The Wagtunes Corner

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wagtunes
KVRAF
17916 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:20 am

ZentralmassivSound wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:14 am
wagtunes wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:50 am
I think a better idea would be to do this.

Take a reference track (a song done by somebody else that I really like and think is produced well)

Try to reverse engineer how the track was done and do a new song in that style using a similar arrangement.

See how close I can come to the sound.

That way I at least have something to compare my song to and then people can say "Okay, here how in the reference track the vocal has, whatever? Well your vocal doesn't have that."

Then, if somebody knows what the problem is, tell me what they think was done in the reference track and what I'm not doing in my track. And do this for each instrument.

I may end up doing an almost plagiarized version of the song and that's okay. In fact, the closer to the reference track the better. I'll end up deleting the song from Soundcloud if the general consensus is it's plagiarized. I don't care. This isn't a songwriting exercise. It's a mix exercise. If I can get the mix right, I can then, hopefully, do it with a completely original song.

I think this is the best way to proceed.
Another idea is, produce a song, then render the individual tracks (possibly including midi) and give them to producer friends who are willing to mix the song for you. If you don't find anybody who wants to do it for free, hire someone. Then you can hear what has changed compared to your own mix. It would be best if the mixer also explains the changes he made to each track und to the sum, respectively.
Maybe sites like Nail the mix or Puremix are also worth a try to get going with mixing.

Cheers
This is not a bad idea. Unfortunately, I am so dirt poor right now that it would have to be a free service or I simply can't do it.

andrelafosse
KVRist
277 posts since 18 Jun, 2010

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:22 am

When you listen to a “Max Martin song,” you’re not hearing a recording where Max himself recorded, mixed, mastered, performed, programmed, and/or sang everything in the track by himself.

I just looked up the credits for “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” and there are twelve other people credited with various aspects of writing/producing/performing that track. That’s just what’s listed on the Wikipedia page for the song.

If you really love and respect the sound and style of contemporary pop music, and you have a serious need to have a seat at the table with those specific folks, then sure: go ahead and use those tracks as your reference.

But, I would suggest trying to be very clear about what your goals are, and about how any specific effort is supposed to help you achieve them.

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JoeCat
KVRian
1386 posts since 19 May, 2011 from North Carolina

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:26 am

vurt wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:40 am
one thing you could do is spend time on individual tracks.
I hate when people do this, but:

THIS!

(lol I still hate it!)

I don't comment here much but I have listened to quite a bit of your music and think it has improved greatly, so you're on the right track. 90% of the time what I want to say is "quality over quantity". Much of the time your tracks sound like good ideas that are 80% finished. For example, if someone were to say "add a little more variation in the drums, perhaps round-robin a few hi-hat samples and some add some subtle velocity variation", that's something you absolutely can do and is worth it if you're going for a "drummer played this" feel. But it takes time, and trust me ('cause I do a lot of this) - it's not nearly as much fun as creating.

I've mentioned this before, but my band doesn't produce music that's anything like what's popular (unless we can time-machine back to around '93!), but we still manage over 100k streams on most services. There's an audience for everything if you can rise above the noise a bit. We take an average of about 1 year to produce 8 tracks. You're not recording in the studio and working back and forth between DAWs and around 6 musician's schedules, so I don't expect it to take you that long. But - we are meticulous (and we STILL end up with a result that often leads me to think we should have spent a little more time). So there's a ton - ton - of rote busy work.

As an example, besides normal comping, a lot of times I'll actually record multiple tracks of the rhythm guitar, in order that the cadences of some phrases can ring out over the next (learned that trick from "Don't Fear the Reaper"). Means every region I have to adjust the fade points of each clip, etc. ('cause humbuckers is noisy). It's a lot of extra work, but it pays off. We use Melodyne (judge all you want, but there are no Chris Cornell's in this band ;) ), and every syllable is checked and touched up if necessary. Don't get me started on the drums ('cause I'm the drummer, and ain't no Hal Blaine, either lol). If you heard what I played compared to the end result, I'd be embarrassed. But I know my intent so we're not afraid to put the time in.

You've said that when you work a track further it doesn't help it (or something to that extent), and that may be true initially, but it's something you get better at with practice. It's like a writer who gets a good first draft in, but is not good at self-editing, re-writing, etc. Those are separate skills, and you can learn them.

