2020-MAY-09 Info: Please help spread the word about the Songwriting Competition and help it reach 15 participants per month on average

SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Winners announced

Thematic Songwriting Competition - recurrence: monthly
Posts: 13
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by ontrackp »

TrojakEW -- you got it exactly right:
For example ontrackp - It’s Not A Dream seems to be balanced but synth instrumnet at start is really harsh. Analysis found that he cut most of lows and high with (looks like 12db lo and hipass filter?). This hipass removed harmonics in high range so without them it sound "bad".
I really struggled with that and should not have dumped the high end as drastically. Your tech analysis is really helpful.

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Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:24 CET

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by toadhjo »

Lots of good entries this month. Ranking them was hard. I arranged them and rearranged them many times but still feel like they aren't quite right. So if you placed in the lower half of my rankings please don't despair.

Feedback first. Rankings at the bottom.

J I L L I A M – Stage 7/ Trapped Within The Total Recall-Reality
Nice banger with an old school sound. I’m personally not a huge fan of the heavy compression but I do like the composition and think it’s a great fit for the theme.

RichardClarke – Fight!
I get fighting-game vibes from this one as soon as the guitar kicks in. The weird swings in mood aren’t bad but they don’t really gel with my idea of a fighting game. The composition is also quite short and perhaps a touch repetitive.

ollyaudio – Its Dawn
I like the vibe from this one, particularly the guitar arpeggios. The kick is a bit more powerful than I’d prefer, at least on my speakers and headphones. I also have mix feelings about the plucked strings – they feel slightly out of place IMO. Overall a good track but maybe too downtempo for a fighting game.

ontrackp – It’s not a dream
Yikes! That sudden volume spike caught me off guard (even though my eyes saw it coming). The instrumentation is lush and dynamic, and the tempo is well suited for a fighting theme. I like the synthesized arps that come in around the halfway mark.

andreas.bolden – Final Battle
The opening groove is excellent. While it’s good as is, I feel like it could develop a bit more quickly.
The machine gun kick feels out of place in my opinion. Maybe it would work if it faded in gradually? Or if it was used more sparingly instead of blasting constantly?

DoctorBob – Fight or Flight
The vocals and shouts at the beginning help immediately set the fighting game vibe. I also like the choral vocals that come in a bit after the minute mark. The percussion is on point.

Leonard Bowman – Dueling, Dancing
I love the way it gradually opens up. The piano sounds lovely. And the ratchet (noisemaker) is a nice touch.
One of my favorite pieces this month. But not really fighting game music in my opinion.

The Exponent – What are you afraid of
Wwwwwwwubbbbbs. The composition is kind of repetitive but those wubs give it a lot of life. I like how you pull things back about halfway through and then build back up again. The vocal samples are also very nicely inserted.

The Never Scene – Infernal Waste
The strings give me a Nobuo Uematsu vibe, but the percussion is out of his league (or maybe just out of the SNES sound chip’s league). Nice guitar playing – it blends well with the programmed stuff. Excellent prog-rock sound.

Upright Joe – Sky Vs Sea
Nice groove. This one got me bobbing my head. And I love the guitar (both clean and distorted).

I got goosebumps about halfway through. It’s a bit chill for fighting music (maybe it would be better if you kept turning up the overdrive as the track progresses?) but I’m not going to hold that against it. I could see it working in a Streets of Rage kind of thing.

Clueless – Fighting Game
I had trouble following this one. The composition sounds unfocused to me. I feel like there’s almost something cool happening here but it’s not quite coming together.

TrojakEW – Pit of Torment
Nice tempo for fighting music. The spoken samples are perhaps a bit over the top – the voices aren’t very clear and they’re a bit too intrusive in my opinion. I like the composition though and think it would fit very nicely in a fighting game.

