A little bit of improvisation to brighten a dull day.
Category Archives: Songs
Well, it’s been a long time since I wrote here. Every time I started to write something I just got this “bleh” feeling inside. But that’s ok — I’m writing now.
So me and my girlfriend bought a new laptop and it’s been working like a charm. I’m a PC user because since I was a kid I’ve gotten used to working with PC. Now that I’ve got a quad-core processor and a ton of RAM to play around with I’m presented with a vast array of new possibilities. So, I downloaded free trial version of Reaper (I remembered one of my friends talking about it) and started to study it. Man, that software is the shit!
I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of plug-ins and midi options and it’s quite overwhelming. Basically I had never used any real VST plug-ins before and now I could play around with amp modelers, synthesizers etc. Just today I recorded a video trying to test out first of all my web camera and also the quality of FreeAmp 2.5SE. It’s pretty good to say the least.
I just plugged my guitar straight to the line-in of the laptop and started playing. That’s just too easy. Kids these days have everything better, haha.
Anyway, if you want to check out FreeAmp yourself you can find it here.
Does this ever happen to you? You’re working on a project and it seems like it’s taking months and months and then you happen to do a similar project and finish it in a week? It’s crazy but that just happened to me.
That Super God project I’ve been talking about is not progressing too rapidly and I’ve been forgetting that I should work on that too. So about a week ago, late in Monday night, I discovered this site.
I just had to participate! It’s just that I only had 7 days to work. I like challenges, however, so I decided to do it no matter what. I thought of the fastest concept to work and figured that I should do something along the lines of Iron Maiden and Dio. Also I wanted to do a concept album because that pretty much gives me the theme of each song as I write the general plot.
Overall these were the things that took the most time: coming up with melodies for the songs, writing lyrics, creating midi tracks for bass and drums, recording guitars and vocals, mixing and mastering.
When I had written down the name and concept of each song I plugged in my mic and started sing melodies and riffs for each song. I pretty much did this a whole day but everything turned out ok and I rarely added anything major when I was actually making the midi tracks or recording guitars. I just followed my “dun dun’s” and “naa naa’s”. Of course there were exceptions, too.
So here are the tracks:
- Brothers of Prophecy
- Scions of God
- Cold Blood
- Nightmares of Sleepless Night
- Dawn of the Exiled
- Candle in the Autumn Night
- Inhumane Zen
- Chain of Storm
- New Dawn
- Lightless Fortress
- The Blood Bond
- Book of Life
I especially liked Lightless Fortress, Inhumane Zen, Revelations and Trust which was an acoustic track. The Blood Bond was a song that I’m propably gonna rewrite for the most part because it just didn’t meet my expectations. I just didn’t have the time to start rewriting it while I was already recording guitars etc.
As you may have noticed, I like Iron Maiden. I can’t remember hearing an album as powerful as Somewhere in Time in years. The first time I put this CD to my player and pressed play I was just blown away. The first measures alone got me. It was love at first listen. I seriously can’t think of any other album from the past ten years like that.
All of the tracks in Somewhere in Time are great in my opinion. I was thinking about this the other day. The thing is that usually when I write songs the catchiest things tend to be very similar. This isn’t the case with this Maiden album, however. The tunes are very different to each other. That’s why I’m going to write an analysis for the songs — or at least for the first one. We’ll see how it goes.
The track starts with very powerful tunes that are still quite abstemious. This amplifies the next riff even more. The synthesizers make the riff sound large and heavy and when the next section kicks off it sound even more powerful. The trick here is that while the riff sounds very powerful there’s still a lot of room here. There is like a void of rhythm that screams to be filled. The void is gradually filled with drums and bass as the riff progresses.
The melody sounds really cold and this is partly because of the chords played with the synth and partly because of the crying harmony between the two guitars. Only the last bars of the riff have a sense of sympathy in them. The melody also builds the tension up by moving the other guitar up an octave. It sounds almost majestic and the first part of the melody has a sort of Egyptian feel to it.
Releases the tension with a calming melody that with the last run has a dramatic twist. This riff’s got a great sense of space to it. Bass and drums fill the rhythm part very densely so the space to the riff is built with the guitars. The melody’s got denser and more fluid beginning and ending with tripping middle section. It creates an echo type of effect to the melody and accents the space-like feel of the track. This riff is a great hook that’s awesomely built up in the intro.
The verse takes a step back in the energy level and builds a room to breathe for the rest of the sections. There’s a sense of urgency in the riff since all of the instruments are playing the rhythm part.
