The Songwriting Thread

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by inaudio, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. dbrozz

    dbrozz SS.org Regular

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    This is a great thread!

    Really like how you guys are helping each other grow :yesway:

    I'll chime in soon with some content.
     
  2. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    I'm sure it'll be interesting! :)

    #4 (do you prefer this to "A4"?), here's a bass riff I dug up from the depths of my *cough* well-organized hard-disk.
     

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  3. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    Well yes, a metric modulation is a special kind of tempo change. In this case you didn't do it gradually (e.g. rallentando), but it was immediate and had some sort of ratio.

    Yours would be notated

    [​IMG]

    Even going from 60 bpm to 120 bpm is a metric modulation, which would be eighth note = quarter note.

    Here's the drum part I wrote for 'bass'. I'll get back to it later to explain. Ask questions, I guess. Oh yeah, and there are dynamic changes for effect.
     

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  4. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    I usually go for A4. It's more like a name since it has at least one letter, and since #4 is what I actually use in notation so it can be confusing.

    Here's my analysis of my own drum part:

    Section 1: mm.1-4

    So it seemed to make sense to start out with a section that puts the most emphasis on the bass riff itself. This section puts emphasis on the high notes in the riff using primarily the snare, and then the kick is there to hit the low notes of the riff and also keep the flow going (so it sounds like a groove). Notice that, at least in bursts, the kick and snare together form essentially a rock beat (alternating equal rhythmic value kick and snare [in that order]).

    The hi-hats are basically just playing straight quarter notes, which is a usual function for cymbals. Then there are the starts-and-stops which the hi-hats are of course conducive to, being able to open and close. The stray splash cymbal on the 6th beat of m.1 is supposed to accent the 'start' beat of the start-and-stop, and starts the white noise going again immediately even though the hi-hat hasn't quite come back yet since it is in between quarter notes.

    m.4 emphasizes the 3+3+2 beat that is so common as a syncopation of 4/4 or 8/8 time. It is common to see cymbals hitting the 3,3,2 as I have done. *Notice the double 16th note snare at the very end, my preferred way of anticipating a new section or a repeat. Or just a new measure.

    Section 2: mm.5-8

    This is the more 'chill' feel. This is mostly due to the quarter note rides. Here the groove is not broken up, so it flows. Most of the snares emphasize the high notes, just like in sec. 1, but this time there are snares on the 2nd beat on each repeat, because that gives the impression of a straightforward, chill beat (viz., snare on the 2 & 4). The snare on the first beat of m.6 is interesting. It's in the place that there normally would be a snare to anticipate a new measure if we were in 4/4 time *(as I was saying before, but one eighth note instead of double 16ths). Because I am using straight, unbroken quarter note rides here, it sounds warranted but instead leads into just another snare in the very next eighth note (once again emphasizing a high note). Thus we are immediately reminded that it is not actually 4/4.

    m.8 is basically m.4 but displaced forward in time by an eighth note.

    Section 3: mm.9-16

    This is 'the muted section'. The drums sound muted, and the bass is palm muted to match. The snare roll-centric drum part mutes the dynamic and also makes it sound like we are anticipating a new, louder section coming up soon.

    It's based off of straight eighth notes, broken with 16th note rolls in the places that we have usually seen them in the other 2 sections, just before an important hit. At first it sounds like the snare is just mimicking the bass, but in m.10 we realize that once again we are locked into that pseudo-4/4 groove. mm.11-12 introduce the kick to emphasize all of the bass notes that are on the low E string. Notice that I still punctuate each repetition.

    mm.13-14 introduces a 3-against-4 feel in the snare mixed with hitting the bass notes as before. The hi-hat pedal keeps time with quarter notes (a usual function of the hi-hat pedal) and builds a bit more tension.

    mm.15-16 introduces dotted eight-note hi-hat pedals while maintaining essentially the same kick pattern and an even more syncopated snare part. Maximum rhythmic tension reached, culminating in a snare/tom/kick fill to end it.

