I am new to this forum and wanted to introduce myself. I have previously played guitar on a worship team in Colorado where I started on acoustic and later moved to electric lead guitar. where I played with the team for a bit over 3 years. My wife and I recently moved to rural Montana and there are not may opportunities to play with a worship band. After seeking the Lord in how He would have me using my talents, I am focusing my time on building my guitar skills and writing music for the first time for Him.
Up for your consideration is one of my first attempts and getting something recorded. I had always had a hard time writing lyrics and melody so this song has been an exercise in that, among other things. The lyrics are inspired by a study I have been doing in Isaiah, especially from chapter 12.
I am new to recording but did the best I can with my computer and a good DAW. I also played all instruments and programmed the drum track. I've always disliked my voice but I sang on this recording just to get my ideas down. My prayer is that God would bring me together with others for recording/writing collaborations.
For your first attempt at recording this is really good.
For your first attempt at writing, not so bad.
Your voice is fine!
Lyrics need tightening
You are not saying anything new or in a different way
There is no "Hook"
Chorus is not different enough from the verses
I think this needs some more developing.
The INDEED part could be expanded and made into a hook and or a bridge.
Just some thoughts, not to discourage you but to encourage you.
You have some good beginnings here, keep going!
Thanks for your feedback Angela!
First observation is that, for a "song of praise" this is SOOOO slow. Think about reworking it so that the lyrics go by about twice as fast.
Angela's points are good. On the subject of tightening the lyric - just because all the lines come from a particular chapter, that doesn't mean they work well together as a lyric. When I'm working on a lyric based on a Psalm, I start out by finding an idea in the Psalm that I think would make a good song - even if it is not the central theme of that Psalm. Then I look for other lines in the Psalm that somehow support that central idea. A lot of lines in the original text get left behind to be used in some other song.
What with this being a song of praise, I would leave out the 'even though you were angry at me' stuff currently in the first verse, or at least move it down in the song (maybe that's the contrasting idea that would work as a bridge?). The first few lines of a song are where the listener decides what the song is about, and then everything else is tied onto that. So start us off with a strong focus on why (or how or when or where or whatever) the singer would sing praise.
Playing, singing, recording are all quite sufficient for a demo like this, no problem with any of that.
As a worship leader who listens to songs on WtR thinking about whether I would use this song with our own worship band, a couple things come to mind. When I saw the song was six minutes long, I would be tempted to just skip it... also, although our band doesn't currently do a song by this title, keep in mind that there are hundreds of songs with this same title, and if I was looking for songs to do with our band and we already had one with the same title, I would probably skip over it just because our band is already confused enough :-) Taking a quick look at Isaiah 12, I might pick out, 'In that day / I will say / praise the Lord" as a title that's less common... and then build my song around that. On what day? Maybe on the day when the Lord becomes my salvation, or on the day when God's anger turns away (though I would still bury that anger stuff down in the song). But, ya know, a slightly unusual title that sets this song apart, that also serves as a hook so that if I heard this song and wanted to find it to use with our band, I wouldn't have to sort through the search results for I Will Sing To You Lord...
The encouraging bit at the end: please do keep writing songs and posting them here... I don't think I'd use this particular one with our band (though, if you don't mind and I get some time, I might crank out my own fast version of the song, sorta 'if our band did this song, this is how it would sound...'). And don't give up just because there are fewer churches than there were in Colorado. Go visiting, you might find a church that doesn't have a contemporary service at all, but would like to, and then you negotiate a little bit and you wind up in charge of the band :-). But that's a whole other discussion...
Thanks Charles for the feedback. I'm going to do more work on this song and others as time permits! Would love to hear how you would render this song.
Okay, you may hate me for doing this, but I'm going to go sorta step-by-step in how I fiddled with this one... the first thing I did was to create a chord chart - did you really play it in the key of B? Or is part of the slowness here that the audio got slowed down in the process?
In the key of B, the highest note is a G#, and that's kind of a horrible key for congregational singing... the general "rule" for untrained voices is to aim for "C to shinging C," so by transposing this song up to the key of D, the highest note is a B.
So I pulled your original recording into Audacity and used the "change tempo" effect to speeding it up by 75% - so the original 6-minute recording is now 3:24, but it moves along more like I think a "praise" song should. And I used the "change pitch" effect to move it up from "B" to "D". So that at least gave me a song I could listen to that was more like what I'll be aiming for...
So I think I've attached the result of those efforts. It sounds like one of those old "Hee-Haw" songs right now, but this was just so I could listen to an adjusted version. Feel free to hate it, but I'm trying to do this in a way that's kind of educational, and people here will tell you that I'm not somebody who says nice things about a song I think needs work :-)
Stay tuned for further steps. I am noticing at this point that your original recording starts out with kind of a 4/4 feel but then drifts into a 3/4 meter. I would want to be consistent about that (or at least intentionally inconsistent, but a big part of the job of the introduction to a song is to set the tempo the congregation will come in singing... you can hear the shift right around 0:08 as the intro ends and the singing begins.
Okay, let's see if this works... hey, it did...
Okay, so here's my next step, which was doing some restructuring of the song and a bit of rewriting of some of the lines. I took the original v2 and made it v1, the original v3 became v2, and then the original v1, that included that "angry with me" stuff, has been turned into a bridge. I might decide to go from v2 directly to the bridge and then the chorus, depends on how long it's going to run. So this is my working chord chart, in the format we use at my church, Next step will be to try to do a recording of the instrumental track, which may involve some decisions about things like dropping that second chorus. The chorus itself (and now the verse, too) has sort of an odd structure in terms of number of measures, but I think it can work.
