Constructive criticism

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  • @coffeeinthesink  Feb 12

    I usually try to suggest something I think would make a song better as I'm commenting. I'm rarely seeing that be the case here so I wonder if I'm coming off as a jerk. I typically only make suggestions when I like what the fawmer is doing and I sandwich it in with whatever I love about the song.

    I don't know, I suppose it would be too much if everyone was critiquing each other too much, but we are all here to get better right?

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12


    I've made songs and didn't want any criticism, because ultimately, I liked them the way they were and with music or songs it's always super super super subjective.

    On the other hand, if I want to have as many perspectives as possible to consider, then criticism can be extremely valuable.

    Do I give criticism? Sometimes, but I kinda don't like that I did afterwards. I can throw out suggestions that pop to my head. Is that considered criticism? They too can feel kinda nasty.

    People don't like criticism. FAWM is a place to encourage people to get something huge out of their systems, not to criticize and help them to become better people. If somebody specifically asks for criticism, then go crazy! But I don't think criticism is a good idea here. It can be really discouraging.

    So: if you want critique, ask for it.

    If a person just wants to have some fun and make songs, then criticism can only bring their spirits down.

  • @tcelliott  Feb 12

    Yeah, so, Fawm is a place to encourage creativity. The idea is to bang out 14 (hopefully good) songs and move on. Most of us wouldn't be sharing these songs if it weren't understood that none of (or less of) the polish has been applied.

    I personally have received a critique and disagreed with it completely. And I'd be lying if I said it has never put me off a bit. But it's just an opinion, man. Taken in the spirit of wanting to help, it's not such a bad thing, is it? But I have also seen it happen to others who took it completely the wrong way. And I've been guilty of offering suggestions before myself. But my general attitude is why risk hurting someones feelings?

    I like the idea that if you want a critique you say so in the liner notes. Otherwise, we're here to encourage creativity, in my opinion.

    Something that could help with giving suggestions without being thought of as a jerk. Instead of saying "You should have" or "This needs" use "I could see this working as..." In other words, find a way to encourage rather than critique, if possible.

  • @cicpisces Feb 12

    I offer things I like and things I would do with it. I try to approach it on a way to say what they have done is good but they could also try something new.
    But it's very subjective because what works for me may not work for them.

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12

    @tcelliott yeah, those suggestions are really good. I find it less like unsolicited advice if someone says "this makes me think that it might even work with xyz..."

  • @billwhite51 Feb 12

    i am very interested in how my work strikes different people. whether thy love it or hate it is not as important as knowing their real feelings. also, i disagree with many of the positive things people have said about particular songs, but it is just a matter of different perspectives. different people hear and interpret things in different ways, and we are blessed to hear the all the varied responses to our efforts.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    Look at see if the person asks for critiques. Usually there is information in the person's bio or in the liner notes of the song about what kind of comments the person welcomes. I don't welcome critique because the only person who knows how my music is supposed to go is me. I don't need advice or instruction from faceless people I don't know on the internet. I'm fine with "nice song" Have a nice day.

  • @airbagtester  Feb 12

    From what you said about sandwiching it in with what you like about the song, it sounds like you are definitely doing that in a helpful and non-jerk way, so I wouldn't worry about coming off as a jerk.

    Everyone has different goals for FAWM: some write a one-off song that they might never go back to, others make songs that get refined into set list material for performing live, and others are maybe focused on demoing a recording of a FAWM song for an album. So I usually try and play it safe and not assume that everyone is looking for suggestions or advice on improvements from me. I mostly comment on my favorite parts of the song, and maybe describe -why- that's my favorite part of it.

    But that's just me; there's certainly no rule about how to leave a comment (aside from the common sense rule "be respectful," as well as other guidelines outlined in's etiquette section: )

    Overall though - and outside of FAWM - I find people who are well practiced in providing constructive criticism to be invaluable. I'm not really one of those people, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once...

  • @airbagtester  Feb 12

    Here's the official set of guidelines on song commenting, from

    Commenting on Songs
    - Focus on the song rather than the demo (if any).
    - Don't discuss your rating of the song (if any).
    - Accentuate the positive.
    - Generally avoid negative remarks. Constructive criticism is OK, though.
    - Phrase any criticisms in a way that suggests how to improve the song (not show off your expertise).
    - Check the song page or the fawmer profile for more information about the type of comments sought (e.g. go easy, be tough, seeking feedback on a particular aspect of the song).

  • @sbs2018 Feb 12

    I came into this thinking it was like NaNoWriMo for songwriters instead of novelists where the idea is to write songs/novels and nobody sees your work. So I missed the part where it said people would comment on your songs - yikes! Lol! Overall, I’ve enjoyed the comments - nice to know what’s working. As for suggestions, guess it depends on how they’re given. When I posted lyrics only, somebody said they could hear it as a rock song - totally appreciated hearing that. Or by the title I thought it was going to be a country song - also helpful - I agreed and changed the title. But if somebody said “your vocals are pitchy and your timing is all off,” well that I would already know and feel uncomfortable about posting any more unpolished songs.

  • @sbs2018 Feb 12

    Okay, didn’t see previous comment while making mine. Guess that covers it. 😀

  • @adforperu  Feb 12

    I'm all for constructive criticism. I mean - it's constructive! If it's a stylistic choice and I disagree, then hey-ho. Often, the criticism I gain is something I'd already leveled at my self anyway! I'm not going to hate them for it. I especially find production advice particularly helpful.

  • @morti Feb 12

    Compliment sandwich!


    That's a really catchy tune! The chorus lyrics are an affront to humanity. I like your shoes!

  • @coffeeinthesink  Feb 12

    I appreciate the idea of asking for some input in the liner notes. The only criticism or suggestions I've gotten so far have been very nice but maybe a little soft. I mean, we all know we're turning songs around at a pace we're not used to, but for me I'd like input on song structure or phrasing or contrast or what have you. However I get that some are just happy to be posting some music in a public place and want to be encouraged.

  • @coffeeinthesink  Feb 12

    Lol @morti

  • @haim  Feb 12

    @coffeeinthesink I agree and disagree.

    Disagree because - Sometimes even myself is offended from someone with good intentions, it can feel a little not nice to get critique on a song you wrote in a few hours and just uploaded to move on to the next, because in your head you know that your song is not perfect so it's annoying sometimes.. I also know from my experience that usually I don't work further on my songs so I wish they sound good as they are and if someone is saying something constructive about my song then my bubble of the song is exploded.

    I agree because - sometimes you really wanna know if your song is good or not, but the comments you get are far from telling you if it's good or not and that's a bit frustrating if you really need the input, but then you can write in your liner notes that you want constructive critisism, I did it in one of my songs and I really appreciated the criticizm people gave me.

    In general I think that if I am giving a constructive comment, then it would be to someone that I already know and he/she knows me too so they know I have good intentions and I appreciate their music.

    To sum up - I think its okay as long as you give good explanation that lets the author feel comfortable with your comment.

  • @burrsettles  Feb 12

    This is something I would like to figure out in software somehow.

    In particular, each year we have a batch of fawmlings who are already experienced songwriters who come into it with the mindset that most/all fellow fawmers are in the same place as them and this is a massive songwriter's workshop where criticism is encouraged and expected.

