Listen & Learn

Here are my recommendations for musicians looking to understand music on a deeper level to gather musical knowledge, song production understanding and inspiration for creating your own music. In each review I will point out the things I like and the things that inspire me to make music.

Listen to the songs, read what I wrote and ponder about what you think. What things do you hear that maybe I have never heard? What instruments are being payed? How many artists are performing? How was the sonf written? How was the song produced, mixed and mastered? What technologies are used? Did these influence the sound? What was happening at the time of the writing of the song? Was it inspired by the news, personal experience or creativity?

The following songs are ordered in the year they were created to give a sense of the progression of music. I have added what to listen for in each song from a musician’s perspective. I also added links to where you can buy the songs from Apple Music.

I wanted to quickly mention that I whole-heartedly believe in buying music to support the artists that made it. You will need to have the actual music files to build out your reference tracks that you will add to your DAW while you create music.

You can listen to the SoundCaptor – Listen & Learn playlist on Apple Music or Spotify:

Top Pick

No Reply – The Beatles


This simple straight forward guitar, bass, vocal and drums song is to show you how the way you perform your song is most important.

I can hear recording bleed through of people talking, which again proves you do not need overly produced songs or worry about expensive recoding studios.

Nice transition in the middle with the straight forward piano lick providing an acceleration to the tempo.

What makes this song is the clever vocal approach and strumming pattern. Then the accented drums to the no reply vocals in the chorus. In my mind the vocal styling influenced the drums not the other way around.

Towards the end I swear I hear what I will call manual gating of the cymbals. Listen to the cymbal crashes and how they seem to artificially decay. I imagine George Martin grabbing the fader and pulling it down. Interesting technique to think about.

Top Pick
David Bowie

Queen Bitch – David Bowie


Listen to the DIY aesthetic. Beautiful scratchy rhythm guitars panned left and right. Bass and vocals in the center. This song creates a movie like city-scape and evokes fun, movement and excitement.

Bowie starts with his scat type mouthing. Notice the rhythmic structure he introduces by doing this. Listen to the lyrics. Think about what this is about. What year was this? What was going on that would have influenced Bowie?

When the bass hits in the chorus creating tons of movement. The guitars and snare hits are on rhythm which cause the head bouncing feel.

At 1:51 there is a bass flub and they left it in. These are the things that make song like this great! Every one of us has the ability to record songs like this. Meaning he did not use any equipment that we cannot use today.

Now, the real thing that sets Bowie apart in my mind is his relentless creativity and ability to entertain.

Listen to the song again and think about what musical ideas you come up with while listening and implement them today.

Top Pick
David Bowie

Modern Love – David Bowie


I am adding another David Bowie song to hear his progression from more raw DIY sound to a fuller more produced sound. This is because a lot of us modern musicians have the ability to add in more elements and arrangements into our songs using our DAWs.

There is a scratchy rhythmic guitar and sound effect creating a unique sound immediately. The catchy lyric, I don’t want to go out, I want to stay in, get things done… should resonant with us fellow musicians that have the creation bug.

Not to mention it is just funny! It’s cool for being uncool.

Big saxophone lines, mixed with jabby piano.

I have added an example of listening to this song in Logic Pro here.

Top Pick

Frankenstein (instrumental) – Edgar Winter Group


Drums and synthesizers! What could be better?! This song shows how instrumentals can rock. The sound they achieved is top notch and the panning of the drums in the fills is fun to listen for on headphones.

Top Pick
The White Stripes

Fell In Love With a Girl – The White Stripes


If you think you need to have elaborate instrumentation and production, have a listen.

Reverb and distorted guitars ripping the rythm to support the straight forward fun and catching lyrics “fell in love with a girl…”.

Drums kick in to provide the kick and snare pops along with the open hi-hat that fills the sonic spectrum.

Doubled vocals delivering the refrain.

Some full sound drop outs to keep your ear interested and not overwhelmed by the distorted wall of sound.

Top Pick

Half Mast – Empire of the Sun


Nice mellow beginning, taking time to create the soundscape. Driving baseline, drums keyboard dripping line. Into the chorus of rhythm guitar strumming the drum pattern. Reverb drenched, drums, guitar and vocals. The second chorus rising by the use of exuberant use of volume in the lyrical phrasing.

Pop transition ala 80’s pop synth rock, works into smooth vocal phrasing. Tasty simple, drum fills emphisize to puncture the end of phrases.

Ending nicely devolves into a quasi noise collage.

Top Pick
Tame Impala

The Moment – Tame Impala


Keyboard stabs, big bass licks tying everything together and driving forward.

Tasteful snare hit driven drums, claps and snaps.

Vocal delays and reverb, vocal doubles and harmonies. Guitar leads hanging in the back to add sound to the texture.

Layering all sounds to a crescendo type ending. Good use of left/right panning of a mellow flanger type effect.

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