I'm posting a few comments on some of the NGADM auditions that particularly stuck out to me, and this is one of them!
Well, this is certainly something! Oddly enough, this stuck out to me for one main thing: it's freaking enormous. I don't mean the length of the track or its filesize, but more of a metaphorical enormous. The mix just gives off such a huge sense of largeness. It's wide and spacious, goes on for a full 7 minutes, has a lumbering, slow tempo, is doused with cathedral-tier reverb at parts like 1:22, has aggressive synths and contains a very punchy and bassy kick drum to top it all off. For that characteristic alone, this track remained in my memory even after listening to 200-odd tracks.
I'm not just here to tell you your track sounds big, though. Other great aspects of this track include your great transitions, catchy melodic work and solid production value. My only gripe with this track is a fairly major one. This has repetition issues. In a way I can forgive you for it due to how fun it is to listen to and due to your pretty vast array of synth layers, but the fact that this is essentially has one melody at the forefront that's tirelessly repeated still irks me. I mean, perhaps relying on that one melody up until 3:05 can be somewhat acceptable, but by 3:05 I was desperately in need of an alternate melody to spice things up. On a lesser note, the choir that you introduce at the end has a harsh, unpleasant, resonant tone to it.
That's pretty much all I have to say about this track. It's a BEAST of a track, and I'm super relieved you made it in this year despite missing out last year. This year's competition has a much harsher first round, since you need to make the cut from a group of 4 rather than a pairing of 2, so I wish you the best of luck and no matter how far you go, consider me a fan!
Thank you very much for the criticisms! I don't recall not entering, last year. I just know this is the first time making it through the first round. I know I won't be making it through the second with my submission for said round, but it was fun, regardless.
I also wish that I could change my name on Newgrounds, since in 2009 I adopted the name 'Reali-tGlitch'. It would actually get some publicity for my bandcamp page XD
This piece is one of the ones I am most proud of, though, and people like you only back up that claim.
This is one of the auditions I keep coming back to, and the one reason for that is that it's just brilliant. I don't know where to start! You've got such a strong grasp on this genre of music that finding faults in it is like finding a needle in a haystack, if you'll pardon the cliché. You craft your atmosphere expertly, your transitions seamlessly, your harmonies exquisitely, and what we're left with is an incredible and satisfying piece of music.
What I must commend you the most on would be your composition. It's easy to get lost in the angelic atmospheres and pretty-sounding instruments, but behind all that fluff is a solid backbone of fantastic use of motifs, smooth flow and great melodies/harmonies. I almost squeed like some fangirl when I heard one of your motifs played by the high strings in the background towards the end, or during the crescendo at 1:53 resolving its previous ominous chord in perhaps the most majestic manner possible.
So yeah, this is great stuff. I'm truly excited to hear the rest of your competition tracks and I'm very glad you made it in. Hope you keep up the great work and surprise us with new approaches and styles throughout the competition if you get far. Good luck!
Wow thank you for sharing all that :) I don't even really know what to say!!
Your words are inspiring and I hope to live up to that expectation!
Two words for this track. Holy crap. You just showed up out of nowhere and gave us this spectacular drum and bass track as an audition. It's captivating from the start, with an addicting little motif played by the piano, followed by the fitting vocals and subtle foreshadowing of future melodies played by high piano notes. Cue standard but beautifully-executed buildup into 1:06, and at this point I've crapped bricks.
Superb mix, synths, atmosphere, melodies, everything. Everywhere in the mix is refined. Meaty bass, clear mids and crisp highs. Perhaps the one thing I would complain about (apart from some slight repetition at certain parts) would be what Kabalist mentioned below me. 0:45's synth does need some better EQing. Probably nudging out a bit of its high frequencies would keep it from standing out like a sore thumb.
Don't let my compliments get to your head! You've got a tough contest ahead of you. Hope to hear more excellent music. Good luck!
Wow, thanks a ton for the feedback. I really appreciate all of it!
As I mentioned to Kabalist, I plan to do a VIP (variation in production) of this track, so when I do, I'll definitely go back and fix those little mixing things, especially that synth. And when the VIP does come out, I hope it blows you away as much as this one did!
Once again, thanks for the feedback, and let's hope I can make it into the next round!
Even though I don't think this is the best audition I've heard while judging auditions, it certainly stuck out to me as an interesting track and left me wishing to make my thoughts about it public. You have some absolutely fantastic ideas over here. Your main melody is highly memorable and an absolute blast to listen to. You also miraculously used strings and piano in a dance track without making them sound gimmicky or out of place.