    In practice, that's not the case. And that's OK, but some people do want that criticism while others prefer rainbows and unicorns to get them through to their next song. Part of it stems from the quantity/quality tradeoff of FAWM's objective.

    Anyway, ideas on the "right" way to signal to total strangers that you want constructive feedback on a song is welcome.

  • @frenchcricket Feb 12

    Something like this, if you're happy for robust feedback

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12

    @frenchcricket that's one fat sausage

    @burrsettles There's an option on Deviant Art for something like Critique wanted. And that displays a sign next to the comment box that says "This artist has requested critique of their artwork". I think that works pretty well there. You could have another box for people who haven't requested critique. Something like "This artist hasn't requested critique" or whatever.

  • @vomvorton  Feb 12

    I only offer constructive criticism if the person has either explicitly asked for it in the liner notes or if they've said something like "I don't think the chorus quite works but I'm not sure why". It's all just too subjective otherwise.

    However, I quite enjoy throwing in a suggestion for a future idea if I hear something I like ("the chorus was cool, I'd love to hear another song that uses that kind of echoey guitar" etc) because we can all use a little more inspiration, right? Hopefully that doesn't step on any toes.

  • @airbagtester  Feb 12

    @morti Sandwich compliment sandwich: "What a delicious sandwich! Hey the garbage can called and it wants this sandwich back. This rye bread is such a wise decision."

  • @wacha  Feb 12

    I'm always open for advice on my stuff. I don't tend to offer a lot beyond what I like about a song I listen to largely because I have a hard time making suggestions on other people's work.

  • @ericdistad  Feb 12

    The "Criticism level" has been a subject of debate for quite some time. Not only are people at different places with their songwriting experience and abilities but they also have different influences and ultimately want different things out of their songwriting. Some might not even know what they want out of it - just that they feel compelled to make music.

    For example, I'm not a rap guy, but I can appreciate a well done rap track - I don't feel really qualified to give real constructive criticism on one because I don't know how to construct one in the first place.

    There was some talk during 50/90 about adding a couple check boxes, with "Deep Critique requested", etc... but the checkbox didn't really answer some of the questions of relative experience level and influences. In the end I think everyone settled on putting statements in their liner notes. (50/90 folks, feel free to correct me if I'm mis-remembering 😉 )

  • @coffeeinthesink  Feb 12

    @haim I agree with your agrees and disagrees. 😀 The what and how of critiquing is really difficult. The short turnaround is going to leave plenty of imperfections. Finding the room for improvements that are not due to the time constraints is tricky. Especially when it can come off (or be taken) as "I know better than you". I think I'm going to hold off on most of my critiques unless people specifically ask for them for this reason.

  • @leah0k  Feb 12

    I haven’t blatantly asked for critiques, but the few that I’ve gotten so far have been welcome - I can’t always do something about it with my limited recording knowledge, but when/if I go back with some of these songs and properly record them with someone on decent equipment, I like having that feedback to make sure it’s sounding good in other people’s ears too, not just my own.

    As far as my own comments, sometimes I will hear something in my head that sounds cool when I’m listening to someone else’s song, and I might pop that in the comment so they know what the song made me think- but I’m not a great critique-r, and might be a tad too Minnesotan to come right out and leave some solid direction.

    I say, go about your stuff and do what you are doing- if someone thinks you’re being a jacksmack, it’s likely they will let you know. Haha! Feel free to critique my music though, you won’t get any sass from me. Probably.

  • @chipwithrow  Feb 12

    I knew a thread like this would appear sooner or later. It's always useful and instructive. I've read all the posts - nothing new to add, but here I am.
    @coffeeinthesink - Thanks for starting the discussion. And I like how you came around to answering your own question - based on what else was posted - in your last post.
    My thing, too, is avoiding the "I know better than you." Because I don't. And I've been on sites and in live song circles with those who think they do.
    I will, occasionally (in fact, I just did), offer a suggestion about something I liked so much I wanted there to be more of it. In this recent case, it was that the bridge was cool.

  • @chipwithrow  Feb 12

    Double post. Damn it.
    I knew a thread like this would appear sooner or later. It's always useful and instructive. I've read all the posts - nothing new to add, but here I am.
    @coffeeinthesink - Thanks for starting the discussion. And I like how you came around to answering your own question - based on what else was posted - in your last post.
    My thing, too, is avoiding the "I know better than you." Because I don't. And I've been on sites and in live song circles with those who think they do.
    I will, occasionally (in fact, I just did), offer a suggestion about something I liked so much I wanted there to be more of it. In this recent case, it was that the bridge was cool.

  • @ericdistad  Feb 12

    @leah0k "might be a tad too Minnesotan to come right out and leave some solid direction." I resemble this remark. 😀

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    Critiques are readily available in many online venues and facebook groups, where you can receive the information you're seeking. Coursera course forums are a great place for people who want very direct critique and the courses are free. Anyone who is planning to go into the business could probably benefit from that environment.

    I don't feel comfortable critiquing because I have no knowledge of anyone else's abilities, studio, background, education, intelligence, ability or limitations. I may hear a Rock Opera in your lyrics, but if you are just a person struggling to record a demo on your cellphone with a guitar you picked up at a yard sale, my suggestions to how to make your song more pleasing to me could be more detrimental than helpful.

    I like to think FAWM is like we're all kids in our garages on a saturday afternoon hoping the people who pass by walking their dogs and stuff will smile and enjoy the music for a while. I'd hate to think this was somewhere I had to meet someone else's expectations.

  • @tcelliott  Feb 12

    @burrsettles I hate giving suggestions that require work because I know all of the mod staff are super busy with real lives and you and Eric in particular have the heavy lifting of coding. (I'm not sure why you both thought you could start families instead of dedicating your entire being to FAWM, but whatever...)

    A check box in the song edit page (or three) that indicates the level of critique and have it autofill to unicorns and rainbows (or won't allow the song to be posted without one selection checked.)

    I envision a category: Type of comments you would like:
    box1: Unicorns and Rainbows - Let's stay positive
    box2: Gentle critiques welcome, but please pull your punches
    box3: Go ahead and give it to me, I can take it.

    And whichever is checked would show up just above the comment section on the song Page. Something similar could happen with collaborations if we wanted. Even a spot that one could enter the types of notice one wanted that only showed up on the song page if filled would work.

  • @visiblydistorted Feb 12

    I realize that when people are listening to a song, they might not have looked at the profile of the person who posted it... but I actually wrote right on my profile from the get-go where I stand on criticism. I want to learn, so I'm open to it if it's helpful.
    However, it seems like people want a more and more itemized profile from each other... where you stand on collabs, where you stand on constructive criticism, what instruments, and technologies you're using... etc etc... it could end up pretty generic if everyone writes the same caveats.

  • @leah0k  Feb 12

    @ericdistad it’s a thing for sure. I don’t live there now, but it’s in my blood. If I offend you, you can pretty much expect a hot dish later that week. 😁

  • @sherrycanary  Feb 12

    Generally i give constructive comments only when asked.
    Occasionally I will see something that will help, like an alternative rhyme and suggest it.
    I am always open to constructive criticism...or suggestions. That is how we grow in our craft

  • @spinhead  Feb 12

    @burrsettles In an open affront to Mr. Pig-Potty (@tcelliott told me it was hyphenated) I LOVE asking y'all to do more work. (I am old and becoming cantankerous.)

