So, I was inspiration for this, huh? Better give it a really good, solid review then! I won't be too excessively verbose as is my MO, but it certainly will include a lot of detail.
- Phenomenal intro. Your atmosphere here is on point. Percussion is great, arps are great, backing pad is great too.
- Tempo increase for the start fits well, especially with the fresh percussion. It really brings the intro into the next section.
- Speaking of that next section, one thing that I really latched onto was the syncopated keyboard chord hits in the background. They're really solid but smooth, very good.
- Nice chord shift at 1:37, it fits well and provides some excellent contrast.
- Great piano at 1:45, too. I like the background notes from the same keyboard instrument in the last section. (at least, that's what it sounds like)
- Really neat percussion around the 2:20 mark.
- Great background stuff around 3:20, I seriously need to study your reversed synthy stuff.
- 3:42 is a really really nice transition to the main melody. I recognize it clearly. The chord shifts here are stellar too. Very underwater feel, which I like a lot.
- Piano outro is indeed wonderful. I do like, very much! Particularly the final bit around 5:30 for the 'true ending'. That was well done, nicely played.
Not as good stuff:
- I think the synth at 1:54 comes in too harshly. I think it would have been better more in the background. Similarly, sudden transition at 2:00. I think even a bit of low-frequency rumbling with a filter sweep upwards would have fit there.
- You can bring your low bass frequencies out more if you compress them well. Give it a shot! :)
- Pad sidechaining at 2:00 through 2:28 is way too harsh, dude. Put a cap on it.
- Very strange transition at 2:36 with some weird reverb percussion in the section after it. I'm not sure what to think of it, but at the very least I think the transition could have been done better. Maybe. I don't know, it moves to something VERY different.
- Similar criticism around 3:18, though less so. I think the bit in between these two transitions could have been a bit more similar to the rest of the piece. *just a bit*
- 4:05 to 4:18 smells a bit too much like arpeggiator for my liking. This could definitely have had better arpeggios, this sounds a bit too much like random notes.
- Criticism of 2:00 to 2:28 comes back at 4:42. It actually fits in before that with the build to the higher intensity.
So. It was good, as evidenced by my review score and my normal scoring curve of a pretty damn even distribution from 0 to 5. I think it had a few bits that could definitely have been better, but the parts that were good were phenomenal. I really, really like this and I love the direction I'm hearing you go in.
Glad I helped inspire such a piece, as it still earns a vote of 5 and a download from me. :)
Hey, Skye! Thanks for dropping by :)
I'm going to hit a bunch of the "not as good stuff" here because frankly
- I agree, I agree. Wasn't too sure how to go about fixing that synth; I think I stopped production on that section prematurely, which is why a lot of the transitioning crap sucks. Especially since that particular synth just cuts.
- To bring out the lows, I usually use fast distortion followed by a high cut. Haven't really tried compression yet, mostly because I don't really know how to use compression (other than presets, of course) :/
- Note: don't go overboard on the chords
- So there's a section in the original piece that just dives into chromatics and whole tone stuff, so that's what 2:36 was :/ It's a pretty big jump to get there, so I tried a whole tone scale in the piano to get there. It's just really, really different.
- And then the section after the whole tone stuff is not whole tone stuff. Thus, same problem I guess.
- That's funny, the 4:05-4:18 arp comes straight from the original thing. It's the melody in a section of the piece, although it goes a lot slower (twice as slow, actually) and has actual distinguished chords behind it. Each of those notes is a direct transcription of that melody in the original piece, which is also all eighth notes.
- Of course it does :P I think of all the sections, the 4:05-4:18 one is the most empty and least developed. Perhaps I should have spent more time refining it, but it did sort of seem like random notes and I had a hard time touching them.
And what the heck how about the good stuff:
- A lot of people tell me they hate the tempo changes. This further complicates the issue, because I have an equal lot of people telling me they like the tempo changes. I'll stick with what I like
- Note: syncopated hits = good
- It's not the same, unfortunately, but close enough
- That's the same loop as the one in the intro, chopped differently
- Literally you just take a riff, record it, and play it backwards. Slap a bunch of reverb on it and maybe some delay and bam, you got a texture for free.
