View single post by RainyDayMan
 Posted: Thu Jan 26th, 2017 11:18 pm
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Joined: Thu May 17th, 2007
Location: Stratford, Australia
Posts: 6040
I think many people struggle with the idea of giving comments or feedback on other people's songs. So here's some suggestions.

The first thought is "Well who am I to comment? I'm still trying to work it out myself!". And I feel that way sometimes too!

But we all have an opinion, and we all see things slightly differently. Having multiple points of view can really help. Different people notice different things.

I remember a song where the same phrase was highlighted as the best and worst bit of the lyric! And that helped, because it made me realise I wasn't going to please everyone no matter what and I had to trust my own judgement on that one.

The fact is that we are all still learning, but we all have something to offer as well as something to share. If we don't comment, who will?

The next thought is probably "I don't know what to say"
Personally, I value any comment because it showed that someone listened to my song and cared enough to post a comment.

Analysis is hard. Practice makes a big difference, but the real reason to do it is selfish. Working out why a song works or doesnt work will help you improve your own songwriting. You can do it with hit songs, and you can do it with the songs posted here.

Think first about whether you liked the song or not. This is useful feedback just by itself.

Next step is to see if you can spot where in the song you started to like or dislike it. Even if you cant say why you're helping substantially now. If we only keep the best bits and throw away the worst, after re-writing a couple of times we will have a much better song.

If there is a recording, listen to it then think "What do i remember most about that song?". Was there a particular line you remember? Was there a riff that really caught your ear? Not remembering anything is also important, and may indicate a need for a hook or for some other change in the song.

If it is a lyric only, read it out loud. Do you find yourself falling into a rhythm or pattern? That's good feedback because it should make it much easier to fit to music! If it feels erratic or you dont sense a pattern that is also good feedback. If it was intentional the songwriter will soon tell you so.

In a lyric, look at the structure of the song, by which I mean the way it is broken into verses/choruses, the number of lines per verse and the number of syllables per line.
Remember, to be a song it ultimately needs to be put to music. Music generally has repeating parts. If you're trying to fit a line with 10 syllables into the same musical spot as something that had 5 syllables in the last verse it is going to be a squeeze!
So line 1 in verse 1 should have the same or similar syllable count as line 1 in verse 2. There's always some wiggle room.

Look at the way sentences are put together. Does it sound like a natural way of speaking or is more like formal poetry? There's no right or wrong in that, but it probably needs to match the content of the lyric. If it's meant to be a conversation between two people, a poetic style probably isnt the way to go.

Strong visual images can really help a song, though there are also plenty of successful ones without them. If someone is describing something can you almost reach out and touch it? Great feedback to receive!

With a recording, is the songwriter looking for feedback on the song itself or also on the recording and mixing? Again, we all have ears, you don't have to be an expert. Did one instrument sound very loud compared to the others? Were the vocals clear or muffled? Did it sound flat or was there too much echo? Good feedback to give.

I think the last stumbling block is that we dont want to bring anyone down by posting negative comments. Again I can only use my own feelings as a guide here. I would rather receive a negative comment than none. And I would rather receive an honest comment than a meaningless compliment. If you tell me you dislike my first 4 songs, but the 5th one is good, I am likely to believe you on the 5th one, and I probably needed to hear about the first 4 as well.

The best kind of feedback (negative or positive) is the kind that goes:
I dis/liked this part because of that, have you considered doing X? This is constructive criticism, it is specific and it offers an alternative (if the feedback is negative). I love getting feedback like that! I don't have to agree with it, and I certainly don't have to take it, but it is very helpful.

It is also good to try give an overall balance to feedback.
What was your overall impression?
What was the best part?
What needs improvement?
Any specific suggestions?

But as I said at the start I think any feedback is better than none.

The only thing that won't be tolerated is criticism of the person and not the song. It is unacceptable to call someone stupid, useless etc or to attack them on the basis of race, sex, religion or any other basis.
We are here to help each other, not to attack each other. Criticize the song, not the songwriter.

So those are things I look at. What about you?
Any suggestions on how to give helpful feedback to others?

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