Girl Of My Dreams

another remix for the new CD

Danny Milligan - Girl Of My Dreams

Again, I used the original background music master, and just redid the vocals (rewrote half the lyrics while I was at it, lol!)


Here is the original song with original lyrics, and I tried putting the harmony on the verse, and I think I like the sound of this one better than the new one I just wrote tonight…

Original song with extra vocals…

timing issues again are catching my attention distracting from the tune. The electric is just too far ahead of the drums - consistently… I’m hearing a lot of potential in your writing but you seem to be rushed to post them. I would like to see you post one polished and finished. Just my opinion. Would like to know your work-flow too - adjusting it to make for better basic tracking may help with timing and speed along the process. Can you post a rundown of your work-flow? How you record a song, step by step?

Again - lot’s of potential.

Well, I got an opinion from a trusted friend who has heard the original version of this, back when I recorded it. She did not like the extra vocals I added, and wanted to know why, if I was so happy with it then, I am changing it now? So, after taking her advice, all I did was put Classic Mastering Limiter on the original track to bring up the volume a little, and add in some cymbals.

Poppa, generally, here is the progression I use for writing a song (this is rather entailed, I’m afraid). Note that this is the process I use NOW, particularly since I have been hanging out in the forums here and trying to pay attention to the advice of more experienced artists.

Rarely, when I write a song, do I have a “theme” or lyric idea for the song. Usually I will be noodling around on my guitar or keyboard, and I’ll come up with a great lick for a chorus or verse. I’ll fool around with that for a little bit, coming up with ideas, then I will start laying down tracks.

If the song is going to have drums, that is the first thing I lay down. If not, I will usually at least lay a click track down so I don’t get lost and start wandering around in my timings. I always just use a basic drum loop, to start with. My effects pedal has 30 loops (most of which are odd time-signatures and unusable to me) and my keyboard has another 100 drum patterns, plus the ability to do fills. Depending on how long I think the song will be, that is how long I will record the loop, with some extra for elbow-room. Usually it’s five to eight minutes, since I have a hard time getting songs down to under 4 minutes (I love long extended guitar solos, lol!)

Next, I’ll run the basic melody of the song… THE LICK. Usually I will offset this mostly onto the left side of the stereo spectrum, and then record a rhythm track for the right side. Depending how intricate the song is, I may record multiple guitars or keyboards, and try to place each in a different place on the stereo “clock” (meaning left to right, of course).

I then go in, and start playing with my effects, once most of the song is laid down. I EQ different tracks, adjust levels, try out reverbs, delays, and choruses to see what might differentiate each track to make it stand out as separate from the other instruments.

Once this is done, to my satisfaction, if I think the drums need work, at this point I will usually go back in, and mute all the sections where I intend to put fills, etc. I will note here that sometimes when I first record drums, I will run 2 or 3 different loops, and use one drum pattern for Verse, one for Chorus, and one for Solos, inserting fills at the changeovers between loops. The fills are almost always done via the percussion setting on my keyboard, and I’ll tap out drums and cymbals on that.

(continued in next section)


Once I have what is essentially a complete song idea, minus vocals, I will mix that down to one file, which is my master. I am learning (slowly) to not try to maximize the volumes on this file, because when I add vocals in, then I have to use compression to keep things from clipping, and that’s where many things get buried in the mix. Since I do not like how my voice sounds, I tend to try to change it, usually with reverb or chorus. I almost always EQ much of the midrange out of my voice, to increase the presence. To give you an idea of what I’m looking for, to me my natural singing voice sounds like a french horn, broad and kind of uninteresting, so I am trying to get it a little more in line with a saxophone or a violin, so that it doesn’t drown things out.

When recording vocals, mixing is the hardest part for me. Trying to get a strong vocal track without burying the other instruments is difficult, to say the very least. I have noticed that my master tracks often sound pretty groovy :laugh: until I put my voice on them, and then everything seems to get buried by this frog chorus that comes out of my mouth.

Unfortunately, since I have no one else to sing my songs for me, I have to use my own voice, so there’s not much I can do about this.

At this time, I’m going back to some of my older songs (such as the one posted here) and re-recording the vocals on them, so that I can include them in the CD package I am going to do through

Because I have no idea what I did with this particular song to get my voice to not sound like crap, I am stuck with the original lyrics, even though I would rather keep the slight mods I did to the lyrics. In this case, I am going to have to live with it, because I cannot duplicate whatever it was I did nearly 4 years ago when I first recorded this song. I liked how my voice came out in this one, even though I was less than overly thrilled about the “blah-ness” of some of the lyrical content.

Anyhow, I am again at the mixdown point, and here is where I try and tweak the whole song to get everything somewhat harmonious. To me, these songs are more “sketches” than completed paintings, because I never quite peg that mysterious quality that makes a song stand up and shout "HEY!!! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!"

Perhaps it’s my playing, perhaps it’s my voice, perhaps I just don’t have a clue how to properly mix everything to maximize the harmonies. Some songs have come out spectacularly, and I wouldn’t change them, even accepting minor “oinks” in the song because I would have to give up something that I LOVE in order to get the oinks out.

It’s even possible, Poppa, that some of that was jarring to you because I went in a different direction than you might have, in my place, but I am also somewhat limited in what I can do, as well. I don’t have the talent of Eddie Van Halen, the voice of Michael McDonald, or the resources of a major recording studio, so I just do what I can, simply because I love making music… whether it’s spectacular or has a few oinks, it’s still music, and I love it.


Here is the final mix of “Girl Of My Dreams”, this is what will go on the CD…

Danny Milligan - Girl Of My Dreams (Final)

No, it is simply timing. Nothing to do with the mix. Tighten up your timing and you will be in much better shape.

yea - not a matter of personal taste here. Your foundation of drums, and rhythm is off. Makes for everything else built on that foundation off. Your drums are on but whatever you add is not with that foundation. It’s felt more than heard and makes it hard to listen for me. If you zoom in on the drum hits and downstrokes of guitar etc you can actually see where the problem is. Just trying to help.

The original drum track on this song was a simple 4 beat loop (kick, snare, kick, snare) with a high-hat keeping time that disappeared in the original mixdown. It may entail me having to go back and re-record this song completely from scratch, but I hope not, simply because (as I noted earlier) I have no idea what I did all those years ago to get a vocal track I liked, and without the vocals, what good is the rest of the song? I have almost a hundred demos that are NOTHING but instruments because I either can’t think of a theme and words for them, or because I hated how my voice came out so much that I just gave up on it and shelved it. I would hate to shelf this song, because I think it has a personality, so I will just live with the “oink” of a drum machine loop that wasn’t exactly right for this melody…