    Section 4: mm.17-24

    This part was inevitable. The tension was too strong. Here we have the quarter note crashes raising the energy of the arrangement altogether. The kicks are on the low E string bass notes, and the snares on the high notes. The splash fills in where there is a not low but also not high note and a snare or kick would make the drums sound to busy. Which is a good point. Notice I didn't put a lot of confusing rolls and random-ass ghost notes, so the groove sounds clean and driving. Notice one of the main ways I 'switch it up' is by changing a 16th note kick, 16th note snare, 8th note snare into the same rhythm but kick, kick, snare instead. It sounds just as good but fresher since it's different.
     
  5. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    That's very, very kind of you. Thanks a ton for bothering.

    I'll have to slowly digest the entire thing. Off the top of my head, I think I'm going to look at your use of the snare first. The snare bits in the "muted section" are interesting, especially the dynamic contrast between the "normal" hits and the ghost notes.

    Also, "rhythmic tension"? :lol:

    * Where can I learn about the whole "usually such-and-such beats are accented in such-and-such meter"?
    * Am I supposed to accent 1 and 3 or 2 and 4 in a "rock groove"? AFAIK 2 and 4 are supposed to be accented (syncopation), but then I hear stuff about 1 and 3 being the strongest beats.
     
  6. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    Yes. I tend to think in the analogy that rhythm and harmony are similar even when you think of them as separate things.

    Just as harmony is all about tension and release, so too is rhythm. Put in its most simple form, complex rhythms produce tension, and simple ones release it (and in some cases, no rhythm, i.e. when you end a song with all the voices/instruments hitting a note at the same time and then stopping/letting it ring). This is directly analogous to harmony, since more complex harmonies produce more tension (often in reference to the tonic).

    In harmony, clearly if we are in the key of C, a G7b5#9 is going to create more tension than a G major triad. It's more complex.

    In the same key, a triad on G creates more tension than a triad on A. G shares only one note with the tonic, and it's the 5th of the tonic, the least important chord tone in any chord. (Unless maybe if it's not perfect.) A is basically the tonic chord with the A added below. Not very tension-y. You see where I'm going with this.

    When you have multiple rhythms going on at once (whether that be polymeter, polyrhythm, or just syncopation), you create tension. Think of it this way: one of the many rhythms in there (this could be talking about just the drum kit or the arrangement as a whole) is the tonic. All the others express the movement in the piece. The VI7 - II7 - V7s and the modulations and so forth. Everything that isn't home.

    Side note: when I say syncopation, that includes things like: hitting key melody notes on the '&' of 4, or just putting things on 'off' beats in general.

    Metric modulation makes a lot more sense in this context. Just like there is a ratio between the two tempi that are modulated to and from, there is a ratio between two tonics when we do harmonic modulations. Sometimes we do harmonic modulations with simple ratios, like a perfect fifth (3/2), or more complex ones, similar to your 5/4 rhythmic modulation, which is rather complex (although not on the level of like, a major 2nd modulation or something wacky like that that would have a weird ratio even in Pythagorean tuning).

    So when you have like, a bunch of syncopation and polyrhythm, and then all of a sudden you break out into quarter note crashes on the drums with kick + snare that follow the main groove and the melody note finally is played on the '1' for once, it sounds like a resolution. And often that's what we see, is the coincidence of rhythmic resolution and harmonic resolution, the coincidence of rhythmic tension and harmonic tension, and so forth. They often go hand-in-hand.

    Like comparing AC/DC to Tigran Hamasyan. AC/DC uses very, very simple harmonies, and the most complex that they get is when they hit the V chord... and notice that probably a lot of times that they do, the drummer also does a little fill or something to keep rhythmic tension in pace with the harmony.

