HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

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HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by tonyoci » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:39 pm

www.homemadehitshow.com for the show
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Today's fun filled home songwriting show features

* The return of the fantastic Songbook show
* Jarvis Cocker on writing songs with a cheap casio keyboard
* Dave Criddle on Compression
* The great song "Falling Slowly" from the great movie "Once"

The following songs were played

John Sotter - Alone
Harry Stout - Best Days of Our Lives - Harry wants your input
Screaming Angel - Life
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by Zoetrope » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:34 pm

John Sotter - Alone
Great song, I love the sound of the acoustic guitar. Very well recorded. Nice job.

* Jarvis Cocker on writing songs with a cheap casio keyboard
Who?
Yeah, I'm definitely a big fan of keyboards, especially cheap ones and ones that will endlessly do chords for you. Good stuff. I've got a Casio VL-Tone (with calculator) and a Casio SK-1. Good fun.

Harry Stout - Best Days of Our Lives - Harry wants your input
Nice one. I like the mellow vibe. Nice playing and singing. There's a little clicky high end in there (string noise) I'd EQ out a bit. Other than that sounds fine and dandy to me.

* The great song "Falling Slowly" from the great movie "Once"
Tony made me watch this movie and I'm glad he did. Really great flick for home recordists to watch. This song is one of the stronger ones in the film. Now that I think of it, my best advice to Harry Stout on his song is listen to this one (a better version than the one being played on HMHS, since it sounds like it got compressed or the MP3 is sucky) and steal ideas liberally. And those were cellos at the end, not violins.

* Dave Criddle on Compression
I'm really glad you compared the compressed to the uncompressed both solo'd and within a mix. It's very easy when mixing to get lost in perfecting a solo'd track and forgetting to listen to it within the overall mix. It's the mix that matters folks.
Great segment. Compression is probably the hardest thing for newbies to get a handle on. We all know what reverb is, but what the heck is compression. Nice job on this.

Screaming Angel - Life

A slightly confused/busy mix but the energy and enthusiasm saves the song. A fun one to end the show.

Another excellent episode of my favorite podcast!
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by The Cracks » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:40 pm

First off, guess what I found in the stack of books upstairs? My copy of the Roget's Thesaurus. :rock: It is now among my other song writing reference books that I don't refer to nearly enough. :?

John Sotter - Alone - I really love the fullness of this song. Really good singer-songwriter type of song. Great recording. Nice vocals throughout. Love that rich guitar and harmonica. I like the Bruce type "oh's". :^: This reminds me of Bruce during the Nebraska period, only better recorded.

:rofl: - Excuse me. No, please, after you. Oh Piss OFF! (I got "piss off" from Quadrophenia. Now me and my wife use it all the time.)

I really mean to keep my post on HMHS songs to "I like that," as it give me more time to listen. But I don't think I can do it this time around as I already posted a lengthy review above and I can't short the others.

I've never been big on the Dead. Oh, they are talented, no doubt, as stadium full of people could attest.

Jarvis Cocker is good. I was introduced to him by Tony. He's all over Youtube. Good interviews, etc. Oh, barely can play piano and guitar. He's right up my alley. Proceed, please...

That's why I like the fifths. They are neither major or minor. I'll look into sevenths.

Heck, it sounds like he nicked a recording from my files. :D My problem is that is where I'd leave it.

That's cool. I don't feel so alone now. If he could write "Common People" on his Casio, than I should be able to write "A Day In The Life" on my Yamaha. :D

"The simplier the song is the better" - I really like that interview. Dang...more, more!

Let them snigger. Heck, I've been thinking about taking mine to open mics and just press to play and sing my songs over it. I really might do it now.

Another thing that I've done is that I press the preset for a chord, say G, and then just let it loop and loop while I play my guitar over it. It gives me an idea of the beat and the key I'm in.

Harry Stout - Best Days of Our Lives - Sorry, Harry, I don't do nits. As I was telling Sungodv, whenever I decide to become a more critical reviewer and point out a nit or two, all the other more experienced musicians and recorders come along behind me and not only find no nits, but praise the song to the high Heavens, leaving me hanging out there like a sore thumb. :D No nits. No, never! Plus, I realized that I am on this forum more for the songwriting than the home recording part. The way I see it is that if you wrote the song you passed the grade in my book. I even give covers positive feedback. I know it won't help anyone "grow" as a musician or writer, but then again, I'm not a vitamin pill.

