Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by furrypedro »

Who's Glow Worm? Digging that one.

Is anyone else getting anxious about not making the cut? I'm sure we'll be talking about the great Nur Ein XV Round Zero massacre for years to come.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by vowlvom »

furrypedro wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:20 am
Who's Glow Worm? Digging that one.
Seconded! A highlight of my early listens.

Quite a lot of entries still don't have lyrics in the lyrics thread, would appreciate it if anyone can post them to aid in the judging process. There are an absolutely fuckload of songs, aren't there?
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by crumpart »

furrypedro wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:20 am
Who's Glow Worm? Digging that one.

Is anyone else getting anxious about not making the cut? I'm sure we'll be talking about the great Nur Ein XV Round Zero massacre for years to come.
If I was a judge, I’d probably cut me. I was trying something new and I don’t love it. At least I’ll have 15 other shadows to keep me company!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by crumpart »

Not that I’m volunteering, btw, judges!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by arby »

hi guys!! so excited to be back in Nur Ein this year!!! since Nivs and I are self-isolating without our beloved bassist and drummer, but with our good friend and musician Mimi Oz, we've formed a new supergroup and are submitting as Goodbye Bandita. I'm terrified and amazed to learn about the 41 song list for Round Zero. Off to post our lyrics in the lyric thread!!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

Last year there were 25 and I sent in a p.o.s. for round zero (apologies all around.) My only regret is that there weren't 26 and I could have been the first Nur Ein round zero cut (well deserved, too.) This year I learned my lesson and actually produced a song. And I may get my (not real) wish of being among the first cut. Amazing number of entries for round zero. I guess isolation does breed the need to be creative, eh? Good luck, judges.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by RangerDenni »

I think upon reflection I would be real disappointed if I wasn’t participating in this one. What a great crowd of songs and great people I haven’t seen in quite a while :)
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by Generic »

I just read all the judges' statements and saw that Owl requested "liner notes" for our songs, if we have any tidbits to share. This is the kind of thing I generally prefer to do after the judging is over, but per the jury's request...

I started out thinking, "Well, everyone's going to go sarcastic with this title, so what if I make it sincere? Like, really saying this is actually fine?" This idea didn't make it through to the end, but I tried to play with the concept of using "This is fine" as a mantra, even if the narrator doesn't actually think it's fine - matter of fact, especially if the narrator doesn't believe things are actually fine. And then, in my mind, it kind of goes on in layers: Things are wrong, but this is fine, but it's NOT fine, but it not being fine is, itself, fine. The mantra should become true through repetition, even if it wasn't true to begin with. (That's why I repeat it so much in the chorus, which I hope doesn't come back to bite me when there are 40 other songs with the same title competing.)

For my narrator, this repetition doesn't actually work, and I tried to make the music reflect that tension. The D and A chords are staggered and frequently muted, symbolizing the narrator's inability to find their center. The G chords are allowed to ring, symbolizing the forced serenity of the "This is fine" mantra. In the third verse, this pattern reverses: The narrator drops the most devastatingly self-aware truths and has given up on trying to say "this is fine" after each of them, so now the lyrics rhyme (ish), the plagal cadence is no longer staggered, and it's the G chords that are being frequently muted, while also being underscored by the booming slightly cacophonous tom drums.

Incorporating aspects like arrangement and plagal cadence into the narrative of the songwriting itself is something I've never done before. To my ears, it results in a piece that stands as a whole. I'm not counting on listeners to individually figure out the narrative reasons for each of these choices, but I do hope they add up to something that "makes sense" to the listener, even if only subconsciously.

The bridge is slightly short, but contains the least caustic truth in the lyrics: "I need you to tell me sometimes / I need to believe it." The narrator is actually reaching out for help, but I filtered my vocals for this line, as though this cry for help is coming from a huge distance or from underwater. The narrator cannot actualize this plea. It's followed by the minor-key version of the verse cadence, with a whistled solo. I'm normally not a fan of whistling, but I settled on it here because whistling is kind of culturally metonymic of forced or feigned nonchalance. Whistling off key emphases the feint in this nonchalance... Though I must admit that this last part is a post-hoc justification, and if I'd had one more day, I would have spent it trying to get this whistling more in key.