The verse is also brilliantly paced with these gliding sections where the guitars just hold the chords and move around like a kite in the wind. These parts are like a bit of sunshine in the midst of the gray sea of clouds. The theme of the song is also amplified with the lyrics: “Time is always on my side” repeated over and over.
The verse is great because it’s not very interesting, but still not annoying. The catchy chorus-like lines between the more high fiber value sections keep the interest up and really grasp you to the feel of the song and the feel of the theme. Overall the verse sounds rasp and heavy but keeps the energy above the sea level.
This progression is one of the things I love the most about Iron Maiden. The song would be great even without it, but the riff is there to write a story. It starts off as neutral but then turns into an emotional tide running up to the chorus. It adds so much value to the song that it’s ridiculous. It gives the listener something that can’t be said with words.
The lick idea here that’s being repeated is quite simple. If you strip it down to only the four main notes (with out the hammer-on bits) it would still work. The structure adds a bit to the texture of the riff. You often hear similar tricks with some slow solos and the basic melody here is slow. It’s just detailed a little more.
The chorus has got a rather malignant feel to it. It should, too, given that the vocal melody is the same as the intro melody. Also, the gliding feel of the verse can be felt here, too. Bruce’s singing mixed with the guitar melody creates an interesting pattern of waves which makes the chorus flow smoothly by. It balances out the crazy-energized drumming of Nicko very well.
The chorus almost sounds tragic and the lyrics really highlight that. I can’t say that I listen the song because of the chorus and it’s really the weakest link in the song. It’s interestingly structured, sure, but it sounds too much like an independent sentence.
After the chorus there’s like a brick wall that stops the playing. Then the first and more dramatic sounding solo begins. The pause is almost like an overture for the solo.
I’m not gonna analyze these solos too much but I just gotta say that I love the contrast between the two. The other one is like a catastrophe montage and the other one more hopeful and sympathetic. They really complete each other even though Dave is forced to play the bad guy here. The ending of the second solo is also great because of the 5th degree played at the background. Again, the tension, although not as audible as in the intro, is magnificent leading to the reprise of the song theme.
The song really has three parts; one in the beginning, one with the solos and one in the end. They flow very seamlessly because of the riffs that offer breathing room in the between of the different parts.
The theme is very much like something Maiden did in Aces High. It’s what gets the listener pumped up and really sticks in their minds. It appears that you can pretty much get away with any artistic bullshit and dull choruses as long as you have that one melody. Ha, ha.
Seriously though, one of the reasons the song is so great has to do with the parts that build up the atmosphere. Those flowing guitar parts really do their job. If the song didn’t have anything more than a melody, then it wouldn’t feel like anything. 90% of this song is building up the dark and cold futuristic setting. That’s what makes it work.
If I would change anything I’d make the chorus more appealing and maybe shorter. The first chorus could be half of the length it’s now and the second chorus could stay unchanged. I’m not saying this as if I’d hate the song but because I want to be able to know how to make my own songs appeal more to my own taste.
Here’s a song I made a few months ago. Miracle Man was a project where I would compose and record a song in one day. Granted, it shows, but I was gradually getting better in it. It was also the first time I would record myself singing so the quality isn’t that great.
I originally came by the theme with my acoustic guitar while I was playing Porcupine Tree’s Trains. So I had a capo in 5th fret and I started to play around with the open strings. Then I just went straight to record! When I’ve got something like six hours to work with a song there’s not much time to fool around and experiment.
I quickly recorded the acoustic guitar parts and then organs and electric guitar parts. As you may have noticed there aren’t any bass or drums. That’s just because I’d have to do them as midi and that’s quite time-consuming. I preferred keeping it simple.
The hardest thing for me in these Miracle Man songs was to write the lyrics. There aren’t a lot of them and they might not be a poetic gold mine but I like them because pretty much only I know the symbolism behind them. It’s not impossible to figure out but you gotta know of what I’m talking about.
So I compiled the whole thing in Audacity as I usually do, mastered it and made a video file for YouTube. My singing technique sucked at the time so I had a sore throat after singing all those lines. My neighbours probably had sore ears.
“Listen to my words”, said Devil to a young man,
“Prayer is the key to the Heavenly Kingdom.
So fall on your knees and praise your Maker.
From under the petticoat sing your soul to Light!”
The words of daybreak turn the light into dark.
Soothingly smiling burning colors into gray.
“Listen to my words”, said Devil to a young man,
“The Heaven’s on Earth just listen me now.
You are the Wisdom – the key of Salvation.
So make all the people to sing your name to Light!”
The words of daybreak turn the light into dark.
Soothingly smiling turning colors into gray.
