Honesty or Encouragement?

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Would you rather have honest criticism or optimistic encouragement?

Honesty
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Encouragement
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ianmackay
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Honesty or Encouragement?

Post by ianmackay » Wed May 24, 2006 6:06 pm

So, just a quick question for you all...

I've been listening to several tracks done by other people in this forum, and the good thing is there's a wide range of styles of music coming out...

But

I consider myself to have a wide and eclectic musical taste - from Hard Techno to Trad Jazz, Metal to gabba, I've heard it all, and I can quite honestly say that if something has talent, even if that talent is totally raw and badly recorded, then I enjoy listening to it.


Now like I've said, I've listened to a load of stuff on these boards, and much is good, but some should perhaps have been left on the cutting room floor...

At present everyone is so nice about everyone's stuff that I feel awkward about critiquing stuff that I think doesn't have that spark of potential about it...If it has a spark then that's fine, but some... Don't. Come on, most of you must have felt this at some point when you've listened to a posted link!


Now my question is:

Those of you who post songs for scrutiny, would you rather have honest but perhaps harsh criticism of your works to enable you to try and improve, and maybe make something that people would recommend to others

or

Would you rather have friendly words of encouragement, as it's just a hobby and fun to get people to hear what you do?


Remember this does not relate to how well the song has been mixed by the skilled use of our dear Zoom friends, only the Quality of performance and creativity of the composers..


Personally, I spend so much time listening to what I'm doing I think somethimes I can lose my objectivity about it, get really excited and demo it for someone, who then turns around and says... "What the *** was that? Did you record some cats fighting?"

So I would rather people be harsh about my talent, or lack of. Of course, whether you like the piece is a personal matter, but you should still be objective in whether it's talented or not.

In my opinion this makes honest complimentary posts much more valuable to the artist.

But perhaps people just like an ego boost every now and again, and there's nothing wrong with that either...

Anyway... Discuss!

Ian
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Post by tonyoci » Wed May 24, 2006 6:30 pm

Well I'm the one who's always accussed of being harsh - even when I'm being nice.

I've said this many times before - I think you need to consider the goals of the person posting the song - which are not always clear - Myself for example I am doing this as a hobby/stress release. I'm interested in suggestions on how to improve things, but "this song is just bad" probably won't help me. I've only been playing 2 years, Cracks only just started recording so there's all kinds of different folks here.

On the other end of the argumen Matbio has complained that he WANTS harsher critiques and considered no longer posting his music so you can do what you want with him.

Personally I would say that I have not heard a SINGLE posted song that didn't have something, whether I liked it or not. Some people have posted first attempts, some have posted crappy songs and said it (me) but to me all original songs have something.

I already said it above but there's no point in being "harsh" without offering advice. "This song showed no originality" is not a useful critique, "this song would be better if you used a minor chord after the chorus" is a lot more useful. I also tend to think singing is out of bounds for bashing unless you know someone has done better.

In the end I think this is a friendly, encouraging forum and the general consensus is that if something is totally crap then just don't say anything rather than being mean.

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Post by ianmackay » Wed May 24, 2006 6:44 pm

Of course I agree there's no point going around just being harsh to people without backing it up or offering advice... and I totally agree that different people have different goals... that's part of why I posted this thread, so people can explicitly say which way they would prefer people to critique them...

"I'm a big boy... I can take it!"



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Post by Rick Jones » Wed May 24, 2006 7:21 pm

I tend to look for coments that tell me if my songs are creative or not. Recording techniques are secondary, but I've improved over time.

I'd rather be encouraging, but lately, I've tried to point out things that could be tweaked.
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Post by Howard » Wed May 24, 2006 7:38 pm

Ian,

I voted for honesty. I am my own worst critic, but I really want to know if something sucks.

That said, I think one can be honest without being degrading or flaming. For example, one could say: "The best part of the song was the guitar, but I think the vocals need to be redone." Or: "If you made the guitar sound as good as the drums, you'd have a winner." In other words, it always helps to point out a positive aspect of a recording in addition to the negative.

It's a good question, and I'm glad you brought it up. Most posters will do what they will anyway.