Final Scores:

10pts Upright Joe – Sky Vs Sea
9pts ontrackp – It’s not a dream
8pts The Never Scene – Infernal Waste
7pts The Exponent – What are you afraid of
6pts TrojakEW – Pit of Torment
5pts DoctorBob – Fight or Flight
4pts ollyaudio – Its Dawn
3pts andreas.bolden – Final Battle
2pts Leonard Bowman – Dueling, Dancing
1pt J I L L I A M – Stage 7/ Trapped Within The Total Recall-Reality

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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by ontrackp »

This is my first time entering here and doing this type of evaluation and grading. “Fight Scene” is a pretty broad-strokes definition and could go in any number of directions, so it's hard to really grade on that aspect of the songs. My focus is on 1) emotional impact of concept and execution of the combining of orchestral and electronic; and 2) overall production. All in all a very impressive group of songs!

JILLIAM – Stage 7
Concept: This has the energy I would associate for a fight scene but I found it a little lacking in compositional interest – especially for a composing contest. Half way through, you had pretty much used only two notes, and while minimalism can be cool, it felt kind of repetitive to me. I liked the percussion very much, especially the pitched resonant noise that started the piece and came back a couple of times (especially at 1:09) that helped the emotional flow.
Production: Percussion was very important to this but the pitched instruments could have had more power and made more of a statement – that would probably have helped with the issue I had in my concept note. The bottom was a little muddy to me – possibly on purpose in which case please don’t be offended (!!) but it was a little hard to differentiate the bass from the low drums.

THE NEVER SCENE - Infernal Waste
Concept: This is the full package -- Dramatic start, strong thematic composition, dynamic orchestration, weird ambiences, energetic, tense yet not frantic backgrounds. The orchestral elements were terrific -- traditional dramatic stingy stuff - overall very visual. The synth sounds worked for me, especially the thing panning around during the 2:50's.
Production: Very well done - perhaps a bit thick in the lower mids at some points but I felt like I could hear everything clearly and it was well balanced. The string sound was outstanding as was the low guitar.

DOCTOR BOB - Fight or Flight
Concept: I really liked the dynamics of this -- each section had it's own feel and the piece worked in a very visual way for me. Especially after 1:05 when it cuts back a bit from the chaos of the first section. The orchestral elements worked really well, I think the mixed up voices that came in occasionally worked against the more thematic elements and helped create an environmental type of tension. Overall, very strong composition that tells a story.
Production: The production varied thru the piece. In general it was so full that there were times it was hard to pick out individual parts, which might have been the intention -- chaos! The orchestral sounds were great - especially the huge brass. I thought the female voice in the middle sat really well in the mix. Overall, considering the thickness of this I thought it was very well done.

Concept: This feels like a fight scene background - the instruments have the right energy and I like the descending lines and the occasional stops. It ended kind of abruptly and is a little short.
Production: This sounded well balanced to me but the entire piece feels a bit over-compressed which suppresses some of the energy from the distorted guitar sounds.

Concept: I apologize, but have to say right up front this did not come off at all like a fight background. It's a lovely ballad and has some really nice sounds. The theme is very pretty and the cello solo is really nice. The drums are kind of overwhelming and the piece doesn't really build -- there are a few stops and starts but nothing that creates a real dynamic journey for me, which is too bad because the parts are really nice. For instance, when the cello solo came in and around 2:20, if the drums had been different from the rest of the piece it would have created a mood shift that would have helped focus on the composition, instead it just felt like more of the same mood.
Production: The mix and overall production was not equal to the nice sounds and musical ideas in the piece. On my system (Adam F7 studio speakers) the bass was overwhelming in some frequencies and the drums punched through in a jarring kind of way. Everything could have lived in a nicer space and the piece deserved a soundscape that would showcase how lovely it is. I don't mean to be harsh so please take my opinion/advice as a positive - not negative! Closer attention to individual instrument EQ and compression would have helped, and a better stragety re: reverb to define spaces would also have been beneficial.

Concept: Epic orchestral opening! Really dynamic and filled with tension -- and those low strings.... fantastic. The composition and arrangement builds really nicely but I don't hear much marriage of electronic with orchestral -- it's very powerful orchestral though. Has a very serious and somewhat menacing vibe which emotes well to me.
Production: In a word, this sounds great. The instrument sounds are fantastic, the stereo field is full and the whole thing really hangs together in it's own space. I would have loved to hear some crazy synth stuff added to this though.