Unfortunately, while you have some excellent ideas, you still have room for improvement I feel. The mix often sounds cluttered with synths clashing left right and centre, and it's far too heavy on the higher frequencies. There are some compositional issues too - I feel like the first minute of the track is a bit repetitive, and the sections in-between your "choruses", so to speak, feel more like filler and less like meaningful continuations of the track. There isn't much memorable melodic content outside the sections in which you showcase your main melody.
Having said that, the one adjective I can use to describe this track is bold. The huge gaps of silence between melodic phrases, the layers upon layers of different melodies, the funky plucked bass, the huge climax at the end... you fearlessly disregarded the overused techniques of a typical dance song and just composed what you felt, and for that I have a lot of respect. You still have a way to go in my opinion, but I'm glad you made it in and excited to see what you have to offer.
Thanks! Those are all excellent tips.
So, even though you didn't make it past auditions, I had to come and review this track since it really stuck out to me as wasted potential. Let me start by saying that this has one of the best intros and buildups that I've heard throughout my auditions judging. You have a wonderful atmosphere at the beginning with these really lush pads and subtle rhythmic pluck synth, and you waste no time to introduce your fantastic melody played by that eargasmic lead synth, and that exciting buildup. While hearing the first minute I thought to myself "oh, this guy will make it in for sure".
But then, 1:03 came in and damn, I can't say I wasn't disappointed. You destroyed any form of melody and completely nullified the buildup you had... built up, for lack of a better verb. I can understand you wanted to go for an anti-climax which is a perfectly nifty thing to have if executed well, but the fact that the latter half of the track was essentially a four on the floor kick + sub bass with some other rhythmic elements and effects thrown in just left me (and the other judges) with a bad impression.
I can understand that this is a preview, so maybe that's why you didn't treat us to some more interesting content later on? Whatever the case, I was left hoping for more, and I question your choice to use a preview to audition. I feel like you've got a lot more potential and that you're an experienced and proficient producer of electronic music. Even though you didn't get in, I still enjoyed your track and I wish you luck for the future!
Thanks step! This review shows to me what people think. However. I make music i love and enjoy.
Anti clamix is my thing, ive been doing it for a long time now and everytime i do a song, and a next one, and another one i feel i do better.
I get that you lost it around 1.03 for most of the people this anti-climax thing is.. not what they want..
but i can assure you once its played live, on a big music event, people go crazy. atleast, thats my vision, my goal and aim. thats what i want in the future.
Well, wow. I wasn't aware were this good. Spend more than one day on your tracks more often damn it! This is a tremendous improvement from the last track I heard from you. It's refreshing, empowering, uplifting, emotional and overall one hell of a listening experience. I need to also highlight how amazing that intro is. Piano + string intros are so common but when they're done right they are incredibly effective. Guitar is also a great addition and while I'm not usually too fond of noodling up and down scales I think it actually works pretty well here. I'm a fan of the piano motif you introduce at the very beginning and wish that you included it more in the track, ideally towards the end where everything is dying down.
Compliments aside, this isn't perfect. The mix gets very heavy and unclear when the huge string section comes in, drowning out other elements like the guitar strumming, flute trills and percussion. Moreover, the track drags on a little too long at the end I feel. You also kind of overuse cymbal rolls to the point that you cheapen them slightly when they play in the transitions that count the most (like 4:05). Having said that, your percussion is pretty great. The timpanis really sold me, and not just the rolls but the rhythmic passages too.
Overall, this is great stuff, and like I said, a big improvement from what I heard last time I checked out your music. I'm hoping you keep up the pace for the competition. Unrelated note; does the guitar VST you use have both plucked and strummed patches? I like the sound and I've been needing a strummed guitar for a while now. Would you recommend it? Anyway, great work!
I knew this track was a lot better than much of what I've done before but I didn't realize it was THAT good. Coming from someone such as yourself this means quite a lot.
Yeah, I know the strings kind of drown everything out. I've never been that great at mixing and I'm really trying to get better with every song. I just don't really have a good ear for stuff like that.
The guitar is called (appropriately) RealGuitar by MusicLab. It's got all kinds of bells and whistles and I love it.
Thanks for the stellar review, and look forward to seeing another amazing track for round one!
