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I enjoyed this a lot. I like the sound design, especially the quirky samples.

-Nguac Review-

Composition:
I like the section at 1:42. It's nice ear candy.

Many of the sound effects feel arbitrary; they don't evoke imagery of a certain place or any emotions. The vocals don't get me excited - they're actually pretty distracting because I have to pay close attention to understand the words, and the tone is too neutral.

The strings and piano writing is extremely basic, and there's no legato or dynamic control. It's important to consider dynamics and voice leading to enhance realism, and more importantly, emotion.

The section at 3:00 has an interesting rhythmic change, but the main theme is so simple that I wish for something else at this point.

After that section, much of the rest of the song feels like it's unnecessary repetition. 4 minutes is more than enough, but the song is nearly 6 minutes without enough content variation to justify it.

Overall, the song sounds like you stitched together a variety of generic electronic music elements without a plan for creating a cohesive, meaningful experience. I don't sense a purpose behind the song, such as telling a story, evoking certain emotions, encouraging people to dance, etc.

Composition Score:
1.6/3

Production:

There's a lot of great sound design here, particularity during the drops.

I think reverb has been used poorly across the board. It's significantly reducing clarity, creating mud, and producing a detached high-end reverb sound that doesn't add any value.

If you're using free reverbs, I suggest you consider investing in a good one. That won't solve all the problems, but it can potentially provide a drastic improvement in sound quality.

The mix sounds good during the 1:42 section.

Production Score:
2/3

Emotion Score:
1/3

Creativity:
.4/1

Total:
5

I realize this review is more of an explanation of my score rather than helpful feedback, but we make very different types of music so it's difficult for me to help you further. I hope you find some value from my review nonetheless.

Benji-G responds:

Uh yeah thanks... I’m still mad and sad, but in a few days It’ll be over and I’ll find this really helpful. But rn I’m pissed ngl, I’m sorry

This is very heartwarming. I especially love the ending with the beautiful piano.

Which reverbs did you use?

AlbeGian responds:

Valhalla VintageVerb if I'm not wrong. Really glad that you find it heartwarming, thank you so much!!

I love this

PredatorMusic responds:

Glad you do so!

This is very catchy! I love the guitars and piano.

-NGUAC Review-

I like the instrumentation, orchestration, and structure. The choir writing is well done for the most part. There are a few voicings I dislike, such as 1:19.

I gave you very high scores in composition, emotion, and creativity. You lost most points in production. I sense some mud in the mix from the percussion, and there's some harshness in the high end. The part at 1:34 is too loud and harsh, and it seems like the mix hit the limiter pretty hard. Some instruments, such as the woodwinds, sound too dry. Maybe this video can help with that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0axfEAU5vbg

With a better mix, I think you would have passed - maybe with one of the highest scores.

SourJovis responds:

Thank you for the review. Glad you liked the song. I'll see what I can do about the mix.

That's a good tutorial. I've watched many tutorials like that, and I've been using my reverb settings quite like that for some time now. For this song however I've used mostly the actual reverbs recorded within the samples, because I really like the ambience of the room the instruments are recorded in, and nothing sounds as realistic as real life reverb. The placing in the room was determined mostly by the person who recorded it, but you can adjust the volumes of each individual mic manually. I kept the placing in the room mostly the same as they were when they were recorded, but sometimes I switched the left and right output if I wanted to have an instrument on the opposite side and I've done some (mostly minor) panning myself. To enhance manual room placing adjustments, and as an artistic choice, I've added a bit of digital reverb for what they in your video refer to as "early reflections". I've used the TSAR-1 by Softube with very subtle "dark" settings. The woodwinds are placed behind the violas, but in front of the brass ensemble, so they have more early reflections than the strings, but less than the brass (also less than the double bases which are behind the celli).

This is very catchy and lively :D

ArcaneMusic responds:

Thanksies

-NGUAC Review-

The intro is intriguing and well-executed. The sound design is quite pleasant here. There's a nice surprise at :33.

After this point, I feel like the composition meanders and loses its meaning. The melody in section A isn't catchy, interesting, or memorable, and it seems too far in the background when it should be in the forefront imo.

The drop at 1:06 is less interesting melody-wise, and it's not clear how it relates to what I heard previously. This section is fairly repetitive until the 1:39 point.

1:39 is an awesome moment. The abrupt chord change and the runs are quite pleasing. But like in the intro, the composition seems to meander again shortly afterward.

The outro is satisfying by itself but feels weak in context because I don't feel like the song took me anywhere or made me feel a certain way.

The sound design is pretty good, and I like the delay effect on the piano. I like the bass and percussion together.

Regarding the mix, I think the bass range can be cleaned up a little (particularly around 150hz); the highs can be boosted on some instruments such as the pad, snare and piano; and low-mid resonances can be reduced across the board. The mix could sound wider as well - perhaps with those changes it will automatically sound wider.

Sorry for the long wait. I hope this is helpful! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Stargame responds:

This review actually comforted me in a way - these are all things I've felt about the piece, particularly concerning the composition, and it was nice to hear from a fellow musician who is able to articulate what I, myself was feeling about the song. It's comforting to see where it would need work. It's also nice because I had very little time and energy to make the piece, and I was very stressed while doing so (newborn third child) - as mentioned, it was done in 6 hours. I know it needs more time - I was burning out pretty bad at the time. I feel like if I can take more time on this piece a little later, I can really flesh it out. Thank you for the honest and articulate review.

Hey, I saw your post in the nguac thread and decided to leave a review.

I think these competitions should be seen as opportunities to gain exposure, motivate yourself to make more and better music, and indeed, have fun. Judge biases will be a major factor in every competition - it's inevitable and one will feel bitter much of the time without accepting that fact. I've had the same reaction as you in the past.

On to the actual review...

There are some nice lines of music in here. The percussion is solid, there are some interesting sets of chords, there's some cool synth design, etc. But I'm afraid I do not see how these lines of music work together to create a cohesive message - what is the purpose of the song? It feels fairly repetitive, and the meat of the track is not that stimulating for the aforementioned reason.

The piano library is clearly low quality, and piano keys aren't usually slammed like that. It's not pleasant to listen to sound-design-wise.

The mix is fatiguing to listen to. If you EQ certain instruments, and perhaps the master channel, around the 3-4k range, you could remove some unpleasant frequencies. I also suggest using a dynamic EQ on the piano to control low-mid resonances.

I know the score I gave you isn't pleasant to receive, but I wanted you to know that I did recognize some positive qualities of your track. From my own musical journey, I've found that improvement is not a linear process at all; it's usually revelations about music composition that lead to abrupt, drastic improvements. I'm saying this because I believe that with a bit of studying (and maybe making a small investment into a proper sample library), you can see significant improvement quickly.

Another thing: unlike some other judges, I did not factor industry standards into my judging. I don't care much about that.

I hope to see you return to future competitions, but I'll understand if you don't.

Nice sound design :o

Mooke responds:

Thanks EverErratic :)

Also thanks for tagging me on the NGUAC thread, else I'd have forgotten about it.

Hi, I compose orchestral music. I'm open to commissions. everratc@gmail.com

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Joined on 10/9/10

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