Every Love Song Is About You
Every Love Song, Original Music

Every Love Song Is About You — Part VII

This article is part of a series about my songwriting process in writing a song called “Every Love Song.” Read the whole series here.

Every Love Song Screen CapOK, I’m starting to get the idea that I can get this song done before Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’ll get the chance to play it for her then — that would be a dream come true.

With that in mind, I sat down to get it done. I started out by adding the rest of the background vocals and touching up vocals I’d already thought were finished. In going over the song in my head, I came up with some slightly different lyrics (just a word or two here and there) that I felt flowed better and got the meaning of the song across better. Of course, that meant I had to re-record.

That took me about three hours. Much of the time was figuring out what notes I wanted to sing and in experimenting with different ways of singing them.

Then, I spent about 6 hours working on the arrangement. That takes me to 27. I worked more on the drum parts, adding fills, changing the drums on the pre-chorus to give the song some more dynamics and punching the drums up, in general.

Changing The Arrangement

The changes in the arrangement required me to redo a few guitar parts here and there, as well as some of the bass. Mostly, it was because I added builds leading into different parts. If the drums are going thump, thump, THUMP, so should the guitars and bass.

If you’ll notice, the breakdown part is different now too. I drop out everything except vocals and one guitar. Then I add drums, then bass, then guitars and harmony vocals. I also finalized the ending (had to record a couple of quick parts there).

Anyway, all that takes time. To tell you the truth, it was a challenge emotionally. Kristin and I haven’t been on the same page about our relationship (or lack of one) and it’s been getting to me. It’s been hard to concentrate on a love song from that emotional turmoil. Two thoughts helped me power through. One was, if it doesn’t work out between us, I’d still like her to have this song as a tribute to how I feel about her. The second thought was that I liked the song. I wanted to get it finished. I could put on my producer hat and love the music and the lyric, no matter how difficult the subject of the song was.

Even though I made a lot of changes late in the game on this song, everything went reasonably well. A lot of the time I spent was on trying out different ideas and finding the ones that worked best.

I think the changes I made late (especially the small changes in the lyrics), really made a difference for me. It’s important to me to get across the idea I wanted to get across. ‘Every Love Song’ is not a song about fictional characters — it’s real to me. And it’s a direct communication from me to Kristin. It’s important to me to get it as right as I can. I love her and want to make sure she knows it!

Mixing

Once all of the parts were finished, it was time to mix. Mixing is the process of blending the sounds together, adding effects, panning instruments to the left or right speakers and doing a bunch of technical stuff. In the mixing stage, I decided to drop one of the guitar parts altogether. I liked the song more when it was stripped down to extremely basic parts. It’s a simple song getting across a simple emotion — love. The mixing process was about 4 hours, which takes me to 31 hours.

I also spent a few hours listening to the song at various time during the recording process. That brings it up to about 34 hours. With two hours to make the video, that’s 36. Here it is!

That’s the song, but the story is not over yet. I did get a chance to play the song for Kristin on Valentine’s Day. Her reaction, next time.

Keith

 

 

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Every Love Song, Original Music

Every Love Song Is About You — Part VI

This article is part of a series about my songwriting process in writing a song called “Every Love Song.”
micYesterday (February 6th), I spent about 5 hours doing lead and backup vocals and lyrics.

It generally takes me about 4 hours to do a lead vocal. That gives me time to work my way through every line and get it stylistically the way I want it. Then I go through and get the singing performance as good as I can. I usually go through one big section at a time (a verse, for instance) until I get it close and then zero in on each individual line (sometimes even focusing on just part of a line).

Often, the next day I come back and find additional things I can improve.

In this case, I was re-working the lyrics too as well as figuring out background vocals. I’ve been thinking the harmonies in the pre-chorus (the part that goes, “Can’t you see… Every line of poetry…”) should be lower than the lead vocal. Then when I hit the chorus, the harmony (or harmonies) could go up above the lead vocal. That would give the chorus some additional oomph. We’ll see how that works out next time.

I’ll listen over the next couple of days and see what I think about what I’ve done with the vocals. Here’s the current version.

Every Love Song Lead Vocal

Enjoy,
Keith

PS: Pretty rad space mural, don’t you think?

PPS: I’m 18 hours into the song now.

This article is part of a series about my songwriting process in writing a song called “Every Love Song.” Read the whole series here.

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Every Love Song, Original Music

Every Love Song Is About You — Part V

This article is part of a series about my songwriting process in writing a song called “Every Love Song.” Read the whole series here.

1/25/15 & 1/26/15

GuitarSo, last night, I spent about 3 hours working on guitar and drum parts, as well as the arrangement, in general. I continued for another 2 hours this morning.

The Arrangement

A song that doesn’t change is boring. It’s good to put soft parts, loud parts and change sounds through the song to add interesting things to listen to. At the same time, you’re establishing themes that people become familiar with as the song progresses. It’s a combination of making the song familiar enough to where there’s something people can hum along to and interesting enough to keep them listening.

So, I took stock of the song and started arranging a bit more to those ends.

In the most recent version of the song, I already had what I call a ‘breakdown’ of the song. The instruments drop out except for one soft guitar and voice. I decided to extend that part to make it more dramatic.

I also changed/added drum and guitar parts.

