Song Analysis: Quester

In the IndieMusicFeedback genrespin game you spin a wheel, get a genre, and try your best to produce a new song of that genre. The last time I played, I rolled Synthrock. Without knowing too much about the genre, I went and made a bass-heavy rock ballad with all but perfect vocals. This is a good time to take a close look at the production and see what I want to do better with my next song.

r/IndieMusicFeedback is a great community of independent musicians that encourages regular production and constructive feedback. I can strongly recommend joining their discord. The people there produce stunningly good music. The friendly environment and regular events make exploring new musical ideas really easy and fun.

Overcome Perfectionism

My start of becoming an active musician was, when I was around 13. I never stopped making music since then, but at some point I stopped writing music on my own.

As a beginner, you are naively happy with how things sound. But as your skill develops, your taste gets sharper and more up-front. If you have a lurking perfectionist in yourself, it is likely that at some point you will stop making music on your own. Every idea is dead in its tracks, because judgment is quicker than progress in skill.

I was fortunate enough to just continue making music with others. It helps a lot, when others refine your ideas – or if you are working on the ideas of others.

But music-writers-block can be broken. Acknowledge the perfectionism and try not to be perfect on each individual track you produce. You can never reach that perfect song. If you try, you will never publish. Iterate on less-than-perfect releases and focus on small improvements between each track. After a while you will have enough tracks that make you happy, and you got back into the habit of producing.

Here, I want to discuss the things I like and dislike about Quester. Ideally, there are one or two things that I want to improve for the next song.

Jorchime - Quester

I used to think of myself as a quester
Leaving my home for glory
Time has shown, I'm a fool, I'm a jester
Reaching out for a story

All of this to leave things of yester
Unnoted memories set to fester

Notice ... this thought again
Appears ... disregard again
Take time ... to heal again
Still hurt ... ... again

I used to think of myself as a jester
Reaching out for a story
And this is what really makes me a quester:
I know that I feel sorry

Notice ... this thought again
appears ... disregard again
Take time ... to heal again
Still hurt ... ... again

Notice ... this thought again
Appears ... disregard again
Take time ... to heal again
Still hurt ... ... again

Let us listen to this supposedly synthrock song:

Jorchime · Quester

it is more like a demo:

  • Vocals, guitars and bass were pretty much one-take recordings
  • The drums are pre-recorded MIDIs in EZDrummer
  • Mixing was a quick get-it-out process


The first thing laid out were the drum MIDIs in a pretty standard Intro-Verse-Bridge-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus order. I have added a couple of transition bars at the end of most parts to cheaply emphasize the changes.

Another trick I like to play with lately is the automation of the songs pacing. By programming the BPM before you record any instruments, you can really emphasize the heaviness or power of certain parts. I probably overdid it here and there, because sometimes, e.g. between 1:30 and 1:50, the drag just gets way too extreme. On the other hand, between 1:00 and 1:20 and in the outro it works really well.

Next, I wrote the synth pad and lead melody to have a basic chord progression. I hoped this synth basis would make the song “synthrock” enough, but after adding guitars and bass I would say that there is still some synth-vibe missing.

The lyrics are nothing special – I just needed something to record. The first two verses came quite quickly, but I really struggled to stretch the idea over the whole song. I think it shows with the amount of repeated lines.


I did not put enough time into making the guitar and bass “lock-in” with the drums. The timing is off too often, because I just laid out the idea and later went with the temporary track, because – you know. This is clearly something I want to focus on the next time I record the guitars.

The most off-putting thing about the vocals, ignoring timing and intonation, is how much I form the words in the front of my mouth. At that day, I thought too much about my neighbours and if they can hear me sing that bad. It really changed the general tone of my voice, and this is something I want to do differently next time.


The guitars feel a bit too heavy, too metal, to be a rock song. It is difficult for me to get distorted guitars that are not metal, but I think the sound still works for the song.

As an amateur vocalist I can only slowly accept to listen to myself. That is why there is always some processing going on. My favorite kind of processing is a parallel formant-pitch shift. I just mix the original sound with a -1 octave copy through ReaPitchs formant algorithms. This adds a vocoder feel to the main vocals and I use it everywhere.

The amount of vocal tracks is too much at times, but I like the harmonies, e.g. at 0:25. The choir-effect at 2:05 kind of works, but it does feel somewhat inconsistent. It consists of the main vocals, two panned harmonies by me, and two harmonies + two growl tracks by dhxp.

Additionally there is a formant-pitch-shifted and off-center reverb effect, that is audible on its own from 3:13. This reverb adds a lot of chaos in the previous chorus, but I really like the eerie feeling generates.

What to Focus On Next?

I think the song structure is pretty solid. If I do not go overboard with the BPM automation the next time, my approach of starting with drums will be just fine.

For the recordings, I should not fool myself and think that I will just record a temporary track to capture the idea and then redo it properly later. If I record guitars or bass, I should try to lock-in with the rhythm right there and then.

The vocals need more practice, but this is something for the long run. But, when I record vocals for the next song, I want to focus on how I form the words and where the sound is coming from.

Sound-wise, it really depends much on what my next project will be. But a general direction could be to aim for a little less chaos in the vocal section. Get something more basic and try to make it work.

A game made me write a synthrock song without knowing what it is. The songwriting is good, but there is room for improvement with the recordings. I will try to make it better with the next song.
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