CLUELESS - Fighting Game
Concept: I really like how it begins in fits and starts. Creates a visual of kind of sneaking into the scene. Overall the abstract feel works for me but by 1:30 my mind started to drift - I wish something else had happened around there. I also missed an evolution or buildup of fight intensity. The sound design is interesting but kind of static (which may be normal for fight themes, not meant as a criticism - just an observation) -- I hear some electronic stuff way in the background but it doesn't really feel like a compositional element. I really like how it winds down at the end. I wish some of the electronic noises would have been more front and center at times.
Production: Sounds really good. Balance and stereo field are good, overall dynamics seem fine - nice clean production.

TrojakEW - Pit of Torment
Concept: I like the orchestral background and powerful drums, but the voices providing a narrative didn't really work for me -- they're cool and funny but took away from the music providing a narrative and pushed it into just being background. That being said there were little bits and pieces of detail in the music that worked really, really well for me -- the little string and horn lines. Overall it was a very appropriate composition.
Production: Awesome. Sounded great - mix with the voices was just right, well balanced and very controlled for an energetic piece with lots of opportunities for things to stick out.

HENRY J OLSEN - Spar In the Bazaar
Concept: This is definitely outside of the typical hi-energy fight scene arena, but as ambient background soundtrack for anything in an Eastern setting I think this would work well. Definitely sets a mood. This is very pleasant sounding and evocative of a setting. It didn't have an unusual mix of orchestral and electronic which was part of the assignment though. I enjoyed it. I liked the "tuning up" intro a lot - cool beginning.
Production: I thought this sounded great. The instruments all fit well together and the sonic balance was very good.

THE EXPONENT - What Are You Afraid Of?
Concept: I love the classic orchestral intro. The electronic overlay after the spoken words did not really convey a "fight" to me, but the marriage of sounds work really way. Once it got into the more stuttered section around 2:21 the constant looping of the string motif underneath actually kind of slowed it down for me. The compositional dynamics were very consistent through the piece, which does not reflect the energy of fighting for me. Really good drums throughout though.
Production: Very well done. The orchestral sounds are great and the electronic stuff integrated really well. The mix felt very well balanced to my ears!

UPRIGHT JOE - Sky vs Sea
Concept: I like the militaristic start, and the seagulls. The melody starts kind of "breezy" but builds nicely with the addition of the harmony and strings. I like the urgency of the distorted guitar. When it kicks in at at around 2:00 the sounds are all there but it doesn't quite reach the frenzy of battle that I think it could get to. Maybe it's because the drums and lead guitar are so laid back. I wish this had capitalized more on the open/close military vibe.
Production: This sounded good -- the clean lead guitar sounded great -- don't know if that was a sample or played guitar. Mix is well balanced, some of the distorted guitar parts could have been a bit wilder sounding which would have added energy, but all in all a very nice sounding production.

LEONARD BOWMAN - Dueling_Dancing
Concept: The start of this sets a very nice soundstage -- the instruments sound great and the musical arrangement is very sophisticated and well done. The melodic theme is great -- with awesome variations. This feels more like an overture or intro to me than a fight scene though. I really enjoyed how musically sophisticated the composition and arrangement was. The melody won't leave my brain
Production: Really, really lovely. The production does the composition justice. Great mix and balance of sounds -- awesome oboe and great dynamics through the mix.