The Drums

I had started with just one beat going throughout the song. So, I separated the song into its parts (verse, chorus, break etc.) and altered the beat for each of those. Typically, I changed the kick drum pattern to more fully match the bass and guitar rhythms. Also, I changed up the cymbal action — switching from hi-hat cymbal to ride cymbal in some parts and changing the hi-hat pattern for other parts.

Then I added drum fills and cymbal crashes to add punch.

The idea is to highlight the changes in the song, emphasize various rhythms that are going on and keep the song interesting.

The Guitars

I experimented with various guitar parts — recording a few that I later decided didn’t work, as well as some keepers. The changes in the drums also called for some changes in the guitar, so I re-recorded small sections of the guitars to better match the drums. For example, there are a couple of drum builds in the song and I wanted the guitars to build in the same way.

The Results

Experimenting with the arrangement, changing up the drums and adding/re-doing guitar parts took me about 5 hours, getting me to 18 hours total at this point. Here’s how it currently sounds…


Every Love Song Arrangement

What’s Next?

Much of the rest of the arrangement changes will be in the backup vocals . I have a lot of ideas but I haven’t recorded them and tried them out yet. In my mind, the chorus needs to be differentiated more from the rest of the song. I hope to do that with backup vocals. The lyrics have changed but I haven’t had time to update the vocals yet. I’ll probably wait until I’m ready to cut the vocal track for realz.

Also, that breakdown section isn’t where I want it to be yet. That may take some experimentation.

Keith

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Every Love Song, Original Music

Every Love Song Is About You — Part IV

This article is part of a series about my songwriting process in writing a song called “Every Love Song.” Part I is here.

01/19/2015

Today, I worked about 5 hours on the lyrics. I threw out almost everything I’d had earlier except the chorus but kept many of the ideas. Having the song more arranged and tangible changed the way the lyrics flowed.

I started out by listening to the guitar parts I’d done yesterday. I listened, over and over. I turned off my critical brain and just sang along with whatever words came to mind. Most of it was silly but every once in a while, I got a line I liked. When I did, I would write it down and see if I could work another line next to it. Occasionally I’d look down at my lyric sheet and draw ideas from the earlier lyrics I’d written.

A Change Of Scenery

Silver Cup CoffeeWhen I got as far as I could (the ideas were no longer flowing), I changed venues. I went down to Silver Cup Coffee with my lyric notebook in hand, grabbed a cup of cinnamon tea and went to work. I worked with both the ideas I’m come up with earlier in the day and the ideas from the days preceding.

Sometimes, I’d plug my ears so I could hear the melody and rhythm of the song over the music playing at the coffee shop.

Again, I worked it until it felt like is wasn’t productive any more and changed venues. Back to the apartment.

To The Bat Cave!

At the apartment, I decide to slap a quick lead vocal track down to see where I was. I plugged a mic in and hit record. I only re-recorded when I forgot a lyric or a melody. The object here was to get the current shape of the vocal down and listen to it in relation to the music — not to get a perfect vocal track.

The result is what you call a”scratch vocal.” It’s enough to tell how the song is supposed to go.

FYI, I didn’t even warm up my voice; it’s pretty raw. This kind of track is not usually released for public consumption, but here it is…

Every Love Song Scratch Vocals

What’s Next?

I listened through it a few times and found a few things I’d like to change lyrically. That’s for next time. At every step of the songwriting/recording process I find things I like and things I want to change. It’s a continuous molding of the song until you get something you’re happy (or happy enough) with. It could go on forever.

I’m starting to hear where the arrangement/production can be sweetened too, Can’t wait.

Keith

PS: I’m up to 8 sheets of paper on these lyrics and 12 1/2 hours into the song. Again, I feel pretty good about where I am, especially for the brief amount of time spent so far.

PPS: OK, I spent about another 1/2 hour singing along and getting ideas for harmony parts. 13 hours, so far. This part of the process involves a lot of creative juices and it’s fun!

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Every Love Song, Original Music

Every Love Song Is About You — Part III

This article is part of a series about my songwriting process in writing a song called “Every Love Song.” See Part I and Part II here.

GRT-Bass-Drums-smAfter relishing the Seahawk victory, having dinner with my son, working out, doing some work and other everyday stuff, I headed back over to the computer to pick up where I left off.

I did some more work on the arrangement but mostly, it was guitar night.

I added a bunch of guitar parts — a main rhythm part, a double to that part (with a different sound) for the chorus (you like the choruses to be a little fatter), a separate guitar for the pre-choruses and a different, arpeggio guitar for the break. Oh, and I almost forgot. I added some guitars just for the last repeats of the chorus.

Adding Some Juice

I decided the song needed a little variation added to it so I broke the chorus down to just drums and the new, arpeggio guitar. Then I built it back up, adding bass (with a build bass part) and the regular chorus guitars. Here’s the result. It’s guitar, bass and drums so far, none of them are finished and the sounds are just approximations.

Every Love Song: Drums-Bass-GTR

The guitars went quite quickly. It was easy to double parts once I had the originals down and a few parts were completed in just one or two takes. I worked until 1:15 am, taking about 4 hours. Tomorrow is MLK day so thankfully I don’t have to get up at 6:30 to drive my son to school. I’m 7 1/2 hours into the song now.

Keith

 

 

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