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Making an album- Whittling down songs, how?


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#1 Del_Duio

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:15 AM

Hi guys

I am a one-man band or whatever and I've written maybe 50 something songs over the past 3 or 4 years. I've done some recording before using my Roland drum kit and etc however recently I've bought myself a real Pearl drumset, an SM57 mic, and a pretty good guitar amp. So now I have guitars that don't sound like total line-in crap and lucked out and have a great drum sound (or at least much better than it used to be).

So about 3 months or so I pretty much sat down and recorded every song I know all at once. I'm sure this isn't how you're supposed to do it but it worked out. Many re-do's and etc later, I'm trying to come up with a good X amount of songs for an album that I want to be proud of "In the End" (dunnn dunnn dunnn!)

So I guess my thing is: How do you decide what to leave on the cutting room floor? I'm guessing this would best go over like if I were deciding a setlist for a live show or something. Obviously a few of these didn't come out so hot to my ears so those are right out. The songs vary in genre I suppose- the only constant is that I'm a weirdo and I guess it'd best be classified as rock with prog played by someone without super prog skills.

What's a good length for a "debut" album in your opinion? Has anybody done anything like this here before? I'm certainly not a pro and most likely won't try selling it or anything but I wanted to have something my kids can later look back on and tell their friends that's not their dad haha.

Thanks

Edited by Del_Duio, 17 August 2017 - 11:17 AM.


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#2 Lucas

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:37 AM

Congrats on the progress and getting all this together Del_Duio ..

I suppose you could look at this a few ways:

1) Try to get a diverse, well rounded selection of songs that cover all the different styles you might have in your music

2) Get the best 45 minutes worth of songs, regards of whether they come across as diverse

My personal way of approaching this was/is to find a group of songs that had continuity - not so much that they sounded the same, but I like albums that grab you and don't let up ... Sometimes coming from too many different angles will kill the flow of an album ..

That doesn't mean that EVERYTHING should be similar ... But I think getting across a style is very important

#3 vaportrailer

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 01:08 PM

Congrats on your recording!
Along with Lucas' sound advice, I would venture to add:

1) Put the tunes away from your ears for at least 2 weeks. After the intensity of recording, compiling, wondering and worrying, sometimes a break can offer fresh perspective. Don't even look at the song titles or think about the project at all. Well, maybe the artwork.
2) Pass your tunes along to a musician friend AND a friend who likes music (doesn't play), but maybe make a rough cut first, if possible, to avoid over-saturating them.
3) I'm sure you know this but it bears repeating: just because a cd can hold 80 minutes of music, doesn't mean it has to be filled up. It ain't a mixtape, it's your music, and it's always best to leave people wanting more than have them getting restless after 40 minutes.

I was recently given a friends jazz cd that he spent a lot of time and money on. The recording was beautiful, the tunes were all thoughtful originals, the playing was professional, the cover was tasteful (for a jazz record :D) but it had one fatal flaw: too damn long.
Not only did he push 65 minutes, he put out a double cd. Of original jazz. Which 4 people will buy.
38-45 minutes is a lot of time to get it done in.

Editing is a pain-in-the-ass, and I wish you all the best. Keep us posted!
best;
Long-winded Windbag

ps: along with diverse tunes, maybe try to present diverse sounding tunes? (ie: the way they were recorded)
It can also get tiring listening to the same "sound" for 40+ minutes.
This might not be applicable to what you're doing, but just throwing it out there. What do I know? I'm no million-seller! Posted Image

#4 TFEman

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 05:07 PM

In addition to what's above, I think a really useful thing is listen to all of the songs constantly. Not only can you then hear what needs to be improved, but as you go along, you can pick out the songs that stand the test of time. The songs that you like to hear the most are the ones that your audience will like to hear the most.

#5 Entre_Perpetuo

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:27 PM

My ideal length for any album is between 30 and 50 minutes. More than 50 and you're testing my patience unless it's THAT great. Less than 30 and you should usually call in an EP.

I would imagine having a producer of sorts, or just a good and brutally honest friend with a great ear, will help you decide what to keep and what to save or cut.

Also, if you're really struggling with what to cut, think of it in terms of the "tl;dr" version of your album. Keep the stuff that NEEDS to be heard to get your point across, cut the reiterations and the probable dead-end experiments. But don't cut anything that will make your album more enjoyable to listen to.

Edited by Entre_Perpetuo, 19 August 2017 - 08:32 PM.


#6 Del_Duio

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 09:11 AM

Hi thanks a lot for your advice everybody, sorry it's been a little while but I'm back!

Many of my songs might be considered experiments but I get what you mean. Also yeah in the past I thought having 80 mins of CD meant I should fill it all the way up (and over) but that's not a good idea. Look at DT's "The Astonishing" for example. A great album to me, but if they cut 7-8 songs on it I believe it'd go over much better with everybody else.

So I went through all my recorded songs and have 14 tracks (2 of which are very short, but this is on purpose) and the total length is about 36 minutes. I had to make some hard choices and cut some songs that though I liked them I didn't think they held up too well. I also put them together in a semi-logical sense, which was done by constantly listening to the things over and over (and over) again. One example is that a song that ends with an electric (non-distorted guitar) and the next starts with that same non-distorted guitar. Another example is one song ends with a quiet long fade out and the next is WHAM!!!

I have songs ranging from quiet-ish to RARRRR and most have some humor to them. Not like Weird Al or anything, but that's just how I write. All the topics are completely different which might help.

I'm absolutely no singer however sometimes when I'd hear a couple of "off" parts I'd go back and re-record those (like well after the fact, which sucks). In fact I've even done this since creating this thread, and might do it some more later or tomorrow too. So anyhow I've got all these remixes and I now have a track listing I like but I'm running into a new, unexpected problem:

Some of the tracks sound 'too hot' in places, like it distorts and not in a good way. It's only in a few bits but I can notice it. I finally have mixes I like and this happens to a few songs. BLAH. Another thing is I seem to be getting "ear / listening fatigue" when I listen to these things at any decent volume. Do you know what I mean, or what that could be a sign of?

How I'm mixing these is through an 1/8" cable that runs from my digital 8 track straight to my laptop's microphone jack, and then using the sound wave recorder which saves the songs as .wma files. Then I burn a tracklisting to a CD which I believe is supposed to master them all into one level volume across the board (I think?)

EDIT: I have no producer or anything fancy, maybe at best these will sound like demos but the difference is for me they finally have a halfway decent guitar and drum sound. I was able to get a good drum sound by using the internal mic of the 8 track and lay the unit down on the ground on a blanket behind my kit / the throne. This way the bass drum and a lot of the low end got picked up as well as all the high end and cymbal stuff.

EDIT #2: Another thing is that in some of the songs the vocals are not as loud as in other songs. You can still hear them, but it's not the same level. I don't know if that's an issue that might bother you guys yourselves but it kind of gets to me a bit, and I'm not sure if it's super important or not.

Edited by Del_Duio, 22 August 2017 - 09:21 AM.


#7 Entre_Perpetuo

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 12:54 PM

I'm not a resource for technical issues, but when I hear about ear fatigue and distorted recording my mind jumps to over compression and clipping. You said something about mastering them all at an equal volume level, so see if you can take a look at the mastered files in wav format. If there's no shape to the wave, just big blocks of sound with small breaks between tracks, and if each block seems to run past its upper and lower borders, then I'd say it's been mastered too loud and compressed to heck. It might sound cool on the radio, but it's really not pleasurable for serious listening.




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