    This post by one of my novel writing mentors has a superb list of the 7 levels of feedback:

    Now, implementing some 7-level color coded whingwhang is even beyond what I would request. But perhaps something color coded would work; it works so very well for zongs, 'I commented', etc. And perhaps 3 levels:

    1. Pats on the head, well-dones, unicorns and rainbows.
    2. Gentle but constructive pointers welcome.
    3. Tear me up because I'm ten feet tall and bullet proof.

  • @spinhead  Feb 12

    And while you're taking a wee moment to focus entirely on me (long overdue, @burrsettles !) can you clarify something: I have had my guts used for garters for suggesting folks NOT comment on demos, and yet, there it is, right there in the suggested etiquette.

    So, does it make more sense for
    1. Everyone specify whether they want feedback on their demo
    2. Only specify one DOES want feedback on their demo
    3. Only specify one does NOT want feedback on their demo
    4. Stop whining, Joel, and go write a song.

  • @spinhead  Feb 12

    Ha. Perhaps I could have read @tcelliott's post instead of just enjoying his avatar. But I find it eerily meaningful that two minds like ours found such similar 3-item lists. The universe is telling us something. Perhaps it is telling us that giant foreheads are much like pottypigs.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    the unicorns and rainbows thing is kinda offensive to those of us not seeking professional level critique. could we call it something else less mocking?

  • @unpronounceable  Feb 12

    I'm here to be in supportive community and be encouraged to create. I'm not trying to make professional music, and it's so good to let that go here. It seems people catch on that I don't want constructive criticism bc I don't receive it. I just want to feel safe and play <3

  • @unpronounceable  Feb 12

    @brrrse , I love your take -- that is exactly how I feel <3

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    It is a SONGWRITING CHALLENGE! Not a production challenge. Not a critiquing challenge. Not even a commenting challenge but we already kinda do that! 😀

    - you cannot effectively critique the songs of a stranger when you have no idea of their intent or capabilities

    - you cannot effectively critique rough drafts...can you imagine looking over the shoulder of an experienced sketching their first draft for a painting and offering your "expert" opinion on why they should use watercolor and avoid oil? or how about someone writes their first draft of their novel and before they even have time to go through and evaluate their own work you are in there telling them which characters to develop and which to kill off? Ugh!

    - you cannot effectively critique within the time constraints of FAWM! A useful critique can take as much time as writing a song.

    I believe it is folly to think meaningful and useful critiquing can be delivered during a SONGWRITING CHALLENGE! 😀

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    what he said ----=-=------->>>>>> @johnstaples THIS. this. this. this. this. this. this.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @burrsettles if you were to decide to add a some sort of indicator I'd say keep it simple like

    "critiques desired/accepted?"
    __YES. __NO

    and have it default to NO. I know you meant no offense but please avoid using terms like "Unicorns and Rainbows" and "I'm tough I can take it" for the options. They are indeed cute but also offensive unless you want to include options like "I'm tough and I can take it but I don't want it so don't" as well. 😀

  • @darcistrutt  Feb 12

    @johnstaples - Amen! Half my songs were written and recorded in less than an hour. Obviously the skirmishes didn't even have a clue of topic before the clock hit the top of the hour, but most of my other songs were written in quick stolen moments. I don't post updated versions of skirmishes because that wouldn't be that means they are raw, and not ready to be taken seriously. If I have worked on a song and think I may want to play it in public then I will let you know! I've been in this for 7 years, but still consider myself a beginner since I don't work at it beyond these challenges. For me it's a way to bring balance to my life and just maybe bring a smile to someone else with my humor - not my songwriting expertise mind you, my humor. I like the idea of an easy designation, whatever you call the tiers, and the first level is where I'd be most of the time. I'm here for the pleasant company and to let my creative side get some time to play. Goodness knows the rest of my life has enough "growth opportunities"! I promise to stay humble if you just offer positives and love.

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    One of the people I've watchlisted, I think he's a fawmling, is treating fawm as a learning process, and each post is an experiment, and another step up the learning curve. I really like it when people do that, I find it really interesting to see how their songwriting, and their methods, develop during the month.

    I just realised that this is trend for me, today. There are a few others I've watchlisted, who do this, as well.

    In that sort of context, constructive criticism might well be a useful part of the process.

    I'm not sure, though, that a simple question where a box is ticked, is the right solution. Because there are so many different ways in which something can be critiqued.

    There's also a risk that an option to select having critiques may raise expectations, that can't actually be fulfilled. The person posting the song has to be lucky enough to have the person who can give the right critique, to find them.

    So my answer is I just don't it should be done.

  • @spinhead  Feb 12

    My use of U&B is purely shorthand. I think we can trust the minds behind this entire concept to implement new features in a sensible manner.

    Folks who think like @johnstaples are one reason for all this: they can ignore the feedback loop part of FAWM and just do what they're here for.

    I disagree strongly about a 2-phase option. A middle choice is the only one I'd ever want, and the 2-phase leaves me doing exactly what I'm doing now: noting my preference in my bio and on every single song I post, since neither of those options is valid for me.

  • @phoenixash Feb 12

    I feel that as creators we can't help to want to adjust that which we listen, even with music that is already out there, we would all sing it in a different way, emphasize one thing that is not ot de-emphasize something that is, give ir our own interpretation and flow of imagination, so I think it's quite hard to critique or to add suggestions because for me they always sound like, "this is how I would do it", which is fine but this is how I'm doing it. So normally I just talk about the stuff that I like and leave out comments about things that could have been done better in my opinion, because it's my opinion

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    If critique is what the site is going to, I could go through and just post my ideas for how I would write and produce the song in every comment I make. How would that be helpful?

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    Fawm is great. But sometimes, afterwards, I feel like there was something, for me, that was missing, in the sense that I wanted a more theoretical discussion about my songs. But if I tick the yes I want constructive criticism, there is no guarantee that I will get what I want. Instead I might get some idiot telling me I should use autotune, when what I really wanted was a discussion about whether the metaphors in my lyrics were working effectively.

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12

    @johnstaples If the intent of the site is to just offer one service, I completely agree with you. However, there is potential there to be something more for a demographic that wants it. They understand that a hypothetical you can't give proper critique about anything and they still want it.

    Can anyone critique anything? Anywhere? Any time?

    Some people want to get that feedback and grow from it. Is it productive to tell everyone that you cannot get it here even though we have thousands of users doing the challenge with wildly different (and thus not useless, but valuable) perspective and outlook? I don't pretend to have an answer to that question. I'm not that smart.

    But I'm glad we are having this discussion.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    I think the best way to welcome critique of your works is to set aside a sub forum called "critiques welcome" then you post your song in the sub forum and welcome all the critiques you get. That way, it's obvious you're asking, and EVERYONE knows what you expect out of comments for that song. No coding required and no guessing either.

