Author Topic: What on earth do I say when he asks me? Big update: he pressed on...  (Read 7265 times)

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Nora

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I love my husband, I really do. He's a decent guitar player, and can sing certain things very well. Thing is that he likes to make his own songs every now and then, for his own amusement. He records them, spends a lot of time editing and nitpicking, and in general put's a lot of love and energy into his hobby.

Here is the problem: he's not very good. He can sing and play the needle and the damage done so well it makes me cry, but whenever he records his own work it's just painful in the "I want to claw my way out of this room" way. He loves doing this, spends a lot of energy on it, and I don't want him to stop something that gives him this much pleasure. He asks me what I think regularly, because he respects my opinion, and knows I love him playing covers (he's really very good at that). He recorded a new song yesterday, and wants to know what I think. It makes me cringe.

I'm a terrible liar, and he knows me very well. If I tried to tell him it was good/nice/"different" he'd pick up on it immediately. I'm afraid that if he knows what I think he'll lose his enjoyment from this, and I don't want that on my head. At the same time I don't want him to play this around me _ever_(imagine a thousand cats on a thousand chalk boards), and he would, endlessly, if I gave him any reason to think that would be fine.

Help! I'm desperate! I need an answer by tonight when he comes home from work!
« Last Edit: August 27, 2010, 02:53:23 PM by Nora »
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LauraKat

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2010, 06:04:56 AM »
Is there anything you do like about his original songs? If you can focus on the positive and the good aspects and just not mention the things you don't like, it might not feel like you're being deceptive.

Also can you phrase the things you don't like in a constructive light? It sounds like he's asking for your opinion because he genuinely wants to hear how you feel about his music, so I don't think it's bad to put foward a negative opinion as long as you're gentle about it and it's something he can work on.

Edited to add:

I was thinking about this a bit more and while you're hearing the product as a whole, I'd imagine he put a lot of work into figuring out the different components of the song and putting it all together.

If you can find an aspect you like it might be good to tell him you like what he did with that element and ask him about how he came up with that/put it together. It's really hard sharing a creative piece of work and I'm sure he'd enjoy talking about the process that went into it. If you can get him excited about talking about a particular element, it also might make it easier for him to hear constructive critisism about other elements of the song.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 06:15:18 AM by LauraK »

Alex the Seal

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2010, 06:22:26 AM »
Can you identify what makes the difference between his covers and his original work?

If it's something you can put your finger on (and that he could change), maybe you could gently prod his original work in a direction more similar to the kind of song he covers well - "I miss hearing you sing country songs, they suit your voice, I really wish you'd write more country songs". Kind of make it into a positive request rather than a criticism, maybe?

If it's just an issue of quality, then I'm not sure.

Nora

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2010, 07:28:47 AM »
It's quality. He's essentially tonedeaf(he admits this), but can play and sing from original works of others because there are so many cues to go by. When he creates something himself it sounds like a teenager trying to emulate nirvana/metallica. He has a tendency to wail. He's also not a poet by any stretch of the imagination, is incapable of writing creatively/originally, and has a very limited english vocabulary (the only thing that rhymes with "bad", is "sad", apparantly) but insists on writing english lyrics.

It's really bad. Trust me on this. There is just no fixing it. Not that I can see at least.

Edited to add:
This makes him sound daft, and he really isn't. He's very skillful at many things, but this is the one that makes him the happiest. After doing this for a couple of hours he has renewed enery, and a lighter outlook on life. I can't tell him how bad he is, I just can't.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 08:08:04 AM by Nora »
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Boots

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2010, 08:19:04 AM »
What you might want to say is that to YOU he sounds wonderful, happy and creative.  But that you would not be the best person to ask because you are biased for loving him so much. (As you stuff cotton balls in your ears to stop the bleeding.)

And how you realize what a great creative outlet it is for him.

If he asks if he sounds professional you should suggest perhaps a professional or someone with more knowledge in music listen to his recordings.

Ugh, tough situation. But gently and lovingly use what truth you do have when or if he asks.

bah12

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2010, 10:43:32 AM »
How good is he at taking construction criticism?  If he admits that he's tone deaf and needs the cues of other music to go off of, then it shouldn't be such a shock to him that he's missing that in his original work.  If you can kindly point that out and let him hear other music, he may be able to work on this.

Also, as far as the lyrics go, are you willing to help him write them?  It would be a sweet project for you.  If he's looking for something that rhymes with bad, you can help him out.

It seems that he values your input and I think there are constructive ways that you can say "this isn't very good" without discouraging him.

When he asks you what you think, start out with the positives (there is something you like right?) then you can go into the things that he could work on like "I really like the message in that, and the melody is nice, but it sounds off key...let's listen to some of this other music together and see if we can figure it out."  Or "Those words are so beautiful and meaningful.  What would give it even more depth is if we incorporate some synonms for 'sad' into it so it doesn't repeat the same words over and over again.  I'll go get my thesaurus and maybe we can come up with something."

Of course, this all depends on if he's really looking for a true opinion or if he just wants to hear you like it....

Teenyweeny

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 10:50:59 AM »
Ouch! That's tough.

My advice depends on the following:

Does he intend to perform these songs for anyone but you
? Because I definitely think you should give him some gentle criticism if he is.


 Could you try:

 (You guys are dutch, aren't you?)
"Honey, why don't you try writing in Dutch? You'd be able to express yourself so much more, I think it would really open up your creativity."