One concrete suggestion (I've made before) is to work a few tracks in parallel, so you can be active have each song "out of your head" at least a few days. Then, do a fresh listen and take some notes - you'll be surprised what you hear. If you think "that piano sounds a bit to quantized", note it, and set aside some not-fun time to work it over a bit.

You're writing has improved, your production technique has improved, your arranging has improved. Improve you're listening / editing skills, and I bit you'll be happier for it.

Peace out! :)

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
25669 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:31 am

vurt wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:16 am
thecontrolcentre wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:14 am
wagtunes wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:39 am
Hink wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:33 am
how is this not just plain flaming a thread? Please dont answer that, just stop


Hink, I didn't ask him to come in here. Don't blame me for his post. I just want to drop the whole thing already. Delete his post. That's all.
Unbelievable. :roll:
wasnt about you
was about a pro tom post.
Unfortunately there are so many deleted posts in this threads it has become impossible to be sure who said what about who ... if you look back Hinks comment is directly after another comment from Wags about me. PTs post (whatever it said) is long gone. :shrug:

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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
6451 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:31 am

wagtunes wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:26 am
If anybody does want to comment on anything I do, please be as brutal as you can. I have finally reached the point where I'm tired of sounding like crap. There may be no hope for me but I at least have to try.

I would say the first thing is to learn to be brutal on your own music and learn to listen critically and more objectively. If something doesn't work, admit that it's shite, ditch it and don't waste time on it, either for a whole thing or parts within a song. I reckon I probably record about 25% of the bollocks I write on the guitar, then actually finish about half of those.

With 'quality control' I think you tend to find that the better songs tend to mix more easily; the better arrangements lend themselves to more balanced mixes, and that's half the battle. As young Mr Verte also points out, there's no substitute for putting in the time and critically evaluating each part of your song. I know I always bang on about effects and automation..but it's time well spent in my view!

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vurt
addled muppet weed
56701 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:37 am

thecontrolcentre wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:31 am
vurt wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:16 am
thecontrolcentre wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:14 am
wagtunes wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:39 am
Hink wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:33 am
how is this not just plain flaming a thread? Please dont answer that, just stop


Hink, I didn't ask him to come in here. Don't blame me for his post. I just want to drop the whole thing already. Delete his post. That's all.
Unbelievable. :roll:
wasnt about you
was about a pro tom post.
Unfortunately there are so many deleted posts in this threads it has become impossible to be sure who said what about who ... if you look back Hinks comment is directly after another comment from Wags about me. PTs post (whatever it said) is long gone. :shrug:
i saw pts post, it was basically dragging up everything that had been put to rest over previous pages.

just dont want to see you suspended over something inconsequential ;)

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
25669 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:40 am

Oh no ... band fallout? ;)

I don't expect to get a ban over anything I've posted here. Hink ain't that unreasonable. Thanks all the same :hug:
Last edited by thecontrolcentre on Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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vurt
addled muppet weed
56701 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:42 am

:hihi:

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wagtunes
KVRAF
17916 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:48 am

JoeCat wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:26 am
vurt wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:40 am
one thing you could do is spend time on individual tracks.
I hate when people do this, but:

THIS!

(lol I still hate it!)

I don't comment here much but I have listened to quite a bit of your music and think it has improved greatly, so you're on the right track. 90% of the time what I want to say is "quality over quantity". Much of the time your tracks sound like good ideas that are 80% finished. For example, if someone were to say "add a little more variation in the drums, perhaps round-robin a few hi-hat samples and some add some subtle velocity variation", that's something you absolutely can do and is worth it if you're going for a "drummer played this" feel. But it takes time, and trust me ('cause I do a lot of this) - it's not nearly as much fun as creating.

I've mentioned this before, but my band doesn't produce music that's anything like what's popular (unless we can time-machine back to around '93!), but we still manage over 100k streams on most services. There's an audience for everything if you can rise above the noise a bit. We take an average of about 1 year to produce 8 tracks. You're not recording in the studio and working back and forth between DAWs and around 6 musician's schedules, so I don't expect it to take you that long. But - we are meticulous (and we STILL end up with a result that often leads me to think we should have spent a little more time). So there's a ton - ton - of rote busy work.