Hey! Just dropping by to write you a quick review! First off, from the music I've heard from you thus far, I've got to say that this is my favourite. Granted, I haven't heard much of your music (yet) but while all that I've heard is certainly likable in its own individual sense, this one I feel is a bit above the rest.
Right off the bat, I like the creativity in your chords. You play a pretty constant arpeggio with the guitar but change the bass note each time, essentially changing the whole chord from a sus4 to a maj9 to various other chords which my musical ear isn't experienced enough to recognise :p. It makes for some highly interesting harmonies and progressions the more the track develops.
Speaking of which, you mentioned in the PM that the start of this track is pretty simple. I actually love that characteristic of this track. It's very pleasant to the ear to listen to a track come together, starting from simple roots and becoming more complex with the addition of other instruments playing together in their contrapuntal glory.
Another thing I have to point out is that the atmosphere and mood of this track is well-made. It's majestic and reflective, and you adopted an approach that doesn't sound cheesy or sound like it's been done before. The atmosphere gets stronger and more encapsulating as the song progresses, until 1:23 where the addition of the pad deepens the atmosphere tenfold, making any listener who listened up to that point feel satisfied and engrossed in the story this piece is trying to tell.
Now, all of that good stuff aside, I can't really write a review without mentioning some things that I felt took away from the listening experience. I know you mentioned that I shouldn't point out any issues related to the production value of the track since you don't quite have the gear to fix these problems, but I'm still going to write them here because 99% of the problems in this track don't require you to spend a dime on any fancy tools!
For starters, the piano, I felt, was a bit dry. This didn't become a problem when the pad at 1:23 came in since that made up for the dryness of the piano, but before that I feel like the piano could have done with a bit more reverb, since it sticks out like a sore thumb in the mix. The bass frequencies of the guitar are pretty heavy and while this isn't a bad thing, they start clashing in the mix and toning down on them using an equaliser will make the overall song sound lighter, which I feel is needed for a song like this.
Lastly, and this is more personal preference, I feel like the song could have been developed more. This is the case with a lot of your tracks - they're all quite short and most of the time they even loop, making the listening experience a bit less fulfilling than it would've been if you fleshed the music out more with a less linear structure. For instance, this track essentially sounds like it was intended to be background music with a linear increase in instrumentation before looping back to the beginning. If that's indeed what you intended, then I can see where you're coming from, but as it stands I would have loved if the track had a less linear structure and more dynamic sections.
Anyway, that's all I've got to say for this track. It's an extremely pleasant track and the main area it lacks in is production value (which isn't even that bad in the first place). You've got a very unique sense of composition which gives all your pieces a memorable charm. Keep it up.
WOW! Ill respond as i read a bit but let me say im impressed with how elaborate your review is.
On contrapunt, its my speciatly ;) So nice of you to call it glorious.
About the piano, theres actually two versions of wich i overlap a third in another panning.
The second (third part) piano has a rounder, slightly muffled cut sound while the first (second part) has a lighter cleaner sound. I dont know how to 'seperately' mix 'individual' instruments as i compose everything in a single pianoroll and have done so for years. :P
I always use global reverb tbh, same reason as above but i do tweak it to my ear manually.
Didnt notice what you said on the guitar, i guess i didnt really pay much attention to it but next time i listen to it (not today, im kinda sick atm so not able to focus to much) ill be sure to. Perhaps the bass notes are louder considering i composed it with my actual guitar on my lap planting notes as i played and i have a habit to play bass notes louder irl and alternate strenght on the appregio, it sometimes creates nice inner voices when i also alternate basslines.
Tbh i dont know how a equalizer works exacty, i never worked with it though they are in my operating program..
I have to admit im terrible at letting music end, i never am satisfied when i do on how i do it.
But that i loop almost all my tracks is for two important reason. 1: so it can be used in games. 2: because i love to listen to my own music on repeat, and often do so for hours after i finish a track just to find out if i want to change anything before putting it out here.
I hope to see more reviews of yours, especially on some 8bit works because im really interested in what you would think of them as they are full on composition and zero sound quality (though when you get used to it you might start to like it, heck ive been walking/biking around with only my 8bit music on my mp3 player for long periods of time irl. ;)
Thanks loads anyway and hope my response is enjoyed as much as i enjoyed your review.