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    I think @brrrse might be right on this. @spinhead thread on his clumsy second verse was very successful, he wasn't offended, and an interesting discussion developed from it.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    @postcardhelicopters I have no problem avoiding sub forums, topics, and threads I don't care to read - so why hide it. It's over there - you wanna party over there - go party over there. 😀 😀 why make this more complicated than it need be. Those who want it know its' there, and I don't have to click on it if I don't want to.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    For reasons already stated I find the whole concept of critiquing rough drafts to be folly! And I also think nothing should change regarding critiquing. We don't need a box for critiquing because it legitimizes/accentuates something that is not even a legit or desired part of this challenge! As @francessmith correctly noted this raises expectations to even see such an option. And based on my 6 years here I find there are very few people who come here expecting to give or receive critiques. I occasionally get the "you should add a bridge" type critique but I usually just ignore those since either 1) it was a skirmish so no time for a bridge (yet) or 2) there is no bridge because I did not want a bridge! 😀 And I don't mean to sound elitist or something...there are plenty of songwriters here who are much better than me!!! But I'm swimming as fast as I can to churn out 14 songs. I've intentionally disabled my own internal editor. Why would I want to enable someone else's on my drafts?

  • @ericdistad  Feb 12

    I like @brrrse 's idea

    In general principle, I (speaking personally) tend toward what @johnstaples is saying. My idea of FAWM is that it's really not meant as a deep dive workshop. But we always get some folks that are looking for that deeper level - is it something we should accommodate? Is there value in it for some?

    An alternative idea (and this is just brainstorming) is a check box saying "Critique Wanted" that then opens a required textbox where the songwriter has to put in what kind of critique is wanted. If the box is not checked and the textbox is empty, the assumption would be regular non-critical feedback.

  • @zecoop  Feb 12

    Yep... I think @brrrse has got a good point on this one. I saw that @spinhead was looking for additional critique and thought that was the perfect place for it. That makes it just about as simple as can be.

    I don't mind the idea of a checkbox for songs to turn critique on/off, but somehow know that there would be people that didn't pay attention and feelings would get hurt. The whole point here *for me* is to write songs. Experiment and try new things.

    I state right in my profile that critique is welcome, but that I will be ignoring it, lol. I write my songs for myself, unless there is a collaborator and then they have a say too, obviously. 😀

    This is a good discussion - It happens every year, but it istill a good annual discussion. 😁

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @brrrse has solved the entire issue and quite elegantly I might add! If @ericdistad or @burrsettles could create a new section in the form for critiquing, every time this issue comes up we point interested folks there. Once there they can create a post with a link to their song and explain what they would like critiques on. Problem solved and no changes required for the website or the culture. And over time, if the new forum becomes quite popular the owners can decide that warrants a more advanced technical solution. But this solution can be here today!

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    thanks guys. 😀

  • @haim  Feb 12

    @coffeeinthesink I'm happy you read my comment and agree. I agree with your words too.

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12

    Yup new forum would be ideal

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    And if I were to make a prediction I would predict the critiquing forum will be used by a minority but greatly appreciated by that minority! I think the vast majority are here to draft an album's worth of songs, get some encouragement and make some friends!

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    @postcardhelicopters I get that, and I do it too sometimes, but in this case, the coding is not an option from what I gather here.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @ianuarius in a past challenge, maybe here or 50/90, and this topic came up, you made a very clear statement about why you did not want critiques. And I recall being on the fence until I read that. You made such good points I was converted on the spot! So I blame you for my current aversion to encouraging critiquing at FAWM! 😁

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    While I don't agree with @postcardhelicopters 's motives for wanting the critique section hidden. It might not be a bad idea. @spinhead thread was fun, but starting it did require a degree of robustness, to start the thread, that not everyone has.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    Well, I feel if you're willing to open yourself up to anonymous critique on an open website, you will be willing to make a post asking for that critique without trouble. People who have doubts about making a post asking for critiques in public may not be ready to receive those comments. I think if you start "hiding things" or classifying things with code, it would be more detrimental than just allowing those who want the critiques to ask for it.

  • @benjo  Feb 12

    hey totally think critiquing is a must i think it does help
    but it's got to be done in a fair way honest not sarcastic
    the kind of comments that annoy me more than anything
    are those little sarcastic ones that make you feel like you've stolen an idea, or copied another artists work like titles or a line or phrase
    like oh that is the same topic as such a song, or there is already a song called that or there is a song with that line in it, yeah it stops me from sleeping when i think do they think I've copied that, it's funny because in all honesty i don't listen to music really, just my two cents

  • @billwhite51 Feb 12

    im here to write songs, and any knd of feeedback is encouraged as, outisde of this community, i am in a vaccuum. it is the people here who give me energy to forge on. i dont ask for nor do i give critiques, but the comments i give are honest and, as i made much of my living as a music critic, it is impossible for me to turn off the inner critic, whether it is directed toward myself or elsewhere. i wouldnt want to either. i am pro brain, anti lobotony. over time i have developed relationships with a small number of people with whom i feel comfortable speaking more freely with. but i fairly quiet among those i do not know, here as in real life. i dont think there should be any rules here, one way or another, let the individuals set their own boundaries, if they require them. as i write my february songs, i will continue to seek out music i like and people i can relate to. administrative detail i leave to others, and am very thankful thse people are here to keep this operation lively and open to all,

  • @axl  Feb 12

    I've been doing this for 11 years now and I've never received a comment I didn't appreciate. I have given plenty of suggestions and never thought this to be a problem until these kinds of threads started to appear a couple of years ago. I still sometimes give suggestions, always abiding to the guidelines. They're actually quite simple to follow.

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    @brrse you might be right. I'm not sure. I think i don't mean hidden, but maybe not showing up in the "recent threads". But there is a difference between getting a critique in the song comments, and full public view in the forums.

    A few jokers have a habit of turning up in the forums, which is entertaining, but it might take up unnecessary mod time to ensure that the critique section of the forum was running smoothly. It's quite a leap from song comment critiques to critiques in the forum. But I do think it's the way forward, and you're right on that, it's just how it's done.

    But, if the purpose of having the critiques in the song comments is partly to protect those who don't want to be critiqued there, it's not then right to not offer some sort of protection, also, to those who do want them in the song comments, but get them in the forums, instead.

    Does that make sense? I did a lot of editing of that comment.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    eh, I say but a sticky post in the sub thread that says "enter at your own risk" The poster could request critiques be made directly on their songs, instead of in the forum... or leave an email address or something?

    And the jokers don't care where they troll.

    I'm not sure how much the mods actually have to control - there have been a lot of threads I thought should have been treated differently - but I respect the mods and admins to do what needs to be done without being nannies. I wouldn't think they'd need to pay any more attention to a critique sub forum than they do in the general. Play goalie - remind people to be reasonable - and take out the trash. 😀 😀 😀

    Also, I would think if you don't want critiques in your comments, you don't want critiques anywhere - forum sub thread or otherwize.

  • @pabrizzer Feb 12

    'Constructive Criticism' really just means that you think you could do it better.....

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    @brrse those options sound interesting. Taking out the trash is always a good idea.

  • @francessmith Feb 12

    @pabrizzer That's a bit of a return to the beginning of the discussion. Sometimes it can be that, but also sometimes we can be so close to our songs that our view of them is different to someone else's, and it can be useful to have someone else's perspective.

  • @frenchcricket Feb 12

    One year I tried to get a #brutalcriticism song tag going, but nobody was keen, and everyone still ended up being super nice on the songs I tagged with it. Oh well 😀

  • @cynthiawolff  Feb 12

    I like what @pabrizzer said " constructive criticism really means that you "think" you could do better.