    Tigran, on the other hand, uses very complex time signatures, polymeter, highly, highly syncopated melodies, etc. And he also uses a very complex harmonic palette, even when it sounds a bit simpler than usual.

    This lesson might help. It's really about how the meter is constructed.

    1 and 3 are the strong beats in any 4/4 groove.* 2 and 4 are weak beats. But something like the '&' of 2 is even weaker, but that's because it's not on a beat, so in that sense it's not a 'weak beat.' In a non-syncopated rock beat, the kick is placed on the 1 and 3, and the snare on the 2 and 4. In a basic half-time feel, the snare is placed on the 3, and the kick on 1. Try it out and you will understand why I call it 'half-time feel.'

    *Some 4/4 grooves are actually 8/8. Most commonly, 3+3+2/8. Meaning that the 1st, 4th, and 7th beats are strong. You did this in bass.tg for your 8/8 measures, but it's very common in a lot of music.
     
  7. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    The lesson was helpful, but can't it also be a matter of choice? I mean, one could do 9/8 = 2/4 + 3/4 + 4/4 or something instead of three dotted eighth notes, too.
     
  8. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    Well, the way that we construct 9/8 time is the same way that we 'feel' 9/8 time. The two ideas are interchangeable in this case. So, 9/8 time implies a strong dotted quarter note feel (not dotted eighth) just in the same way that 4/4 implies a strong 1 & 3 and a weak 2 & 4. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th 6th, 8th, and 9th eighth notes of 9/8 time are generally the "weak beats."

    When you say 2+3+4/8 (I assume you meant 8 unless you were talking about 9/4 time) it should actually be 2+3+2+2/8. All meters are made of either compound or double parts, with the rare oddball/avant-garde exception of single meter. (I.e., 1/4 or 1/8 or something, which can only exist in very specific situations.)

    2+3+2+2/8 (your proposal) is of course a very legitimate time signature, but it's not strict 9/8 because it is mixed (both double and compound). So you may write it as 9/8, but, to quote you, "Where can I learn about the whole 'usually such-and-such beats are accented in such-and-such meter'?" Key word: usually.
     
  9. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

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    I like what you did with the drums, really cool!

    I took a look at both of your files and I tried writing my own drums for it. I tried deleting what drums you did A4 and writing my own, but I had a lot of trouble because of how the beats lined up. I usually always work with even numbers or at least repeating odd numbers. So having 3 7/8 and one 8/8 really throws me off. it ends up being a total of 29/8 and I have trouble lining up a drum part to fit into 29 notes since it isn't an even number. I tried changing the bass part around a bit, but it just didn't seem right so I left it alone.

    After messing with it and then reading what you said, I start to understand it more, its just a bit hard for me to come up with parts like that.

    EDIT: Actually after listening to it again, I understand the part after the palm mute section pretty well, you're playing the pulse on the crash, and you basically just wait one 8th note at the very end before starting over. This is something I remember from Dream Theater.


    I'll try to give some insight into how I would deal with something like this though.

    Something I like to do with a 7/8 measure is to repeat it until it falls into a 4/4 time. I'll just have the cymbals and snare going in 4/4 and the kick will follow the 7/8 pattern. after 8 measures of 7/8 it will fall into 4/4 and it will feel seamless.

    7/8 * 8 = 56/8
    if we change this to be in x/4 like our drums we get 28/4.
    since 4 goes into 28 evenly, this will perfectly line up with a 4/4 pattern.

    I think this is a polyrhythm? right? I think I know how it works, I don't know if I explained it correctly though.

    This isn't as exciting of a drum part, but its kinda cool because the 7/8 pattern repeating always lands on a different accent of the 4/4 drum part.



    I do it in this song.
    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/nickareias/february-2-2014[/SC]
    It repeats a 7/8 part for a while with the drums just going in 7/8. Then eventually it breaks into 4/4 drums, but the 7/8 melody continues, you can hear how it plays against the 4/4, it keeps changing which beat it lands on until it finally repeats again after 8 measures. I really like this because 8 measures of 4/4 is a pretty normal chunk of time and it almost always makes sense.