Hey there! Told you I'd get round to reviewing this :p. You know, I'm glad that you asked me to review it because this is actually a fun track to dissect, plus it's a considerably enjoyable and memorable listen as well! You've got some really solid work here. I need to also add that for being your first real/serious attempt at composing something with a DAW, this is ridiculously impressive. I couldn't make this quality of music after a year and half of constant music production. You must have had some prior experience composing or know a lot of music theory. I won't believe you if you tell me otherwise!
Anyway, all that aside, let me say that right off the bat I think your composition is strikingly solid. You think it's not that original and I reluctantly agree - I would not call it creative and unlike anything I've heard before, but you've crafted a wonderful theme and atmosphere with nothing but tasteful instrument choices, and a strong sense of melodic and harmonic structure. That is certainly something to commend. Highlights would definitely be the excellent mood-setting intro, the introduction of warmth from those strings at 0:37 and the lovely ominous chord change at 1:34.
I don't think this song needs any percussion. Sucking at percussion or not, I can't see how anyone could pull off some suitable percussion here, except maybe some percussion leaning more onto the atmospheric to accentuate certain dynamics (cymbal rolls, timpani rolls, that kind of stuff). However, one thing I need to point out is that at times your song arbitrarily slows down. 0:52 and 1:24 are examples of this.
Changing the tempo of tracks can really add layers of expression but in those two instances (unlike 1:43 where it fits wonderfully), all it really does is disrupt the flow. I used to have a habit of adding tempo changes when they weren't necessary (and had a lot of people point out that they didn't fit) so maybe I'm biased, but hey, maybe you'll agree! This kind of criticism is generally very subjective.
Anyhow, moving on to the production, this is quite pleasant-sounding. There's no clipping, good volume levels, good balancing, etc. I would've liked some more drastic dynamic levels (right now your song retains a pretty minimal volume deviation, preferring to stay at a more constant volume level), but that's just me. Oh, and props for the reverb. There's a lot of it, which would usually make the track sound unrealistic and washed out, but it works so well here, giving this track an otherworldly vibe, and working wonders to that great atmosphere you've got going.
I'll have to agree that your instruments aren't very good. Some sound pretty terrible, like the flute at the beginning (which I literally thought was a raw sine wave at first haha) but there's not much you can do about that, and what you lacked in instrument quality you certainly made up for in melodic quality. If you start getting serious about composition, then getting a good instrument sample library would be a wise investment. Hit me up via PM if you want me to suggest some sample libraries!
Lastly, this track isn't repetitive but the pizzicato/staccato string accompaniment in the background did get a bit monotonous. It sounds excellent, don't get me wrong, and the harmonies are nice. Plus, for 2 minutes and a quarter, you do have an excuse not to vary your accompaniment, but still, if you were to flesh this out, then remember that those pizzicatos get pretty monotonous, especially rhythmically, so some variety in that department (by use of different instruments and accompaniment) would've helped.
Anyhow, I actually really like this. It's a well-composed track with a lot of good qualities. Bravo! Keep up the excellent work.
You really are an honest dude aren't ya :'D
I hope your exams went well btw.
Firstly, I'm surprised to see that I agree with pretty much everything you said, and that I had noticed many of those things myself, after editing and looking back at the project. This means you are a really good listener! You noticed and mentioned pretty much everything that is possible o.O
And omfg thanks for such a long and exellent review! This is seriously very helpful :)
Down to the details then...
"I need to also add that for being your first real/serious attempt at composing something with a DAW, this is ridiculously impressive. I couldn't make this quality of music after a year and half of constant music production. You must have had some prior experience composing or know a lot of music theory. I won't believe you if you tell me otherwise!"
=> Then again, you were a lot younger than me when you first started; we should be pretty much the same age right now :p
I know the basics of music theory, but no more. However, I have been playing the piano for pretty much exactly five years now, and I've been composing for three and a half, especially much last year. As you know, you don't really 'need' to implement music theory into composing. If you just try stuff until it sounds good, you can get good results, as well as learn. I wish I knew more music theory though, since it is definitely a helpful tool, if you keep it from being distracting.
"Anyway, all that aside, let me say that right off the bat I think your composition is strikingly solid. You think it's not that original and I reluctantly agree - I would not call it creative and unlike anything I've heard before, but you've crafted a wonderful theme and atmosphere with nothing but tasteful instrument choices, and a strong sense of melodic and harmonic structure. That is certainly something to commend. Highlights would definitely be the excellent mood-setting intro, the introduction of warmth from those strings at 0:37 and the lovely ominous chord change at 1:34."