Howard
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Post by Riffmaster » Wed May 24, 2006 7:46 pm

I would have to say honest encouragement. Lots of things to factor in when reviewing.
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Post by Jeffster » Wed May 24, 2006 8:28 pm

My 2 cents is that the song critique part developed after the original concept on help with recording on the Zoom. I think as such their was intially a "kid gloves" type of attitude towards the songwriting and performance at first, with more empahasis on helping improve the recording technique. Of course, they go hand and hand. As one strives to improve recordings, one usually strives to improve performance. That said, I'd go for honesty, but echo Tony's sentiment that the criticism is best with some constructive examples. Sometimes a swift kick in the butt will help, but in this situation, without really knowing the person well enough to be sure, I think it's better to err on the side of kind encouragement. I got one comment from a person one time that my guitar playing was terrible in a certain recording. It was a shock to me, but it had a profound affect on making me work harder on technique, especially when recording. Of course, the psychological scar left by the remark has not quite healed... :lol:
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Re: Honesty or Encouragement?

Post by Lee » Thu May 25, 2006 12:12 am

Ian,

A good and timely question that I have strong feelings about. I'll echo much of what was said but only with a different tone. It may seem at times paradoxical, but I see the need for both and no simple approach will suffice. People are far too complicated than to go with an either/or kind of approach. Emotions are complicated and blur reality. If your objective is to communicate then there's a need to temper both approaches to acheive a desired result.

I'll be blunt, but I'm not being mean... (try to trust me)
ianmackay wrote:I consider myself to have a wide and eclectic musical taste - from Hard Techno to Trad Jazz, Metal to gabba, I've heard it all...
"It all?" Not possible and I'm sure I've heard much more. Even so, how does being one who listens qualify as one who can discern (talent and/or potential)? Not trying to argue. Just pointing out that it's a faulty premise.
...and I can quite honestly say that if something has talent, even if that talent is totally raw and badly recorded, then I enjoy listening to it
Qualify what you mean by talent. People have talent, not a "something". I like the spirit of the statement though and hope to be/do the same.
Now like I've said, I've listened to a load of stuff on these boards, and much is good, but some should perhaps have been left on the cutting room floor...
In your opinion. This is all subjective.
At present everyone is so nice about everyone's stuff that I feel awkward about critiquing stuff that I think doesn't have that spark of potential about it...
Sparks are really quite small, and don't forget that we're all at different places and on different levels. My spark might be another man's flame and vice-versa.
If it has a spark then that's fine, but some... Don't. Come on, most of you must have felt this at some point when you've listened to a posted link!
Only a very small number and it often had more to do with my own mood. It's subjective. How dare I insist that something be discarded when I very well might be wrong? Friendly suggestions and even a little humor can help... or hurt depending. I'm afraid of giving bad advice. Aren't you? I wouldn't be so confident that I'm right about something sooooo.... the O word again.
Those of you who post songs for scrutiny, would you rather have honest but perhaps harsh criticism of your works to enable you to try and improve, and maybe make something that people would recommend to others
Both. You need to prove that you're worth listening to (as far as your criticism). Posting one really cool but badly recorded song and blaming timing issues on your computer doesn't cut it in my book (that was a little harsh :lol:) and being a great listener doesn't work either (as I tried to point out). Strive for both. Build the trust up and then you can be a total jerk like Simon or as I'm being right now. :lol: ...if you're proven to be worth listening to (for advice). Heck, Tony hates all my songs and yet I can trust his advice. :lol:
Would you rather have friendly words of encouragement, as it's just a hobby and fun to get people to hear what you do?
Both, and for me it's more than a "hobby" so don't assume that. Maybe I'm just better at pretending than the others (aka: lying to oneself).
Remember this does not relate to how well the song has been mixed by the skilled use of our dear Zoom friends, only the Quality of performance and creativity of the composers..
Quality? Creativity? You're going to tell me what that means or how I should do that? On what merit? Do you like Van Halen? Do you know what I'm trying to do? Do you like Ronnie Van Zandt?
Personally, I spend so much time listening to what I'm doing I think somethimes I can lose my objectivity about it, get really excited and demo it for someone, who then turns around and says... "What the *** was that? Did you record some cats fighting?"
That's normal (the lost objectivity part, not the cats). Aren't you your own harshest critic and biggest fan? Music is structured noise and the structure is defined by many forces but "good" isn't actually one of them. Then again, old Van Halen is good. See my point? It's totally subjective. You trust your friends, right? Why?
So I would rather people be harsh about my talent, or lack of. Of course, whether you like the piece is a personal matter, but you should still be objective in whether it's talented or not.
People who have talent can take a piece with zero "potential" and make it something magical. Believe in the magic stuff and try to believe it for other people. It might not make sense but it seems to work. I have always believed that anyone can make music regardless of any kind of "gift" or not. If you want to, you can. People telling you that you suck before you even get started isn't going to make most people want to continue. Believing is important.
In my opinion this makes honest complimentary posts much more valuable to the artist.
True, but again. It's got to be from trusted folks.
But perhaps people just like an ego boost every now and again, and there's nothing wrong with that either...
True again.

