Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let's Buy Heather a Microphone!

When I asked Heather Zink to sing for us on our entry, I had no idea she'd be so good at it. I mainly wanted to get her into the Facebook group that's reserved for SpinTunes contestants... after all, this contest was her idea. We figured that the fact that she was recording on the built in microphone on her laptop computer might cost us some points, but would be well worth it.

Well, having Heather on the team was well worth it. And since she's such a great collaborator, I thought I'd go ahead and throw together a PitchIn campaign to get her a decent microphone. The one I have in mind is a Blue Yeti, but more we pitch in, the better the microphone, and of course Heather will have the final say. The campaign ends with SpinTunes 8, so we've got until the end of the month. So please help out if you can.



The Reviews Are In!

Just as I suspected would happen, we got some negative comments about the vocal sound quality and it cost us some points, but as I mention above, I don't really care. SpinTunes is about writing the songs, meeting the challenges, stretching yourself, and having fun with it; and we did all of that this round. We met a "hate" challenge without being hateful, with a rare Latin ballroom number, with a new vocalist, collaborating on some intricate percussion, and playing a lead on the guitar, which I'm usually pretty terrible at. The only way I got through that last bit is that I'm a pretty good actor and decided to  act like a guitarist.

We landed right in the middle of the pack and comfortably move into the third round. Our goal now is to be one of the four contestants who move into Round 4.

Here are the Round 2 reviews, and my responses for the judges:

Daniel Calwell
The guitar in this piece is beautiful. I really enjoy the style of it. Heather has a very lovely voice as well. I have nothing negative to say about this. Good work. (2 points)
I think I love you. No one's ever complimented my guitar work before, not even me. And I agree regarding Heather's voice. Thanks!

Katharina Bordet
10 Things I hate about you, grown-up version. Recording quality of the vocals wasn't very good, sounded very muffled and a bit echo-y, pitchy recording in places too. Good singing though. The quality of the instruments was much better. Despite the technical flaws, I really enjoyed the song. (9 points)
I'm glad you did, Katharina! As for the technical flaws... we feel your pain, and we've got you covered. Check out that fine PitchIn campaign at the top of the page!

Joe "Covenant" Lamb
Knocked this one out of the park. Only criticisms: Has shades of “Bad case of loving you” about the chorus, and the vocals were a little subdued. even a crank on the high end would have helped this I think. (16 points)
I guess it does there at the end. This is why I ask other people if it sounds like something else to them before I record. I blame all of them. And myself.

BTW, I guarantee that a crank on the high end wouldn't have helped. It would have highlighted the recording artifacts that Paul mentions below and made them worse (I know, I tried). But maybe you could help with the problem of making it better. Check out the top of the page.

David Ritter
Very nice guitar. Very nice. Oh man... love the groove. I really wish the vocal sound fit in. I would love to hear it remixed. If the vocal take wasn't with quality equipment maybe an effect to mask it would have worked. The wood block is cool. I would have given a much higher score if the vocal sound fit in.  I do want to be clear - the vocal performance was good, just the recording of it --7 (4 points)
Another compliment on the guitar? I'm going to need a cigarette when I finish reading these! And constructive suggestions, too? Actually, I think you're right... I might be better off making the whole thing sound like a 1930s recording. Just couldn't really decide how all the judges would react to that sort of thing, and split the difference. In the end we got what we wanted and Heather's in the group.

I hope to hear it remixed, too. Of all the entries and all the shadows I've ever worked on, I think I like this one best.

Paul Potts
This song grew on me the more I listened to it. The musical layers are roughly recorded but nicely done in a tango style, and there are some bits of ear candy like the triangle that add interest to the instruments. While the vocal performance is very fine, the vocal track leaves something to be desired -- besides boxiness, I hear compression artifacts, like this was recorded over Skype. The way the lyrics are structured and set to music, as far as rhyme and rhythm scheme, is very nicely done, but the lyric feels a little under-done, with a narrator who is a bit muddled. I'm reminded a bit of Portishead's song "Sour Times," because of the lo-fi sound of the track. (13 points)
Thanks, Paul, I figured that if anyone was going to comment on the sound quality it would be you. That's OK, for reasons I give up top, that didn't matter to me this round. It was a laptop mic, because that's all she had. But hey, there's the PitchIn campaign if you really feel strongly about it... ;)

I'm just happy that you didn't find enough wrong with the guitar to comment negatively about it (that worried me, too, as the rumba calls for a bit of guitar lead that I'd normally beg someone like you for), and thank you for the comments otherwise. The part about it growing on you the more you listen is music to MY ears. It certainly beats getting tired of a song after a few listens, doesn't it?

I think we can legitimately disagree on the lyrics. This song is primarily driven by mood, not story. Every word has its place, and we feel that for a mood song to connect with a broader audience there should be ambiguity. There must be enough leeway for the audience to "fill in the gaps" with their own experience, and internalize the song. For instance, when she sings, "I want to drop these keys and walk away," we're not told what keys. Car keys? Keys to his apartment? We think it's important not to be told so that you can adjust the story as you see fit. That you are lead to visualize the act itself leads you to construct a reason. Of course your reason will be far more significant to you than any we could manufacture and foist upon you.

Popular Vote

Looks like we got a plurality of the popular vote, and that may be the result of a nice song, the fact that Heather's on it, that we lobbied for votes, or all of the above. In any case, thanks to everyone who voted for us. You're too kind.


The Next Challenge
Misleading Melodies - Write a disinformative song with false facts or otherwise confusing information, presented academically. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due Sunday, March 9th 11:59PM)
I was telling William yesterday that it might be cool to do a "Schoolhouse Rock". This is EXACTLY that, only it's more like "HomeSchoolhouse Rock". (that's a joke, folks)


JoAnn in VA said...

I find Home schooled students to be a LOT more academically qualified than many public school drones...

Dave Leigh said...

Then how come you don't know what a JOKE is, hmmm?

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