How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Songwriting, songwriters, etc

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NaeDae
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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by NaeDae » Mon May 16, 2016 1:59 pm

Like others have said, to write something more modern, you have to make that your writing style. To do that, just immerse yourself in modern music. Try to emulate the modern parts of it, and eventually your own style will seep through. It takes years though.

But hey, you don't have to write "modern" music. There is certainly plenty of calling for older-sounding music in the industry (and what better place to pursue that calling than Taxi?).

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by stevetwosheds » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:25 pm

Hi - Hope you won't mind me "having a go" at commenting to help you achieve your goal but I have to stress that I'm effectively a newbie too, despite 40 years off and on songwriting - these days, I have more or less the same problem as you except I don't have (your?) splendid voice or guitar sound - Mine is just awful and sounds dated for different reasons.

For me, that beautiful guitar sound immediately signaled I was about to hear something a bit David Gates-ish, although the other references to James Taylor etc are perhaps more accurate - I'm no expert on these artists although I like them all when I'm in a nostalgic mood. ie, I don't play them very often these days.

Although the voice, great as it is, was then the dominant "problem" in making it sound from a past era, I like to think the first thing worth changing MIGHT be that lovely delicate guitar picking sound to something more current - BUT I COULD BE COMPLETELY WRONG - It's just my instinct that you;re starting off with a problem (the guitar sound) then confirming it when the voice kicks in -

The reason I question whether I;m wrong is because say BEYONCE's vocal appeared instead, suddenly I'd be kicking myself for being wrong about the intro (which does seem a tad long, I agree) - Her voice or any other definitely modern vocal would suddenly transform even the song itself into something we could then hear as "modern".

In other words the VOCAL is REALLY probably the thing that defines what sounds modern or not - We can be forgiving of a lot of things if it's a vocal sound and style we are likely to hear on current radio.

ie, I could imagine an indie, male vocal, a bit grungey, far from pure, would contrast with the perfect guitar sound. But if you were doing that I GUESS you'd ideally want a guitar sound to match.

The problem I'm having is trying to second guess what your aims are for the song - How far you'd be willing to go to make it sound more modern - Why you actually want to when, as Mojo and others point out, this is actually great as it is, albeit reminiscent of a different era.

At first I was thinking the same as Kolstad, that you can't really make it sound contemporary because the nature of the song itself is quite fixed - But then I just WONDERED if we'd hear exactly the same melody and words totally dfferently if it really was Beyonce, Adele, Sam Smith etc, be a lot more forgiving of the long notes or anything else because the vocal sound and style itself somehow put it in a different context. I'M NOT SURE!

Fat lotta help aren't I? Like I warned you, I;m just "having a go" hoping I learn something for myself in the process - It's sometimes easier to identify snags in other people's work than our own - We've heard our own too many times, have all our excuses.

I also wasn't sure if you simply meant "how can I remix this to sound modern" - in which case, if you don't wanna change much, I don't see how.

I feel like you'd have to be so drastic with it - a different vocal mainly - that you might feel miffed and it'd be better just doing a totally new song or ten, all with the specific aim of sounding contemporary.

On a different song, with a much more rhythmic vocal line, more unusual, distinct, hooky bits, lots of them, leading to one heck of a hooky chorus tune, hooky words too, saying something in a VERY unusual way that we can't quite forget, maybe pitched higher, using your voice in a less pure way (abusing it a bit to get a different tone out of it) - then PERHAPS the same vocal could come out sounding modern - not sure the vibrato helped so using that sparingly could help a bit.

You clearly have oodles of vocal talent that I can only dream of - but if I DID have your voice, I think I'd be taking, say, 20 of the biggest hits, whether I liked them or not and FORCING myself to record myself singing the most challenging, rhythmic melodies to see if any of them actually work with my (your) vocal.