Ah, but I digress...

This is nice. I like the picking style guitar playing. That's how the dude in "Guitar Man" is learning to play (thus far in the book). I can't get that down. I'm sure I could, but I don't feel like practicing it. Refer to Jarvis and my above post. I just want to write songs with as little musicial interference as possible. :?

This song would be great for a class reunion. It's sad to me sometimes how I can sense life passing. I kick myself for not dating the girl that I loved or walking off the job that would have lead to a great career. But, oh well, no regrets here. And, besides, hopefully I'm only in the third quarter of the game (U.S. football reference). No time to look back too long.

Vocally, lyrically, melody, this is good. I'm going to replay as I typed over most of it. But, as I learned from this show, often time the lyrics stream past in the flow of the music. That happens often, and usually on the best songs.

This is a very sweet song. Good delivery. I like the lyrics. See notes above on how it makes me feel. Nice.

I find these time-line or story type lyrics the hardest to write.

I could never have written this song in a million years. Not musically, lyrically, vocally. Nice job. I really like it.

:clap:

I wouldn't put a full band treatment on that song. I'd leave it alone as is (apart from the tips now coming from Dave and Tony).

Harry, the lyrics worked fine. They escorted in all the memories you were trying to evoke.

I'll listen to pro song, but I usually have few comments.

Wow, this is a powerful song. Really beautiful.

I really love music, especially pop music. The best songs (like this one) really do stir up almost spiritual emotions in me.

It's funny, I got many of the lyrics on the first go round too.

The meaning of these type songs is often found more between the lines than in them, it seems to me. It's an art to capture that. They are my favorite kinds of songs. I'll be checking this dude out on Youtube after the show.

Dave, this is interesting, I must say. I thought I'd zone out on this. I know two things about compression and that is I use it on every song (presets, never my own settings) and without it my tracks hit that red zone. Carry on...

Hey,those are good lyrics, Dave. That's a good song. Did I miss that one posted? If not, than I'm sure I said I liked it, as I do.

I think your example might work better with just the vocals.

Thanks Dave.

Screaming Angel - Life - This really feels young. And that's cool. None of my songs sound young. You can tell I'm not young. But this is really fresh and honest. I like it. :rock: That ending really was nice.

Great show. Good God, I can't believe I typed so much tonight. I was really ready for this show. Now I'm heading to my Yamaha presets. Thanks Jarvis for the confirmation that it's okay. :agree:

Edit note: Here is a Jarvis Cocker interview. The first section touches on that "between the lines" thing I was talking about. To be able to capture those emotions that he is describing, without actually saying it outright, well, that is an art.

Oh, yea, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJyhUXlEGzA

Edit note 2: This song captures the "spiritual" quality of many great pop songs. If you were from another planet visiting here and making study of our religions, you'd have to say it was some kind of religious gathering:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWaHnlt2I3U

Pulp - Common People Live.

Note to self: Never go to the ground on stage. There is no graceful way up. :D

Edit note 3: I'm watching a Songbook episode on Youtube (Donovan). It just dawned on me that the interviewer is the same guy in Guitar Man and Song Man. :D (Two great books I was introduced to by the HMHS, by the way.)
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by criddlerus » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:24 am

Thanks for the comments guys! I am not sure how I screwed up the pro song "Falling Slowly" but I am pretty sure it was my fault. I didn't listen to the loud parts for quality and it obviously needed to be turned down a bit. I had it at 0db but I usually have to turn the pro songs down a bit. My bad. Of course, in the show I talk about not over compressing I accidentally over compress something. :oops:
Zoetrope wrote:Compression is probably the hardest thing for newbies to get a handle on. We all know what reverb is, but what the heck is compression. Nice job on this.
You should do another segment too! You do great stuff. More compression segments coming, but I spent far to long on that one. It takes time to figure out what to say, then I say it 5 different ways before I settle on one and move on. All that time takes away from my writing time. Maybe I will get faster at it as I do more. I probably won't do those every week. I did have fun doing it though. I re-learned some stuff myself.
The Cracks wrote: Hey,those are good lyrics, Dave. That's a good song. Did I miss that one posted? If not, than I'm sure I said I liked it, as I do.
They were from "What's the Plan Suzanne"... I think you liked it. :) Also glad you liked the Jarvis bit too.

