Pushing Chords Around a Fretboard (Take 1)

  • 25 Replies

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 1043
« on: August 15, 2019, 07:30:51 PM »
*** HELLO!  This song has evolved into another one now - see the Things That Keep Us Ticking thread.  ***

Hi there,

So here's take 1 of a track I'd genuinely like some unconstrained brutal feedback on (in the spirit of Paul's "Gloves Off" thread in the Bar).  I've posted here rather than "Works in Progress" because it is complete in a way, but I'm also going to deconstruct it and rerecord all of it from scratch as, to my ears, there's a better track lurking in here and I'd appreciate you guys helping me to drag it out; that's why it is a "Private" track on Soundcloud at the minute.  I'm up for comments on anything... got a few from one of my bandmates but would like to canvas other opinions too before I start again. At the minute I'm feeling OK about the lyrics, not sure about some bits of the melody / structure / production though (maybe it needs a stronger sonic identity), and I haven't even entered the mixing pane of Logic yet (just basic panning and levels) so any suggestions on EQ etc will be lapped up.  Just tell me any bits you like or hate.


Lyrics below.  I guess its about why it is OK to spend hours and hours writing music at the expense of something more conventionally productive... maybe that resonates with one or two of you fine folk too  ;).  Thanks in advance and I hope you'll put up with listening to Take 2 in a few weeks.



Pushing Chords Around a Fretboard

I heard that they are taking volunteers for Mars
It’s history in the making but you can’t come back
Your bones will buckle, and for all your trouble, there’ll be
Volunteers for Venus waiting on the launch pad

I could have been a man of letters if I had just stuck with it
Like my elders and my betters, but back at school, your dogma bored me rigid
So I baulk at the prospect of your TED talk
Coz you’re crouching on the blunders of midgets

And so that is why I spend my time pushing chords around a fretboard

I’m 37 million and fifth in line to the throne
Just a dim civilian but hey, you never know
Come zombie apocalypse I could be holed-up in some megaplex
Fashioning a makeshift crown

But I’d rather spend my time pushing chords around a fretboard

Were you bitten by the bug, working on your legacy?
You do as you will, I’ve had my fill of all these pyrrhic victories
Were you bitten by the bug, hanging by your fingertips?
You do as you will, I’ve had my fill of all these pyrrhic victories
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 09:40:51 PM by PaulyX »
It's all too beautiful.


  • *
  • Busker
  • *
  • Posts: 77
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 07:57:25 PM »
Hi Pauly, it's a decent song. I won't try to fish for good things to say as that's clearly not what you're after. Firstly, definitely keep or enhance the single note guitar harmony thing you've got going on the chorus - that sounds fabulous. My ears got a bit confused over lots of the rhythm guitar though, and I found it difficult to pick out what was even in there. I'd have liked a simple, fast rhythm in the back of the mix for the verse, and either a riff or some simple drawn-out chords on top, but ensuring the two elements are completely different.

I've listened 3 times now and think some production sparkle is required but not sure what to suggest. Hopefully others can pipe in with suggestions and I'd be really interested in this once it's been reworked.


  • *
  • Platinum Album
  • ****
  • Posts: 535
    • Sixth Beatle - a music themed novel by Michael A (not much about  The Beatles!)
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 08:33:19 PM »
Hi Paul, I enjoyed this but agree with you that it could step forward a bit to reach the potential that you normally achieve.

As you asked for suggestions I'd say you need to add a bit of brightness and zest to the production. The percussion especially is a bit flat at times.

I really enjoyed the backing track overall, and would be happy if it were one of my inventions. The cascading guitar on the chorus is particularly effective.

The lyrics are clever, as expected, but maybe more obscure than say your fascinating Indian Rope Trick lyrics. I am not sure that the chorus would resonate as much with non-musicians and I think you have it in you for a smarter and more universally appreciated hook lyric line in that key moment.

The last few lines of the lyric lost me a bit - although I can be a bit slow at times it has to be said!

Overall, with a bit of a polish, it will reach your best standard, something I certainly always enjoy. But not quite there yet, which I do believe was the point of your post.

Neil C

  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 3650
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2019, 08:27:43 AM »
Ok here what I think.
fabulous imaginative lyrics. Musically inventive chords, cool verse melody and catchy chorus. Like the way it builds
I think you've got the soundscape about right nice, simple with drums, bass ad tremeloed guitar and stuff. Sound pretty complete to me.   