And when you hear them spoken don’t cover your ears.
Beyond this darkness is your Home.
Oh, and one other thing. As I was writing this I got The Zen of Screaming delivered into my mailbox. I’ll be examining that for a while now.
I got the drum models recorded earlier this week. Though I had no idea what to expect with pretty much nothing but song titles down I think I came up with some interesting stuff. You can listen some short samples below.
As you can hear the quality of these recordings isn’t anything spectacular but that’s besides the point. The point was to create some beats to inspire great guitar lines for the songs. I might not even use any of these drums in the format that I recorded them in but there are some good parts that I think are gonna find their way in the songs.
Over all I recorded over an hour worth of drums. I’m gonna start working on the guitar parts next week or so. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s time for the next five song designs. I’m gonna try to record some basic drum tracks for the songs now that I’m visiting my parents for christmas. My dad’s got a real drum set which is gonna help me composing the tracks.
I’m thinking I might mold something a little bit more odd out of this song. I’m gonna vary the mood with foggy pad sounds and crystal clear piano parts. The lyrics will most likely be very minimalistic and cryptic (with some sense buried in them of course).
Sunrays will be a song that has pretty much two similar sections with the first being calm and second a bit more rhythmical with a relaxed drum beat.
Super God is fast-paced song with all sorts of clever time signature changes and heavy synthesizer backgrounds. The lyrics hold a humorous tone throughout the song. That’s pretty much all I need to say about this song.
Thoughts That Make You Cry
This song is gonna be well-paced but still very calm song that builds around the theme of beauty and the difficulty in acquiring the right mindset for it. I’m thinking of recording some acoustic guitar for this piece with pad sounds and piano.
The B part will be long and revolving like rising and falling clouds. I’m gonna try to write some sort of Pink Floyd style solo for that.
I marked down that I’m gonna make this song acoustic and colorful but I’m not that sure about that plan anymore. It could have a colorful feel to it but with a lot more upbeat pace.
Now that I start to really feel the title it brings to mind Daily Show’s Michael Steele muppet interviews and I really start to get some craze ideas for this song now. This should be interesting.
This song might be one with no drums in it or very melodic drum lines with other instruments creating the rhythm. I’m gonna play around with this one a bit. In case of the verse being strange and slippery I’ll need to write a more concrete and pop style chorus for the song. I want to make this song very powerful… like SUN! Let’s see how that turns out.
I’m gonna try to write a little bit about each of those Super God project songs down for clarification. I just bought Joe Satriani’s Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards album and gotta pause it now to really concentrate on the mood and theme of each song.
This song is about returning home to God from this domain. So the theme is a bit spiritualistic and — you know, though I feel a bit uncomfortable describing it here I’m not gonna apologize for it. I’m gonna give the song a 6/8 feel with tempo being around 90. Usually when I have a click track or midi drums I tend to put the tempo off a bit so instead of leaving it to 90 I’ll probably put it to 89 or 92 in case I want it to be a bit faster.
The structure here’s gonna be very common AABA type of thing with intro, two verses and choruses, a B part with maybe a solo and double chorus at the end. I’m gonna try to make the mood loving and yearning and keep the lyrics at a minimalistic level. Because this song has a calm feel to it I’m gonna put it to the end half of the set to leave room for the more upbeat stuff at the beginning.
Drowning in Hope
This title caught my attention in the Song Name Creator because it’s just the kind of bad behavior people tend to slip into. This one will feel stingy but yet fresh. It’s gonna offer another perspective for hope. The song’s gonna be a bit too fast (I’m thinking 300 BPM) with a simplistic and funky theme melody.
I’m gonna write a bunch of similar type of riffs over the basic structure. This means maybe a long intro and short verses with bridge sections. The choruses are gonna be explosive and change the feel from machine gun to freeride (with a very basic chord progression). This has been done many times and it works like a charm. I’m also thinking of doing a lot of strange riffs here and there to build the tension. The structure will be pretty much ABAB with long B-sections.
For People Without Imagination (Myself Included)
This song, I thought, could be a bit harsh and more expressive with cute melodies. No basic structures but rather some heavy riffs and cool organ sections. I wanna do one song with 7/8 feel and this is a perfect platform for that. I’m not really sure how long this song’s gonna take. The structure could be something like ABCA with long A section that’s reprised at the end, silent and moody B part and heavier and more expressive C part. Tempo will be around 120. Other than that I’m just gonna have to see what I come up with.
