SYOS

Original (tenor, sop, and vox - being very brave now!)

Wade Cornell

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I'm going to presume that you would prefer a "real" and critical assessment. The vocalist is good! The keys are good. The weakest part of this is the sax. It's not the notes choices, it's attacks and tone. There is too long an attack with hesitation or tonguing too present which slips the tone to being off beat. The tone is often unsure rather than strong and present. As a personal note, the soprano tone/sound doesn't fit and jerks this harmonically in a very awkward way. The mix is OK, but thin with the vocalist and sax solos feeling way out front and the keys feeling much more like percussion backing rather than harmonic. The drums are excellent and the bass solid and would probably sound better if the bass was brought up in the mix. The writing is good in this with the harmonic skips well used by both the singer and the sax. Too bad they didn't have stronger backing harmonically to accentuate how good both were.

Conclusion: Good writing, good singing, arrangement needs work, sax needs work in basics of attacks and tone production (especially soprano).
 
OP
Profusia

Profusia

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I'm going to presume that you would prefer a "real" and critical assessment. The vocalist is good! The keys are good. The weakest part of this is the sax. It's not the notes choices, it's attacks and tone. There is too long an attack with hesitation or tonguing too present which slips the tone to being off beat. The tone is often unsure rather than strong and present. As a personal note, the soprano tone/sound doesn't fit and jerks this harmonically in a very awkward way. The mix is OK, but thin with the vocalist and sax solos feeling way out front and the keys feeling much more like percussion backing rather than harmonic. The drums are excellent and the bass solid and would probably sound better if the bass was brought up in the mix. The writing is good in this with the harmonic skips well used by both the singer and the sax. Too bad they didn't have stronger backing harmonically to accentuate how good both were.

Conclusion: Good writing, good singing, arrangement needs work, sax needs work in basics of attacks and tone production (especially soprano).
Always preferring real and critical assessment Wade, particularly where constructive towards improving, so thank you, sincerely. I was expecting to hear from you on my sax intonation to be honest :) I agree the soprano solo is particularly poor. I need to take a lot more time familiarising myself with playing over my own changes which are a bit demanding (for my improvising level) particularly in the bridge. I can't argue against this having led to hesitation or a lack of confidence in the performance. Probably I should consider writing out my solos which would give me a lot more confidence and time to express whilst playing them for recordings. I'm still learning re mixing and production and had actually already brought the drums, bass, and piano up considerably since my earlier mixes. I do find a lot of variance depending on what device I listen on. I was hoping I was about right on that now but will give it further listening. I'm thrilled (and amazed) that at least my singing (with a bit of electronic help) hasn't caused offence :D When you say "arrangement needs work" do you just mean the mix, or are you thinking something else?
 

Wade Cornell

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So glad that you've taken all that as positive. It's certainly meant that way. I really like your voice and the way you use it. Please consider that the sax is also potentially your voice so playing as you would sing is the ideal thing in my opinion.

The comment about the arrangement is just my opinion. The jumps that you make in the vocals and sax lines are excellent and well conceived but don't have a lot of harmonic backing. In an odd way that's great because a musically intoned listener hears those chords, but the type of song and feel (to me) says that the chordal structure should be heard more clearly. It's a minor point.

Confidence in playing is a hard one. For me if reading, it all comes out mechanical, accurate but lifeless. If improvising and feeling like I know and understand the tune, it will have feeling and hopefully embody the spirit and rhythmic quality. Hard to advise what's best for you. I would leave out the soprano entirely. No need for another voice in there, if it's just different for the sake of different. Make a strong and confident statement with just the one horn.

Once again very impressed with your voice and writing. Those are the backbone and unique! So many other tracks we hear are missing these critical aspects. Instead we just hear tracks that sound the same and seem like a lot of backing that has nothing to say and no definite direction.

It's hard to make all aspects work, especially if you're trying to do it all yourself. The most important thing is to keep your spark of creativity and not become subsumed in the technical aspects. The writing and vocals are spot on. You can get others to fill in the blanks. Work with your natural advantages.
 
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Profusia

Profusia

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So glad that you've taken all that as positive. It's certainly meant that way. I really like your voice and the way you use it. Please consider that the sax is also potentially your voice so playing as you would sing is the ideal thing in my opinion.

The comment about the arrangement is just my opinion. The jumps that you make in the vocals and sax lines are excellent and well conceived but don't have a lot of harmonic backing. In an odd way that's great because a musically intoned listener hears those chords, but the type of song and feel (to me) says that the chordal structure should be heard more clearly. It's a minor point.

