amp, new room, new drum samples, new drum pad, etc...

 

And I've retracked almost every part probably 10 times by now, as I've learned the new tools and the song has come together in my mind. The lead guitar part is the only part I've not re-done really, and it sounds the least best. I had the pre-cranked too high, the lo/hi-z setting wrong, and the tube drive on the pre too high. So it's definitely not what I was looking for. I'm not sure if I'll re-track it or not. I've learned about all I'm going to learn from this one, and it's time to move on.

 

This is also my first ever vocal, so I had to learn all about the mic, and how to actually sing and track vocals and mix them and all that. I discovered my diaphragm somewhere in there and that was a breakthrough. I didn't get brave enough to do any harmony vocals, but I'm not sure if this one really requires them per se.

 

It's wierd how they say that all your influences will come out whether you really notice it or not, and it happened this time. The original inspiration for this tune was the song "Devil in the Details" by "Bright Eyes", but it sounds absolutely nothing like it now that I can hear. I hear definitely the huge Pink Floyd influence. I'm of the southern persuasion and you can hear country in my voice definitely, despite my attempts to de-countrify it. You can also hear the soul influence in my vocals (though much watered down and infinitely lower in quality.) And a lot of other little bits of things.

 

Anyway, there it is. Any comments would be welcome. I may not go back and apply them to this tune, but I'll use them next time around. The equipment used is in my sig.

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Your first tune eh? I wish my first tune was half as good. I wish my latest tunes were as well mixed!

 

You're right about the Floyd influence for sure. Man of my own heart there :) The song will definitely benefit from some harmonies. It's crying out for them at times. Sure, there are things I would do differently, but that would go for any tune written by anyone, but I can't get over how polished it sounds. If I were to make any constructive comments instead of a stream of compliments that you clearly deserve, it would be that I thought the ending a little abrupt. But hey, picky...picky!

 

All I can say man is record more, then record some more. I'm stunned this is the first time you have ever used a mic ffs! You have a good voice with a lot of character. Shades of Michael Stripe in there.

 

Taking everything into account, the only bad thing about it is that you have wasted 45 years. Keep at it man, you clearly enjoy making a good job of anything you do....I'll be coming back to you for some tips :)

 

Good stuff.

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Well, I'll bet that 45 years wasn't completely wasted! :D

 

 

Given the many givens, I think it sounds great. I might go for a little more reverb on the drums... I like 'em dry, too, but the samples you have need a little more illusion. And, now that we're on the drums, there's something going on with them rhythmically that feels funny, somehow. Are they on the grid? (They don't feel like it to me. Not that being on the grid is a good thing, necessarily, but it sure helps keep time when that's your aim.) Maybe it's how they seat, timeline-wise, or... I dunno. Also, the second part feels a little funny when it comes in. (I dig the Floyd like thing, there, though.)

 

 

A lot of great stuff going on, here!

 

I can't wait to hear the next one.

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The drums are always rushing the beat, and in a few places, the kick/drum are hitting a 16th before normal, on purpose, just to shake it up a bit. It creates a bit of a rushed feeling when it happens.

 

Mixing the drums is the hardest part, by far probably. I've spent hours upon hours futzing around on that. I got a BFD expansion pack just a bit ago, and so I had less time on this kit than I'd had on what I was using before. But it had way more velocity levels, so I went ahead and moved forward to those. But I hadn't fully sussed them out. I'll take them up another notch next time.

 

What I'm doing is using the room mics as a kind of gated reverb, and just a touch of fairly heavily compressed overheads with a kind of truncated smiley face EQ, so that it's mostly a peak at the kick and snare areas and a little of the attack of the toms. And I'm using a parallel compression buss, plus the directs which are fairly heavily EQ'd, and separate busses for the snare mics, tom mics, kick mics and cymbal mics, each with their own compression and sometimes another overall EQ.

 

You are right they could probably use some more reverb. I'm always paranoid about getting a little too crazy with the reverb, since it's so easy to overdo. And on my Mackies, it's so easy to do something that sounds great and atmospheric and you can hear every reverb tail perfectly, but that comes out muddled on lesser systems.

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Interesting. I use BFD 1.5 with the original sets, often pretty much staight out (after tinkering with BFD's internal mix and usually mixing up the kit and then tinkering velocity curves). Of course, you're likely going for a different sound than I usually work with. I'm not a thousand percent sure like I feel all that heavy processinging you did on the drums worked out to my tastes. I was kind of thinking you were using a mid-90s drum machine, actually. Of course, those machines were typically designed for a certain kind of drum sound, too, and maybe that was what you were after. Taste aside, certainly the first place I would start if I was following my own advice to you on wetting them up would be the room and PZM pairs from BFD. Anyhow, I don't want to bog you down to much worrying about the drum sounds. I'm thinking from all the processing you were doing you know what you're going for. With regard to the timing/rhythm, you might see what your drummer friends think about what you've come up with and how it works out.

 

Anyhow, I think it's overall really good work for a first recording -- and much of it is really good for any recording. Keep 'em coming...

 

;)

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Gear sounds good. Playing (and singing) sounds a little tentative, but I'm sure that will wear off with a few more songs. As B2B points out, a little bit of jostling on the drums goes a long way.

 

Heavy Floyd influence. You might want to check out the Guitar Jam Gilmour BT thread - some of the takes were excellent, and, IIRC, the submissions were uniformly good.

 

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1669090

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1688975

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Some of the tentativeness on the vocal is probably that I'm in a small apartment and I'm always worried if I'm being too loud, which is hard to tell since I'm wearning headphones, and of course at first just worrying that someone might hear me warbling badly off key which I did for a while.

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I updated the links in the first post with a much improved mix. I went back to ground zero on the drums and selected a different drum kit and re-worked them, trying to keep the realism higher this time. I'm not totally happy with the snare, particularly on smaller systems, where it can sound kind of bad in some spots. But overall it's way better on that front.

 

And the mix in general is just a lot improved, and should sound a lot better on both big and small systems.

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I didn't get a chance to hear this the first time you posted. The track sounds awesome. A lot of thought and skill went into this - an ambitious bit of work you did here. Some may quibble about too many thesaurus words in your lyrics but I didn't mind. Your voice is good and I think you have an understanding of how to use it to good advantage. Excellent work.

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