I put this song together tonight. It is the Nat King Cole “Christmas Song” cover. I have been working a traditional Christmas album. I give it to family and friends.
This is the first time I have tried to mix strings into a song.
I used N-tracks Studio 4 to record it. It has the following instruments:
Roland SPD-6 for congas
Electric guitar for rhythm
Strings using a Yamaha P-90 keyboard
I played all the parts and sang it. Thanks for your feedback.
Beautiful voice. Bass a bit heavy and muddy; back off on the bass a little and let the other instruments come through just a tad more.
I agree…great voice. The bass may have been a bit heavy…so that was good advice from Scriglet 1. I really like the trumpet section.
I like that you chose to go the traditional route for this Christmas song…I find a lot of Christmas songs lose their spark when people try to modernize them or make them fit into a particular genre of music. Great job.
Thanks so much for your comments. I reduced the bass and it does sound much better. I replaced the first version with the updated version on the website.
Dude…I think that sounds really good…I think the voice is much more emphasized…sort of makes it the focus of the song…in a good way. I’m saving that to my hard drive.
Very good. I think the congas are a bit too loud. Maybe 2 or 3db shaved off will do it. I don’t like the electric guitar at all. It sounds very “cheap” to me and sort of out of tune. I might shoot more for a traditional jazzy tone. The vocals and trumpet are very well done. Overall, though, it has a great feel, you did a good job staging the instruments (the reverb is just right, there is decent depth, etc.), and it is pleasant to listen to.
I have taken everyone suggestions and modified the song accordingly. I rerecorded the guitar parts by using a mic on my amp instead of straight into the mixer. I reduced the level of the congas and rerecorded the trumpet because I thought the last note was a bit flat.
I am also posting another Christmas song that I just completed incorporating the suggestions for the Christmas Song. Thanks for all of the input.
Wow, Keith, great vocals. You have a very nice vibrato technique in your singing. You’ve got a good retro sound (like the Brat Pack), and are somewhat reminiscent of Tony Bennett. Your phrasing and timing is really good, very controlled. Very cool.
I thought the trumpet solo was bit too loud, maybe?? The fade out at the end isn’t very natural sounding. It might be nice if you could have a cymbal roll to end the song on or perhaps you could drop out the backing instrumentation and let the song end with your voice on the last note. Also, if you applied a chorus effect to the strings, that might give the track a little more depth. If not chorus, you could clone that track and offset it just a little bit, and pan each track to opposite sides. (Just a couple o’ ideas to think about.)
I listened to Jingle Bell rock too. The drums sound a little too mechanical on that track. I almost think you could bring up the tempo just a little bit and try to find a way to put some swing into the rhythm track. Does PC drummer have a humanize feature? If so, that might help.
Overall, these are cool songs. Can we expect an entire Christmas album? My wife would be one of the first to buy it.
A good recording of what is a deceptively simple song, came from the era that understood the beauty of chords progressions and knew there is more to creating a song’s harmony than just strumming major and minor Barr chords.
Here are two more songs for the Christmas album, which is for friends and family. The album is not for sale (not that anyone would pay for it! but responding to a previous post (ksdb), you can have it for free ). I will post all of them for downloading when finished. That is the least I can do for the help you have provided
The first two songs were very traditional and in the Nat King Cole/Perry Como mode with my singing. This time, I am branching out a bit. I had a friend, Dale Hampton, come by the studio (by basement computer) and put some tele licks on these songs. He worked for dinner so that ain’t too bad.
I hope to have about 8 songs before my office Christmas party on Dec 18th. I am getting closer and the forum is helping to make the songs better. I appreciate it.
The two new songs are:
Santa Claus Is Back In Town - done by Elvis and Dwight Yoakum and probably a few more and
Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy by Buck Owens.
I listened to the first two. Chestnuts and Jingle Bells. Let me start by saying “wow”! … and repeating it, "WOW!"
You wanted some critics so I’m going to give you some. Let me first say that the on a scale of 1 to 10, these 2 songs, in every aspect, are a 9.2. But I’ll give you some critic anyways.
I didn’t get to hear the recordings before your re-mix so I can only surmise at the comments about being bassy. I think there is a common misnomer about being bassy, in “Chestnuts”. Extracting bass in lieu of treble is not really the objective.
There are mastering effects that enhance the hi-end “sparkle”. I’ve been trying to find those effects myself. The goal is to fill up the total human hearing spectrum. Highs AND lows. When we record we lose that high-end sparkle. (I like to call it fairy dust.) I wish I knew why but I don’t. I think the goal should be to enhance the highs instead of cutting the lows. Like the trumpet at 2:34. (I’m still trying to nail it down myself.) You can hear the difference in “Jingle Bell Rock”. It pretty much has the hi-end sparkle.