  • @spinhead  Feb 12

    Without data, I don't see how anyone can claim that "I want feedback" or "I don't want feedback" is a majority or minority opinion.

    Constructive criticism is not innately arrogant. Unsolicited criticism does certainly lean that way, though.

    @johnstaples Critiquing drafts is enormously beneficial to some of us. Just because a song is only two minutes long does not obviate the benefits of getting feedback early on. Those of us who write novels sometimes even workshop our initial concept, before a word is written. It helps aim the arrow, which, once released, is a mite harder to do.

    But that's why having a mechanism, plan, or consensus about what's default, what's optional, what's expected is helpful. We can each fine tune our FAWM experience to make it more of what we come here for.

  • @donna  Feb 12

    @burrsettles Given that this topic crops up each FAWM (and probably 50-90, if I remember correctly), might it not be worthwhile to have a sticky thread where folks can post the names of songwriting sites that are geared specifically to providing a platform for constructive critique? It could also include recommended songwriting courses, websites, resource materials, and so on. A couple of times in the past there's been such a thread, though it wasn't stickied.

    Such a thread could be useful, especially for beginning writers wanting to hone their skills.

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12

    @johnstaples heh, that was personal preference for my current project. I still feel the same way about those songs. Don't need or care about any critique for them. However, in 2014 I made 10 heavy metal songs that I wanted to turn into an album. I was very much looking for critique for them, no matter how harsh. Didn't get any, but that's besides the point. Critique can be valuable depending on what you're doing and what your end goal is.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    @donna good post! I've been trying to refer people to Coursera - they love giving honest in your face feedback there. It's more of an educational site - where fawm is more like a bowling alley 😀 I second this. then we can just point to the sticky.

    I don't see where it would be bad form to contact another FAWMer you respect and ask them if they're interested in critiquing your song - someone who writes similar music to you or has a sound you want. I'm sure this happens already - just not wide out in the open. So find someone whos work you admire, and shoot them an email saying "Hey, I like your work...would be willing to listen to my song and tell me what you think about it?" I would think that would probably be the best way to get critiques.

  • @coffeeinthesink  Feb 12

    Hope I didn't kick the bees nest with this thread. 😀 Some are using the word "critique" very dramatically. What the site already suggests is right - to keep it constructive. I think the encouragement that this community already fosters is part of what makes it so great so I wouldn't want to see that balance altered. Constructive criticism is really hard to get right and I wouldn't want to push that on the average user.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @spinhead regarding majority/minority, I think it is pretty clear from reading comments on songs at FAWM that currently the vast majority do supportive, encouraging comments and a small minority attempt to critique. As @frenchcricket and @ianuarius pointed out, even when you request #brutalcriticism...FAWMers be like, er, no!

    And I get that that may represent what the FAWM culture is currently and acknowledge the culture could be changed to encourage more critiquing. But I think that is a bad direction!

    I know there is a tendency to see a highly successful community like FAWM that has thousands of highly engaged and excited people returning year after year and to think this is a perfect place/opportunity to add feature A or B or C (in this case critiquing).

    But we also have to consider that maybe, just maybe, part of the reason/magic that FAWM is so successful is because we already have the right balance on this! 😀 Encouraging critiquing, even with a simple on/off feature in our profiles, may be a turn-off to a lot of people who come here to create without judgement! And remember, as @donna and others have pointed out, there are a bunch of sites out there where anonymous internet users would just love to rip into our songs!

    With that said I still think the Critique Forum is a grand idea that caters to those who wish to do so without changing any of the FAWM magic!

  • @donna  Feb 12

    @johnstaples I feel your comment, ‘there are a bunch of sites out there where anonymous internet users would just love to rip into our songs!’ is overly dramatic. 😀

    Just for the record - and I mention this specifically for those who might be interested in receiving offline critiques - a couple of songwriting forums in particular have a core of songwriters who’ve been active there for some time, and who happen to know something about the craft. To the many budding songwriters who’ve been helped to write stronger lyrics or more dynamic music/melodies, these folks are much more than ‘anonymous internet users’. 😉
    Relationships of mutual trust and respect have been built up over months and years.

  • @torniojaws Feb 12

    Obviously I know the nature of FAWM, but I try to give some ideas that I get while listening to the song - perhaps someone will get inspired from it 😀 I guess it could be something like supportive criticism 😝

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @donna yeah maybe so but there are def some (jpfolks for example) where nastiness is the order of the day! And also, I kinda feel like you are trying to constructively critique my forum post! 😁

  • @donna  Feb 12

    @johnstaples Yes, we already know how you feel regarding that particular site. 😀
    I was in fact referring to other forums, links to which I - and I'm sure others - would be glad to provide on a thread, along with other resources. I'm just trying to strike an objective balance. 😉

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @donna that's good to hear! Glad I am effectively communicating what an awful place I feel that site is! 😁 And you're kinda missing my point anyway. I was not saying anyone should fear those other forums and not participate in them because they critique! Rather, I was saying the need is already filled with those sites and no need to bring that to FAWM!

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    @johnstaples yes, I agree - it's why I keep suggesting Coursera - I know first hand how direct their criticism can be, and it sounds like people here are looking for that kind of honesty. And there are TONS of songwriting forums online where you can post your songs and have the cleansing by fire.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @brrrse I have very limited experience with Coursera. I took one free class from them during my first FAWM and there were randomly assigned people to review our coursework. It did not work well at all because they would pair you up with someone from a completely incompatible profile (experience level, native language, music style, etc.) But I bet they have fixed that or maybe you are referring to something entirely different that I should check out. My experience was limited to a single class.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    @johnstaples my class - we had to post all our work in an open forum where all the students in the class got to rip it to shreds and they did. I was told in one comment on my first assignment for an improv class that I didn't play enough notes, I kept it too simple and I didn't have any business trying to play music.

    I quit entirely after that comment.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    That is precisely what I'd hate to see FAWM become!!!

  • @errol Feb 12

    Oooh, I like the idea of a critique forum.

    Anyway, I don't critique.

    Good critiquing is hard. I barely have enough time to write songs, let alone give a good critique.

    Furthermore, I don't consider myself an expert to critique on a song, so giving a good critique would be difficult.

    And if I did feel I was an expert, I've learned not to give critique anyway. 😁

    I also don't like asking friends for criticism! Most don't really tell me what I want to hear. I don't want validation, I am trying to find out how to get better. I have a FEW friends I constantly go to because they will tell me straight up what to improve. These people are very difficult to find and I cherish them dearly.

    Anyway, yes, I'm all for no criticism as the default setting.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 12

    @errol at my first FAWM you did a video comment of my song Saw A Man and I was delighted by that!

  • @errol Feb 12

    @johnstaples Oh, I loved giving video comments. That was so fun. 😀 Of course, they weren't critical discourses on anything.

  • @ianuarius  Feb 12

    Speaking of.....

    @errol In 2012 you said you'd do a video comment about my Kraken song. But you didn't. As a result, I can't look any Canadians in the eyes anymore.

  • @brrrse  Feb 12

    I've been trying to boil my feelings on this down all day to a tablespoon full without emotion all day -

    Someone who comments on my song with advice on how they would do it in FAWM de-validates me - as a person and as a musician. Although they mean it has helpful, if I didn't ask for the help, then it's just boasting on how they could do it better.