Confidence in playing is a hard one. For me if reading, it all comes out mechanical, accurate but lifeless. If improvising and feeling like I know and understand the tune, it will have feeling and hopefully embody the spirit and rhythmic quality. Hard to advise what's best for you. I would leave out the soprano entirely. No need for another voice in there, if it's just different for the sake of different. Make a strong and confident statement with just the one horn.

Once again very impressed with your voice and writing. Those are the backbone and unique! So many other tracks we hear are missing these critical aspects. Instead we just hear tracks that sound the same and seem like a lot of backing that has nothing to say and no definite direction.

It's hard to make all aspects work, especially if you're trying to do it all yourself. The most important thing is to keep your spark of creativity and not become subsumed in the technical aspects. The writing and vocals are spot on. You can get others to fill in the blanks. Work with your natural advantages.
Sadly my sax abilities are limited, and truth is I don't practice much any more having got more into writing. I never play exactly the dots and always express around them so writing out a solo shouldn't make it particularly robotic and should hopefully free me up to express without worrying about remembering the notes. I just shy away from writing out solos as it feels a bit like cheating, but for a recording I think I should get over that and see the end result as the most important thing, not how I got there.

I split the solo between 2 horns simply because I felt a full 32 bar chorus would be a bit too long for many listeners on just one horn, and I had too many lyrics to switch to a 16 bar solo (and didn't want to drop any of the lyrics). If I can't get the soprano solo sounding good I'll rethink that and consider whatever options I can come up with. I could do the 2nd 16 as a string section midi solo or melody for example, although that may also sound very out of context so perhaps a different instrument, but again being a more jazzy song I felt almost obligated to get some sax on it

I get a bit impatient once I've written something to get it recorded and finished, and it gets too easy to leave bits imperfect, whilst at the same time I wrestle with the knowledge that at some point you have to overlook some imperfections to get a project completed,

With sax being my first love and where I started musically 6 years ago, it's very hard to face the notion of subbing out the sax work to someone better than me, not to mention that unfortunately I'm not in a position to invest in external services for tracks that are unlikely to ever bring in. a return on investment.

Thanks again for all of your input.
 

Clivey

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At this stage of the game you are doing just great. Where it will go is entirely up to you. This is probably one of the most attractive parts of getting involved with composition, the freedom.
For many ,including myself it's the vehicle itself that is important and the ability to express something that has been slopping around in the bean.
It's obviously very nice when someone appreciates your creation and ironically sometimes places like this tend to be focused on the bricks and mortar.
 
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Profusia

Profusia

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At this stage of the game you are doing just great. Where it will go is entirely up to you. This is probably one of the most attractive parts of getting involved with composition, the freedom.
For many ,including myself it's the vehicle itself that is important and the ability to express something that has been slopping around in the bean.
It's obviously very nice when someone appreciates your creation and ironically sometimes places like this tend to be focused on the bricks and mortar.
Thanks Clivey. Very happy to take constructive criticism on all aspects, bricks and mortar too :D Sometimes it has to sink it before being accepted, sometimes it's like a light switch there and then, but always useful.

My first album was studio based, and mixed by a professional engineer. I can't pretend the sax work was amazing as it was still me and still recorded at home, but I spent more time and did take more takes over it and had it mixed in by the engineer because of the overall investment. The track above is part of my 2nd project which will be an album of more mixed genres, with my own vocals, not always with sax, and entirely self-produced at home (so significantly less financial investment at least), and it's most definitely very much a learning process. I need to make sure I at least give any sax work I do include, the same time and effort as on the first album. At the end of the day my sax technique does leave a lot to be desired, and I'm well aware of that, but it's probably good to be reminded from time to time :)
 
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Profusia

Profusia

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Good luck with your venture I am somewhat on the same route as yourself at this time.
View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2wM3Z3Mfrn8

So I get a bit of what you are on. I think if you have something to say then it's better to get it said musically while you have the muse so to speak. Apologies for use of swearing in clip but it's not gratuitious.
Thanks Clivey and good luck to you too! The music video creation route is a whole other chestnut! So hard to find something to engage viewers. Are you following any particular methodology for getting your music out to people and getting it heard? Might be useful to compare notes sometime.
 