- Awesome (that's actually funny because I was asking one of my friends for good album art suggestions and he mistook this particular dungeon bgm for an underwater one)
- AWESOME (true ending? heh) I really gotta thank Gareth Coker for rekindling my interest in the III chord :P did you think it was played? heh
Hi! You deserve a review now, so here you are!
-Very nice 8-bit. Probably from using an actual 8-bit plugin, but it certainly works!
-Very nice intro and pause, this is well done.
-There's a solid organization of your ideas in an ABA format. It's simple, but effective and better than a linear wall of ideas.
-Very nice arpeggios throughout, along with the fading chords.
-The background pad sound is pretty good. Very solid backdrop which would work well to go together.
-The low saw bass sounds really grating and not at all good.
-After the intro sequence, the background bass and drums are almost exactly the same the entire way through. This typically isn't a good thing - some variance is good, even in two minutes.
-I don't think the sound effects starting at 0:59 were particularly good. There are far more fantastic 8-bit sound effects, and these just don't really work.
-There isn't a very solid ending - it seems to just remove elements until it stops.
Overall: 5/10. Pretty good for a first track, but definitely could use more variance in the overall piece and especially the sound palatte. There just aren't enough differing sounds to make it feel different throughout - that combined with the repeating background don't quite do it.
THAT SAID: This is a seriously solid shot at this style of music if you're trying to get into game music. It seems like this could use a more solid idea of what it's for, as well as a bit more difference in the sections. I think you can definitely do it with a bit more work!
Cheers man, some solid feedback there. I'll smash out some new attempts soon :)
-Very nice ambient intro. The background drums are really nice and remind me of another piece where rain drips were used as percussion.
-The clicking percussion around 55 seconds in is fantastic. It actually reminds me of entirely different music by Zachary Huff - an album called Dreamsura. If you get the chance, I'd highly recommend looking it up.
-Excellent build and climax at 1:40! The melody is very nice-feeling and has a good background feel.
-Excellent mixing and a peaceful, conclusive ending. Great work there!
-The drum fill of spamming trap drums at 2:08 seems pretty messy and mildly painful to listen to, honestly.
-This entire piece just feels like a parabola. It goes up and goes down in a very linear fashion with a short bit of climax at the top. I would love to see a little bit more undulation in the song's tension, and more thematic development.
-On a similar note, there's only the one melody. It's a very good melody, granted - but it doesn't really change much at all. Even a countermelody would be great, and a secondary melodic idea would be fantastic - it would also lead to extending the song and giving a bit more interest to break up the piece from the same kind of sound throughout.
Overall: 8/10. This is pretty darn good. Based on other things I've heard from you, I can only really give it a 8, but it's still a good one to listen to. The melody is catchy and feels good to hear, and the overall mood is good. I'd love to hear more, especially if extended with some more ideas!
x3MbeRx - Strawberry Sky:
-Absolutely fantastic introduction! The supersaws are strong in it, but they're very pretty along with the background piano and sfx!
-Very nice clean plucks! I like.
-I feel some Porter Robinson influences in the main climaxes. Those arpeggios are pretty neat.
-Really cool background SFX in the climax sections as well.
-Very nice soft melodic-ish sounds around 2:20 on.
-Not sure about the actual transition at 0:28. I feel like it could use a bit more of an ending to the intro leading into the plucks.
-Fairly big audio glitch is one which sounds like it's coming from some sidechaining at 1:12 and around 1:15.
-I'm not sure what exactly you were going for in the drop. Was this meant to be some kind of anti-drop? The problem is that after the arpeggios and quickening drums, the drop ends up being really underwhelming in that it has very dramatic sounds and then just drops the tension like a hat without doing anything with it. Part of it is in the way the bass/kick and pads work together to leave gaps - these gaps make it feel like there isn't really a point to the piece in those sections. The high-hats do improve this a lot though!
-In the second drop, there's a new lead - which is a decent improvement, but it doesn't really seem like it knows what it's trying to do melody-wise - it suffers from the same lack of direction that the first drop had. Unfortunately, it also seems to throw off the mix in that section, making quite a few details far less distinct.