  • @errol Feb 12

    @ianuarius Oh! Right. Do you have a kraken song this time? Tell you what, I'll leave you a video comment for one of your songs this year. 😀

  • @devin  Feb 12

    [edit: weird... I went to fix a typo, and now I have two posts of point #3]

  • @devin  Feb 12

    [edit: weird... I went to fix a typo, and now I have two posts of point #3]

  • @radioovermoscow Feb 12

    I'm totally all for constructive criticism, ideas from another musical mind, etc.

    Either that or "shit's weak, dog" will do. Nothing in between!

  • @donna  Feb 12

    @johnstaples No, no, I didn't miss the point. 😉 I simply wanted to assure potential wanters-of-critiques that sites do exist that have conscientious members who have skills, and who take pains to give budding songwriters a hand. 😉

    Ultimately, though, FAWMers can indicate in some way whether they do or don't want critiques on-site. Or perhaps a stickied thread can be put up.
    In my own profile, I indicate my preference - no critique - though I suppose it's not likely the average visitor to my page would bother to read through to the bottom of the profile.

    As for my own comments on a FAWM song or lyric: If I have the time - and if the poster has specifically asked for advice - and especially is someone I already know - I might make a suggestion that I hope will be useful. Otherwise, I simply stay with acknowledging the work as positively as I can.

  • @devin  Feb 12

    3. There are many here that use the community to get valuable feedback on songs they want to work on further... so for them, it would be nice to have the option to ask for more detail.

    Usually, once you know people, you get a feel for what they are after.. but not always. I normally appreciate any advice on writing, performance, mixing & production ... but occasionally, I have a song that I don't want that level of interaction.

    Usually those are collaborations, where the lyric was written by someone (sometimes me) about a very serious subject, and I am just trying to honor their memory or situation, without getting all detailed or critical about it. There are a few songs that I just want to "let be". So in this case, I would opt for the first option of "tell me what you like about it", and forego my normal desire to get all the flaws onto a checklist for me to at least evaluate later.

  • @tinattd  Feb 12

    As an uncertain, noob amateur songwriter - really only started in April 2017 - I appreciated the relentless positivity of 50/90 and here too. It gives one confidence to keep plugging on. One of the things about FAWM and 50/90 anyway is that the goal is to write songs - not good songs! Just pump them out, get creativity flowing. The editing and winnowing and agonising happens afterwards. (jk I'm agonising during as well, but privately)

    That said, I've appreciated a few tips and suggestions that have been offered kindly.

  • @devin  Feb 12

    Sigh. More weirdness... Not my night... electron godz hate me... I'll try this all again later...

  • @devin  Feb 12

    My own thoughts, that apply only to me:

    1. I would like to know, while visiting the song page, if the artist wants any/all feedback. I wouldn't be cross referencing from forum threads, because I find songs kinda by accident when I have time to comment.. so it would be nice to know at the time of listening and commenting.

  • @devin  Feb 12

    2. I think the software tweak of three levels would be great. When I post a song, I select the level of feedback I want. This then becomes the immediate outline/instruction in the comment box for subsequent listeners. Three tiers that could work are:
    - "Please tell me what you like about this song"
    - "Besides what you like, do you have any helpful hints to make it better? Be nice!"
    - "I would appreciate any/all detail you wish to share. Lyric, music, performance, mixing, production... all feedback is valuable to me for this song."

  • @klaus  Feb 12

    Let's just FAWM in February. And maybe March could be a Album Critique Month with a Critique Thread?

  • @kc5 Feb 13

    I personally would be more likely to edit a song prior to its final stages and when I would implement any feedback rather than after I finished a song.

    It’s certainly nice to hear when things are working well...if they are, but I’d prefer critique that makes reference to rhyme scheme, structure, theme, back heavy/front heavy, timing—concrete comments/observations/
    suggestions. Those are some of the more HELPFUL feedback because it’s gives a bit of direction. I realize commenters here might not have the time to invest that way, but is more neutral than subjective feedback tends to be. Subjective is nice to hear when positive, but also easy to say “everyone has different tastes” as well, which might be what I say to myself if I like it and someone else doesn’t.

  • @tsunamidaily Feb 13

    i love that such a spirited discussion had passionate arguments for one side or the other and nothing devolved into finger pointing or name calling! i love criticism/ critique, myself. of course, i don't post a whole lot of demos usually, for one reason or another. maybe that is where the disagreeable critiques are, concerning the sound of a track. i appreciate robust critique, but i realize that is not for everyone. i do leave suggestions on tracks, but sound downright obsequious doing so, usually. i think the 3-tiered system and the forum for critiquing are both valid ideas.
    i also think the spirit in which a comment is given is important, and should be reflected in the language used. i think some of the most pertinent criticism i have received was from someone who had experience with a premise within a song i was writing. they might find my representation authentic, or feel i stretched certain details, etc., and i appreciate that kind of feedback. even if i disagreed, i did not tell them they were wrong, because they were speaking from their own experience. if i didn't think it was an appropriate critique, i just thanked them and ignored it, though i understand not everyone feels that they should or would do this. but then, honesty and sincerity are my sticking points, which is why lucinda williams and mary gauthier are both aces in my book. but i think people intrinsically understand the following quote:
    The truth is that sincerity in art is not an affair of will, of a moral
    choice between honesty and dishonesty. It is mainly an affair of talent.
    A man may desire with all his soul to write a sincere, a genuine book and yet lack the talent to do it. In spite of his sincere intentions, the book turns out to be unreal, false, and conventional; the emotions are stagily expressed, the tragedies are pretentious and lying shams and what was meant to be dramatic is badly melodramatic.
    -- Aldous Huxley
    and because of this, critiques about accuracy become affronts.

  • @chipwithrow  Feb 13

    I'm not asking this to be a smart-ass (well, maybe a bit); I'm sincerely curious (and maybe this is a topic for a new thread):
    What gives you/me/any FAWMer the expertise to offer a critique? What would qualify you/me/anyone as a songwriter someone else should learn from?
    Years ago, I was a music journalist - in the old days of print. Fortunately, I didn't keep any of my clippings - 25 years later, I would probably be mortified at some of the oh-so-clever (so I thought) critiques I wrote. I had absolutely no authority - other than access to being published - to write what I did.
    And I have no authority now to tell someone how to write a song or make it better. Who does, really?

  • @aprilm  Feb 13

    I accept constructive criticism from other musicians. I don't from music snobs. Or anyone who thinks they are better than everyone else. But suggestions on how to improve - yes. From someone who knows

  • @donna  Feb 13

    @kc5 The type of critique that you indicate you want is precisely what you can get on any of the good offline songwriting forums. A handful of them do exist. 😉

    And of course a number of established professional songwriters have useful websites or blogs.

    And there are excellent books galore.

  • @tsunamidaily Feb 13

    if people who are struggling with the same things as you, your peers, are not the ones to critique it, and can lend their perspectives and share what they have learned in their journeys, then who else is the person to do so? your small suggestion in prosody or song structure ( i like the chorus, and would love to hear it again, etc.) may be just what that person needed to think about, and of course, possibly decide against, when they go back to work on that song in more detail when time permits. if you see something that might strengthen someone's efforts, and can say that gracefully and tactfully, why should a general fear that no-one is qualified to comment in this fashion keep the writer of the song from hearing what could indeed be the key to later unlocking the potential of the song?
    i myself archive my songs from FAWM so i can go back and look at comments when i later work on that song-- if you don't specifically do this, what harm is a constructive comment that then gets lost in the sea of time in the future?