The Scores:
10 - The Never Scene "Infernal Waste"
9 - Doctor Bob "Fight or Flight"
8 - Andreas Bolden "Final Battle"
7 - Clueless "Fighting Game"
6 - The Exponent "What Are You Afraid Of"
5 - TrojakEW "Pit of Torment"
4 - Leonard Bowman "Dueling, Dancing"
3 - Jilliam "Stage 7 / Trapped....."
2 - OilyAudio "It's Dawn"
1 - Henry J Olsen "Spar In The Bazaar"

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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by J I L L I A M »

Hey guys, thanks for criticism. I admit i made the track in 5 hours or so but, next time i am going to be more precise

Leonard Bowman
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by Leonard Bowman »

Making a track quickly isn't necessarily a bad thing. Mine took a while, but that doesn't mean it is a good track. A lot of that time could be saved if I were better at producing (and performing) my music.
And of course, I'm grateful for any criticism, feedback, etc. y'all have to offer. Especially realting to the technical side of things.

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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by andreas.bollden »

Well done guys! :D

10pts - The NeverScene
9pts - The Exponent
8pts - Ontrackp
7pts - TrojakEW
6pts - Dueling, Dancing
5pts - DoctorBob
4pts - Jilliam
3pts - Toadhjo
2pts - Clueless
1pt - Upright Joe

I really like the sound and melodies. Very much sounds like an old school fighting game. But the production is too noisy and "panning" for me. I feel dizzy :P

Nice sound effects and perfect mood. Would work very well in a video game. The production is a little bit week, lacking some high end and width.

Great intro! Vocals fit's perfect and the growl sounds very nice. The strings and orchestral elements are also perfect. The electric guitar is good, but plays to pentatonic and bluesy. The mix is a bit flat. Nice nylon guitar. The brassy part at 2:00 should have more epic percussion!!

Intro sets the tone very well, and nice sound effects. The melodies, production and composition sounds very much like a video game, well done. I'm not sure about the static 16ths "drum groove" thing. Drums at 2:28 works better.

Dueling, Dancing
Awesome intro and the harmonium is fantastic! The tambourine and piano doesn't really fit. Great composition, very well done! The mix is a little noisy around 2kHz. Not sure if it fits in a fighting game.

Nice oriental scales and some nice video game fx's. But the "groove" is to crazy and abstract for me.

Awesome! Funny vocals and the strings are catchy. Love the drums as well. Groovy. The song structure is a bit strange to me and a little bit flat. Well done!

Really sets you in an environment with the exotic scales and instruments. Also the crowd effect is nice. Should be easy to fit in an exotic video game scene. But not a fighting game maybe? Also the song structure is a bit flat. Should build more over time, needs some dynamics.

The Exponent
Very well produced dubstep drop. Not sure about the hip hop drums in combination with the orchestral elements though. Good with the breakdown at 1:30.

Good production, the snare drum sounds very realistic. The production needs more elements. Doesn't really sound like a fighting game. The electric guitar is good, but the melody is to friendly sounding.

The Exponent
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by The Exponent »

Firstly, well done everyone! Very diverse entries this month. It was interesting to hear everyone's interpretation of a "Sci-fi/Fantasy Fighting Game Soundtrack". I've based my votes/scores on few aspects such as - Composition, Freshness/Uniqueness(something I might not have expected), Production, and Alignment with the Theme. Also, I've used my own experience of playing fighting video games to analyze the tracks and thus, can be subjective. Since everyone's interpretation of a fighting game music is significantly different here, I think I can take the benefit of doubt in that aspect. Having said that, here's my feedback:

First and foremost, the mix is quite muddy, especially the kick and the low-mid range. As Trojak pointed out before, it probably is also clipping at certain places. Also, it's at -9 LUFS which is way off the recommended loudness range. I really like the ominous theme and the sound design, totally has a fighting game vibe. It does have a lot of intensity and tension across. However, overall it kind of get monotonous since the sounds or melodic lines are not evolving, dynamics and movement are lacking. Similar to Clueless, it seems more like a loop than a song I'd rather enjoy on its own as well.

This one's my top pick for several reasons. Firstly, it's the perfect fighting game soundtrack. It has great intensity, evolution, dynamics and that dark ominous vibe. Secondly, the sound design and guitar playing is extremely well done. The instrumentation is very nice and I love the mix and balance of the various sounds. Thirdly, it's very well produced, the mix is sufficiently loud, clear and with very good tonal balance across the frequency ranges. Top pick and for a very good reason. Well done!