-There isn't an ending. The climax reaches the point where it stops timing-wise, and it leaves a bit of reverb and subtle delay from the beginning, without any conclusion or finality to the piece.
The Result: 7.8/10.
-Overall, this is a really well-produced piece with an excellent midsection and drops. The main issues are the aimless climaxes and the ending. Your sound design is top-notch, especially among recent popular EDM. I think that with a few tweaks to the climaxes, a bit to really finish the piece, and just a bit more direction to your composition, your pieces will be absolutely fantastic. Good job!
I'm glad you liked my sound design for the most part, since it's what I spent the most time on. As I've said previously time constraints led me to kind of improvise transitions, which is why theres no ending and some parts may seems to not flow into eachother that well. I'm afraid I don't really understand what you mean about the drop? That it's underwhelming? These pauses are pretty typical of future bass tracks and I felt like they added some relief after the first heavy hits of the drop. I struggled coming up with decent leads for both drop sections, honestly. Also, the "audio glitch" you noticed was completely intentional believe it or not, and you're right it's a side chain to a ghost track.
Thanks for the in depth review :)
verbicidemusic - Smokescreen to Lucidity (Part 1: Denial):
-Excellent guitar chords and guitar filtering at the start. The initial guitar riffs are fantastic as well with the bass harmonies.
-Really well-written melodies throughout the piece which come back. Those "ahh" sections are fantastic!
-There's some weird guitar FX at the start, beginning around 0:34. It's a neat effect, but I don't think it quite works in this case.
-So, this is a really weird flaw for this piece to have: The instruments sound very much like they were recorded in different locations and different ways. The biggest and most noticable instruments in this are the drums. They seem to have been recorded in their own room, causing a bit of weird reverb that none of the other instruments have. Try adding some general reverb to all the instruments at the end of mastering (in very light doses) to improve this.
-Further issues with the recording: The instruments seem to be very thin overall. I think that once the general spatial issue is fixed, this will improve dramatically - but beyond that, it sounds like a lot of the mixing is EQing out frequencies that get in the way of others. That's fine, but try to leave some of them behind - it will ruin some of the instruments otherwise. Try turning down the volume of the instruments and using a limiter at the end of all other mixing/mastering to really push things up to a full volume with good quality.
-Not quite sold on the phase effect of the voice in the later half.
The Result: 7.6/10.
Okay, I know that it looks like I just ragged on you for most of this review, but here's the thing. Everything here is great, *except* the sound quality of the instruments and general mastering of the piece. If that was fixed, this would probably shoot up 1 to 1.5 points in quality from that alone. In other words, that one issue overshadowed a huge amount of the piece and pulled it down from where it really should be. Once that is fixed, I think that your music will shine out with the excellent writing it currently has! Best of luck, guys!
Sebastien01 - Memories:
-Extremely good and expressive playing.
-Very nice and well-developed themes.
-Some really nice rhythmic/time signature changes like at 0:38 and 0:42 - I felt that extra beat or two you had in there!
-Oh my god, those arpeggios are amazing. I know how stupidly difficult arpeggios can be as well, so this is extremely impressive to me.
-I think that the biggest flaw in this piece is expressed in the middle of the piece - you really stuck with that *one* thematic idea throughout a lot of it without much development until the end.
-What happened to the theme played all the way to 0:56? It just kinda vanished for the rest of this.
-Honestly, I think that it would be excellent to introduce another instrument or two into your music to really show how detailed and skillful you can get in your writing. While this isn't generally important, I think that would have expressed far more of your talent in your music for the contest, which could easily have pushed your piece that extra step to victory.
The Result: 9.3/10.
Okay. Confession time - my primary instrument was solo piano for about 8-9 years, so I really hope I haven't been biased in this. But really, this is a fantastically well-written piano piece, and very well-played as well. Please, definitely continue on - you got this!
Thank you very much for this review!
I'm really glad you appreciated this song :D Thanks for the good words, and the details about what you appreciated in this composition. For these time signature, it's cool you noticed them :) I like to introduce some on a lot of my piano or classical songs, like a waltz with some 5/4 on it. Break the rules! :)
For real, I thought the same thing the day after the final day about this second theme. I should have made (And "will make") it shorter for the second theme, then repeat the first one, then a third theme, and a final. Someday I'll post a remake of this one.