Thanks for the comments guys!
Dave
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by minerman » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:28 am

Good show this week guys, I especially enoyed the section on compession. Those segments will keep me coming back, I need all the help I can get!! :) Count me in on next week's show as you continue the segments on limiters, reverb, comp, etc.!!!
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by ferret » Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:44 am

Great show. I enjoyed the Jarvis extract - Tony, what show is that from again, and do you know which channel it goes out on?
The songs were of the usual high standard. The pro song was well done, but I just hated it for some reason.
The compression piece drew stage yawns from Mrs. Ferret, which means that you pitched it at exactly the right level, Dave. That techo spot is useful and interesting, and I look forward to more.
The stand-out song for me was Harry Stout's. I really wouldn't change much on it, and in fact it sounds so professional that if I walked into the room while it was playing, I would assume that I was listening to John Mayer. It would be interesting to hear it done by a band, but it works so well unplugged, why bother? There is scope in the structure for a more oblique bridge (oblique in the sense of heading off at a strikingly different angle from the rest of the song), but the reflective nature of the song means that it stands up very well as it is. So on balance I would ignore what I have just written. (Generally good advice anyway.)
Cheers,
Tim
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by cacophonyx » Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:14 pm

A fine show, as always - congratulations, gentlemen.

That was an excellent interview with Jarvis Cocker and highlighted one very important thing to me - like Bob Dylan, he has such an intense, innate talent to create lyrics and melodies that fit together beautifully that it doesn't matter how he plays.

I enjoyed the three home-recorded songs, and the Harry Stout track; every time I listen to the show I am inspired to create - it means you guys are doing a great job :) Unfortunately, I'm not, because I still haven't made anything that nearly matches up to the criteria of a 'home made hit' :D

Nice work on the compression explanation, Dave, too - worked very well :)

Keep 'em coming, gents (whether Tony sings on 'em or not.. I'm not fussed!)
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by GeeJay » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:05 pm

This weeks highlights -

John Sotter - Very nice, the benefits of live performance are obvious here.

Jarvis Cocker - Now he's cool Dave, but he shouldn't be :shock: I love the fact he's such a limited musician - gives me encouragement. I like what he says about simple songs too. He definitely has a way with words - "now we're talkin'" :lol: The Casio/Yamaha thing - its the old musician vs songwriter thing again - you can be one without the other.

Harry Stout - proving that last week was no fluke. :clap: I agree that this doesn't need the full band treatment, but I would introduce some small variation towards the end. Its quite long for an acoustic song. Lyrics were definitely evocative Harry.

Pro song - Lyrics were good, the song didn't grab me though, maybe I wasn't in the right mood! I'll look out for the movie though.

Dave on compression - perfect length for the segment Dave. I struggle with compression - I understand the theory, its just that I can hardly ever hear the effect unless its really obvious. If the purpose is to reduce the peaks though and increase the average volume I guess thats not the point. Checking the effect in the context of the whole mix is a good point though.

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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by criddlerus » Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:30 pm

So, it sounds like I should do more tech tips then. :) Keeping them to 5 minutes is probably a really good limit for me.

cacophonyx - You should send something in! I found with songwriting I just needed to take that first step into the void. At least that is what I needed.

Thanks for more great comments and glad people are enjoying the show!

Dave
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by chckn8r » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:52 pm

criddlerus wrote:So, it sounds like I should do more tech tips then. :) Keeping them to 5 minutes is probably a really good limit for me.
Yeah, but stop stealing segment ideas dude!!! I seem to recall a couple other podcasts doing the compression thing a wee while back... ;) jk - always cool to hear how other folks use DAW/mixing/recording tools!

A great show - good thing I didn't rely on iTunes (finally seeded the Podcast last night) to get my fix this weekend!

John Sotter - very nice, well put-together tune. Kinda like an updated Dylan tune, but with a better singing voice. Loved the emotion and how all the instrumentation fitted in.

Forgot to mention that comment on the person dropping the podcast because of profanity and rap??? WT!@#$??? Good riddance!