I did actually try that a while back but I rea;lly do have the worst voice in the world - I JUST wanted to get MODERN melodies coming out of my mouth, even if I did sound ridiculous trying to get all the words out on Ed Sheeran songs etc etc etc - It was a real challenge, a bit of a fail in my case but it COULD WORK FOR YOU.

I;m assuming this is indeed your vocal BTW. If not, then just get a different vocalist - although it may help as a songwriter to be ABLE to sing more contemporary rhythms and tunes. It;s not until you come to sing them, record them, that you realise how GOOD they are, how INVENTIVE they are, why they are successful.

Emulating them is a different matter - depends how motivated you are. It's probably worth a year doing nothing but that kind of work to get modern tunes into your DNA. I lost patience, I confess - Those Ed Sheeran songs killed me as it took about 50 takes to get some lines out! But at least I tried.

You MAY also want to try what I also tried and gave up on too soon - Re-recording the actual backing tracks to those songs - the drums, the bass, etc - again, just to get a feel for how ACTUAL current hits are constructed, what sounds they use, what rhythms the entire song is made up of, - usually more than I realized, so the drum programming took forever - which is why I gave up after ten or so songs - also realising I never had anything like to same sound arsenal and my poor substitutes really were poor. Just can't afford to invest at the mo.

Hopefully you CAN afford the latest sounds.

Anyway, I've blabbed on long enough - again, I emphasise that this is just a guy with similar dilema's as you, I know nothing really, I'm just trying to solve MY issues through ideas that might also solve some of yours - if that makes sense.

Or to put it another way - I'm just practicing, learning too.

Hope I've not simply convinced you I'm an idiot. I DID know what I was doing once - Just not any more!

Steve

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by melodymessiah » Sun Jul 31, 2016 5:25 pm

i think the bottom line is, as some allready has mentioned, to be successful at writing contemporary songs, you need to have a genuine affection for what's on the charts today. i've had a few forwards to superstars and major labels, i don't think i ever would if i didn't listen to contemporary hits on a regular basis. you just need to get the feeling for it.

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by gloglee » Tue Aug 09, 2016 11:49 am

mojobone wrote:Maybe you shouldn't change a thing. I absolutely loved it, on first listen. Then again, I'm old enough to really miss Dan Fogelberg.
:lol: :D

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by cardell » Tue Aug 09, 2016 9:58 pm

That was so beautiful David!!

I've got an OK voice, but I'm nearly 50 and I sound kinda like a 70's singer.

So...
...I tend to collaborate with others here and ask them to sing!

Stuart
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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by xanadumusic » Sat Oct 01, 2016 10:04 pm

A few things to consider would be bringing in a modern Bass Player and a decent guitarist

You have some quality strings there as it is

I dont think you need to try and write for some of the contemporary singers that are around
you have to be a certain age and love the music to try and write it well

What about Adelle she is the biggest selling modern artist around today She also records
great songs written by writers from the older school

Dianne Warren Sammy Chan Leonard Bernstein Lennon and Mc Cartney these are the writers
who will stand the test of time , carry on as you are

The state of the music industry today is abysmal Digital Streaming has killed the industry mp3 s
are for people with duff hearing with C Ds we had the equivalent of Wave and the good news is they
are selling them again ; As a Composer You would make more out of selling a million C D s than 100 Million
streams of your songs, Apart from keeping on writing even better songs than you are now
just consider your Production Demos with just a string synth in the background will always sound limited

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by marvinfloyd » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:10 pm

andygabrys wrote:sounds like you just have an older songwriting / production / mix / vocal sound.

You have a lot of reverb in your mix, and while not every song is really dry these days and the space of reverb is coming back, the way its used is different than it used to be.

You can get "contemporary" in your songwriting / vocal / and production approach, but its something that's going to happen organically by listening and trying new ideas.