=>Yeah. The basics for this composition are pretty simple, so it was pretty easy to keep it solid. You should see what other random creations of horrible unsolidity I've created... Never when I'm serious though. Even the very first real composition I ever made was pretty solid. Let's move on.
The athmosphere is indeed at focus in this song. Since I haven't used any DAW's before Cubase, I naturally wanted to focus on the added effect of more instruments than just the piano.
About the higlights. Gaah that Recorder in the beginning, but we'll get to that.
The strings... It took me a good while to figure out how to get that sample even that soft and warm, and I still think it could be much better. I don't really like any of the string samples of Halion Sonic SE that much, but I tried to work around it. From a composing perspective, I think they were necessary though.
That chord change was actually pretty spontaneous, but I instantly liked it, as it also gave a perfect opportunity to return to the original key.
"I don't think this song needs any percussion. Sucking at percussion or not, I can't see how anyone could pull off some suitable percussion here, except maybe some percussion leaning more onto the atmospheric to accentuate certain dynamics (cymbal rolls, timpani rolls, that kind of stuff). However, one thing I need to point out is that at times your song arbitrarily slows down. 0:52 and 1:24 are examples of this."
=> You are probably right. The only thing I really miss is just those atmospheric things you mentioned, since I think they could have added to the composition at some parts. I certainly would not like an entire drum beat track, unless someone could actually pull that off and add to the song as well, without killing the mood.
Yup, those were exactly the two "weird tempo" places I was hinting at in the description. My initial idea was that a well done short slowdown would have somehow emphasized the transition at those parts, but the execution was very sloppy. And looking back at it you are right in that they are superfluous in a bad way.
I'm glad you liked 1:43 though! I actually thought that might have been a bit overdone, but now that you say it, it actually is much more fitting than the other slow-downs.
When it comes to music, I think that very much is subjective, so you are right. But I definitely agree with you in this case, so there is no need to worry about you being biased.
"Anyhow, moving on to the production, this is quite pleasant-sounding. There's no clipping, good volume levels, good balancing, etc. I would've liked some more drastic dynamic levels (right now your song retains a pretty minimal volume deviation, preferring to stay at a more constant volume level), but that's just me. Oh, and props for the reverb. There's a lot of it, which would usually make the track sound unrealistic and washed out, but it works so well here, giving this track an otherworldly vibe, and working wonders to that great atmosphere you've got going."
=> This increases my confidence a lot! I don't see myself as that good when it comes to production, but I guess that it is only expected since I'm new to these things. I actually have no knowledge at all about mixing and such, so I simply pressed many buttons and rolled some wheels until my ears stopped bleeding from how this initially sounded. As a first real try, I'm still kinda happy with the result.
There was clipping at first, but I did some stuff and then it was no more :p
This has a very constant volume level indeed. I think the problem is that my master volume was so low at the start, so I had the instruments at full power. This became a problem when I had already begun with the basic volume changes in some tracks, since there is a max level you can't overreach. And I didn't feel like redoing the entire volume automation :/
(Originally I did want to bring some parts out more, but meh)
You're observant o.O I think I liked the way how the reverb made the whole thing a bit more dreamy. I pretty much just checked out some of the basic reverb "rooms" that Cubase offered, chose some and made small adjustments, pretty much randomly. I think that a lot of the making in my compositions is processed unconsciously, which means I don't effing know what the heck I'm doing XD
"I'll have to agree that your instruments aren't very good. Some sound pretty terrible, like the flute at the beginning (which I literally thought was a raw sine wave at first haha) but there's not much you can do about that, and what you lacked in instrument quality you certainly made up for in melodic quality. If you start getting serious about composition, then getting a good instrument sample library would be a wise investment. Hit me up via PM if you want me to suggest some sample libraries!"
=> Uhh... That Recorder in the beginning... uhh... Wan't to know the story? I simply asked a friend spontaneoulsy: "Hey, I think I'm about to begin making a song. Should I use a Piccolo or a Recorder for the intro?"
My friend doesn't even know what any of those are, so he said Recorder fully at random (I hadn't even checked the samples yet). I then heard how the Recorder sounded and facepalmed, but I rolled with it. I tried to fix it a bit. Obviously didn't work :p
I have been downloading a lot of freeware these past two weeks, and many of them are at least better than what HSSE has to offer. However, some are just demos (like Alchemy Player), and are limited. I am planning on buying better stuff when I know what I'm doing and what I want a bit more.