Jarvis Cocker - never heard of him before you talked about him on the show. Interesting interview.

Yeah, I'm always a proponent of the fact that being a good musician should NOT be a pre-requisite to being a good songwriter/composer. It may help some people, but it also might box you in. I, personally, love the fact that technology is now coming to a point where non-musicians (or limited ability musicians) can create great sounding works - leveling the playing field and breaking down the barriers that have gone up in the last century between the music-makers and the music-consumers.

Harry Stout - fantastic song - melody and chords were just bang on! I'd experiment with the band / arrangement treatment to the tune, but after hearing it, I don't know if you'd enhance or detract from the magic. It'd be interesting to dive into that project. I'll have to listen again as I kinda tuned out of the song for a moment ... don't know if it was the fact that my son was trying to show me a cannon ball in the middle of swimming lessons or that there was something missing - the only comment I'd throw out is that I thought it needed a bridge or something to throw a curve ball at the listener... I may be talking out the top of my hat, I'll listen again and try to give a bit more insight...

Pro song - nice performances there - liked it.

Compression - squish, squash, blah, blah, blah ... :) Nah, loved how you demonstrated the vox in the mix. Compression is one of those tools (I don't really see it as an "effect" as it doesn't really add anything new to the signal) that is hard to understand how it affects sound unless it's in relation to something else. Nicely done!

Screaming Angel - this was fantastic! I got a huge smile on my face when I heard this! It definitely sounded like you had a wild time putting this together. I loved the distorted madness and vocal shredding - very cool!

Cheers you guys! Thanks again for the help on the Gang Vox!

Dave
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by Frozenman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:08 am

Greetings all..... Sorry for the delayed response to the show...Actually, and old friend who regularly frequented a few of the open mics I attend passed away unexpectedly last week which left all of us at a bit of a loss. When things like that happen it kind of makes you take stock of your own life.. Anyway, thank you guys for another great show..I don't consider myself to be experienced enough to criticize or offer suggestion just yet...actually I consider it an honor to be played along side these other great songs.. so I will just offer my compliments to all the great song writers. I truly enjoyed each and every song...I'm not a big heavy metal fan, but I did enjoy the the Screaming Angel tune... using the piano was pretty cool and interesting.

Thanks for the comments on my song "The Best Days of My Life" as well.. I wanted to do something totally opposite of my first submission and have more attention given to my actual song writing ability.... I was aware that there were a few sound issues with it...I discovered that it's actually harder (at least for me anyway) to record just an acoustic guitar and vocal than it is to do an entire band track...seems a bit easier to "bury" a little of the noise with more stuff going on - lol...I know that's totally wrong but it does seem that way.. The second thing I learned was not to let your "recording engineer" buddy show up with a six-pack and "show you how it's done"... Dave Criddle was spot on when he signaled a problem with over compression and using a touch of vocal correction in a few spots...I recorded the tune again this past weekend taking Tony's suggestion to improve (increase) my input gain for the guitar and vocal..using Dave's suggestion by backing way off on the compression and ditching the vocal correction...and not answering the phone this time when my buddy called.. Guess what?.... a 100 percent improvement!!

Even with that lesson learned I'm sure it will be a while before I send a new song in...I plan on taking my time to put all the thought and process necessary into making the next one better than my last. Meanwhile I will again, as always, look forward to the next show and all the great music.. As for tonight, I will return to the open mic scene to play music with my friends once again..and "raise a few" for our fallen comrade... I think he would have wanted it that way :)

Take care all:)

Harry
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by criddlerus » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:39 am

Frozenman wrote:.I discovered that it's actually harder (at least for me anyway) to record just an acoustic guitar and vocal than it is to do an entire band track...seems a bit easier to "bury" a little of the noise with more stuff going on - lol
Absotutely! Everything is under the microscope with acoustic recordings. Clean and natural is usually the rule and that air conditioner running in the background can kill things. Sometimes that is hard for the home recordist but just do the best you can.
Frozenman wrote:backing way off on the compression and ditching the vocal correction...and not answering the phone this time when my buddy called.. Guess what?.... a 100 percent improvement!!
What you submitted was a nice recording, don't get me wrong. A little compression is called for but it was just a tad too far. Finding that balance can be one of the hardest things. Making that balance of enough compression, eq, reverb, etc, is one of the hardest things to do. Glad you ditched the vocal correction. I hate that stuff! Let your freak flag fly!
Frozenman wrote:Even with that lesson learned I'm sure it will be a while before I send a new song in...I plan on taking my time to put all the thought and process necessary into making the next one better than my last.
Don't let that hog tie you. Always being better than your last recording can be a tall order. You've gotta keep making recordings, imho... Some will be good and some not so good.