I would consider filling your ears with sounds like this: https://www.musicbed.com/playlists/autumn/153

Check out Robin Frederick's books on songwriting too. They are jam packed with ideas.
Hi, I may too late for this but,,, here's my $.02 worth......According to taxi screeners critiquing your song I think would go something like this:You sound seasoned. That's the cold hard truth. ............You can't get rid of it . It's just like me, same thing...we're old... Our ears, taste and abilities are different... I made a living for 40 years playing and singing. Bought a home, put my son thru college. So, I ain't no novice at this... I started submitting instrumentals and started getting forward. 163 to date.... Contracts with 12 publishers and or libraries... So yes it was a sad day when I realized I ain't no spring chicken anymore. But, I picked myself up and started over.....Just think, There are a least 1,000,000 people doing what we are doing so we have to go where are strengths are........ I hope I haven't put a damper on your out look but the truth will set you free..... Marvin

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by NaeDae » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:33 am

marvinfloyd wrote:
andygabrys wrote:sounds like you just have an older songwriting / production / mix / vocal sound.

You have a lot of reverb in your mix, and while not every song is really dry these days and the space of reverb is coming back, the way its used is different than it used to be.

You can get "contemporary" in your songwriting / vocal / and production approach, but its something that's going to happen organically by listening and trying new ideas.

I would consider filling your ears with sounds like this: https://www.musicbed.com/playlists/autumn/153

Check out Robin Frederick's books on songwriting too. They are jam packed with ideas.
Hi, I may too late for this but,,, here's my $.02 worth......According to taxi screeners critiquing your song I think would go something like this:You sound seasoned. That's the cold hard truth. ............You can't get rid of it . It's just like me, same thing...we're old... Our ears, taste and abilities are different... I made a living for 40 years playing and singing. Bought a home, put my son thru college. So, I ain't no novice at this... I started submitting instrumentals and started getting forward. 163 to date.... Contracts with 12 publishers and or libraries... So yes it was a sad day when I realized I ain't no spring chicken anymore. But, I picked myself up and started over.....Just think, There are a least 1,000,000 people doing what we are doing so we have to go where are strengths are........ I hope I haven't put a damper on your out look but the truth will set you free..... Marvin
I mean there are older guys who write pop music. It's entirely about listening to the new thing and emulating it as best you can.

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by ajhall98 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:09 am

What about collaborating with someone who would remix it?

- maybe the SongGuts (chords, mood and lyrics of the song) could be repurposed into a more modern setting?
- what would Zedd, Rhianna, John Mayer or the Chainsmokers do with the SongGuts you have here?
- Zedd especially comes to mind for collaboration (Avicii too) - he works with awesome female singers and they really make his songs come to life. Maybe a collaboration with a singer in Taxi or Taxi Producer that could take it somewhere different and more modern? Heck Chainsmokers do a lot of this too.

It all depends on how strongly you feel about making this song work. I also agree with others it is a nice song that reminds me of Fogelberg and Taylor, and that is 100% ok. However it seems from your question you want to take it somewhere new.

Even if you don't collaborate with someone else - you could try listening to some of the references that you think are "modern" and ask yourself "What Would <insert your favorite artist> do with it"? Kind of a "virtual collaboration"?

In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due....this is an idea/mindframe I'm working with myself based on a book called "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon - Chapter "Write the Book You Want to Read" - a good read that is also worth a look

AJ

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Re: How do you make this song sound contemporary?

Post by simonja » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:10 am

mojobone wrote:Maybe you shouldn't change a thing. I absolutely loved it, on first listen. Then again, I'm old enough to really miss Dan Fogelberg. It could be pushed in a more modern direction with different instrumentation/production, but it could as easily do very well, for a retro singer/songwriter pitch, IMO. It's well-recorded enough to pass muster in that genre, even across different eras, but if I were you, I'd let the song be, cuz I think it'll find a market.
Yeah, I agree with Mojobone. Song hooked me from the start - a whole song, meaningful, interesting, and melodic. Beautiful work. If it was me, I'd just be damn proud of it! :)

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