Once I have an instrumental track to work with, then I'll start looking more closely at specific words... I did cut a line or two and made some little tweaks, Even on my own songs, I generally don't get ruthless on fixing up word - by - word until I'm singing it into the recorder and I have a sense of what's not working.
Anyway, my revised structure:
Step 3: I took the chord chart from before and worked out just the chords for the different sections of the song - the verse, chorus and bridge (I inherited a TON of notepads from my father in law, that I use for working on songs).
I then went and put the chord pattern into "Band In a Box," a program I've talked about here before. With BIAB, you enter the chord pattern and then you can choose tempo, key and style, and it will generate instrumental track (drums, guitar, piano, bass and strings) via MIDI.
The thing I like about working with BIAB this way is that I can play with the style of the song (I think the one I ended up with was loosely based on the Allman Brothers' "Ramblin' Man") and tempo (I ended up at about 170, which ended up making this song 3:17 long). I can also try it in different keys (is it more comfortable singing in E, or is that going too high?) So, anyway, down below there should be a link to the instrumental track BIAB produced for me.
Normally what I do with this is I use just the drums and ten add my own instruments - once in a while, I'll keep the piano part, since BIAB plays piano better than I do. I record this to two tracks on my digital recorder and then lay down guitars, vocals, etc. to go along with it. If I'm in a hurry to get a rough demo of a song down, sometimes I'll go ahead and use all the BIAB tracks - you can select individual instruments and adjust panning, levels, etc., but it gets to be tricky making that stuff "stick" sometimes with the MIDI box I have.
But, anyway, this was the next step, and since I copied and pasted verses and choruses, I know that the structure of the song is consistent, even if, in this case, it's a little quirky.
I didn't record any vocals on the BIAB track yet, thought you might like to hear what the program can do. I'd say I spent less than an hour getting this one together, and that included trying several different styles.
By the way, I am 90% convinced I'm going to change the title to "Jesus, Yes, Jesus." That phrase gets sung while the instruments are ringing, it kinda feels like a hook, and there aren't already two hundred songs by that name...
Wow, I'm impressed with your enthusiasm! Thank you for taking the time to layout your process. It is very interesting to see your methods along with the changes you are making! Thank you again!
I'll answer your early questions and give a bit of background how the song came about, and why I did what I did. This song was given to me by God and what you have heard is very rudimentary and I agree it needs some work. I have never "written" a song before and after much prayer, God gave me this song which I hurried to get down in a form that I would remember it and have something to start with to improve on what I had. I literally wrote the lyrics, chord progression and melody in less than 20 minutes and was playing the song on my acoustic guitar. I spent the next 3 or 4 days figuring out the drums, bass, and lead guitar parts and recorded all of then in one take. My main goal was just to get the song recorded!
Yes, the key of the original is B and I chose that key because it fits my vocal range. I sang in a lot of choirs and always got put in the bass section because of my lower range. I understand that a higher key would be more appropriate for most congregations and would expect that.
As far as the 4/4 feel you mentioned, it may just be that I didn't have the lead guitar totally locked in to the acoustic when I recorded that. The song is very clearly and purposely in 6/8, which I felt fit the vocal melody very well. As far as tempo, I disagree with you in that a praise song must be at a brisk pace. While I do admit that the vocal line is using longer note values, the tempo in 6/8 time is 8th note = ~179, which is not exactly slow. When I made the recording, I used my metronome set to dotted quarter = 60 and brought in the triplet subdivisions...that is my preferred way to play to 6/8 time The acoustic guitar is also mostly playing a 16th note strum pattern which I think drives things forward nicely. My thoughts is the tempo is good for what I was trying to do....it's not so fast that it sounds rushed and not so slow it drags....just my opinion there.
As far as the first verse, I do agree that the "angry" stuff should be reworded, that was just how I got the song and have always thought that needed to be reworded, but while keeping the intent of the words intact. To me, this was the perfect opening to the song because these verses in Isaiah speak of Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross. THIS is the reason we praise Him and these words set up the entire meaning of the rest of the song...everything else that follows hinge on the fact that we are all sinners, in need of a Savior, and that Jesus has satisfied The Fathers anger toward us in our unrepentant sinful state. Without saying those exact words, in my mind, the first verse should speak of these verses from the Word. I do, however, like how you put that stuff in a different bridge and so that is definitely a suggestion worth considering! Title change is also a pretty good idea.
Thanks again Charles, I look forward to hearing your final recording!
Well, here's the current state of what I'm working on.
I, umm, disagree with most of your reasons for why you did things the way you did, but unless you really want me to, I won't try to explain why... it's your song, make it what you want. I pretty much stand by what I wrote in my first comments on the song, but you don't have to see it my way.
This version has what I would call a "scratch vocal," I would want to work on it more (and probably make a few more lyric tweaks) before I consider it finished, and add lead guitar, organ, and some backing vocals on parts of the chorus. May take a while, but when I consider it finished, I'll post it here...
Well, here's a sorta finished version of the song, my version. I added a lead guitar and backing vocals, maybe the organ is new since the last version. Since you seem to feel like you like your version of the song better, this is probably all the work I'll do on it...
If you decide to use my recording of the song, I would sorta like to be listed as a co-writer, since the bridge music is mine and I moved a bunch of things around, but it's not a big deal to me if you feel otherwise. Obviously, if you stick with your own version of the song and develop it from there, it's yours, I have no claim. And, again, if you want some more detailed notes on why I changed what I did, just ask, but otherwise, I'll consider my work here finished...
Thanks for all your efforts and input Charles!