• Submitted on time! Jun 14, 2020
Once Upon A Time

I’m wondering what I should say to you

Because my compass has turned.

I’ve warned you, thrown it right in front in truth,

But I don’t think that you’ve taken the time to provingly learn.


I’ve been reset, landed in Joker’s smiling teeth,

Cats, hens, and other things.

Grown restless and tired of thinking about myself and what that means.

So I’ll starve, grow old, and die in a weirdly open waste cave


You’ll bluff

Then say you’re sorry

Because sure enough,



I’ve changed.

Men range.

Climbed out of my cage

Expecting damp rage.

Isn’t it strange

When the mean ones entertain you?

When they want you?

Won’t you complain?


I chose to retell “The Ugly Duckling”, a childhood classic. I connect very closely to it. I am a non-conformist. In many different ways. Sometimes, much like as the Ugly Duckling experiences, people like to directly stand in my way. This song is for them.


Instrumentation: Acoustic guitar, flute, trombone, french horn, slinky, bass drum, triangle, plate, shaker, and a bad hi-hat cymbal.

Looking for feedback on

Horns? I'm figuring out the best mixing sound for the horns to sound as ratty yet good as possible. Did I do an alright job finding a good compromise / how can I improve on it?


Nate July 19, 2020 5:57pm

Silly genre proclamation: lo-fi wind-ensemble chamber emo

Love this! I feel panic-at the disco in the melody/prosody/”songwriting”.

There’s something theatrical when these instruments get involved. Panic rides that sometimes. I’d think about the Beatles too.

How did you pan the guitar and vocals at the beginning? I’m not an expert, but I feel the guitar off to one side, as well as the vocals. It could be cool to have them both pretty center, then expand them wider as the song develops.

And for mixing here: peak loudness and wideness at the second chorus. You pretty much do that.

Then lastly, I may think of it less as a mixing question and more of an arrangement question — like, thinking about the overtone series, and how you’re designing the whole vertical stacking of things (intervals, what’s going to be “speaking over” the other stuff). If you can conceptualize that really clearly then mixing gets clearer.

Do you have an electric bass in the mix? Honestly that could thicken up the stuff above it, to reach down below the

Another thing here is, you could literally just automate the guitar (other instruments) down when the trombones are featured.

A question is: how much do you want the listener to perceive the words as they flow? Maybe how its mixed, maybe the delivery, maybe the overall complexity and density of the piece — I didn’t really latch onto them until I read them.

Love the flute punctuating the ends of phrase.

Killer guitar licks.

Carseat July 19, 2020 9:19pm

Hey thanks for all the feedback! I love the “lo-fi wind-ensemble chamber emo.” Made me chuckle.

But yeah it would be really interesting to think of mixing it more as a wind ensemble type sound than a typical rock sound. I couldn’t have electric bass since there was an acoustic parameter so I had a big n low pedal tone series on the trombone I was playing. I like the idea of bringing the guitars down when things get loud — I definitely notice it gets more chaotic once the ‘bones come in and I’m not sure if I like that, so thank you for that feedback.

And the words are chaotic on purpose. Trying to develop the mood of “yeah, I’m a big bad swan but I’m scared to confront you.” If it’s too far into the mix though, that wasn’t on purpose.

Ben July 16, 2020 10:37pm

Somehow I missed this! This is nuts! It gets crazier and crazier. In the first 10 seconds I was like “Oh cool, it’s a normal song. The guitar’s pretty wild, but ok for the most part, I get it, this will be a mostly standard song. Then harmonies, percussion, WHAT? FLUTE? sound effects, horns?, dissonance, more vocals. So cool. And it doesn’t sound like you just threw random tracks and layers on. It works really well, and is nice and concise too. This is the sleeper track for the assignment. not sure how i missed it the first time around!

Carseat July 18, 2020 9:17am

WOwwow thank you! Very much appreciated. I’m glad you enjoyed it

nurphgun July 5, 2020 4:08pm

Love the chaos, the dizzying whirlwind feel to it all. My fave line is “die in a weirdly open waste cave”.

Carseat July 18, 2020 9:16am

Hahah thank you. That lyric was a fun one to write. I kinda improvised on that one.

nick July 2, 2020 9:06am

wow this is nutsss. Love hearing these acoustic textures. Super inspiring that you created this wacky world without electronics and mixing effects. Makes me want to learn some new instruments. Reminds me of a rickety pickup truck with two pickup trucks worth of stuff piled up in the bed, strapped with twine swaying back and forth on a bumpy dirt road. Blown away.

Carseat July 18, 2020 9:15am

Thank you! I totally recommend learning any instrument. You never know when they’ll be useful… It’s also a cool party trick [has to be a very specific type of party though].

kurds June 22, 2020 4:42pm

Love your vocals with the very rapid guitar playing, it gave me a sense of great sense of urgency. Really enjoyed the flute as well.

Carseat July 18, 2020 9:13am

Thank you!

Ryan June 22, 2020 9:39am

So rad! Great guitar playing, great harmonic territory, super cool arrangements. Well done. Re: horns — every producer/mixer that I trust in my life categorically dislikes all midi horns lol. Love how you’ve used them in the piece, and they definitely work in the mix (nice n’ dark), but ultimately horns should be given over to the humans. In terms of getting a compositional and arrangement idea down though, these are great.

Carseat June 22, 2020 9:43am

Thanks for the feedback! And yes, I agree — midi horns are quite distasteful. That is me though… I play trombone and french horn on the side along with flute. Thought it’d be fun to bring them in.

Ryan June 22, 2020 9:58am

Well I will tell. you. what. Then that whole “they definitely work in the mix” comment is the only one that matters haha. I think what threw me is that they’re sitting back in the mix enough that I’m hearing most of the mid-high’s, so I just kind of assumed they’re midi. That is my fault! I wonder if bringing them out a bit more would declare their whole tone? Lesson learned: never assume someone doesn’t play french horn, trombone, and flute.

Ryan June 22, 2020 10:01am

Oh I was also going to ask you. What was your process for writing this song? Did you write the vocals and guitar part at the same time? I’m picturing playing and singing this at the same time and I’m nottttt feeling confident that I could do it haha.

Carseat June 22, 2020 1:52pm

Hahahah thanks! I’ll try bringing them up next time to see what it’s like. I wrote the guitar parts first and spent about a day trying to figure out a vocal part that fit into it, and then added the percussion and brass/flute afterward. I have tried multiple times to play it live — it’s playable but I definitely have to stretch first.