Loneliness with Style
Now this is something I changed my mind about. First the word “Loneliness” struck to me as another emo song but then (as I kept reading) that “with Style” made me smirk with that evil genius like passion. So I decided that this title has come to stay and that I’m gonna make it very upbeat and glamorous… The Ark way!
Standard AABA should work fine here. 192 BPM as tempo and a hard groove kicking the song forward will make Loneliness with Style an instant classic! Haha. I’m gonna write some cool melodies and tricky offbeat riffs for this song. I’m already excited!
Song of Life
This one I’ll make a fine pop tune with easy to follow chord progressions and catchy tunes. Maybe I’ll actually write this one an instrumental. I don’t have a lot to say about life and I think my feelings about it are best conveyed in music. What makes this song special? My viewpoint. I’ll try to make you smile, feel good and wanna listen to this song a one more time.
I came up with the song names for the project. About half of them were taken straight from the Song Name Creator I mentioned earlier but needless to say I had to click the button for a while. Others I either modified a bit or just invented myself.
The songs (in the order I selected them) are:
- Coming Back
- Super God
- Song of Life
- Yellow Moment
- Wild Imitations
- Drowning in Hope
- For People Without Imagination (Myself Included)
- Loneliness With Style
- Thoughts That Make You Cry
I can imagine that some of you are thinking to yourselves: “You come up with the name of the song BEFORE you compose it?” and even though I explained this a bit in the previous post I think a further clarification is in place here.
I happened to seek a bit of song writing tips with Google and run into this great site which offered a ton of useful procedures for writing great songs (thus the name).
Your SongWriting Can be Great (GreatSongWriting.com)
“You should ask yourself these questions. Why are you writing songs? Who are you writing for? Why are you unique? This all leads to who you are as a songwriter and why there is no one in this world like you.”
The first question here is the most important one for me. Why? Well, I love writing and playing music. I take melodies and tunes very seriously. What I don’t take seriously are the topics. I really don’t care about the world that much. Day by day it seems more and more like just a sandbox for me and all the issues of humanity as pointless as anything.
This is the reason I feel it’s highly productive to come up with the name of the song first. That way I can concentrate on the theme of the song and compose all the instruments complementing the general theme. If I start to write from a scratch I rarely come up with anything that special.
As you can see from the picture I also described the songs with a couple of adjectives. This makes it easier for me to dive into the mood of that song. Generally I want to make the songs upbeat and happy. I’ve depleted my silo of depressive thoughts and now it’s time for something different.
Oh, also my friend suggested that the name of the band should also be “Super God” which, as I thought of it, started to sound really good. So, if there isn’t a band going with that name already, DIBS!
Besides the band I occasionally like to compose and record some of my own pieces. I just so happened that we were about to release an update to our little game project Killing Engine (which we never actually did) and so I decided to record a couple of songs as a background music for the game.
The thing is that I had already written a ton of riffs for these tracks back in the summer but never finished them since the future of the game started to get bleaker. Well, I asked the programmer one last time to make a few tweaks to the game to just make it a little bit more appealing and he agreed! So as I got my hopes up once again (stupid me) I figured: “I’ll finish one or two of those songs for this release!”
I actually had about twenty basic riffs done for twenty different songs and three ones that had a more fleshed out wire frame model. I took one of those three and started to write drums and bass tracks with Guitar Pro. It’s really impossible for me to record actual live drums and I don’t own a bass guitar. Luckily Yellow Tools Independence hands out rather elegant sounds when you input a midi track through it.
I wrote the tracks in a day or so and got them laid down in Audacity which is my free editing software of choice. I just had to get my guitar pedal back from our band’s training facility which meant I had to wait a long time (six days). I was worried that I might lose my inspiration. NONSENSE!
The next week I got my fancy Zoom505 and started to lay down the guitar tracks. The weather outside was cold so my fingers were like fish sticks as I scribbled the first background riffs together. “Oh, man!” I thought. “How am I ever gonna play those lead lines with these?” I turned out to be easier than I had thought. I just let my worries go and played anything I wanted WITH those frozen fingers.
Finally, after recording two rhythm guitar tracks and one lead guitar track I started tweaking the amplitudes, compression and effects. I was pretty pleased with the end result and thought this track might actually work pretty well.
My mixing abilities aren’t anything to brag with so I just did a few tweaks and finished the track off with some mastering MAGIC! (Meaning: cut middle, boost bass and treble and also add compression looser than grandma’s nightgown.)
It was a fun project to say the least. By doing this stuff I’ve actually developed some skills to make the tracks sound not entirely horrible. Still, I think I’ll have a little break from my own songs for now and start practicing our band’s set list. Who knows — maybe we’ll actually get a gig some day in the future.