Re: Covenant

I don’t have a lot of time today but I figured I would take just a few minutes to address a comment made on Audioshards today. It was made by Joe “Covenant” Lamb, who is a part of the group Duality as well as a former SpinTunes judge like myself. He took some offense to my reviews yesterday and proceeded to skewer me for them. Sigh. So, is the life of the blogger. But since he took such offense that it warranted such a long reply, I figured it deserved a minute or two of my time to reply it. Let’s begin.

Here’s part 1 of Joe’s comment, which he basically titled “Here’s the problem…”

Tips for trying to *place* your song in an advantages place?
1-because you have NO idea how many songs will be sent in.
2-there is an album with all the songs on it anyway.
3-ANY judge worth his place AS a judge will not have placement as a concern. I doubt *very* much that the judges judge after one listen and all in one sitting and without knowing that extended listening sessions mean fatigue is likely to set in.
4-It’s a song contest. The best *song* should win. Concentrate on writing the best song you can, not worry about when you’re sending it in. (Rushing to be first)

Let’s look at the big #4 first. It’s a song contest, granted. But it’s a game as well. I don’t understand why people don’t see that part of it as well. The best song should win but what’s wrong with looking at the situation from different angles. There is a game to be played here and it doesn’t hurt to use a little strategy.

Then there’s #1, you don’t know how many songs are going to be in. True. So you enter early, hoping to be in the beginning of the pack or enter your song at the deadline to be at the end of the pack. All I did was comment about how memory works. We remember beginnings and endings better than middles unless they stand out.

#2. There’s an album. Yes. It’s on Bandcamp. Bandcamp to the best of my knowledge doesn’t shuffle. Spintown puts the songs on the album in the order in which they are received. And we are back to the memory thing.

Then there’s #3. The any judge worth their salt comment. I’m gonna give Joe a little leeway because he’s a little pissed at me because I gave a negative review to a song of his that he considers one of his best, a belief I think he needs to reassess. Back to the comment, repeated listenings will make middle songs stand out more. But it doesn’t change how memory works. Those first and last songs will always stick more because of premier and regency effects. That’s science.

Back to Joe:

Ultimately, all these things ever show is how different any two people’s opinions are – so placement does not matter a jot. I’d like to think the judges are above such things to allow placement to affect their standings.
We ALL march to different beats…
As an example, some of the reviews above I totally agree with.
Some have left me scratching my head in confusion wondering if we’re listening to the same song.
But also I wonder about consistency in these things.
As an example… lets use MY song cos it wont offend anyone ….

It doesn’t have a chorus? And that is used as a *negative*comment?
I use the phrase “the end of the world” three times.
Edric uses the phrase “In Lansing Michigan” three times is it a chorus?
I don’t think so, but there is no negativity put to that… Inconsistent.

Now here’s some interesting stuff. First up, he hopes that judges are above letting placement factor in. My comments were about memory which is something beyond their control. I play you 10 songs. You’ll be more likely to remember songs 1 and 10. Simple as that. Not your fault, it’s just how it works. If a great songs stands out in the middle of the pack, it’ll be remembered to. But 1 and 10 get the memory regardless.

Okay now let’s talk about the Duality tune and the Edric tune. Both songs don’t have a chorus but why didn’t I say anything to Edric about his lack. I’m not saying every song needs a chorus. Some songs do. I think the Duality song did and Edric’s didn’t. The Duality song is a very slow song and comes off feeling longer than it is. It’s a very dense song with long sustains. It becomes very sleepy. A chorus could hook a listener here. Edric’s song was short and full of energy and lyrics that stood out. He didn’t need a chorus. Duality did. It’s not inconsistency in review, it’s just two different songs warranting two different things.

Moving to my favorite part of Joe’s comment.