A very good composition and very well produced as well. Love the lushness of the instrumentation and the sounds, really creates an epic feeling. This would also work amazingly for an epic movie trailer music as well! I like the balance of the sounds, I can hear the different parts clearly so it's not overwhelming at all. The ending section is fabulous with a LOT of intensity and that's where I feel the track shines. However, I'm in agreement with LB about the introductory part, it does seem disjointed from the rest of the song and that's my only major complaint. Well done!

Interesting start, I like how you start of all happy and then suddenly switch to this ominous metal mode. Really interesting however, there is no evolution of the track except for a small bridge section where you change up the sounds/motifs a bit. For a track shorter than 1:30, this isn't expected since you could potentially have include more varied riffage or electronic/orchestral/vocals sounds. I understand it is a short track, but then it's more of a loop and quite thin in terms of instrumentation. It does however fit the theme in a way and I give you credit for that.

Firstly, a very good track on it's own in terms of production, composition, sound design and tonal balance. Really well done and I like it a lot. With that being said, I don't visualize this being related to a fighting game of any genre, under any circumstance. I tried a lot to see if it fits somewhere, but sadly it doesn't. This is the only reason I've not included you in the Top 10 and I hope you understand. Top notch composition and production, it would probably have been one of the top tracks if the theme was more in alignment with your track.

I like the intensity and the spirit of the first half of the track right when the synths and other sounds kick in. The track has a great blend of orchestral and electronic sounds. Also, very nice guitar playing. However, the second half of the track until minute 3:21 strays from the mood and atmosphere of the first and loses my idea of a fighting game soundtrack. It sounds good but is relatively weaker in terms of the intensity of the first half, it's more laid back and that's my major complaint. That said, it is a well produced track and well done!

Really nice orchestral sound design! Loved the epic start, has an ominous vibe and a lot of tension which gives it a very good atmosphere. Nice overall theme which suits a fantasy fight game theme. The instrumentation is balanced except for the occasional guitar hits in the early part of the track, which are much louder than the other sounds and distracting within a game setting, I feel. Also, the constant double-bass for the last one minute or so is very fatiguing. With that said, I like your motifs and overall composition. Well done!

Very interesting and abstract track in terms of sound design and syncopation. I like the production too. I visualize this to be in a South-East Asian temple/monastery base game stage. Overall instrumentation balance is quite good, so is the tonal balance. You've used some delay/procedural fx for the rhythm and syncopation? Quite cool. However, the track is quite monotonous other wise after a minute or so without any development and variation. It's more like a loop with subtle changes in the lead being played over and over again, but it's something that will work perfectly as a fighting game soundtrack.

This is my 2nd favorite track. It has the right intensity right from the start and the instrumentation is on point. Love the angelic voices which add great contrast to the sinister sounding orchestral instruments. The mix is extremely balanced and there is sufficient variation in parts, although I agree with Richard that you could've added some more motifs to this. Interesting usage of vocals and loved the way you tried to narrate a game through rounds. Very cool and well done!

This is a unique track on this list. Honestly speaking, at first I was kind of unimpressed by this, since it was so sparse and lacked intensity. However, when I came back to it again and listened more carefully, I was quite impressed. The composition is really nice. I love the interplay of the instruments and the background chatter of the crowd. The sound design and instrumentation however, is sparse. You could have included few more instruments (as it's a band playing). That said, I loved the mood and atmosphere of this track, and totally see this in a fighting stage in a Middle-Eastern or an Indian market. The mix is very balanced too, well-done and I really appreciate your interpretation of a Fighting Stage, which is quite unique, giving it some brownie points from me.

Firstly, the mix is very balanced and tasteful guitar playing there. The hook is nice. Interesting description/interpretation of the sounds that you've used. Without the description however, it is not very easy to imagine the scenario you mentioned. I like the sounds you've used, quite polished. This does have a decent tempo and but lacks the intensity/vibe of a Sci-fi/Fantasy Fighting Game but I do like the interplay of the synth/guitar sounds. However, this is a very sparse mix in terms of instrumentation. There is no evolution in the track's energy over time, the second half of the song is almost identical to the first (I think?). Overall a decent production, but a tad repetitive and more like a jam over some drums and a bass line.