As an example, besides normal comping, a lot of times I'll actually record multiple tracks of the rhythm guitar, in order that the cadences of some phrases can ring out over the next (learned that trick from "Don't Fear the Reaper"). Means every region I have to adjust the fade points of each clip, etc. ('cause humbuckers is noisy). It's a lot of extra work, but it pays off. We use Melodyne (judge all you want, but there are no Chris Cornell's in this band ;) ), and every syllable is checked and touched up if necessary. Don't get me started on the drums ('cause I'm the drummer, and ain't no Hal Blaine, either lol). If you heard what I played compared to the end result, I'd be embarrassed. But I know my intent so we're not afraid to put the time in.

You've said that when you work a track further it doesn't help it (or something to that extent), and that may be true initially, but it's something you get better at with practice. It's like a writer who gets a good first draft in, but is not good at self-editing, re-writing, etc. Those are separate skills, and you can learn them.

One concrete suggestion (I've made before) is to work a few tracks in parallel, so you can be active have each song "out of your head" at least a few days. Then, do a fresh listen and take some notes - you'll be surprised what you hear. If you think "that piano sounds a bit to quantized", note it, and set aside some not-fun time to work it over a bit.

You're writing has improved, your production technique has improved, your arranging has improved. Improve you're listening / editing skills, and I bit you'll be happier for it.

Peace out! :)
This was a very interesting read. A part of my problem, to give an example, is like when you talk about what you do with the guitar parts ala "Don't Fear The Reaper" I have no idea what you're talking about. A lot of this technical stuff is over my head. I wouldn't have thought of doing something like that in a million years and even after your explanation, I have no idea what it is you're actually doing or how to do it.

In short, outside of music composition, which I learned in school, I don't have a lot of technical knowledge. Hell, I don't have any technical knowledge. So everything I do is trial and error. That's why I use so many rote procedures because I don't really understand the technical stuff behind them. That's why working weeks on a track is pointless. All I'm doing is going from one random "let's try this" to another. So anything I hit on that's "right" is purely by accident.

This is why I need training, plain and simple.

Let's take a simple example and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Let's take a piano and vocal. Nothing else. Now, I want to make sure the vocal is heard over the piano. I know that involves volume and also masking frequencies. So I'll take out Neutron and use the masking function to remove the piano frequencies that are stomping over the vocal. Aside from that and maybe adding a little reverb to the piano, what else is there to do? Compression? I mean there is only so much you're going to do to that piano.

The vocal? EQ, compression, reverb. Maybe some vocal thickening either through a unison FX or double tracking. But other than that, what?

I mean how long does it seriously take to make a piano and vocal sound good? And if I can't, then what am I doing wrong? Am I cutting EQ in the wrong places? Too much reverb? Not enough? Too much compression? Not enough? And how do I know? There has to be some kind of technical way to dial in what you need. Otherwise, like I said, you're just taking pot shots in the dark and hoping you stumble on the "right" settings.

Not the most efficient way of doing things. But given that I don't have the technical training, it's all I know how to do.

When do you know you're done?

Hell, are you ever done? I mean isn't there always room for improvement? And if so, when do you finally say "Enough!" and finish the track?

The problem is, this isn't an exact science. If it was, I could just dial in some settings and be done with it.

And then of course you run into a situation where one person says the drums sound good, one person says the snare needs more snap, one person says the kick is weak, one person says the cymbals need more 2k and on and on. Because it's not like any two people actually agree on any one aspect of a song.

So ultimately, I'm the one who has to be happy with the result. And that will happen when my production sounds like the reference track to me. And then of course the limitation there is how good my ears are, another variable that is probably a big problem because my ears, especially over 5k, are crap.

Bad ears and no technical training is a lot to overcome.

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wagtunes
KVRAF
17916 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:05 am

Okay, this is the song I want to do. Well, something in this style.

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

I have heard this song hundreds of times on the radio. I just listened to it now for at least the 20th time in headphones.

I have absolutely no clue where to even begin. I can't even identify what's really going on in this song. I do notice that the drums appear to be off in the distance. Is that reverb, volume or both. Her main vocal appears to be centered but either double tracked or thickened somehow. The chorus vocals appear to be in stereo out to the sides but not too wide.

The instrumentation, no clue. I guess that's a pad. But it's so soft in the beginning and the verse I can't really tell what it is. The appears to be some kind of underlying like current going throughout the song. Low pad? Doesn't sound like a bass. In fact, I don't hear any bass in this.