But it is also suggested that neither Den nor I don’t KNOW that a chorus can be a hook?
Trust me, the writers of Tom Furby, Ghoul Tide, Doing what makes you feel happy, Invisible girl, Why? and Stranded (Even “Just cant find a virgin” in this SAME round) are WELL aware of the hookiness of choruses… But some songs don’t need one.
We weren’t writing a catchy pop song. We were writing a love song.
It didn’t have a chorus cos it didn’t need one.
Some people may get that, some people may not.
But *I* feel the criteria for a song contest is… Is the song *good*.
Not does it tick boxes.
And *I* think it’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever written.
But, yes, I’m glad to say those who have listened to it tend to agree.

Holy cow. Part of this is all a misunderstanding. I didn’t mean to imply that Joe or Den couldn’t write a hook or understood them. Wait, did I? Let’s review:

My big question is why make this song without a chorus? Don’t be afraid of the chorus, it’s what hooks us to songs.

Nope. I didn’t imply that. But the web is weird and without vocal inflection, things can be misconstrued. So I’ll apologize if that was taken the wrong way. But I’m not gonna walk away without taking a look at the rest of Joe’s statement there. First up, he listed a bunch of his & Den’s songs to prove that he knows all about the hook. Wow. Really? Gotta tell you that came off as a delusion of grandeur of epic proportions. But he was upset at me clearly, so I’m going to laugh at “list of  musical conquests” and continue.

Then he says we were writing a love song not a pop song, so he didn’t need a chorus. There are a ton of love songs with choruses. And those choruses will stick in your head, more than the Duality song. You know “Hello” by Lionel Richie? “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx? I picked those two songs at random. If you know them, then just reading the titles probably brought the songs back to you. It’s easier to do that because they have choruses. I don’t need to explain that, you understand them. “End of the World” doesn’t stand out. Nice tune, but it’s forgettable. That’s why I made the need for a chorus remark.

Lastly, he said this is the most beautiful song that he’s ever written and those who heard it agree. I heard it and I’ve heard a bunch of your other songs and I don’t agree. You’ve done better. But hey what do I know…

…Last comment of his:

And that’s why I revert back to what I said during MY time as a judge for ST…
MY advice?
FORGET what anyone else thinks.
Write the best song YOU can.
Because you will NEVER please everyone. (Never)

He’s right. You can’t please everyone. But forget what anyone else thinks? No way. Some people give advice and that helps. Just be smart about the advice you take.


12 Responses to “Re: Covenant”

  1. Interesting…I don’t feel I should comment on Joe’s song until after the reviews get posted. But…interesting…

  2. Fascinating. Without revealing anything of my review, I’ll just make this comment about my process.

    I listened to the songs at the listening party. That’s the only time I heard them in the order initially presented in the album. That’s because I downloaded the album. I use the Song Fu naming convention for the MP3s on my hard drive and MP3 player… Artist + title… and sort them into album by folder. Because Bandcamp lists them all as by “Spintunes”, I had to rename all of these. The web isn’t very portable, as I don’t have a data plan, and I don’t want to be stuck in one place.

    MP3s in hand, the first thing I did was write out my criteria for judging the songs, so I could hold myself accountable to that as best I could. (These are submitted with my reviews; I expect them to be posted.) The idea isn’t to eliminate subjectivity, but to be fair in applying it. I’m not changing my tastes, I’m employing them.

    Underneath that, I wrote out the names of the songs, roughly ranked in the order of my first impression. Then I listened to them again in ranked order, writing a quick impression or two. Whenever there was a song that I thought was better than the one I just played, I moved it up. I repeated this several times. That was Tuesday. Then I slept on it.

    I did not listen at all during the day Wednesday (busy in meetings at work). Wednesday evening I did same thing as before only reviewing from worst to best, according to the order I left them the night before, fleshing out the comments. If I felt like eliminating a song the night before, I gave it an extra listen to see if I just missed the boat (I did, once or twice). I re-read the lyrics. At this point I started to get pretty picky, because I thought there were several areas where this was a close contest. Then I slept on it again.