Clivey

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I basically just bore folks I know and quite a few I don't into listening and spoken to local rapper about him using pieces in his work too. My main problem is a lack of patience . really I should have waited and released the body of work together in one piece instead I have drip fed it onto Bandcamp though it's pretty nearly complete. I have certain aspects of the subject matter to explore then it will be done
 

Pete Effamy

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Not been on for a while (AGAIN) and being very brave now!

Original song : I Want To Travel With You

Biij: But Is It Jazz? - I Want To Travel With You

Very happy to have feedback on anything I could have done better (apart from shooting the vocalist) especially including the mixing and production side of things.
You seem to be welcoming constructive criticism so maybe I'll wade in too if that's ok?

Well done. The number one thing for me is that your tone/sound is very listenable. My advice for improvement for your soloing is that it's a bit "wandery". If you were speaking you'd be rambling a little. So for me, it's a case of looking at shaping the content. Perhaps say less but be more definite about how you say it.
Having a go at all is more than most do!
 
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Profusia

Profusia

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I basically just bore folks I know and quite a few I don't into listening and spoken to local rapper about him using pieces in his work too. My main problem is a lack of patience . really I should have waited and released the body of work together in one piece instead I have drip fed it onto Bandcamp though it's pretty nearly complete. I have certain aspects of the subject matter to explore then it will be done
I'm drip feeding my current project track by track, distributing to streaming and download platforms, putting on Songtradr, and uploading to BBC Introducing. But it's very unlikely any of those things will ever bring me a significant audience. The thing is figuring out how to reach the right people for your style of music, and how to introduce them to it and nurture them to become fans (if that's where you want to take it). I'm sort of going to down the targeted Facebook ads route but it's more complicated than I'd imagined and not proving easy so far.
 
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Profusia

Profusia

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You seem to be welcoming constructive criticism so maybe I'll wade in too if that's ok?

Well done. The number one thing for me is that your tone/sound is very listenable. My advice for improvement for your soloing is that it's a bit "wandery". If you were speaking you'd be rambling a little. So for me, it's a case of looking at shaping the content. Perhaps say less but be more definite about how you say it.
Having a go at all is more than most do!
Absolutely - more than okay :)

Yeah wandery soloing is definitely an issue, particularly when the changes aren't fully internalised, or straightforward and key centred. Reading the chords tends to lead to trying too hard to illustrate every chord. I do remind myself of this from time to time but will definitely bear it in mind when I have a crack at recording it again.
 

Pete Effamy

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Absolutely - more than okay :)

Yeah wandery soloing is definitely an issue, particularly when the changes aren't fully internalised, or straightforward and key centred. Reading the chords tends to lead to trying too hard to illustrate every chord. I do remind myself of this from time to time but will definitely bear it in mind when I have a crack at recording it again.
One technique at finding a nice path through changes is to map out either a descending or ascending line that only moves stepwise or stays put. Use these as markers and use rhythm and a few other chordal notes around these to add interest. Otherwise you'll be looking at really getting into ii-v-i exercises to which there are many permutations. Or try and hit the guide tones (3rd's and 7th's and any other added note, but mainly 3rd's and 7th's). Try to move stepwise again if possible or stick. Occasionally walk between if a bigger gap.
 
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Profusia

Profusia

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Worcestershire
One technique at finding a nice path through changes is to map out either a descending or ascending line that only moves stepwise or stays put. Use these as markers and use rhythm and a few other chordal notes around these to add interest. Otherwise you'll be looking at really getting into ii-v-i exercises to which there are many permutations. Or try and hit the guide tones (3rd's and 7th's and any other added note, but mainly 3rd's and 7th's). Try to move stepwise again if possible or stick. Occasionally walk between if a bigger gap.
Thanks - yes I know, and occasionally apply, all that - I did the Gary Burton improv course that quite a few of us on CafeSaxophone did way back when, and which covered those approaches amongst others. I try as much as possible to play melodically by ear without thinking about the chords, but of course have to look at them when they start moving around.
 

MikeMorrell

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@Profusia: Hi Thomas, sorry for the late reply. I'd intended to post this on Tuesday, but I got distracted by 'life';).On Tuesday I'd listened to the song 3 or 4 times. The 'delay' in replying gave me the chance to listen to it again after 3-4 days.

On Tuesday, I was going to write that the song 'grew on me'. That's even more so today! I still like it. I agree with previous posters that it's great to hear original songs and I think you did a great job in composing the music and lyrics and and playing sax. I also thought that the vocalist gave an excellent performance on what - for a vocalist - was a difficult song to sing.