Finally, a note on the instrumentation: I'm really pushing myself lately to get better at the guitar. I've always coasted on the various "cowboy chords" I know, along with their suspended variants, sevenths, and the like. I'm primarily a keyboardist, and it's too easy for me to gravitate back to the piano whenever I reach something too challenging on guitar. So I challenged myself to write a part incorporating electric guitar and no piano (originally it was no keyboards at all, but I changed my mind to incorporate that organ as a pad). A close listen will show that I'm not great at this, but the act of writing the electric guitar part, incorporating it into the arrangement, and drilling it until I got it right (er... as close as I came to "right," anyway) was very satisfying for me, and resulted in a song that doesn't actually sound like anything else in my oeuvre. So even if I get cut, I'll chalk this one up as a personal win.

I hope you found that illuminating, and that I wasn't too self-aggrandizing. :-)

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by noma »

I don't know if I can say that much about my song, but I'll try.

Musically, I wanted to keep it simple and also make everything really bright and chimey. I'm very satisfied with the second guitar doing the arpeggios in the right channel, but I think the other one is perhaps a bit too crunchy. But whatever, I did want to make it sound bright, but not too sugary.

Lyrically, this is about how past events get distorted, blurred, idealized, etc. in our memories, as well as the feeling of being in love changing the perception of our surroundings. The narrator first states he has always been a pessimist, the bleak outlook at first underlining this; with the first chorus, we see hope is still present in the narrator. Then the next verse begins with a contradiction of the first one; now that the narrator has found someone who loves him, all the bad things happening around him and across the world don't weigh so heavy on him anymore and he can't imagine himself outside of his current optimistic status, to the point of not even remembering - or just downplaying, whatever - that he used to be a pessimist. This dramatic shift in perception is enforced in the bridge which features some more contradictions. In the last chorus I included a reference to the KC Green comic which finishes the song.

OK, that was more than I thought I could say about it.
Good luck to all the other competitors!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by crumpart »

I also wanted to veer away from negative associations, and was originally planning to write a song about or from the perspective of my favourite paintbrush, the Raphael 8404 Kolinsky watercolour brush, which is a round shape brush with a really fine point. That wasn’t sticking for me though, but I liked the “this is fine art” angle, so looked up an artwork from one of my favourite artists, Corita Kent. Something in one of the things I read led me to Norton Juster’s book, ‘The Dot and the Line: a romance in lower mathematics’, which is a really clever picture book about a line that falls in love with a dot. In a deliberately abstract way, I was trying to retell that story.

Music-wise, I wanted to try something much more pop-oriented than I’d normally make. I’m really happy with the instrumentation, but I did something weird to my drums right and the end and they started sounding shit, so I had to change them, and in retrospect don’t really like what I chose and don’t feel it sits well with some of the line deliveries. I’m also not fond of my vocals. The lyrics took me longer to write than I hoped, and I ended up needing to record really late at night and just wasn’t feeling comfortable. If I were to redo this at any point, I’d make the vocals much more energetic and add more layers and do a bunch of harmonies.

(Edited because I just realised autocorrect on my phone the other day probably fucked up the spelling of Norton Juster's name, and, lo and behold, it had.)
Last edited by crumpart on Tue May 12, 2020 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by thelowestbitter »

Okay a little about mine. I had a verse and pre-chorus and was gonna come back and do a chorus, and then I downloaded the orchestral instruments pack for ableton, and got carried away, and before I knew it I had arranged a string section break instead of writing a chorus and only had a day left to deadline. So I convinced myself the pre-chorus was now gonna be the chorus, and tried to make the vocals in that bit more obviously hooky. It basically ended up being a bit of a messy vocal pile up but I think I just about salvaged things in the mix.

The "I'm okay/i'm not okay" lyrical contradiction is pretty basic but it sums up the way my mental state has been vacillating in lockdown. Lyrically it's pretty much a list of things I'm doing to try and kill time - there's references to a zoom music quiz my pal Adam has been organising every week, Yoga With Adriene (I'm now on my 48th consecutive day FYI), Witcher 3, The Times' "Super Fiendish Sudoku book". The way I pronounce Sudoku in this song sounds wrong and stupidly over-enunciated to my ears, but it made me laugh when I listened back after recording it so I left it.