If you asked me to do this song right now, I'd throw my hands up in the air and surrender. I have no clue.

My gut tells me that somebody with really good ears could listen to this and tell me exactly what's going on and how to achieve the same sound. That's what I need. Because on my own, with what I know, I might as well not even bother trying.

Kongru
KVRian
788 posts since 23 Feb, 2017

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:11 am

wagtunes wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:05 am
Okay, this is the song I want to do. Well, something in this style.

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

I have heard this song hundreds of times on the radio. I just listened to it now for at least the 20th time in headphones.

I have absolutely no clue where to even begin. I can't even identify what's really going on in this song. I do notice that the drums appear to be off in the distance. Is that reverb, volume or both. Her main vocal appears to be centered but either double tracked or thickened somehow. The chorus vocals appear to be in stereo out to the sides but not too wide.

The instrumentation, no clue. I guess that's a pad. But it's so soft in the beginning and the verse I can't really tell what it is. The appears to be some kind of underlying like current going throughout the song. Low pad? Doesn't sound like a bass. In fact, I don't hear any bass in this.

If you asked me to do this song right now, I'd throw my hands up in the air and surrender. I have no clue.

My gut tells me that somebody with really good ears could listen to this and tell me exactly what's going on and how to achieve the same sound. That's what I need. Because on my own, with what I know, I might as well not even bother trying.
Why not load the song into your DAW of choice and A/B between this and one of your songs?
Signatures are so early 2000s.

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wagtunes
KVRAF
17916 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:18 am

Kongru wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:11 am
wagtunes wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:05 am
Okay, this is the song I want to do. Well, something in this style.

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

I have heard this song hundreds of times on the radio. I just listened to it now for at least the 20th time in headphones.

I have absolutely no clue where to even begin. I can't even identify what's really going on in this song. I do notice that the drums appear to be off in the distance. Is that reverb, volume or both. Her main vocal appears to be centered but either double tracked or thickened somehow. The chorus vocals appear to be in stereo out to the sides but not too wide.

The instrumentation, no clue. I guess that's a pad. But it's so soft in the beginning and the verse I can't really tell what it is. The appears to be some kind of underlying like current going throughout the song. Low pad? Doesn't sound like a bass. In fact, I don't hear any bass in this.

If you asked me to do this song right now, I'd throw my hands up in the air and surrender. I have no clue.

My gut tells me that somebody with really good ears could listen to this and tell me exactly what's going on and how to achieve the same sound. That's what I need. Because on my own, with what I know, I might as well not even bother trying.
Why not load the song into your DAW of choice and A/B between this and one of your songs?
The problem is that it won't tell me what they're doing with the song. If I can't hear what they're doing listening off of Youtube, I'm not going to be able to tell in my DAW. Like I said, I can do a lot of trial and error and maybe I'll stumble onto something, but that's all it'll be is trial and error.

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JoeCat
KVRian
1386 posts since 19 May, 2011 from North Carolina

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:40 pm

Yeah, it's tough starting 'cause you don't know what you don't know. Some "tricks" are easy (double track / widen vocals for instant chorus v. verse contrast), but you learn a lot from other producers, and fortunately with YouTube you can find examples. But where to start? So something like "how to compress vocals" - then practice some techniques without actually making a full track. I remember once seeing that what I thought was an awesome compressor was a guy automating the vocals manually to achieve exactly what he wanted. "'P' too loud here but not enough there? I do it myself!"

Can't do now but if you remember to PM me in a week or so I'll post an example of that guitar "trick" for posterity :)

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
25669 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 1:13 pm

JoeCat wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:40 pm
I remember once seeing that what I thought was an awesome compressor was a guy automating the vocals manually to achieve exactly what he wanted.
That's good advice and something I've always done myself. I think it's far too easy to just reach for a comp or a limiter rather than spending the time get it right in the first place (before mixing). Usually it's only the odd word or phrase that's sticking out.

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wagtunes
KVRAF
17916 posts since 8 Oct, 2014

Re: The Wagtunes Corner

Post Tue Dec 10, 2019 1:21 pm

Question: Have you ever heard a professionally produced record that may have even been a huge commercial success that you thought was produced poorly? And, if so, can you give an example?

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