Leonard Bowman
Upfront, a fantastic composition and production in its own right. I love the instrumentation you've used and how the track evolves over time. Lovely melodic lines and a lot of humanness to most of the sounds. There is a lack of intensity but it totally sounds like fantasy RPG video game music. If I stretch my imagination, it even sounds like a fighting game soundtrack for a stage set in pastoral fields. I'm a fan of your composition skills and your composition more than makes up for not fully aligning with the theme. Well done!

► Show Spoiler

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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Voting until 01-03-2019 11:59pm GMT+1/CET


Post by TheNeverScene »

This voting was more stressful than doing taxes :D Really enjoyed the listening to the tracks and voting was seriously tight and tough.
(I realized after the fact that my format for posting votes wasn't as it should be, so the scores are listed again at the bottom)

10 points: Andreas Bollden-Final Battle
I can't say enough good things about this track. Great strings, big bangs, lots of cool sounds (some subtle). When the double bass started rolling, I thought something broke! It took a second to figure out what the heck was going on, but it grew on me once I figured it out. Very well done.

9 points: TrojakEW-Pit of Torment
Oh, definite fight material here. Great use of vocals and the drums really keep it moving.Very elaborate piece of work that I greatly enjoyed.

8 points: The Exponent-What Are You Afraid Of?
Really well constructed fighter track and I love the dubby wubbies you've pieced together.Battle bots all the way! Reminds me of what I hear whenever my children are satisfying their video game addiction. Great job!

7 points: DoctorBob-Fight or Flight
Epic battle commence! Intense action in this one...strings, soaring vocals, sound fx and I absolutely love the solo violin. The dueling violin and dizziing guitar solos remind me of a contender dancing around while the opponent has stars circling his head after being clocked.

6 points: OnTrackP-It's Not A Dream
...or is it? :D Track goes to many different places with great transitions and is well mixed. Really good use of sci-fi sounding fx and the rapid pace keeps it in fight mode, all the way to the end when you can feel the opponent dwindling in life bars.

5 points: Clueless-VGS Fighting Game
This weird, hurky-jerky track is quite impressive. Nice Asian elements blended with the crashy percussion. At first, I thought it could use some more variation, but I think it's actually one giant variation. Smooth synth fx poking in were also a nice touch. Track kept me engaged the entire time and I'm clueless as to why (badump!) Loved it.

4 points: LeonardBowman-Dueling Dancing
You've really done well with all of your live recording in this. It's raw and I like it. It doesn't really make me want to fight, but it builds up some intensity towards the end that helps make up for that. The chordal structure of the song is fantastic and the main melody line is extremely memorable.

3 points: Olly Audio-It's Dawn
First off, this is a beautiful track and I really tried to envision some fighting, but I just couldn't. Track has an almost Hotel California vibe that I can see in most anything else but an epic fight scene...the only reason for my vote placement.

2 points: JILLIAM:Stage 7/Trapped Within the Total Recall-Reality
I think you've got the right idea. The track is a bit harsh in the highs, so it makes it a little hard to listen to, but it is an intense pounder. A little repetetive, but it made me want to punch my wife in the throat (J/K!) It took some guts to be the first to post, too.

1 point : Richard Clarke-Fight!
Track is pretty raw, but it has fight potential. I liked how it started all happy and the carpet got yanked into some grimey guitar riffage. I think a little more work would have turned this into a stomper.

toadhjo-Spar in the Bazaar
Cool track and the dulcimers (I think) are pretty sweet sounding. The crowd is a good touch too and I think you were going for more of a scenic approach, so it's not quite screaming fight.

UprightJoe-Sky vs Sea
Pretty groovy track with some nice guitar work...I'm feeling a nod to the Rolling Stones:) Drums sound huge, just not sure about the fight.

