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Nolita
05-18-2007, 06:23 AM
Oooh that sounds nasty. Seriously though. I fell asleep last night with a hook in my head. Not from an existing song I'm aware of. Thing is, it's still in my head.

I can't write or read music. Yikes! I'm semi-stuck. So I figure I'll just write down the lyrics, and hope the music's still there when I finish figuring out TAB...

Anyway, what do you do when you get a hook stuck in your head?

michaelmcneil
05-18-2007, 05:51 PM
I compulsively sing it everywhere I go, try to figure out where it's headed, get wierd looks singing into my cell phone's voice recorder as I walk down the street, and invariably get into some kind of trouble like a car accident before it's all said and done.

But after a few days of absentminded confusion, I usually emerge with a pretty damn acceptable song.

JRH
05-18-2007, 08:33 PM
Michael,

There is a difference between what may be considered acceptable as a starting point for "personal" gratification and what is considered acceptable for finished commercial production ready for Publication and Recording.

Lyric Writing, Musical Composition, and Performance all REQUIRE Professional levels of Craftsmanship and Skill and the ability to blend them together seamlessly in order to produce a song that has ANY potential for pleasing anyone or obtaining commercial success. Anything less than that in ANY of those areas WON'T get the job done.

Think about it.

Jim Hoye, (JRH)

WackAMole
05-18-2007, 08:34 PM
Oooh that sounds nasty. Seriously though. I fell asleep last night with a hook in my head. Not from an existing song I'm aware of. Thing is, it's still in my head.

I can't write or read music. Yikes! I'm semi-stuck. So I figure I'll just write down the lyrics, and hope the music's still there when I finish figuring out TAB...

Anyway, what do you do when you get a hook stuck in your head?

You finish the rest of the song :)

ChunkyC
05-18-2007, 09:09 PM
Find a way to record it, Nolita. Use the basic Windows sound recorder if you have to and hum it into your headset mic. Then you'll have it saved and can go from there.

michaelmcneil
05-19-2007, 08:04 AM
JRH:

First of all, my "explanation" was a caricature of reality, never intended to be real musical advice. I hope you didn't think that I was suggesting that I was part of some musical oligarchy that made use of washed up tidbits of greatness from some endless sea inside of me. I'm just a chump with a lot of time and a guitar. I intended no presumptions or disrespect.

However, if you didn't misunderstand me, you're saying that you think that my music is not commercially ready. I like to think that it is. Craftmanship and skill are necessary, but even more important is the ability to put on a good show. If you can't entertain at the grassroots level, you've got nothing. The Beatles would never have made it big if they hadn't so thoroughly flushed out and promoted their first two albums. Their later work is arguably better, and much more thought out, but they never could have gotten there without their earlier stuff.

I take no personal insult if you don't like my music, but I would ask you exactly where you feel my music is lacking skill and craftmanship. I work considerably hard on producing an attractive product for my fans, and I'm always open to the opinions of new listeners.

JRH
05-19-2007, 10:40 AM
Michael,

I thought your description of how a song can grow by worrying it out was perfectly valid, and my comments were aimed, not at you but at everyone who posts here because I want them to understand how difficult the process is in all it's aspects, from lyric to composition to performance, because they all have to work together to be successful and each requires an equal degree of dedication in creating each element of one's craft.

The Beatles were decent musicians and singers before they ever recorded a song but their original lyrics were basically fairly juvenile and simplistic, (although they understood the necessity for balance and cohesiveness in their images so they came off pretty well for the audiance they were aimed at, even then).

As time went by, their lyrics became tighter and deeper in their meaning, their music became far more sophisticated, and the their musical and vocal skills matured as well.

That's something all of us should be trying to do constantly and that is what I was trying to get across along with a valid understanding of the difference between "performance" and "publication".

As to your songs, (which I have listened to), I do think they need POLISHING in all aspects, but as long as you're conscious of that and constantly working to improve that should take care of itself.