Think I'm gonna ban myself from singing about lockdown in any future Nur Ein songs if I get through, already feel like I've exhausted it with this and my last couple of songfight entries.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by ken »

Just finished listening to all the songs and there are many really good ones. I don't envy the judges having to whittle this excellent group down. Lots of folks I don't recognize. My ear was particularly grabbed by a number, including the Lowest Bitter.

Here are a couple of notes for the two songs I was involved with:

Berkeley Social Scene - I wrote a set of lyrics based on some AI generated ideas. Glen used this first draft to write the music and melodies. Once we had a demo, I rewrote the lyrics to be much more personal, about a guy dealing with his partner abandoning him, but who could take it all in stride. Even though he loves them, and they are creating chaos in their life, he is okay and still loves them. So things between them are not fine, but it is fine for them not to be fine. We put together the instrument tracks after that. I programmed the drums, Bryan played bass, Glennny on guitar and vocals, Lunkhead plays keys and slide guitars.

Ken - My song is more about how the world around us is chaotic (not fine), but our personal relationship is strong (fine). I started with acoustic guitar and vocals, wrote lyrics about my wife and the world around us, thought a lot about Beatles songs like All You Need is Love and worked from there. Once I had the song written I started adding the other instruments, first the B3 organ pad, then bass and drums. Lastly, backing vocals and redoing the lead vocals for the umpteenth time. I usually try not to do too much in round zero, but went full band this time.

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by Caravan Ray »

Mine’s a song. You can dance to it.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by frankie big face »

I have a funny confession to make about my song. The first line is supposed to be "The sun comes up in the west" and I wrote down (and sang) "The sun sets in the west." The entire time I thought I was singing a contradictory lyric. Only today did I "realize" the sun actually does set in the west. My brain is fried. I blame online teaching.

Hopefully, the rest of the song is enough of a contradiction to appease the judges. If not, well, there's always next year! :P
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by Lucky Spoon »

As mentioned in the lyrics thread, this song is about my nephew, Jonathan, who had Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and passed away when he was 7 months old. The contradiction comes from singing about how everything will be fine when it won't. The music lends itself to the soft sweetness of a lullaby twisted with the underlying pain of presenting hope to a hopeless situation. In the end, the hope crumbles and we're left with a painful yet peaceful emptiness. The songbirds are there because Jonathan loved watching the birds. The crow and fading cicadas signify death/the fading season of life.

I probably would have worked harder at general production and adding more overlays of strings and piano had I known 16 people would be getting cut this round. After my first experience of the grueling pace of putting together a song a week last year I rolled the dice and tried to save energy on round 0. We'll see how that works out for me.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by lichenthroat »

On the superficial level, my song is about the rock size classification scale used in geology, which, in order of decreasing size, includes boulders, cobbles, gravel, sand, silt, and clay, with various fine and coarse gradations within each category. This song is also about how my perception of this geological system has changed as I age. The first verse describes my experience as a child, when my father first explained the rock size categories to me. The second verse describes my experience as a college student, gaining a more technical perspective while analyzing soil samples in the geotechnical lab. And the last verse describes the application of this knowledge in analyzing morphological and environmental changes on the Rio Grande, which I have done in my profession for the last 20 years. The contradiction (of sorts) occurs in the bridge and involves a play on words in which fine can be taken to mean either “okay” or “of small size.” The lack of rhymes was intended to enhance a sense of the narrator’s stream-of-consciousness in recollecting his life experiences.