Thoughts: on the arrangement perhaps some higher bv's on the chorus or perhaps a synth to lift it.
And I want sure whether the ending which is really neat by the way added anything and whether you should just repeat your chorus
And a bit of production stuff, ie so the vocals are clear enough, especially at the start and the usual mix stuff given there's a fair bit going on.
Sorry to be not very negative but its pretty good I'm afraid. 
songwriter of no repute..


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 2394
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2019, 09:26:50 AM »
Hi Paul

You're a brave man and I take my hat off to you.

This is pretty excellent anyway... Lyrics are really great.

I'd perhaps use that old chestnut of having the drums go on to the ride cymbal over the chorus to make it stand out a bit more...maybe even drop it down with a floor  tom breakdown before going back up again. Pretty old fashioned stuff that maybe is slightly at odds with the more modern pulp-esque feel. At one point I thought that you'd changed drummers half way through...the first third of the song seemed more 90s than the late 70s feel of the later drums. Having listened a few times, I think not, but thought I'd mention it.

I think this song feels like it could and perhaps should be even better than it is...which is maybe why we're here saying what we're saying...but it seems to me that the song is done in a really great way already...and beyond the drum stuff I mentoned, I'm not sure where it could go. There are lots of great touches in there as it is.

The lyrics are very clever and I might be concerned that the delivery is a little too clever...being kind of familiar with who you are I know that's not the case...i just wonder whether it might sound a little elitist to Joe Public?

Would a more straightforward vocal lose too much of its/your identity though?

It's a very good song and you're a very talented chap... And thanks for inviting me to be a misery-guts 😃

Viscount Cramer & His Orchestra

  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 1485
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2019, 10:14:14 AM »
Great, great, great!

Great timing in the light of Paul's thread and you've already got some useful constructive feedback from the boys. The forum is already a better place today than it was yesterday thanks to you two.

I think you're right that it hasn't reached its fullest potential yet though it is really nearly there. I listened earlier this am and was gagging for a bit of fuzz guitar riffing...and then it appeared at 2.40 or so. Maybe that could make an appearance earlier...maybe be even more dominant but that might be perhaps a bit obvious (I lack your subtlety!).

That twangy jangly guitar thing already gives the track a strong identity and, as Bankie says, that single note part behind the chorus is a highlight and is really the sonic hook of this song. I wonder if you might want to bring that in again behind the last bit....maybe the second 'bitten by the bug' line...I want it go out with that hook imprinted on my brain.

Maybe something added to this part as the song progresses to make it bigger each time...don't kno what?

Plays a similar role to the great guitar line in 'Shot By Both Sides', accompanying the chorus there and instantly recognisable.

That's all I've got for the moment!

Sounds good already anyway so you're most of the way there.

Take it easy.

You can check my stuff out here. Mini-album getting bigger slowly. Free download if you're poorer than me.

Easy Life - Viscount Cramer


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 1410
  • What would you rather be or a wasp?
    • Cowparsleyman on Soundcloud
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2019, 12:46:14 PM »
Superb work @PaulyX - just loved the way you started to fool about with the LVox accents, you might want to push it a bit more, trying different sounds of your voice a'la Bowie, (seems to be working me at the moment). It's very effective.

It's a good song, go with your instincts, it seems to be heading in the right direction.



  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 3084
    • Soundcloud
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2019, 01:28:30 PM »
Yo Pauly.

Firstly,I really dig the song and it's a grower too,get's it's hooks right into you. Lyrically,it's you man and beyond any help from the likes of me.

Reminds me of songs like 'Itchycoo Park',it feels like a 60s pop classic.

Stevie Marriott was one of my favourite vocalists,an underrated powerhouse. I'd love a step up in aggression from the vocals in the chorus. Think 'What did we do there,we got high'! The dynamics of the chorus are lost a bit because the rest of the song is on the same level. Maybe as part of your final strategy in the final mix,give the chorus an extra couple of db. The vocals get a bit lost at the end too,but it's probably early days for that just yet.

Love that repeating guitar rhythm part,gets me going for sure. Other's have mentioned the drum sound is a little flat,I'd add my voice to that. The drummer sounds a bit like he's phoning it in.

Even if you did nothing at all,it's a quality song Pauly,but you are right it could really sparkle and it's definitely worth the effort to achieve that.