My 'personal impressions' (always with the intention of helping you reflect and perhaps learn) is purely from the perspective of a 'listener'' I do play tenor sax in a couple of amateur Big Bands and I'm no great shakes at solos or improv. So I'll leave it others to comment on these.

My main impressions are:
- you played a short intro and a long solo. It didn't sound to me as if the sax was 'present' (in however limited a way) during the whole performance. Being extremely B&W about it, it was as if someone had pressed an 'on/off switch' for the sax at 2 points.
- the vocals were quite 'dense' in the sense that a) there was pretty much no 'space' between verses or between verses and chorus and b) each line was 'packed' with syllables; at times I wished (as a listener) that there was a bit more 'space' (as a punctuation mark) between verses and choruses. Each was a 'musical and lyrical phrase' and just as I thought 'hey, that was a nice phrase', the next one had already started. So at times, the 'density left me a bit 'breathless'. I'm amazed that it it didn't leave the vocalist breathless too! :)
- I found your solo (tenor+sop) long. For me personally, the tenor solo sounded just about the right length as an 'íntermezzo'; I do realise (from Big Band numbers) that 16-bar - or longer solos often repeated by different instruments. So there's nothing 'wrong' with the length of the solo, I just personally was ready for the vocals again at the end of the tenor solo.
- the 'cadence' of a song consists of patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. I'm no songwriter but from what I've read and watched, the 'best' cadence seems be one in which the stresses fall on "meaningful" (high-value) words rather than on common 'connecting' words (and, or, to, at, etc). In the chorus, having the stresses fall on less important words (while the important ones were unstressed) irritated me. I found it really weird. But, if it's deliberate, it does have the effect of being unusual!. A less important point is that there are one or two 3-syllable words in the 'verse' that the singer has to get out in the time where - in the rhythm - there's time to to (usually) sing just one syllable. I found this less 'strange' today, probably because I already knew the lyrics. I'll give some examples of the cadence below.
- I really enjoyed your tenor solo! For me, it suited the 'mood' of the song (and vocals) perfectly. I enjoyed the sop solo slightly less. Not only because it was (for me) an unnecessary extension of the tenor solo but because (in pitch and style) it also seemed to stray more from the 'mood' of the song. As a tenor player, I'm of course biased.:)
- The vocalist had an assertive (but not over-assertive!) voice and very clear diction. 'He had a certain 'presence' however he played with the timing and dynamics. I felt that you could perhaps have emulated this more in your intro: a more assertive tone, a bit more more attack on your notes and clearer separation between them.

So turning all these around into 'suggestions that you might want to consider' for future compositions:
- build in more 'space' between verses and chorus (as punctuation marks) that also allow you to play a few backing notes that remind listeners that you're still there
- consider where the stresses in the cadence fall and what effect this has on listeners
- consider whether the listener would prefer one long solo repetition (as in this song) or multiple shorter solo's mixed in with vocals (in this song: one solo on the verses and later - following some vocals - another solo on the chorus)
- consider how you're going to 'set the mood/tone' of the song in your intro

Again, I'm just one of many more listeners. I'm not being deliberately critical. I really did like the song (5 times over!). I really do hope that you'll continue to write more of your own work and I hope that these impressions may help you in that.

Mike

PS examples of cadence:

Chorus:
Swim with sea lions and sharks, [OK]
Turtles and penguins too [and = weak]
Marvel at Everest [at=weak]
Have a crack at K2 [OK]
Behold Saharan sands [in normal speech: Saharan sands]
Hang with Orang Utans [in normal speech: Orang Utans
Blue footed Boobies that dance [OK: blue footed 'is 3 syllables, other lines have 2 introductory unstressed syllables. Blue-foot Boobies?]
Oh will you give me a chance [OK: "Just give me a chance" is one syllable shorter as intro ]
To show you

Verse:
Walked through history on the Chinese wall ["history" - 3 syllables - sang as 1]
Where we’ll watch pairs of duelling Albatros [too many syllables in this line for comfort. Intro 3 syllables and "duelling"in 1 syllable]

Over the whole song just 2 examples of "many syllables per line" means that all other lines in the verses have IMHO a perfect cadence! This is definitely the most important 'take-away'. It's not at all easy to do as a lyricist and you've done it remarkably well. You obviously know what you're doing. If the vocalist is fine with these 2 lines, just forget that I even mentioned them.!
 
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