    I know you guys are into more complicated stuff, and I am too :) But I'm a big fan of 4/4 :lol: Most of the time I try to do as much as I can while staying in the 4/4 boundaries.
     
  10. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    That's a polymeter, as far as I know. Nice!

    Three bars of 7/8 and one of 4/4 is one of my favourites, actually. Did you end up writing a part?
     
  11. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    At octatoan's request:

    The change of key signature seems excessive to me. You're alternating between Am (the chord) and Cm (also the chord) every four measures (usually). A modulation requires a chord progression (more than one chord) in each key. This is what a modulation would look like:

    [Am:] i V i iv V7/♭III [Cm:] i iiø7 ♭II7 VI6,5 iv V7/vi [Am:] i

    This is what you are proposing:

    [Am:] i [Cm:] i [Am:] i

    I'm not convinced. This is what I hear:

    [Am:] i ♭iii i ♭iii

    The relationship is between two chords, not between two keys. (It's a chromatic mediant relationship, by the way.) Seeing as those are the only two chords in the piece, I think it is better to scrap the key signature business.

    And the one you have may not be necessary. You could write this entire thing in 6/8 (or 3/4; there seems to be a lot of interplay between the 3+3 and 2+2+2 rhythms). I'd personally stick with 6/8 the entire time, especially considering that the lead guitar in measure 75 is playing the exact same thing as the acoustic guitar in measure 1. I think you could keep it consistent, unless you have some overwhelming reason to start writing in 12 at measure 50. (As a compromise, I think you could justify 12 for 50-56, but go back to 6 at 57.)

    I like it very much. It brings harmonic interest to the piece, which is otherwise fairly static. While the guitars are holding down very triadic harmony, the piano is putting all sorts of added members into the chords. It gives the music a pandiatonic sound.

    I don't hear it that way. Measures 1-8 comprise an introduction, but after that everything is A in some capacity. I don't know what you would call this formally. It's not as strict as a theme with variations. It sounds through-composed (durchkomponiert) to me. Here is a piece that is through-composed:

    Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde - Vorspiel


    Hear how Wagner is kicking around the same ideas over and over again, without any real form? That said, one could go in there and draw up sections based on harmonic and textural elements, and perhaps thematic entries, but it's probably better to consider this music as a couple of themes doing their thing with an episode every now and then (much like a fugue, though this is not a fugue at all).

    Then there are monothematic forms that have multiple sections.

    Johann Sebastian Bach - Two Part Invention No.8


    0:00 - A
    0:17 - B
    0:38 - Codetta

    And there is a bunch of stuff going on internally, in terms of subject entries and episodes. The thing that makes this a binary form is that there is a modulation and cadence in the dominant key. The B section begins with a subject entry in the dominant key, and the rest of the B section is about working its way back to the tonic. You're not doing anything like this in your piece, but I'm demonstrating that it is possible to have sectional form even with a single theme. (You can read a little more on the form of Bach's two part inventions here.) Stylistically, your piece is closer to Wagner than Bach.

    So yeah, there is no ABA'B. :lol:
     
  12. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    As far as I remember the meter change was for some weird reason to do with TuxGuitar's many idiosyncrasies, not because it was planned. I have no idea what the piano is playing, and 'pandiatonic' makes me not want to even try to analyse it; halp?
     
  13. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    It's simpler than it sounds, despite the fact that a Google search for "pandiatonic" immediately results in a headache. Pandiatonicism is the free use of notes within a diatonic scale. I'll jump right into your piece as an example. Here is what is going on at measure 17:

    The guitar is playing an Am triad (A C E). There is a B in the second half of the measure, but it is a passing tone and therefore shouldn't factor into the harmonic analysis. The piano is holding down the C and E (♭3 and 5, respectively) of the chord, but there is a B on top of all of that. This B is a chord tone. Specifically, it is an added ninth (making the chord Am(add9)).