10 points: Andreas Bollden-Final Battle
9 points: TrojakEW-Pit of Torment
8 points: The Exponent-What Are You Afraid Of?
7 points: DoctorBob-Fight or Flight
6 points: OnTrackP-It's Not A Dream
5 points: Clueless-VGS Fighting Game
4 points: LeonardBowman-Dueling Dancing
3 points: Olly Audio-It's Dawn
2 points: JILLIAM:Stage 7/Trapped Within the Total Recall-Reality
1 point : Richard Clarke-Fight!

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Mister Fox
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Results in preparation


Post by Mister Fox »

It is the 02nd March 2019, 3:20pm GMT+1/CET - the voting and feedback period has officially ended

Everyone has given feedback and cast their vote. Therefore we have no disqualification.
I will be posting the official results later tonight (not an automated process!).

In the meantime, SWC019 is in full swing - please spread the word:

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Mister Fox
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Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC018 February 2019 - Results in preparation


Post by Mister Fox »

While I've been collecting audio files and counting votes, I realized that some users barely got any attention (votes) and a lot of files haven't been named properly. Since we've exceeded 4 participants, a "staff balance vote" isn't needed. However, I think it is good to set a positive example and not only give feedback to everyone, but also list my personal "top 13".

I tried to access WAV files where possible - so please, provide them in the future (and not just MP3s).

:arrow: But before I get into the feedback - a warning:

I know that a lot of the new faces are from KVR Audio's One Synth Challenge. However, this game also has rules. Sometimes even creativity-limiting. But I don't think that it's okay to just drop the (both in the Rules and Guidelines, and in each thread's first post mentioned) naming convention.

For example:
  • ollyaudio - only listed the songname
  • Richard Clarke - only listed the songname
  • toadhjo - only listed the songname, only provided a SoundCloud link that lead to a FLAC file
  • trojakEW - didn't even bother to list a songname, neither the user name
  • J I L L I A M - only listed the songname
Additional to that, The Exponent's production was only available through SoundCloud in the end - the download was broken.
Please - try to prevent that in the future. I do not want to disqualify anyone.

:idea: On to the feedback:

J I L L I A M - Trapped Within The Total Recall-Reality (named Trapped Two)

Ouch, that track is super loud. And the frequency balance is pretty much in the "ear-piercing" territory. I listened to both small speakers and and studio ones. On small speakers (2"), the whole low end is pretty much gone, while on 8" speakers, the low end is there but everything feels just mudded out. Also the filter transition at 0:55 wasn't really great.

I understand the concept of a windy/sci-fi stage (reminds me a bit of good old Sega Saturn Fighting Games, or PSX Battle Arena Toshinden, dare I even say "One Must Fall"). But this was not pleasant to listen to. Also - the track was a bit short at 1:44min

TheNeverScene - Infernal Waste

First impression was very, very positive. A great and interesting mix between glitched sounds, orchestra and electronic instruments. Must have been a lot of work with the "glitching". Although I'm not necessarily feeling the guitars. You wrote that they were played, but they felt really artificial.

The production translates well to both types of speakers (although there is obviously more low end on the 8" speakers). This is something I'd listen on loop for hours on CD for sure. It fits the premise of this month's challenge really, really well. Mix wise, I'd check the lower mids and let the guitars maybe cut a bit more through as well (around 3kHz). It sounds a bit dull overall.

Doctor Bob - Fight or Flight

Very interesting ambient type production. If I read right, the "Vita Series" is stock material from Samplitude (the choirs as well?!)? Interesting and very good sounding indeed. I kind of missed a bit more percussive work though. I was always like "this could kick up a notch" (especially guitars, after the challenge/response in the first half of the production). But then again, a lot of the music of "SoulCalibur" is in that style and doesn't distract too much.

For a game however, I'd love to hear an "alternate version" though (especially one that is a bit more aggressive and fitting to the given premise). Mix wise, I missed a bit of the lowend. Even on big speakers. The first half was great, the second only saw Bass sounds ever so often. But I think you wanted to feature the trumpet section.