Yeah adding some orchestral elements would be nice too :) I think I'll go all piano on this one, and when I'll get a good orchestral soundbank, I won't be affraid anymore of these midi'ish sounds I have on my computer so I'll revisit some of my older tracks to add some strings and brass to them :P
Your confession is making your comment value level up X 3!! Consider yourself highly considered! ;)
PirateCrab - The Power To End Us All:
-Classic PirateCrab, using great melodic and rhythmic guitar riffs. Of course. Main theme found at 1:04, I believe.
-Excellent development of the themes. The main theme comes back multiple times, and I hear the theme from the start coming immediately after it.
-Overall good mixing, aside from a couple caveats.
-Great breakdown at 2:30, even if it realistically only lasts for about 10-15 seconds.
-Audible right at the start: Your cymbals are pushed REALLY far back compared to everything else. The snare is also pushed back. Try toning back the guitars to mesh better with other instruments. In a similar boat is the bass guitar, though that's a bit more of a typical metal thing. The drum issue is clearly shown around 3:09 when the drums can more clearly shine and the cymbals are *still* way in the back.
-So, I kinda hinted at this earlier in the review, but this piece really just pummels you the ENTIRE WAY THROUGH. It is desperate for a bit more of a breakdown where things calm down. Some good examples that I can think of for really good breakdowns in harder guitar stuff are Anti-Citizen's "Automated Wasteland" with a fantastic more electronic breakdown and InYourDreams' "Bajo el sol, sobre las rocas" with some excellent flamenco guitar. Neither are perfectly your style, but they get the point across - and something like InYourDreams' flamenco guitar breaks in that are absolutely awesome. I would go absolutely crazy for a heavy metal/flamenco guitar artist.
The Result: 9.2/10.
Yeah. This is your typical awesome PirateCrab stuff. Not too much to say else for flaws in the piece - you have a great style, this piece mainly just really really needed some kind of break other than the tiny one towards the end. Good job as always, man!
papkee - At Peace:
-Oh, very tasty guitar at the start! I love your guitar work in this - if that's a VST, I wish I could use it.
-Ahhhh, similar instrument quality thing at 1:46 - those low strings sound extremely nice, particularly with the guitar up above it.
-Your overall organization of this is fantastic - it rises and falls in a very natural and organized manner, which just plain feels wonderful. Excellent job!
-I love the delay on the piano which becomes audible right at the end.
-There seems to be a bit of an odd ending to the main melody (isolated at 1:12). It ends on a passing tone to the chords, which makes it sound a bit awkward. Even if it had a final note at the end of it one step down for a conclusion, I think that would improve it a lot.
-Very nitpicky thing: I think that at the end, with the final note of the guitar, a beautiful way to end the piece would be to wait for the end of the piano delays where the guitar lifts, and instead have a slow downward strum of a chord to finalize everything.
-I think it would be awesome to have a second theme throughout this which is developed a bit. That would be awesome.
The Mixing: Oh yeah. I isolated this thing, simply because of your response to TL. Here goes!
-First, that air noise in the background of the guitar. I feel like that needs to be isolated if it isn't - and if it is, it should really be slightly more apparent at the start and end so that it can more clearly show that it's part of the piece.
-As always, your strings are a tad bit too strong - try turning them down about 5-10% lower than the rest of the instruments pre-mastering. They're starting to get in the way of the other instruments around 1:15, and get in the way of everything else far more around 2:20. (other possibility - check a parametric EQ and turn down some of the mids and lower mids a bit)
-Weird bass rumbles at 2:02, 2:19 (panned left), 2:34, 2:49, 3:07, 3:23, and 3:39. Pretty sure that's a bass drum, but... there's too much in the low frequencies from the strings already - it just causes weird interference that doesn't work too well.
-All in all, this is fairly well-mixed. The absolute biggest improvement is: TURN DOWN THE BASS TO MID EQ ON THE STRINGS.