Musically, I was trying for an open, expansive sound, as well as experimenting with a reverb plugin that I like quite a bit better than others I’ve tried before. I was a little worried about the tempo variations between the verse and chorus, but eventually I decided that they were okay. I’m not sure if that means that they really are fine, or simply I’ve listened to the song so many times that my brain has subconsciously smoothed out all the rough spots.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by ariskofrain »

oh cool, liner notes!

uh I'm not super happy with the clarity of purpose on my track, but I had something very shaky happen in the past few days that reminded me of Someone Bad, and it was just like, if I'm not writing a song about this, what else is there?

essentially I wanted to capture the why and what of the emotion behind, like, feeling very negatively towards someone, and coming to terms with that, kind of? the contradiction I was going for was the like, I don't want to feel like you deserve something very bad happen, but also, I absolutely feel that way. it's kind of a grim thing, I understand, so I did the time-old trick of slapping on a real catchy melody as an additional level of contradiction. I'm not like 100% happy with it, especially considering there's 16 tracks not making it, but I absolutely have had the chorus stuck in my head for the past week.
Last edited by ariskofrain on Mon May 11, 2020 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by owl »

Keep those liner notes coming! There were a lot of you who didn’t seem to have really fulfilled the challenge, but a good explanation of what you intended might help, for me at least.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by Generic »

owl wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 4:01 pm
Keep those liner notes coming! There were a lot of you who didn’t seem to have really fulfilled the challenge, but a good explanation of what you intended might help, for me at least.
This came up a couple of times when I was judging too. We didn't want to single anyone out, but some explanation was sometimes necessary.

I'd like to write reviews, but I'm not even 2/3 done listening to the songs yet! Glow Worm is the clear winner so far, though. That song is good enough to make me question why I even bother.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by WreckdoMelle »

Well maybe to my detriment, my song is a political one but hopefully humorous enough to keep the tears at bay. As an American I really am that dog in the burning room drinking my beverage and telling myself it's fine and in the next frame I'm what? Screaming? Running? No, I'm writing a Nur Ein entry that either does or doesn't have a chance. Lyrically I think I went after the challenge and managed to fumble my metaphors (think "sipping tea" as in the Kermit the Frog meme of Kermie sipping his tea while silently judging, though the This Is Fine dog is probably drinking straight whiskey out of a coffee cup at 9am, I know I would be if I weren't a teetotaler). I hope the lyrics are unequivocal but if they're not, I would say I come from a place of discontentment (that's being Wisconsin nice). I went with good old guitar, bass, and keys since my song structure isn't whatever the fashionable song structures are, and I shied from such enjoyable novelties as samples and loops this time, since I really would like to participate, but admittedly, this voice is all I have to work with; there are no Pavarottis in this house, except the dog which occassionally attempts to join me when I'm really belting it out. I thought I'd start it out slow and meandering as we inch toward impending disaster. Then we start rolling downhill. The fast part turns major for the reason that want to at least enjoy our hellride a little bit. Then it's over. Er, that's meant to be metaphorical - I hope listening to this isnt' a hellride, it's not meant to be overly transgressive.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

I typed out a liner note then deleted it but since Owl has asked...

Short note: I wrote another song about a dog.

Longer note: This didn't happen to me, but: Imagine your best friend died in a car accident. You inherited his dog. And the dog keeps running away (ostensibly toward his previous home) and even when it sticks around seems not to be present and is generally experiencing mixed feelings of gratefulness and abandonment as if not quite ready to commit to a long term relationship. This is frustrating to the narrator who is happy to have a pet (who wouldn't be?) but is sad about the circumstances.

Or it could just be a fucked up love song.

Instrumentation: I intended to have more piano verse and distorted guitar chorus but settled for organ(s) and bell on top of guitar verses and distorted chorus. I think the ending is supposed to represent an increase in anxiety culminating into resignation.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Zero "This is Fine"

Post by RangerDenni »

I do have an explanation of my song which I made for my own edification because I wasn't sure if I was going to finish. It was tight and I made it because I liked it more than I wanted to do recording. It's grown on me a bit since I did it--but I was making a song for my own goals. I am also trying to make song bios. I put it on my blog but it is rather lengthy. Long story short it is about how a middle aged white lady who is comfortable feels about racial violence and injustice when it is a large problem and you are a one person with your particular routine and life and all of that. It's a bit glum, but so is the whole subject and it should be looked at that way. I wrote this for many reasons and it's very complicated and also--me even bringing it up is complicated and perhaps...a bit of sonic clutter. My perspective is not what really matters, in my opinion. So there is that. But if you want a (lengthy) read about my opinion and my process and my personality, here you are:

https://philosophywithfries.wordpress.c ... 5/11/6179/:
Last edited by RangerDenni on Mon May 11, 2020 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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