VOCALS - Your voice is awesome!!! But to bring it from a 9.2 to a 10 you need interest. That’s done by adding a few vocal riffs outside the expected. (I call that vocal gymnastics, or trills.) Don’t go overboard because then you lose the “traditional” aspect you’re aiming for. (Female vocalist are good at this… it’s harder for men.)
In order to master the vocal “unexpected” you need to push the envelope but I’ll get to that later. One thing I noticed about your vocals is the “accuracy” in your “attack”. Your tone is absolutely wonderful!!! That can’t be denied. But sometimes in the notes of your phrases you are slightly off-pitch. (i.e. 0:30, 0:36, 0:51, 1:04, 1:24, 2:27, 3:46) For what it’s worth I couldn’t have done better myself!! The ONLY way to correct that is practice. I’m teaching my daughter to sing and that is what I push the hardest on her. I tell her, on the difficult parts, practice it slowly until you nail it. Then increase the speed… which is easy. (Once the vocal chord remember where to go, speed is simple. I call that muscle memory.) The other thing to improve interest is “change up”. (i.e. 3:39) Could have gone up instead of remaining the same. You are awesome at 0:21, 1:47 & 1:52.
All in all, the song is awesome. If it were me I’d leave it alone. As far as “Jingle Bells” … I love it! The Fade out is to fast but I’m sure you already know that. =)
You have much talent … that is undeniable! I plan to download your CD when it’s done.
Thanks for lifting up the xmas spirit! Keep up the good work! You inspire me! =)
I hear what you are saying Steale. Thanks for the critical ear. When I listen closely I can also hear the off-pitch notes. The version you heard was my only vocal take so I may do it again to clean up any mistakes, as soon as I get rid of my cold! The passing notes are much more difficult to intonate because of the length of time you get to hear them while singing. That is probably the different between the good amateur singer and the professional singers.
As for the high-end sparkle, I often EQ the track with the low L - highR split. That is one of the effects on the parameteric EQ plug-in that I bought from fasoft. It seems to lend that sparkle. I don’t remember if I did that on the Christmas Song vocal track. Jingle Bell Rock seem to have it though.
I will listen to it again with your comments in mind to make it better. Thanks for taking the time to listen.
Y’all are probably starting to hate this songs but I think it is getting close to being finished. I worked on the vocals quite a bit tonight. I don’t think there are any missed notes now. Thanks to Steale for pointing them out to me.
I tried to be a bit more expressive in my singing but there are few vocal runs in this song. I am not against it but I thought this song should be more simple. I did change the ending a bit.
Thanks for listening and the help.
Here is the updated version.
Superb! Not a single missed note in the bunch. I loved the change up @ 1:39… and the ending… WOW!!! The trumpet @ 2:34 matches the mix better than before, but perhaps halfway between what you had before and this, for the volume, would be best. After all it IS a solo so it IS supposed to stand out. Try to match the intensety of the vocals.
Let me tell you something that I believe is the quint-essential objective when making music. This recording gave me goosebumps on the back of my arms! In other words, the recording moved me. Isn’t that what music is supposed to be about??? I’m envyous of your vocal tone. You have an incredible voice… it’s so pure!
One little suggestion you will have to try… though I’m not sure it can enhance this already beautiful piece of art you’ve created… BUT… try adding a lite compression to the final rendering. (soft-knee) Also, I’ve discovered that iif you clip on the final rendering it doesn’t distort the recording at all so let it clip… a lot. (Don’t believe me, try it, you’ll see.)
My friend, thank you for blessing my Christmas!! This is a fine recording. You should be very proud of it!
p.s. I really do love the new ending!!! Nice work!!
I just took another listen to your revised Christmas song. Much better than the version I originally listened to.
Also, I noticed you are posting your songs via earthlink. I use earthlink, too. Any special trick to posting the songs using earthlink?
Wow again … I didn’t realize I wasn’t listening to your latest version of The Christmas Song. Vast improvement over the first time I listened, and I like the way you backed off the trumpet solo a little and have blended the vocal and instruments for a better match.
Go to www.earthlink.net
You can create up to 8 different email accounts or profiles. With each account, you get 10 Mbytes of web space.
Your web address will be http://home.earthlink.net/~email login
For example, I have an email account called email@example.com
The website is http://home.earthlink.net/~saxappeal
You can setup those email address to forward to your main email address.
To put songs up on those sites, connect via FTP to the site
sign in with your username or email address and password that you use for email.
With 10 Mbytes of space per account, you will be able to upload about 3 songs per email address.
Hope this helps. If I have left anything out, go to www.earthlink.net and get help on personal webspace.