    In measure 18, the piano is adding both B (9) and F (11). The bass is playing G (5) and D (9). Your chord is now Am(add11,9), containing A B C D E F. That is almost an entire A minor scale crammed into that chord.

    At 21, guitar is playing a Cm triad (C E♭ G). Piano is also doing the triad. That's vanilla. In 22, the piano is adding an A (13) and the bass is playing B♭ (♭7) and G (5). This makes the chord Cm13/B♭ (C E♭ G B♭ D A), which is one note shy of a C dorian scale.

    Your piece goes back and forth between Am and Cm, but also tries to throw all of the notes of the A minor and C dorian scale into those chords. Pretty much anything that you can do that doesn't conform to the functional use of diatonic harmony is considered pandiatonicism. Not that it should be a goal or anything; I rarely even refer to anything as "pandiatonic." Make your music crunchy, then you'll be good.
     
  14. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    It's funny that you mention pandiatonicism. I'm familiar with the concept but it just didn't come to mind when listening to octatoan's composition since it's hardly ever a relevant concept.

    I've here updated my progress on Riff Splendor:

    [sc]https://soundcloud.com/augmentedfourth/riff-splendor-c-section[/sc]

    I've added a C section, making the form ABa′C. The C section is essentially bringing back the ascending and descending arpeggios texture of the A section and then putting the B melody on top and a bassline with identical rhythm (but not pitches) as the B bassline, all in the brand new key of F# major. For reference, A is in E minor, B is in B minor (mostly), and C is in F# major. So the transition between A and B is not a large leap, but between A and C it is considerable.
     
  15. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    0:20 is instant AAL for me. That synth is so NES-game-like. Also, what is that, a double bass? :lol:

    Here are a few ideas, ignore the drums if you like. Also, tempo modulation?
     

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  16. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    I like this riff. With the bass guitar going it has a pleasant quality to it. I'm not sure that the "A′" flag is warranted though. It's just the A theme with a grace note added. The whole thing is just "A," with an intro. The ending could very well lead into a B section though. The metric modulation is a bit awkward as it is, I attached a slightly modified version below where I tried to make the transition smoother. It sounds smoother (and more like a metric modulation than some sort of spontaneous arbitrary tempo change) because you hear the new tempo against the old one for a second as they transition. So in one sense it's like crossfading, and more importantly it is now aurally obvious that the new tempo uses the 5-tuplets of the last tempo.

    By the way, TuxGuitar is awful at handling n-tuplets. I almost gave up just trying to write that one measure. The whole thing where it tries to fill the whole measure with arbitrary rests every time you take an action is infuriating.

    Those NES-like sounds that I use are actually from tweakbench's NES based synth, peach. I would encourage anyone to check out their plugins, they have quite a few and have really nice interfaces (and obviously are quality all around). And yes, that's a double bass. I wanted to make the blend of acoustic and electronic/synthetic sounds obvious, like an actual hybrid sound instead of just randomly including little synthy sounds or something like that.
     

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  17. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    Nothing much, quick tremolo thing I made while dicking around on my acoustic. In order: Madd9, M7, madd9, m7 chords.

    Sounds pretty good and, yes, I can play this. (I've only tried the first shape - the major add9 one.)

    Cheers.
     

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  18. octatoan

    octatoan Acoustic tech-death!

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    I'm not sure if I got around to showing you guys this. It's basically a little, I don't know, country-ish?
     

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  19. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

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    Octatoan:

    in 8-10-13 I really like the melody that comes in on the bass, its pretty simple and catchy compared to the guitar melody which is refreshing after listening to that for a little bit. Its a nice addition and it balances it well. I like the way that A4 did the metric modulation though, its like he said, if you don't give any reference it just seems like a random tempo change. That being said, I don't think you need to do a tempo change there, the song is like an intro section, you start with solo guitar then bring in bass, then you should bring in drums next, you still have a lot you can add to it without a tempo change. try adding more drums in and then changing the melodic content.

