Kitchen consultation: Yair Hollander – Alive

This consultation has been published with the kind permission of Yair Hollander.

Download or listen to the song ‘Alive’ here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8068578/Kitchen/1011_yairhol_Alive.mp3

Composition

Compositionally, this song is pretty straightforward. There’s not much to fault here, but I think there’s some potential to take it to the next level. At just under three minutes, there’s scope for extending the song and exploring wider musical territory.

One approach you could take is to add a second verse. As you probably know, this is quite common for songs of this kind. The second verse allows you to build upon and develop the lyrical themes or story introduced in the first verse. Having a second verse also establishes a solid V-C-V-C base from which to launch the bridge. You’ve already got a verse and a chorus, but having two verses and two choruses before the bridge more firmly establishes the verses and choruses as the musical ‘home’ – the ‘norm’. Launching from this, the bridge more clearly comes across as a departure for a new direction. It also make for a stronger sense of stability when we finally return after the bridge to the final chorus.

You might prefer not to use a second verse – that’s ok, it’s a valid choice. If this is your preference, you can extend the song by introducing a second bridge. In this way, the song moves away from regular song form (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus) and closer to classical rondo form (A-B-A-C-A-D-A). The first bridge in your song features a guitar solo – pretty standard stuff for this style of music. A second bridge can push the boundaries a bit further – perhaps featuring some more of the synths you’re using in the background. You could do a melodic synth solo (similar to the guitar solo), or perhaps tone it down a bit and have a synth-based chillout/breakdown section.

Mix

Overall, the mix isn’t bad, but the kick and bass overall are quite weak in your mix. In addition, the lead vocal is quite sibilant. Rather than approach these two issues individually, I suspect  they’ve both resulted from the same cause – It sounds as if you might have been mixing in a monitoring environment that’s bass-heavy and not very detailed.

There are two strategies for getting better at judging the right balance – making your monitoring environment more versatile, and checking against commercial references.

Making your monitoring environment more versatile is something that’s very important if you want to take mixing seriously. It’s also something that doesn’t have to be very expensive to start with. In your situation, I’d recommend adding another monitoring source such as headphones or a second pair of speakers. The trick is getting a second source that compliments your existing source. For example, if your source (perhaps your current speakers) are bass-heavy and not very detailed, it might be worthwhile getting a smaller pair of speakers that a light on bass but have a lot of clarity in the sound. If it’s your room that’s making your sound bass-heavy (or otherwise difficult to judge), it might be better to get some headphones. Again, lean towards headphones that have a lighter, more detailed sound. Make sure you frequently switch between your monitoring sources to maintain as neutral a perspective as possible.

Checking against commercial references is just as important as improving your monitoring environment. This is how you know how the sound you’re crafting will compare to your listeners’ expectations in the real world. You could have access to the best monitoring environment in the world but you’ll still be mixing in the dark unless you know how real-world music sounds in it.

This is an example of a single Kitchen consultation. If you would find this kind of feedback useful for your own music, get in touch with me.

– $20 will get you one consultation (basically the same as this example, but in private, with your music).

– $50 will get you three consultations or one studio demo (where I do an example edit or mix of your music to better demonstrate how some concepts would apply to your music)

– $100 will get you seven consultations or two studio demos.

The consultations can be for multiple songs or multiple revisions of one song. It’s up to you.

You can read more about the Kitchen here: http://kimlajoie.com/site/kitchen.html

When you’re ready, send me an email to kitchen at kimlajoie dot com.

-Kim.

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  1. Great consultation. Would definltely consider diong one of these! Nice.

  2. @Mark
    Thanks. You can see that the advice is tailored and specific to the song. People find it to be quite valuable.

    -Kim.

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