Also, since you say there are some songs he does really well at:
"I really love 'x' about this song, maybe you should try writing it in the same key as 'song y (that he can actually sing)'."

For the wailing, you could try:

"Honey, I really loved the emotion of the lyrics, and the melody was so atmospheric, I think you don't need to sing so powerfully at all, your work speaks for itself."


If it's just for you, then I'd honestly grin and bear it, since it makes him so happy.  You can always find SOMETHING positive to say, even if it's just, "Wow, I can really see you put your heart and soul into this."
 



Nora

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 11:05:45 AM »
He might very well perform this for other people, if I give him the impression that that would get raves/end well/not be horribly shaming. Even "just ok" would make my guy climb a stage and let it rip. This is partly why I'm in such a muck sweat about it.

We are indeed dutch (the memory on you!). And I will definitely try:"Honey, why don't you try writing in Dutch? You'd be able to express yourself so much more, I think it would really open up your creativity."

Particularly the "opening up of his creativity". Boy, do I hope that happens.

Also, this;

"Honey, I really loved the emotion of the lyrics, and the melody was so atmospheric, I think you don't need to sing so powerfully at all, your work speaks for itself."

Gold, just gold. I'm chanting it on the inside as I'm typing this.
Just because someone is offended that does not mean they are in the right.

Amava

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 12:18:03 PM »
He might very well perform this for other people, if I give him the impression that that would get raves/end well/not be horribly shaming. Even "just ok" would make my guy climb a stage and let it rip. This is partly why I'm in such a muck sweat about it.

We are indeed dutch (the memory on you!). And I will definitely try:"Honey, why don't you try writing in Dutch? You'd be able to express yourself so much more, I think it would really open up your creativity."

Bonus point: you don't live in the Netherlands or in Belgium anymore, so if he sings in Dutch, even IF his lyrics are bad, nobody will understand them or hear how bad they are. They will just sound cool and exotic.  ;D

One Goat to Rule Them All

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2010, 12:31:46 PM »
So it sounds like you don't like the lyrics or his singing, but what about the guitar part? Could you focus on that? "I loved the guitar solo"

Nora

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 01:27:11 PM »
I went with "I can hear you put a lot of work into it", and then told him that asking people if they wanted to hear his own music was rather putting them on the spot, and not good etiquette.  :-\ I know, I spaced. My brain was screaming "Say something about atmosphere!!!" It was the best I could do, I was having a deer in headlights moment! I don't know how long this will hold, but I got through that conversation!

I'm going to compliment the guitar parts if this comes up again (it will, he's deliriously happy and proud).
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 01:30:04 PM by Nora »
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sisbam

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 01:28:48 PM »
Is there anything like The Field where you are? Maybe you can direct him there so that unbiased artistic minds can tear his work apart and send him in a better direction. And his creative energy can be directed out there. And you can work on your poiker face. :)

lady_disdain

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me? Small update: he asked...
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2010, 01:57:17 PM »
Writing lyrics, composing a melody, arranging the harmony, playing the tune, singing and recording is a lot for one person! Could you suggest that he concentrate on one or two at a time? Playing and recording a song he knows and loves OR setting a poem to song OR adapt an existing song to a different style (this is a great exercise, actually!),

As for the tone deaf issue, does he listen to his recording? Is he critical of them (in the sense of "what can I improve", not of over criticism) or is does he have difficulty admiting that they could be better? The tough part of being creative is that the artist/craftsperson has to be able to discern how to improve themselves, unfortunately.

sisbam

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me? Small update: he asked...
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 02:28:40 PM »
Writing lyrics, composing a melody, arranging the harmony, playing the tune, singing and recording is a lot for one person! Could you suggest that he concentrate on one or two at a time? Playing and recording a song he knows and loves OR setting a poem to song OR adapt an existing song to a different style (this is a great exercise, actually!),

As for the tone deaf issue, does he listen to his recording? Is he critical of them (in the sense of "what can I improve", not of over criticism) or is does he have difficulty admiting that they could be better? The tough part of being creative is that the artist/craftsperson has to be able to discern how to improve themselves, unfortunately.

Oooh, nice! So, he's decent at guitar and he likes to mix and master, yes? Maybe you can direct him toward instrumental melodies and manipulating those sounds in the studio...

joraemi

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Re: What on earth do I say when he asks me? Small update: he asked...
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2010, 04:20:03 PM »
Writing lyrics, composing a melody, arranging the harmony, playing the tune, singing and recording is a lot for one person! Could you suggest that he concentrate on one or two at a time? Playing and recording a song he knows and loves OR setting a poem to song OR adapt an existing song to a different style (this is a great exercise, actually!),

As for the tone deaf issue, does he listen to his recording? Is he critical of them (in the sense of "what can I improve", not of over criticism) or is does he have difficulty admiting that they could be better? The tough part of being creative is that the artist/craftsperson has to be able to discern how to improve themselves, unfortunately.

Oooh, nice! So, he's decent at guitar and he likes to mix and master, yes? Maybe you can direct him toward instrumental melodies and manipulating those sounds in the studio...

I like this.

"Honey - you know, your guitar playing is SO fantastic. Quite honestly I find that your singing detracts from my enjoyment of your fine instrumental skills.  Have you considered writing a song that is strictly instrumental? I think it would be my new favorite."




Courage is the price life  exacts for granting peace.  ~Amelia Earhart~