I just figured that I don't want to pay for something I don't really need/want, so I will train up my DAW skills using free stuff at first. I will definitely contact you once I know more about music production in general! Since I like (love) your stuff, I should also have use of what you'd recommend.
"Lastly, this track isn't repetitive but the pizzicato/staccato string accompaniment in the background did get a bit monotonous. It sounds excellent, don't get me wrong, and the harmonies are nice. Plus, for 2 minutes and a quarter, you do have an excuse not to vary your accompaniment, but still, if you were to flesh this out, then remember that those pizzicatos get pretty monotonous, especially rhythmically, so some variety in that department (by use of different instruments and accompaniment) would've helped."
=> Of course, you are right. But since this is only a four hour project or so (most of the time spent trying to figure out the mixing D:), I didn't really put that much thought into the actual composition or arrangement. I wanted to keep it simple so I could easily get a foundation for using DAWs.
"Especially rhythmically", I'm glad you mentioned that, since it was something I had completely overlooked. I usually try to vary rythm as well, but this pizzicato track got so integrated in my mind that I wouldn't notice anything that could be done to it myself, without someone pointing it out.
I'm extremely glad that you got some enjoyment out of listening to this piece of mine, as well as from dissecting it :3
And once again, thank you so, so much for taking time to write such a detailed and honest review for a newgrounds newcomer, I won't forget this!
I will definitely try to keep up the good work, especially since you motivated me further. It's a shame that it is now time for me to read for a series of important exams D:
Oh well, oh well...
Thanks mate ;)
Hey man. Just dropping in with a mini review to tell you how much I enjoy this track, as evident by the fact that I favourited it. This is certainly one of the best Secret Santa tracks from what I've heard and I think mine just pales in comparison! Really awesome.
Right, what I like the most would be, yup you guessed it, the melodies. You have this really definable melodic style that instantly screams "johnfn" when I hear it crop up in one of your tracks. It's lyrical, upfront, almost cantabile, and often played by silky smooth synth leads that sound so pleasing and gentle to the ears but perfect for those glorious climactic moments like 2:08. Your main melody is incredibly memorable and likable right from the start. All of my yes.
Again, I need to add that for some reason your melodic style really reminds me of Reasoner. It's much more present in your piano-oriented tracks but I still notice it here. In particular, I'm referring to his older tracks (which you might've not heard since in the review response you gave me to 'wide world' the first thing you said was that his drums are good, when his old piano tracks shined for their beautiful melodic content and almost never had particularly impressive drums haha). Check out these three tracks from him, maybe you'll see what I mean!
Anyway, I also love the sonic style you've got going here. It's a nice mix between nostalgic video game music (especially with those chiptune-esque wobbly thingamabobs like at 0:30), spacey alien music and an overall uplifting and fairly Christmassy vibe. You've got precisely the right instruments and mixing choices to bring out these different musical flavours.
Speaking of the mixing, excellent work. Everything's clear, and nothing stands out unpleasantly. Props on the reverb you used on the lead synth - I didn't like it much in certain parts of your NGADM final track 'the fight', but here it sits beautifully in the track and makes that spacey, almost-but-not-quite trippy feeling shine.
Most of the technicalities are nailed. Love the structure, adore the approach to that wonderful 2:08 high point of the track, and the intro and outro are understated yet captivating. If I had to point out any criticisms, it's that your main melody, as good as it is, was getting old by around 2:45. Thing is, it works perfectly as an end to the track. Might I suggest adding another similar lead synth in that outro playing harmonies or counter-melodies under the main melody?
Small nitpick; no biggie. Again you provide a wonderful listening experience that's a present to anyone's ears, not just headphoamz's! Keep it up :3.
YESS. I'm going to hog up all of your reviews. *cackles*
It cracks me up that your "mini-review" is about as long as everyone else's review combined.
I didn't even put it in the description this time because I feel like it biases people or something. Also because I would sound really self-aggrandizing. But yeah that main melody, I don't know where it came from but I love it. In the 2:08 section it feels like a giant hug. Or like MightyManotaur said, unrequited love.
So since I liked it so much I was pretty sure I could count on you to like it too. haha
> silky smooth synth leads
I dunno why, these kind of leads just speak to me.
> Reasoner Reasoner Reasoner Reasoner
> Reasoner x9000
LOL. Yeah I think I was focusing on drums because the piece I just finished was getting a lot of flak for drums coming out of nowhere haha.