  • @jwhanberry  Feb 13

    I am grateful for the opportunity to take advantage of all those sets of ears and the millions of hours they have spent listening and learning. If I receive a suggestion it does not diminish me. It augments me that someone took the time to listen and spent the effort to make a suggestion. There is no authority involved, I don't have to take it. If I knew everything there is to know and was sure I couldn't get any better at this, I wouldn't want or need suggestions. But since I live and work in this current reality, bring 'em on.

  • @erbaer  Feb 13

    I am used to a more direct level of criticism. List the good things and tick off the weaknesses. Those weaknesses might take many forms. Maybe the writer strays from a topic or tries to include too much. Maybe they have a chord in there that is not pulling its weight. Maybe there’s something else that misses the mark. These are valuable things to know…especially from someone listening for the first time.
    I have been in a few songwriting groups and that type of criticism comes after a long time together. There is a trust that develops. No one worries about hurt feelings because nothing is ever said without a reason. And the writer is there to defend the decisions and process.
    I don’t offer critique or an observation here because I have the required level of expertise. It is offered as a bit of objective feedback. It’s an opinion from fresh ears.
    But since we are only here for a month once a year I think keeping the feedback positive is important.

  • @quork  Feb 13

    I appreciate anyone taking the time to listen to and critique a song of mine. Lord knows nothing I create Is anywhere near perfect. When I make comments I try to be constructive, courteous and appreciative of all the hard work the person has put in.

  • @kevinemmrich  Feb 13

    Sorry, I just don't have time for the effort and back and forth that is required for "deep critiquing" here at fawm. Nor the inclination, or the knowledge, or the ...
    If you want serious critiques, find a local songwriting group (or start one) or find a web forum that does those kinds of things.

  • @kc5 Feb 13

    Thanks, @Donna. I did take advantage of checking out some of the sites (I think it was you) recommended in a forum post last year and did try one out. More recently I’ve become part of a small (and to remain small) songwriter circle which I am quite enjoying. So, I do have access to that kind of feedback.
    It helps.

    As an aside and I hope relevant to this post, I think what makes things so difficult to pin down here is 1) February Album Writing Month as a title suggests (I think) that this is a place for finished work that will be compiled into an album, yet 2) The mere idea that there is a comment box suggests feedback (otherwise a “like” button does the job). Yet, 3) the fact that there is a jukebox suggests listening continuously for enjoyment without commenting. That sort of thing....not complaining, just saying I can understand how there would be such diverse ideas about what “here” is for and how people are supposed to use it.

  • @onewholovesrock Feb 13

    I will often leave a small critique. It’s kind of in my DNA. I have been a member of one of those song critique sites Donna has mentioned in the above post for many years. She didn’t mention the name of that site. I will. It’s called Muse Songwriters. Another one I dabbled with was called Songstuff. I personally like some criticism on my song post. I’m always open to improving my songs. But apparently I better lay off and stick to the attaboys.

  • @rainchaser  Feb 13

    Personally I think FAWM shouldn't change. If it does have a critiquing forum, I'm fine with it however I don't think it's really necessary. I think it's pretty obvious to a songwriter that if he/she wants critique on his/her work. ANd if he/she does, he/she would put in the liner notes of the songs. If you want to have a positive experiencing in FAWM and 50/90, it's best not to critique at all. If you're looking for critiques on your song, then put it in the liner notes, so people know you're looking for critiques. I remembered doing critiques for my first 50/90 and I created enemies rather than friends! So never do it, unless the FAWMer requests for critiques. It should be mentioned in the liner notes of the song. You can also critique on a song if the FAWMer hated it.

  • @donna  Feb 13

    @onewholovestorock Those are the two main sites I had in mind, Joe. 😉 Like you, I've been a member of both for many years (10), although I'm more active on Muse. There's only so much time one can give.

    Formerly Musesmuse, this site has been around for quite a while. Solid, and with lots of opportunities to give and to get useful feedback. Also has a good selection of forum topics, including Artists Cafe, which some members use to showcase poetry or songs that they consider to be finished.

    Songstuff has grown a lot in the last several years. Although the site has been revamped, you might need a few extra minutes to work out how to navigate it. It's worth it, however. It has solid and diverse content - including a focus on production and engineering - and a wide-ranging membership.

    @rainchaser That's pretty much how I'd approach things as well. I'd say let FAWM remain as unique as it is. It's been one of the few 'constants' in this life. 😉

  • @oddbod  Feb 13

    Wasn’t there a thread a few FAWMs back inviting you to state your preference as to what kind of feedback you were happy to receive?
    I went for the “no holds barred” option, but as I recall it didn’t make the blindest bit of difference to the comments I got.... ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    I think the FAWM ethos is ingrained in the overwhelming majority here.

  • @leepat  Feb 13

    @chipwithrow @tsunamidaily
    i guess we only have the authority to have an opinion.
    it's often a matter of taste and we're bound to disagree.
    it's also a matter of experience - what stage in your development you're at. it determines to a great extent the things you are able to hear and take in.
    and the things you can give.
    to me FAWM is a rare chance to actually find people you agree and disagree with and interact with them.
    a rare chance to give and receive.
    i revel in it

  • @bitshred  Feb 13

    I really like what @johnstaples said earlier, regarding how it's folly. lol. As well as how @chipwithrow mentioned not being qualified. Personally, I see no value in critiques at any level. It will always be subjective. Anyway, I will always be my harshest critique and I have no need for anyone's input.
    However, for those that are into that kind of thing and nerd out to that. I could see it being beneficial among respected peers that you develop a relationship with. But strangers on the internets? Eww... LOL. Good luck with that.
    As for FAWM, (I've been doing it seven years), I've seen the smallest comments go bad and people get worked up. So I think it's best not to even go there.
    But every single year, someone brings this up on the forum, and it's the same fun discussion. 😉

  • @andygetch  Feb 13

    Thanks @coffeeinthesink for the realization to only give critique when asked. I'm here to write a lot of songs in a short period of time, often winging it and experimenting to write a song in an hour or two, in-between work, family, friends, and organizations. Only a few of my FAWM songs get much attention after February. I'm also writing just for fun, not here to receive criticism, which is how well-intended constructive criticism often comes across to me. The number one definition of criticism in Websters is "the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes." My inner critic does a fine and dandy job of that. What I do need to know is what does work about a song? What do people like? That's why I leave positive comments in a challenge like this.

  • @donna  Feb 13

    @bitshred, the point is that on stable, long-standing, and dedicated songwriting sites (two of which were mentioned in a post above), relationships ARE developed among respected peers. These are not 'anonymous strangers on the internet'. 😉

    (And at one point, every single FAWMer has - for about 10 minutes - been an 'anonymous stranger' here.)

    Of course, it always boils down to what each individual wants with regard to her/his songs/lyrics/music. By the same token, it's important for all of us to know what the options are.

    People can 'keep or sweep' them as they see fit. 😉

  • @bitshred  Feb 14

    @donna yes, I do believe that. And I realize "that" point for sure. That there does exist such a venue on the internets.
    I guess I always assume the OP's post is the "point". Or am I way off point?
    So I thought the discussion was debating "critiquing on FAWM". And if it had a place here. Whether it's welcome here in general, or if there should be some other "option" for that here.