    Thursday I was programming and had some flexibility, so I had the songs on an MP3 player and listened to them pretty much all day. The theory here is that you may simply not be receptive to a song based on the time of day or your current emotional state. So I listened to them at work, at lunch, and during my morning and evening drive. I’d already heard them late evening and in the wee hours. Thursday evening I sat down, went through the rankings again, and shuffled a few more. I finished up my reviews, read Bram’s tweet about shadow reviews, reviewed them quickly, and sent my email to Travis. When you read it you’ll probably see some hints of this methodology.

    I didn’t do this because of any of the issues you raise in your comments about memory… I was just employing a simple bubble-sort… it’s my way of keeping my focus by comparing songs to the ones that are deemed “better” and “worse” in the immediately adjacent slots. Honestly, though, “better” and “worse” is loose terminology when there are a lot of nearly equivalent entries. But there are no ties and some order has to be established, even by the slenderest margins. An extreme example: A six-way tie will still land somebody in sixth place, which is unfortunate, but unavoidable). For this batch of entries, some moved pretty radically between Tuesday and Wednesday, when I had a fresh listen. They moved, but not much, after that.

    It may very well be that my first listen greatly affected my final rankings. It could also be that all of the constant shuffling and re-listening mitigated or eliminated the effect. As I wasn’t conscious or cognizant of the effect you describe I don’t know. We’ll have to wait until they’re posted to find out. Neither do I plan to change my methodology in light of the new information. It either works or it doesn’t, but at least it gets me to a decision I’m happy with, even if I’m the only one. 😉

    I’m not posting this to be argumentative, contrary, or to prove or disprove anything that you or anyone else is saying. I’m posting it because your topic is (or was) strategizing for the SpinTunes contest. If you’re going to do that anyway, I may as well offer my methodology so that you know the mechanics at least one judge uses to determine relative rank. That may or may not help contestants strategize, but at least the information is there. As for the exact criteria I use, that introduces my review, and is subject to change according to the specifics of the challenge at hand.

    As I mentioned last competition, judging is to a great extent subjective. However, part of having judges at all is agreeing to abide by the judges’ decisions, whatever the criteria may be. That’s also part of the game, and not arguable. Anyway, (and this is directed to the readership) I don’t think it’s particularly useful to argue with a person’s opinions whether or not he’s a judge. Best to just say, “Thanks for the input,” and move on, using it or not as you see fit.

    Niveous, I wish you and I could discuss the degree to which we did or did not agree, but my reviews will be posted soon enough. I can only hope they’re as interesting and thought-provoking as the comments you’ve given us.

  3. 1) I’ll echo pretty much every thing Dave said. If you think judges only listen to the songs in the order they are presented, then I’ll have to wager that is a think you do and not the majority. And they way in which you presented your ranks when you were a judge is reflective of this.

    2) Name calling? Really? You have the audacity to say that Joe has delusions of grandeur? All I can say to that without becoming insulting myself is, wow. You have some bloody nerve.

    And then to try and offer some type of “let’s sit down and talk music”, I will give one thing, you are either ignorant of how other people think or you have some pretty big balls.

    I can’t believe I’ve waited this long before saying anything about this superiority complex you have going on.

    Oops, I just became insulting myself, so I should end my comments now.

    • Hey Jules,

      1. What Dave does is awesome. And I can’t (nor was I trying to) speak for the judges and how they do their judging. But here’s a fact, the songs are presented to the judges via bandcamp in an order of who entered their song first. The most convenient way to do your first listen, that important first impression, is to just press play. Serial position effect still applies. I never said that judges don’t do other listens. I just presented a very possible listening scenario.

      2. Did I say that Joe has delusions of grandeur? No. I said “that came off as a delusion of grandeur of epic proportions”. Reading his original statement where he rattled off a bunch of his songs as proof that he knows about choruses, I shook my head. It came off sounding like he was saying “How dare you question me who wrote these wonderful songs” when he’s just a schmo on the web like I am. He was upset and he wrote something that came off poorly so I laughed it off.