But yeah wow. This guy DOES sound a lot like me. I've been playing the piano a lot recently improvisationally and his use of motif, the ABAC patterns and the general movement of chords (which is really beautiful) and so forth really reminds me of my playing. Though it is certainly a lot more refined than my doodles.
"Dear World" just repeats that one motif throughout the latter half of the song and it's still amazing asdfg how is this possible.
"The Last Flight" is something else though. Wow it's so open! Feels like exploring a new world.
> spacey alien music
This is the best genre, no contest.
> sound design choices
If you like this sort of stuff though, check out http://ddrkirbyisq.bandcamp.com/album/love-everlasting (start with Love Everlasting, the song). I feel like he really laid down the groundwork. I guess it really got under my skin more than I thought, since the sound design ideas from that album are starting to show up in more and more of my tracks.
> wobbly thingamabobs like at 0:30
Haha funny story, I was just trying to do a normal arp with a square wave, but I didn't realize how zoomed in I was on the piano roll. Then I played it and I was like "ahh, so that's how that sound is made."
> but here it sits beautifully in the track and makes that spacey, almost-but-not-quite trippy feeling shine
Yeah I think that the problem in the fight was that the first section was very close and non-reverby, so the heavy reverb stuck out. In this song, the whole thing is awash in reverb, so it fits fine on the lead.
> Might I suggest adding another similar lead synth in that outro playing harmonies or counter-melodies under the main melody?
This is a really nice idea. See I almost wish you would complain more, because you always come up with good ideas. I definitely have trouble judging when melodies are getting old, but I'm getting closer to figuring it out I think.
Finally, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to review this. I know you're busy and I appreciate it.
This is an NGADM Round 6 review.
I think it's pretty amazing how the NGADM's final round turned out to be. Both you and your opponent made tracks each worthy to be called one of your best submissions to this contest, both the tracks are coincidentally the same genre - chiptune - and both have really solid and funky rhythmic grooves. And yet, despite these uncanny similarities, your track and steampianist's are quite different from each other. Having said that, I had such a great time listening to both of them and damn it's so difficult to pick the winner. Wall of text is a GO.
Allow me to begin by saying that I was elated to see that you went back to your electronic roots, but in a totally different way so as not to be accused of playing it safe. I have a slight soft spot for chiptune (or at the least, chiptune-inspired, since this technically isn't entirely authentic 8-bit music of course), because it's much harder to hide behind the safety net of good production skills and consequently, chiptune tracks are usually forced to have good, creative composition to actually be any good. Like you, I think a melody is one of the most important (or perhaps attractive is a better word) aspects of a track, so it's only natural for me to have said soft spot for such a melody-heavy genre.
You have a really sweet groove going on. You introduce it right at the beginning, and instantly the nostalgia of arcade games hits like a brick. The pitch slide you added on the fourth measure is highly creative, and blends in seamlessly in the iterations of it later on, which are plentiful but not extravagant, and your staccato synth hits timed to every other beat with the snare was also a brilliant touch. As if that wasn't enough, you've got some truly excellent transitions here, the really special ones undoubtedly being that inconceivably funky 0:47 transition and the way 2:11's drum beat is introduced after such a heart-pumping buildup. Drum fills in general drive the song forward excellently. Random note; I've got to point out a similarity in one of your drum fills. The rhythm of 2:35 in this track reminds me of 1:32 in "inside the machine". It must be a conspiracy.
Did I mention that your track's ability to keep the listener interested is EXCEPTIONAL? No? Well, your track's ability to keep the listener interested is EXCEPTIONAL. Really. Precisely before one thing begins to overstay its welcome, you bring something entirely new out of your everlasting sleeve, whether this is a new melody, a new rhythmic groove, a new synth, or even glitching for god's sake. It all works remarkably well, and creates a song with a lot of replay value and memorable sections.
The melodic content here is superb. Throughout the competition I've never had any problems with your melodies, and after hearing this track I still have no objection. Maybe your composition isn't as expressive/complex as steampianist's, but who cares - it always does the job fantastically. For starters, the melody that comes in at 1:43 is such an earworm! That's an especially good thing, too, since being the primary motif of the track it's crucial to the arrangement. I love the similarities the melody at 1:02 has with that motif, even though it's melodically different and much shorter. It's as if you used that shorter melody as a teaser or warm-up for what's to come. Your chord progression is extremely simple, but you make up for that with some very enjoyable melodies.