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 3588
  • pompeyjazz
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2019, 05:57:58 PM »
Hi Pauly,

This has a real cool vibe. Love the descending riff if the chorus. The lyrics are up to your usual standard. I'm of the opinion that a bit of production polish would really bring this up. I also think that maybe a few bv ah's or oh's in the chorus would make a big difference. Also maybe you could make a bit more of that hidden high pitched synth. It's a quality piece Paul, excellent as it is anyway


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 1043
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2019, 06:46:35 AM »
That's incredibly useful feedback guys, thanks.  I'm drawing up an action list.  First action: sack the drummer.  The dude is toast.
@Bankie , great call on the muddy guitars.  I've got a remedy in mind.
@MichaelA , really appreciated the observation on the chorus lyrics being a bit niche.  Good spot.  I'll come up with some alternatives that might connect more widely (might PM you if that's OK).
@Neil C , yes I might see if I can find a way to end on the chorus, without it passing the 4 minute mark.  Thanks.
@PaulAds - nice idea, I will make sure the new drummer has a nice big ride cymbal and isn't afraid to use it.  Thanks also for the points on vocal delivery - really interesting & useful - if you've got time can you explain a bit more which bits sound "too clever"?  Is it my accent or do I sound smug or something in some bits?  (It's totally cool, really useful feedback, I'd just like to hone in on what made you feel that, so I can be aware of it and either exploit it or avoid it.  Ta.).
@Viscount Cramer & His Orchestra , big thanks.  I think as well as firing the drummer I'll be recruiting a new guitarist, and trying to make more of the chorus hook.  I don't know "Shot by Both Sides" but will check it out for ideas to steal.   ;)
@cowparsleyman , ta v much, great to hear you felt there's something in it.  I wasn't intentionally putting accents on (it's just my voice) but that's an interesting angle to pursue.  I see what you mean about how it worked for Bowie (and anything that guy did is worth learning from, in my book).
@Skub - "Itchycoo Park"... what an epic song, as you might spot from my 'footer message' on the forum, it's one of my faves ever (especially the bit about ducks).  That comparison has given me a few new ideas for this song.  Yeah, Steve M was such a great great singer.
@pompeyjazz - top advice, thanks.  BVs: You are the master of the well placed oohs and aahs.  I might come knocking if that's OK?
Anyway massive thanks guys, probably the most educational round of feedback I've ever had on here.  Have a fine Saturday.
It's all too beautiful.


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 2455
  • Singer songwriter
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2019, 08:46:17 AM »
The only thing I would do with this excellent song is brighten the drums a bit and maybe bring up the kick and bass a little.. evrything else sounded fine on my gear and those dead clever lyrics..yeah 8)
of course it could be done a million different ways but the way you've done works.. 8) :)


  • *
  • Stadium Tour
  • *****
  • Posts: 2840
  • Do It Yourself!
    • Late Bloomers Rock
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2019, 02:53:32 PM »
I'm no good at production or any of that mixing stuff, so I can't advise you. I did want to mention I really enjoyed all the clever inner rhymes and word choices you used. The only thing I noticed that I'm qualified to comment on is minor--you could do without the word "that" in the first line.

 Even though I've heard it many times, I realized I don't know (or maybe just don't remember) what a "pyrrhic victory" is, so I had to look it up. So you added to my education, as well. :D I like being pushed a little now and then.

That's all I have to say. Very clever.



  • *
  • Platinum Album
  • ****
  • Posts: 775
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2019, 01:16:43 PM »
I just lost my post! I played this for my SO Dave, because it's right up his alley. He loved it and said to tell you he doesn't think it needs anything. It's great as it is. I love the lyrics. Well written and sung. I thought maybe it could use some more sweeping and or spacy synth sounds. They might add to the sonic story.


  • *
  • Solo Gig
  • ***
  • Posts: 362
    • Soundcloud Profile
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2019, 03:46:51 PM »
Wow that just grabs you right from the first second! I know you're looking for brutality but I'm afraid I have nothing to throw at you but I see you probably have enough to be working on this from the others :). I really enjoyed this. Clever theme and title. I don't know that you need to make it more mainstream .. I guess it depends what you're intending to do with it.. Lyrics are fab..

I really liked that low "bug" at 2.59 :)



  • *
  • Busker
  • *
  • Posts: 55
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2019, 10:42:12 PM »
Love it. Looking forward to where you take this. Hope you don't mind me saying that it reminds me of Syd Barrett/ early Floyd (see Emily play etc) enjoyed thoroughly.