Ian, I hope you don't mind the way I responded. If anything I just would hope you could see that it is a sensitive issue. People post what they esteem as treasured pearls and we don't want to crap on them, you know? On the other hand, if you know the person and you think you could help, help them. However, I wouldn't count discarding the song as a good option, but I might be wrong. There was this one song that Cracks posted that even got Rick to tell him so. I'm so glad he posted it though and he's outdone himself since. See my point... a little? Hopefully.

Keep rockin' man. I honestly do like your voice and do think your song has potential, but that timing thing needs to be fixed.
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Post by Tonto2 » Thu May 25, 2006 1:28 am

Ian...

This is a nice topic for debate. And... in most any valid debate you'll discover a wide range of opinion. From what I've read here so far... it would seen that you've sparked a "vaild debate filled with valid discussion".

As for my vote... hummm I'd say there needs to be at least one other choice (and probably others as well) and that would be something like... (here goes...) Honest Encouragement

Folks might suggest that I've taken the "fence-sitters way out", but actually I've taken a strong position based upon the experiences that my 8 year old daughter and I have had here.

We've only been members a short time, but during that time we got a lot of encouragement from a cross-section of folks who seemed to be truly interested in our efforts to learn what was for this father/daughter team.... some tough stuff enroute to finally discovering how to do our 1st musical experiment.

Now... I will tell you that there probably were some who thought this was not the place for us, however since they likely tempered their "honesty" to our situation... we decided to jump into this as a fun hobby (with aspirations for improvement).

After a slow, tough learning curve... we finally completed our experiment and somehow (it' all a blurr now) posted the musical creation on SoundClick for others to listen to and comment on.

I was Ok about posting for others, because for me our 1st level of success had been won... simply based on how far we had progressed. BUT... for my daughter.... it was a whole different thing. She was worried, mostly for me... but also for what people had the power to say about us and what we had done.

Honestly... the whole project could probably have been scored at a 1 on a scale of 10 (and that is being very generous)!

But on the basis of Encouraging attempt/progress... maybe we deserved a 9.5 or higher, because we really worked hard and never quit... even when we thought we probably should have!

On an Honest/Encouragement scale we might have scored a 3.5 (+ or -).
Now for the two of us... a true 3.5 would have been a fantastic achievement and we would have been all smiles because less than two weeks earlier.... we were nothing more than a Zero hoping to discover what was possible with our complicated PS-04.

Sometimes raw honesty without encouragement can be brutal and adventure ending. No mater what stage of the adventure we find ourselves on... it can turn off the creative fires that make us humans push onward to bigger and better things.

Since most folks (actually all folks) reviewed us positively/ individually based on who and where we were in our development.... my 8 year old is now doing more, better and faster than I could have ever imagined.

So for what it's worth... there's my opinion on this thread!
_____________________________________________________________
Thanks for the insightful thread, Ian. I know that (based on your review of our musical creation) that your heart and mind are in the right place. But don't be afraid to tweak that forethought a bit before you start your next thread! I do dumb things like that, myself, all of the time! :wink:
_____________________________________________________________

So, how'd I do on that review? Warm fuzzy encouragement or cold, exacting honesty? Could you feel the Honest/Encouragement? I hope so, because it was very much intended. I am also very glad to have you with us here at this forum. And please know that just communicating via text-words can be very daunting. Most people here do a great job of that but sometimes the wrong message is easily conveyed and/or misunderstood.

Keep posting, Ian.

Well, as usual... I've probably said more than enough!

:) <===Man, oh man... it's way past my bedtime..... again!!!
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Post by Rick Jones » Thu May 25, 2006 2:10 am

No one ever got anywhere without encouragement. Your song stands at a 10 due to all reasons you stated.
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Post by Lee » Thu May 25, 2006 2:21 am

Yeah, and then we'll have to bust out the "Carey scale" again. I prefer to use the "Tony scale". Remember that thread?

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Post by ianmackay » Thu May 25, 2006 3:43 am

Lee,
Even so, how does being one who listens qualify as one who can discern (talent and/or potential)? Not trying to argue. Just pointing out that it's a faulty premise.
I don't think it is - what about talent scouts who find future sports stars or the next great band - they haven't necessarily been there and done it themselves, but they need the ability to choose well and see potential.