    I listened to the more recent songs too, I think you should definitely spend some time trying to add more layers for some harmony or adding drums to give a rhythmic reference point. you should study what A4 is doing, especially when he modifies your songs, even if you completely copy what he does for drums, its a good way to learn.


    A4: I really like riff splendor. The acoustic qualities of it are awesome, its really refreshing to listen to. I love the flute lol. The C section is really cool too since its familiar to A and B but its different, and in a new key. I'm curious, how do you decide to switch between keys like that? Is it just what your ear wants to hear? is it because you want to fit in a certain part you came up with? or is it because you're making a strategic decision to switch to that key? I know that switching keys adds a lot of variety to a song, but I guess I'm just confused when/how to do it.


    In my newest work in progress I think I've got the hang of going between relative major and minor though (which is probably the easiest key change, lol) I also tried writing in 3/4 for a change since most of my songs are 4/4, and It ended up being 6/8. I had a little bit of trouble wrapping my head around 6/8 since I'm so accustomed to 4/4, I was getting a bit confused with the drums at first, and since its 6/8 sometimes it can seem like 4/4 because of the way the measures line up. I think I got some decent drums though.

    Lastly, I'm a bit unsure about the structure, theres a lot of parts I like, but I tried to repeat some parts at the end and I'm not 100% on it yet.

    Let me know what you think, I would really love some criticism :) I think I'm still going to change quite a few things.
    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/nickareiaswip/3-18-15rough[/SC]
     
  20. AugmentedFourth

    AugmentedFourth X:1 K:C [c^f]|

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    In this case I had in mind a way that I was going to mash the A and B sections together, which meant playing the B melody again. The main draw to changing keys was that playing the melody again in the same key would sound boring. Moving it made it fresher. Plus, The C section essentially marks the beginning of what we would consider development of the tune. (In terms of form, at least.) So a more dramatic key change is in order to create contrast.

    [​IMG]

    This is the first image from the Wikipedia article for 'Sonata form.' Sonata form is probably the most important form in classical music, most forms are derived from the basic idea or constitute the basic idea of sonata form. Notice how it's basically this:

    1) Play something
    2) Do whatever you want with that thing, go crazy
    3) Play it again

    And that's it. That second step is the development, and as you can see in the image it specifies 'V and other keys.' It's the only part without a strict definition. Changing keys keeps the ideas fresh and is a part of what makes it a new section.

    Choosing exactly what key to go to was a matter of what key I actually could go to smoothly. I had quite a few prototype key changes, but most were clunky or went to boring closely related keys.

    On '3 - 18 - 15 (rough)':

    Was this supposed to be in 6/8? Maybe I'm counting wrong, but it seemed like 4/4 the whole way through. If you count 4/4, you pretty consistently emphasize the '1' and place the snare on the '3.'

    As an overall impression, it sounded pretty well done to me. The riff at the beginning was nice and relatively long-form. And if someone told me that this was one of like, CHON's old demos or something I would believe them. :lol: Granted, I don't have much listening experience with the style in particular.

    Two main criticisms:

    1) The lead that comes in at 0:47 seems to be the 'main' lead, but kind of fails to differentiate itself from the main riff underneath it. There is the occasional phrasing difference here and there that gives it 'drive,' and the lead is very well done. But doesn't fit at the beginning of the song, if that makes sense. Like, it seems like it would fit in some later section after a build-up or something like that. Consider a melody that emphasizes beats that the rhythm doesn't, and notes that are somewhat at odds with the chords. Like extensions (9, 11, 13) or even blue notes.

    2) There is no real dynamic. It pretty much chugs along at full drive the whole way. There's no soft part(s). But maybe that was your intention.
     

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