Frankly, your kind of music is not generally appealing to me as I find it too much linked to your "personal" experience, but I have no doubt you would have much the same attitude towards the lack of such a feeling in mine and you can check that out for yourself at
http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?AID=171834&T=761313 by clicking on the music links so you can judge them for yourself

If you listen closely to my "Standing Room Only", which was done as a Professional Demo at "The Song Cellar " in Nashville, sung by "Buddy Jewell" and won 2d prize Country at the 2002 Billboard Song Contest, and compare it to the rest of mine, as well as to the vast majority of songs posted on any internet site, You should able to distinquish the many ways in which the work of those who are already "Professional" stands out from those who are working towards it, regardless of how advanced they may be.

I just want people to have an objective view of the challenges involved and disabuse any fantasies they might have about success coming without a great deal of effort and discipline.

I meant no insult to your music and I can assure you I'll take any criticism you might have with a grain of salt. I've been at this a long time and have a very "thick" skin.

Take Care, and Write On,

Jim Hoye (JRH)

michaelmcneil
05-19-2007, 05:39 PM
Polishing is always necessary. Having a self-mastered or studio recording always helps. We plan to go the the studio in June. Keep in mind the recordings on our website are from a live show where we didn't even know we were being recorded. Ruta Maya is excellent venue, incidentally--you get 100% cover and they record you for free.

In terms of genre, my country western palatte extends about as far as Willie and Cash, with maybe a hint of Hank Williams. I'm much more of a rock man- but that's fine, we're from different generations.

Did you track MIDI on California Stop? If so, how did you do it? I've been trying for ages to figure out how to get my synth wired into my laptop.

On another note, I didn't notice any lack of personal experience in Standing Room Only. If anything, I recognized more of it than in my music. I think the difference in our styles is that you seem to take the role of the storyteller, and I tend to attach myself more to metaphors. Also, about 95% of my music is composed of love songs, while you tend to branch out a bit more. How did you record Standing Room Only?

JRH
05-19-2007, 06:46 PM
Hi Michael,

All of my songs are built from scratch one note at a time in Harmony Assistant, a composition program, which will then play it back. I'm aware of Midi but don't know how I could use it without decent performance skills. (which I don't have). The actual recordings are made by doing voice-overs using Cool Edit, a 4-track mixing program. My desktop has a specific input for Midi but I'm not sure if all laptops would be similarly equipped.

"Standing Room Only" was different in that I had it performed professionally, at a reasonable cost. They used my personal demo, along with my instructions to give it a Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley feel as a guideline, and I was quite satisfied with the results. My demo captured the essence but was marred by my vocal limitations and a relatively bland arrangement. I had it posted as well at one time but dropped it in favor of the demo when it was completed.

I do have a number of Rock songs but they tend to reflect the influence of BTO, Billy Joel, Bob Seger, and The Police, as opposed to anything more contemporary.

Live recordings always have a different feel than studio, particularly when, you're not aware of their being done, and I have no doubt, being in studio will give you a lot more control in getting exactly the feel you want, (and possibly even give you a different perspective on it as well).

Beyond that, I think you're correct about the difference in our styles, and I freely admit to striving for the story teller role as I think a little distancing makes it easier for the audiance to relate to.

In any case, keep working at it, and you'll come out fine.

Jim Hoye, (JRH)

P.S. Just a note for Nolita, all of the advice you've received here is good advice, and I'd only add that you should record that hook, in any way you can or, at least write it down so you can come back to it later, (however much later that might be). Some songs come in a hurry and others take more time, but they will come, if you keep at it, so don't let yourself be discouraged at any point.

Nolita
05-20-2007, 07:39 AM
Thanks Jim. I've got the words down, and keep humming the tune.

Rivana
05-22-2007, 01:52 AM
Been there Nolita, it can be quite annoying after a bit. I used to go crazy with the whole thing, writing and humming and memorizing stuff so I'd remember even unfinished material. Using any sort of recording device is really good. Even something like a 10 dollar mic to pugg into your computer, or singing into the mp3 player or whatever. Recording is essential if you've got a lot of unfinished material.