Thanks for the post Harry!

Dave
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by criddlerus » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:49 am

chckn8r wrote:Yeah, but stop stealing segment ideas dude!!! I seem to recall a couple other podcasts doing the compression thing a wee while back... ;) jk
Hmmm, let's refer WAAAAY back to HRO 22 when I covered compression. Or HRO 26, or 32. I was podcasting about compression before you were born, whippersnapper! LOL :) 8) :lol:
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by Zoetrope » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:49 pm

criddlerus wrote: Always being better than your last recording can be a tall order. You've gotta keep making recordings, imho... Some will be good and some not so good.
I want to toss my couple of cents in on that thought. The more mixes you do, the better they will get, over time. But sometimes it's a bit of a roller coaster ride. Some mixes just fall into place, some will have you tearing your hair out. Don't expect every mix to improve on the last, just set the goal of learning from each mix as you go along. The rest takes care of itself. ;)
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by GeeJay » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:37 pm

Zoetrope wrote: I want to toss my couple of cents in on that thought. The more mixes you do, the better they will get, over time. But sometimes it's a bit of a roller coaster ride. Some mixes just fall into place, some will have you tearing your hair out. Don't expect every mix to improve on the last, just set the goal of learning from each mix as you go along. The rest takes care of itself.
criddlerus wrote:Don't let that hog tie you. Always being better than your last recording can be a tall order. You've gotta keep making recordings, imho... Some will be good and some not so good.
You guys struck a chord with me - thanks for the inspiration :bow:

Gary.
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by Dave King » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:14 pm

Here's all you need: http://keyboards-midi.musiciansfriend.c ... D&ZYXSEM=0

And it's ON SALE!

:!:
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Re: HMHS 152 - Writing Songs on Your Casio Keyboard (3/13/09)

Post by joepop » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:21 pm

I let so much time go by since first listening to the show that I listened to it a second time at work today (and took notes). The tune by John Sotter is close to pro studio quality, especially in the acoustic guitars. They sound like they are right in the room with you. Great song too. I like the two guitars in stereo each playing something different but complimenting each other. Exactly what I would have done.
---On guitar songs vs piano (or casio) songs. I purposely write some songs on piano, some on acoustic guitar and some on electric and they all come out differently. Using a casio to provide a backup band when you write is great for writing upbeat, rock and roll things. It does help simplify. When you are just writing on a guitar or piano you throw too much out there because you feel like you need to fill in. With the casio (or in my case, my Ensonic VFX) you have that whole rhythm section so you can have a fairly basic structure that sounds great.
---The song by Harry Stout was great and reminded me of some of the best 70's California rock. More good acoustic guitar here. This is a good example of why I say acoustic guitar songs are different than electric guitar songs. Acoustic players almost never play a straight chord. You always end up playing around with all kinds of open string variations on a single chord. Again, well recorded guitars. I liked the lyrics very much, especially the line "Toys lay scattered on the floor, but I don't own them anymore". I hear the need for some cool backing vocals in there (aaaahhhs) but I wouldn't over produce this. I think it works well as an acoustic number without the drums.
---Pro song- I made my wife sit through this movie because I had read a good review for it. She didn't appreciate it as much as I. I think it's a songwriters movie. Even though this song was repeated numerous times in the movie I didn't tire of it. A very powerful song. His vocal performance and the beautiful orchestration really make the song for me. I like the sound of the piano too. That's what acoustic piano is supposed to sound like. It is only since everyone started using digital pianos that they got all bright and jangly. The Beatles had the best piano on their records and it was always meaty sounding.
---Screaming Angel- This actually grew on me. When it first started I heard na na na na Batman! I love how parts of this are sung like The Buzzcocks and then he switches over into a Henry Rollins style.
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