  • @bking  Feb 14

    @chipwithrow i agree with your take on this thread. i really don't think that I have the skills, talent or experience to be able to provide any real, worthwhile critical analysis of anyone's work but my own. In lieu of critique, I try to give feedback that cites specific points that make me like a certain song. That hardest ones a the select few that are so well done that all you can say is WOW and hit the play button again.

  • @bking  Feb 14

    There are other songs that just make you feel a certain way or remember something from the past. Then that will be what I have to share. Either way, positive reinforcement is a good thing.

  • @rainchaser  Feb 14

    I also feel critiques are useful for helping a FAWMer who's looking for co-writers to help him/her with a concept album. And like @johnstaples said earlier in another thread about critiquing, you're basically co-writing on a rough draft, so I think in this case critiquing is fine there! lol

  • @scubed  Feb 14

    A fair number of the songs I write during FAWM will be discarded without a second thought. Even my "keepers" will likely be extensively revised before I play them out. While I don't at all mind constructive criticism, I hate for someone to spend time critiquing what is, at best, a first draft. I figure most FAWMers are like me in that respect - not attempting to produce finished, polished songs. For that reason, unless someone specifically asks for constructive criticism, I won't make suggestions for improvement.

    I do find it helpful to hear what someone particularly likes about my songs, so when I'm commenting on someone else's song I try to focus on the positive elements that stand out to me.

  • @quork  Feb 14

    @scubed , precisely because my songs are rough drafts I welcome others’ thoughts on how the think the song could be improved.

  • @declan  Feb 14

    I also write short stories. Sometimes a reader will say "I didn't understand that..." or pick up a contradiction that I think I've covered elsewhere with a subtle hint. I'll often think "you idiot - couldn't you see what I meant." Now maybe they are an idiot OR maybe my writing wasn't clear enough.

    One thing I would advise is not to react to the negative feedback, even constructively phrased negative feedback the moment you read it. It's easy to dismiss the commenter's viewpoint as just their point of view, but then you're not getting the benefit of their opinion.

    Wait an hour or two. How do you feel about the comment, is there a grain of truth in it? Even if you don't agree or they focused on something that you don't care about, it is their genuine reaction. Maybe other listeners will react that way - does it matter to you?

  • @expendablefriend  Feb 14

    I'll echo @declan's comment about genuine reactions. Personally, I ask for constructive criticism on my songs for that exact reason - I'm interested to know how they've really landed with folks who've listened to them for the first time. By the time I get to posting a demo up here, I've heard it through so many times that I'm totally deaf to which elements are good and which sound awkward or out-of-place.

    I'm not worried about how qualified someone might feel to critique my songs, I just appreciate people sharing their reactions with me, as the chances are that others will also hear the same things. Sometimes that type of feedback can be difficult to receive, especially if I've toiled over a song for many hours, but I'm always grateful for it.

    I appreciate that that's not what everyone wants out of their FAWM experience, though, which is why I don't invite constructive criticism on collabs, just my solo stuff. For me, marking it in the liner notes works fine.

  • @expendablefriend  Feb 14

    I'd also add that I don't leave constructive criticism for others unless they specifically ask for it, or unless I know them in person and I think my suggestions will be well-received. I suspect a norm of leaving encouraging comments for others unless otherwise asked is probably a good approach for a community like this.

  • @chipwithrow  Feb 14

    One time that constructive criticism worked well for me was in an in-person setting. I have a piano-playing, songwriting friend, and years ago we would get together every few weeks and help each other - I'd bring songs I had written on guitar, and he'd offer some really cool ideas on piano. And he had some songs where he just wanted to sing, so I backed him on guitar. We recorded and performed a bunch of really good music together.
    Now we both have family obligations, and when we get together - too rarely - we drink beer and catch up.
    In person, one on one, with a fellow musician who's a nice person - that seems a good recipe for constructive criticism.

  • @degausser  Feb 14

    I generally only pick out positives in other people’s songs and comment on them. If I don’t really like a song, I don’t comment. I’m not actually very good at picking something apart because everyone is different and individual and we are all essentially writing songs for how we want them to be.

    Saying that, it amazes me that people say that they don’t want constructive criticism at all. To me, sort of saying “I don’t want to get better”.

    Personally, I just value honest comments. Might not agree but I’ll always have a think about what that person has said and take it on board. Most of my songs have something that I’m not happy with anyway and already have my own personal ideas of what I would change.

  • @donna  Feb 14

    @degausser It's not that people 'don't want to get better'. 😉 Many - if not most - FAWMers post first drafts, with a view to polishing the pieces up post-FAWM. They'll be seeking constructive critique at that point on dedicated songwriting forums or perhaps in a FAWM Facebook group or with co-writers or whatever.

    And, as you say of yourself, most of us already know what work we need to do on our first drafts. 😉

    The issue I think has to do with whether FAWM should evolve into a site where people come actively seeking - and expecting - constructive critique, or remain as a unique place where the focus is purely on quickly writing, singing, composing, playing, ANYTHING, with a view to simply creating something that might otherwise not have come into existence if FAWM were not as positive, generous in spirit, and singularly supportive as it is.

  • @scubed  Feb 14

    @degausser, to @donna's point:

    I once had a songwriting instructor suggest that our own internal editors/critics are a major cause of writer's block, because we tend to engage them too early in the writing process. She advocated for allowing the "inner child" - the creative brain - to run free for a while with songwriting games and exercises before letting the critic/editor into the picture. Editing, rewriting, and discarding should come once the initial creative burst has run its course. (This is the songwriter's equivalent of "there are no bad ideas in brainstorming.") I've found that advice to be very helpful.

    I look upon FAWM as a month-long spree for my creative inner child. It's only after I've revisited my FAWM songs with my critic/editor's ear and eye - generally not until March or later - that I present them for critique by other songwriters.

  • @johnstaples  Feb 14

    @scubed that is very well said! We are busy trying to silence our own internal critic/editor to be creative and when someone drops a critique, as well intentioned as it may be, it interrupts the flow and puts us back in editor/critic mode. I'd go further and say critiquing at this stage kinda cheats the writer out of their own chance at the first pass personal critique.

  • @bitshred  Feb 14

    Yes, that makes a lot of sense @scubed ! So true, for me. I need to get out of criticizing every note and idea I come up with and just go. And FAWM for me is just one long brainstorming and throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks. As @johnstaples said, these are just drafts for many of us. So they are not even at a stage to critique. After February I could end up making all kinds of changes.
    So, @degausser , I'm not sure not wanting constructive criticism here means you don't want to get "better". That's a big leap. How do you define "better"? I feel I get better by just continuing to write and finish songs, they are all stepping stones. In my past 3 decades on earth, I've studied music theory in college, I've taken classical and jazz lessons. I've played and performed in a variety of bands of different genres. I've collaborated with other musicians in the songwriting process, "live" not on the internet. So you get real time criticism and that is great. With people I know perso

  • @bitshred  Feb 14

    uh, half my message got cut off, anyway..... I'm just saying I don't need critiques on here, since they are just drafts and ideas, just trying to get them out. . And, I forgot what else I said..... blah blah.

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