Two Years of my life

Comments requested

After almost two years of getting to know N, I’m finally ready to share a tune with you. This is an arrangement of an old hymn called, “Are You Washed”. Not sure what you’d call the genre, but please give it a listen, and comment on anything you’d like. I have thick skin.

Are You Washed in the Blood

There’s nothing on this page, so you might want to right-click and save-as. Otherwise, it might load in your browser.

Many thanks for any insights on how I might make it better.

If there’s any interest, I can comment on how it was recorded, mixed and mastered, but for the time, I’ll just let the song stand on it’s own.

–Chris

I can only listen through really bad speakers ATM, so I can’t say much about the mix.

There are two things that stick out to me. First, the singing is quite good. Both the tone and pitch sense are good, and there is definitely emotion and performance behind the delivery. Second, the drums and bass are very mechanical. In particular, the drums don’t sound very musical. They sound a bit like MIDI scratch tracks, and copying patterns played by real dfrummers/bassists would improve the performance a lot IMHO. I certainly don’t hate MIDI since I use it to replace musicians all the time (!) but I’ve found that spending the extra time REALLY goes a long way to producing pro-quality recordings.

Cheers and Blessings,
Ben

Ben:

First, let me say how much I appreciate your time and comments. It’s amazing to me how willing this group is to critique each other’s stuff honestly and it really is appreciated.

Secondly, if you would be so kind, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate on what you mean when you say “mechanical”. Do you mean rhythmically? sonically? repetitive? That type of thing or something else? Just wanting to make certain that your effort doesn’t go unheeded.

Thanks again,

Chris

The things that I noticed first were the kick drum at the start of the song and the bass tone.

The kick seems to be too complicated and there seems to be little dynamic variation in the strokes. Most of the drummers I know would be playing a very simple kick pattern when the music has such low intensity. Another humanizing effect would be to specifically de-emphasize the kicks that are not on the 1 and and 3 (i.e. the “ghost notes”) that way, the pulse of the music comes through clearly.

The other point is that the tone for the bass does not seem to fit the choice of music. It seems that you are going for a honkey-tonk/hillbilly/bluegrass-gospel feel but the bass tone is very funk oriented. I think you’d get a lot more milage out of an “upright bass” patch. If that gets buried when the music gets more dense, you could combine the two patches and turn up the “funk” patch when the string/upright bass begins to get buried.

The same goes for the drum. Switching kits to an “acoustic” kit would probably fit the style of the music better. And because you’re using MIDI, you could record both kits and morph between them as needed.

I’ve had A LOT of luck with a plugin from NTONYX that will apply “humainzation” to lots of different kinds of MIDI tracks automatically. The most effective alterations it applies are small variations to the note timing and “musically sensitive” changes to the attack volume.

Anyway, after listening to the whole songmore closely, it does seem to hang together fairly well.

So, is this just you, your keyboard, and n-track? Bravo. I’d suggest that you get some other musicians involved. YOu loose some creative control, but you gain A LOT more in terms of creativity and variation.

Cheers and Blessings,
Ben

Wow. Really nice. Thanks for the clarification. You’ve really read the intentions well.

The drums are indeed MIDI; I’m one of the oldschoolers that learned to play them as you would an instrument – live. So, the timing issues are my fault – I don’t like to quantize them at all. The patch will be reviewed, per your suggestion – I like the morph idea.

The bass is actually a real instrument that I made myself and play live. No patches. I did tweak the bee-geebers out of the EQ to get the funk thing – if I remember it correctly, it was to cut thru the mix w/o getting in the way of the kick. Again, I’ll mess with it.

I’ve also picked up JamStix since I recorded the original drums, so I may pipe it thru that and see what Jamstix does with it.

As far as the band, yes it’s just me and N, although I play the acousticand bass live and real instruments. The piano and drums are the only keyboard on this particular tune.

The band is an issue. I used to lead worship, but moved and gave it up, and now live in the country. I don’t know many musicians that can drive 2 hours to my place. I’ll have to look into the online collaboration stuff, maybe.

Thanks much for the help.

Hi,
I agree mostly with Ben. Although I would add that the singing is excellent! the understated tone is perfect for this genre IMO

take care

Nick

K. I don’t know how I’m supposed to take this. Either Stuntman and Ben just completely know their stuff, or the rest of you think that the tune stinks.

If you think it stinks, could you at tell me why? Otherwise, I’m left with no option but to think that 100+ of you think that the tune can’t be improved, and I’ll be forced to start posting the other 11. :D

Thanks for your improvements.

I think that what folks are trying to tell you is that the ‘feel’ of instrumentation is very important, and that the feel of the instrumentation and vocal are different. Each part taken independently is well done and well recorded. The vocals in particular are excellent.

If I focus on the vocal, I hear a style that would fit very comfortably into a bluegrass type instrumentation. In fact, with a good bluegrass band backing it, the song would be awsome. If I focus on the keyboard sound, I hear a polished sound and feel that would go well with a very urban Maria Carey vocal. The drums by themselves have a sort of funk beat, but being synthesized and not humanized they are somewhat sterile. There is nothing wrong with what you have done, and in fact there is a whole right about it. But we all approach music with certain expectations based on our previous experience, and what we are hearing runs counter to our expectation. I’m not sure that is a bad thing, but it is one of the first things that everyone will comment on.

I don’t know if you want to do music that has a bluegrass/newgrass feel, but add a blugrass guitar, banjo and upright base to your voice (no drums needed) and you would be ready for the big time.

T

If you listen to each part of the song separately