Have you ever heard of John Peel? Probably the greatest radio DJ who ever lived - sadly now passed away. However, over the many years of his career he amassed one of the biggest and most diverse record collections in the world and played random compilations on Radio 1 late at night. He played some amazing stuff from unsigned bands (Ever heard of the Sex Pistols? He was pretty much soley responsible for their rise to fame and the birth of British Punk) and I was permenantly amazed by the stuff he chose to play - all of it was amazing, and this eclectic approach was listened to by millions.

That's really what I'm getting at - if he'd stuck in a crappy song midway through his set, thousands of his listeners would have wondered what he was doing, because in my opinion people CAN discern.

(EDIT) Hmm - just thoughtabout this, and a LOT of people also buy really rubbish stuff - like the Tellytubbies themetune... maybe I should take this back! - But hell, we're Musicians on this board.. not pawns of the global marketing leviathon and should have some respect for music! (/EDIT)

I think that it's important to state before they post their songs what stage they're at, and be critiqued accordingly...


"I threw this together at 3am last night, I know it needs work but waddaya think"

"I'm just starting out and this is a project to learn how to layer my music a bit better"

"I've made 150 songs and been gigging for 50 years and this is my latest tune, in a bit of a different style to some other stuff I've posted; let me know what you think"

I've made up the comments above, but it should be obvious that they should all be treated differently... and if someone says "Let me know what you think" then shouldn't we let them know what we think? As you say musical taste is subjective, and they're asking to hear our subjectivity.

Please don't think I'm saying be negative, I'm saying constructive criticism is needed...

anyway, I agree that typing stuff out can many times be misinterpreted - I'm not trying to be obtuse, but what I am saying is that when I release a "Finished" demo, I'd like people to critique it properly.. If they say it needs work, and I can see what they mean, it'll push me, as Jeff said, to do better. I'd only want someone to say "Great stuff" if they have downloaded it and added it to their collection - know what I mean?!

Ian

PS. I know I'm only new to these boards, but this question wasn't meant as "What should I do?" it was more a question for everyone to think about - particularly those who are respected on these boards for their musical ability - what you say impacts on people more than someone no-one's ever heard of before giving advice!
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Post by ianmackay » Thu May 25, 2006 4:10 am

PPS

Don't think I reviewed your musical creation Tonto2 - as I can't really give advice about recording tecniques - being a total rookie myself!

Ian
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Post by Lee » Thu May 25, 2006 8:01 am

Ian,

You made several valid points and should be commended for bringing the whole thing up. The only other thing I could add is that punk didn't go over very big here in terms of mass acceptance, etc. and some consider it to be the antithesis of music. In other words, you might find more people here or in other places in the world that might think Mr. Peel is responsible for nothing but introducing the world to more rubbish.

Don't worry, I don't agree with that view but I'm just making the point. I'm also very aware that the same is true regarding Van Halen, Elton John, or whoever else I like.

We're on the same page man. Especially regarding the need to understand who is wanting/needing a certain kind of feedback and all.
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Post by Omegaman » Thu May 25, 2006 8:02 am

I stared to read thru this thread but got bored.* ;-)

To me it comes down to 2 words, Constructive Criticism. :D



* it became repetitive, we needed a chord change in there. :-)
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Post by Lee » Thu May 25, 2006 8:50 am

Omegaman wrote:I stared to read thru this thread but got bored.* ;-)
* it became repetitive, we needed a chord change in there. :-)
It's that blasted looping again Bill! :x
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Post by Unstablxxx » Thu May 25, 2006 9:22 am

There are a lot of valid points in this thread, but I think the most germaine is "why was it recorded?"

Everyone here has vastly differing goals... from the novice just trying to capture ideas to the near-professional trying to create art. Either way (art or ideas) rating and critique become subjective based on the goal.

Recently, in Tony's show thread, I found myself having to justify a comment that I made regarding someone's ego. It was a torturous exercise: trying to get my (valid IMO) point across without insulting. But, this person is a professional musician and my response was based on trying to honestly help advance her career.

Then there is the polar opposite... people who, in their enthusiasm, post their beginner efforts. These songs/productions are to be gently guided along, being critical of things that are completely 'out of whack' but encouraging that it can and will get better.

And, of course, every stage between. It's truly a tough call, but I think everyone here is already trying to balance their critiques with compassion.

Being an insecure artist, though, makes me believe that Ian was talking about me when he wrote 'some of it should be left on the cutting room floor'. Of course, it was me he was talking about... it couldn't have been anyone else... now what am I going to do? Woe is me! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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