-Also, a comment I've made before - if you aren't, try turning down all instruments to about 80% volume prior to running them through mastering to give your piece some good headroom to work with. Otherwise, mastering can and will make mud.
The Result: 8.2/10
Biggest issues are the melody and mixing, honestly. For the melody it's partially the odd ending, and also the lack of a second one. All in all though, a solid effort and one of the best pieces I've heard from you!
Yep, that's not a live guitar. It's an absolutely incredible sample library for Kontakt. PM me for more details.
A second melody was something I just didn't have time for. This piece was rushed because I was slated to move the day the songs were due for the contest. I had about half the time everybody else did to compose the thing.
Mastering for me has always been to get my piece sounding pretty much how I want it to pre-master, then throwing it through Ozone 5 with a preset I made. Seems to work well; better if the song is well-mixed prior to that. Is that a good way to do things? Not at all, but it works and saves me from having to spend a full day trying to master by hand. I'm sure if I was really dedicated I'd take the time and learn how to master properly, but knowing myself I'd get way too burned out from it.
As always your reviews are spectacular and give me a lot of good ideas. Cheers!
Noisysundae - Deathmatch:
-Your thematic placement is very good - it repeats in very nice ways throughout. I like the placement of the initial theme in the background of the melodies.
-The arpeggios are very well-done, and there are in general a lot of really neat sound effects throughout this.
-Really nice submerged lowpass sound at 1:10!
-This piece has some seriously solid mixing overall, which is very nice! Good tight bass, solid high end. I might try to bring out the high melody a little bit more, but not too much else.
-There's barely any variation throughout this piece, unfortunately - not in terms of melody, but in terms of mood. There is the intro, and then there is the high-octane, really fast DnB middle, and then the outro (minus the 10-second breakdown). The problem is that the middle is basically the whole piece. If you listen to a lot of popular/highly rated works, they tend to have some difference in mood between the different sections so that people aren't bored (in slower pieces) or kept at high tension for too long (in this piece and similar).
-Your transitions could actually use some work - primarily between your light intro/outro and the midsection.
-Throughout 1:10 to around 2:10, the melodies seem fairly aimless (with one caveat of 1:40 and 1:55 referencing the main theme). I think that the soloing/melodic development in this could be improved significantly.
-Now, I'm pretty sure the intro and outro are almost exactly the same.
The Result: 7.6/10
Your piece has a really well-developed melody, but suffers from a few important missteps - some aimless melodies, several subpar transitions in important places, and mainly the lack of mood variation. That said, there's a really good foundation here - that's how you got this far, after all! You can do it!
This tells me that I need to spend more time on a track to develop better composition and arrangement. One of my problems is I got into the contest while I'm not inspired. Not an excuse for not making a better piece, though. Thanks a bunch for the tips. Definitely helpful for my future sundaes! :)
ggaero - Plasma:
-Very nice melodies! I really like how they're constructed overall and how they end.
-Very nice mixing as well. It's quite solid and keeps much distortion from happening.
-The breakdown at 1:30 is quite well-done, and the overall placement of the breakdowns and buildups are quite good as well.
-Oh, man. That default FL kick. This piece really deserves a better kick than that.
-As nice as the melodies are, it would be great if they were played in a different sequence. It's pretty obvious that there's only a single melody throughout - you can easily add in a second one.
-The drum fill right at 2:26 seems very weak and subdued - I feel like it could have used a little bit more "oomph".
-Variation. Your climaxes are both exactly the same patterns. It's actually not that hard to make a new pattern with the same base if you want - just right-click into the menu for the pattern in your sequencer and use the "make unique" option. That way, you have a new pattern in the same spot and you can edit it without changing the first one. Very helpful for variation.
-Your ending could use a bit of work - it's not quite there yet. Even just a final hit with some kind of chord wash would be good. You conclude your piece well, but you don't end it - the pattern just finished like normal and it seemed like there just happened to not be any more notes.
The Result: 8.4/10
This is well-written, well-produced, really solid stuff. Your biggest ways to improve this would be to increase the quality of your drum samples and introduce more variation into the music. Good job!
Thanks, and btw I used a Jannick Larsen kick, not the default kick but whatever c: haha
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