      Joe, I don’t think you have delusions of grandeur.

      And yes, I would love to sit down with Joe, Sammy and the Good Doc and talk music. I think it would be fun. SpinTunes is a game. Making music is a hobby. None of us here are making money doing SpinTunes. So what if we have some differing opinions. I love hearing differing opinions and having debates.

      Jules, we’ve only had a conversation once in our lives. Maybe twice. And those were a part a larger crowd. You don’t know me. I don’t have a superiority complex. You can read through this blog and find a bunch of posts about how I’ve struggled over the last year with being a musician. I don’t think I’m something super special. I’m sorry that I’ve left a bad impression on you.

      Get to know me. I’m not really that bad.

  4. In the manner of quid Pro Quo…
    Firstly… Gotta say, I only used my song and edric’s as an example of how people have differing views and that those views can appear inconsistent.
    BUT, in YOUR mind it isn’t inconsistent because you *believe* that one song needs a chorus and the other doesn’t

    And it was MY belief that our song didn’t… no more, no less.
    It was NOT a *lets dump on Niveous* comment.

    Okay, moving on…, I will accept that I may have taken the *chorus* part to mean we dunno how to write them.
    And, Yes, it does read that way to me, (or else why bother to say so if you don’t think we know it? It was, after all, a direct comment to our song). But, yes, willing to accept that you may not have meant it that way.


    Delusions of Grandeur?
    That *could* easily be taken as offensive.

    For giving examples of how both Den and I *do* know what a chorus is there for? (Which was, after all, my perception of your comment).
    In what way is that a delusion of grandeur?

    If I WANTED to get all *granduery* about it.. well…
    Ask ANY of the people in Spintunes who followed Song Fu and I guarantee they will know the chorus to Tom Furby.
    That isn’t Delusion of Grandeur. That’s a fact.
    And thus (as was my point) proof that we know what choruses are and do (which is what MY take on what you said was)).. Y’see??

    I mean… after all… come on Niveous.. I *won* Song Fu!
    Surely THAT entitles me to SOME grandeur!

    ;’ )

    • Hey Joe,

      We can agree to disagree if the song needs a chorus or not. That’s the joy of opinions.

      As for the Delusions of Grandeur thing, read my reply to Jules. Your comment just came off wrong and I know you didn’t mean it to. I don’t think you have delusions of grandeur.

      So, are we cool? Buy you a pint one day?

  5. Just saw the reply….
    What *I* think is really groovy is that we both posted within a minute of each other !


    Buy me a bacon roll some day…. ;’ )

  6. Niveous, I think your statement should be changed to ‘I found myself wanted to hear a chorus in this song’ and left it at that. This expresses opinion and your feeling and desire for what you wanted from the song.

    There can be no blanket statment like: ‘It needs a chorus.’ Such a statement is trying to pass opinion as fact. Statements like this set off alarms to my over-developed semantics gene.

  7. I don’t do this for a hobby. I’m preparing for something. All this is practice. Interestingly though, I have found that in many fields of music, those who call themselves hobbyists often are pickier and more critical – educationally so; than any in the “pro” world. If I can’t succeed in this environment, I won’t be able to shop to the contacts I’m sitting on.


    Which is why I do and always have agreed with Niveous on strategy. It is a game, and it “pays” to play. I have not yet cracked my demographic.

    On “End of the World,” I have opinions, but they are mine, are private, and really at this time are inaccessible because I have so many desires for this song regarding production and my own part in it and how quickly the week went it’s hard to say.

    Joe and I are very different, but it’s worth it, and this too is a learning process in which I believe.

    On delusions of grandeur, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have them. I must have both these illusions and visions AND a bright realism- or I will not succeed.

    So I rule. I have to. And WE do. Even when we don’t. Because we must.

    Thanks for your thoughts. ALL input that is serious and respectful is valuable.

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