Right, now for production value, mixing, mastering, etc. In the NGADM, you sometimes hit the nail right on the head in this department, and other times missed the nail and hit your finger. I'm glad to inform you that this time, your finger is safe. The mix is tight, well-balanced and clean. Apart from a few issues I'll mention later, I have nothing but praise for your mix. The sounds and glitching you've done were worth the effort. The synth swells you have at 3:04, 3:17, 3:24 and 3:31 are beyond awesome, and the glitching was great. Shame about dblue putting that white noise in, but it's a good thing your track is chiptune, since the white noise fit in so seamlessly that I didn't even notice it.
Some tiny nitpicks. Your intro is quite bland. I feel like the song didn't actually find its footing until 0:47. Before that, other than establishing that really sweet groove, you didn't have much going on which was memorable. You might've gone a bit overboard with the reverb/release on some of your lead synths. I don't think it was distracting at all in the busy sections but in the quieter sections, especially at 0:14, it gives the song a large sense of space which I felt didn't quite fit with the much drier accompaniment you had in the background. 2:38's lead melody was a tad bit drowned out. Lastly, ending is alright but could've been a bit more hard-hitting to really deliver that satisfying ending. I'd suggest making 4:06's hit more significant, and then fading out more quickly.
That's my two cents (or, given the length of this review, two hundred cents) on this track. It's my favourite from you and I couldn't have asked for much more. EXCELLENT WORK!
Your reviews are actually starting to transcend just being incisive about the music I write and have started dissecting my psychological core. Like, I never even knew what drew me to chiptune (but not edm) until you pointed it out - it's all the melodies! Chiptune is practically the easiest genre to transmit a lot of melodies at the listener.
I think that if NGADM has taught me one thing (and it hasn't, it's taught me way more than one thing, but if it *had*) that it's there is a really fine art to writing a good transition. When the one at :47 fell into place I had a big grin on my face. 2:11 was more by the book. Big riser, drop out everything, then put a massive hit right at the drop and eq out literally all the bass for a measure or so, so that it really punches you in the face. Even though it's nothing particularly new, I was still pretty satisfied with how it worked.
> The rhythm of 2:35 in this track reminds me of 1:32 in "inside the machine". It must be a conspiracy.
Haha. You have a better memory than me. I do really like that fill though, because it's like you have two different rhythms going on at once.
> Did I mention that your track's ability to keep the listener interested is EXCEPTIONAL
The truth is that it's such a simple trick it might be disappointing. I just do something new every 8 bars, be it add a new melody line, remove something, switch up the chord progression. As long as you switch every 8 bars, the song will always sound fresh. I mean, I have a couple of other tricks (automating something over the 8 bar section, do crazy drum fills, occasionally add countermelodies at the 4th bar, blabla) but the 8 bar thing is crucial.
> I love the similarities the melody at 1:02 has with that motif, even though it's melodically different and much shorter. It's as if you used that shorter melody as a teaser or warm-up for what's to come.
This just solidifies my belief that you can read my mind (or that you're the most fastidious listener in the history of the world). In fact what happened here was I wrote the melody at 1:02, enjoyed it, and then copied it over to the climax section, forgetting in the process that the climax section actually uses different chords. I listened to how it sounded and enjoyed the first bar but not the rest, so I deleted the rest and rewrote it to fit the other chords.
> and other times missed the nail and hit your finger
I would like to claim that these times were when I was rushed ;-P If I only learned one thing from NGADM, it was how to mix well and quickly. Seriously, my first submission took like a day to mix but post-NGADM I could mix that down in like an hour.
> white noise
Yeah you actually can't hear it except very briefly at 0:26, probably since my mix is pretty dense in the other spots where it might show up.
> didn't actually find its footing until 0:47
I'm actually kind of surprised, I liked the solo section right before :47 a little more than the section starting at :47. But these days I pretty much trust your opinion more than my own (lol) and I can see where you're coming from.
> ending should have gone out a little quicker
I don't know why this cracks me up but I've been screwing up endings since the beginning of NGADM so it seems I would go out with a bad ending too.
> two hundred cents
> in summary
I owe a great deal to you (and by extension, the NGADM). The rise in my scores from 8.3 (first song) to 9.5 (last song) is due in no small part to the rapid cycle of the NGADM, and the excellent reviews that you guys gave us. So I owe you all more than I can express for helping me to become a better musician.
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