I should look into the Vita Series VSTi, maybe I can use them in Cubase or Logic.

Richard Clarke - Fight!

I really felt sorry for you after collecting the votes. Your track was mostly ignored (sadly). But after listening to the production, I now understand why. IMO some missed opportunities there. To me, this sounds like a production that would fit well in a cartoon-type fighter or joke ego-shooter (think Killing Floor), maybe even an RTS (think "Command & Conquer: Red Alert"). But the balance between the "8 bit synth" (which aren't really 8bit) and your rock elements do not work out. It feels a bit like as if you're stumbling all over the place.

What you could try (if you would revisit that track) is to "bit reduce" the 8bit synths a bit more, cut the frequencies higher (low cut), let it feel more like an old arcade than what it is now. The rock part is a bit muddy. I missed the "higher fidelity" here, the "slicing through" the blanket that's lying on the overall production. Good try, appreciate your work. It would fit into a fighting game - but not this one.

Also - your track was shorter than 1:30min (check the Rules and Guidelines again)

ollyaudio - It's Dawn

Right off the bat, I miss a certain explanation of what you went for concept wise, and what tools you used (check the Rules and Guidelines again, please - you're a long-time participant!). The way the production is laid out, it feels like playing in a snowy wasteland and overall very chill atmosphere. Definitely reminds me of mid 90s fighting games.

Sadly this production is fairly loud (especially the drums) and has an emphasis on both the lowend (below 300Hz) and above 8kHz, as if you applied the infamous "smiley curve" during mastering. If you'd reduce the bass from the drums a bit, made them a bit more dry even (less reverb on snare and kick), then maybe this fits better with the overall theme. I like the production, but it's barely scraping by the premise and could see more work. Especially during the bridge section around 3:30min.

ontrackp - It's not a Dream

The production with the Kurzweil K2000 - which I think is the Blade-Runner type bass and some of the flutes, probably the pianos later in the production (sound like it), if not also some of the orchestra percussion and hi-hat (that drum set - loved it with my K2000!). A lot going on in this production, presenting a certain form of chaos. Has that sci-fi fighting game feeling for sure, with a touch of "epicness". But throughout the whole production I was like "can the drums please pick up and/or cut more through?". They are there around the 2:30min mark with the guitar and Slate Drums. But this song feels like "It could have something more. Just a tad though". If SoulCalibur had laser swords, it's definitely there!

As good and as interesting this production is, certain frequencies clash a bit. The bass for example (could be cleaned up if you'd give them distinct frequencies), same goes for the hihat and the higher frequency synths. On small speakers, none of the drums cut through. Only the high hats and later the snare. Which is a pity - but there really is a lot going on in this production. It's also a bit "squashed", the overall dynamic of the production could definitely get a breather ever so often. Definitely loved the ending section!

I'd love to hear a revisit some time down the road - does it fit the premise? I'd say it does, although barely.

andreas.bollden - Final Battle

First impression - just... WOW. This definitely feels like an epic final battle (or bigger battle overall). A good touch of "synthetic brass" which blends well with the sampled Vienna Orchestra (really reminded me of Mick Gordon's Killer Instinct OST). This is what I wanted to hear. And along with TheNeverScene, is among the top tiers of this production.

However, I am not feeling the rolling timpani/kick drums at 1:30 until the end of the song. This sadly clutters up the whole production unnecessarily. Having timpani rolls ever so often is nice, but not for over a minute (also considering that the sustain for some of the drums is really long!). If you tried to simulate a double bass kick drum effect, maybe the sound choice wasn't great. Maybe hits on the 1st and 3rd beat (syncopated) only would have been better. On small speakers, these drums fall off completely (until the last 30s of the production), but they're very, very noticeable on large speakers or those with added subs.

That is really my only complaint here. And maybe that the production is a bit short (and fairly loud at about -8dB RMS). But that is personal preference.

I'd also love to know what Kontakt samples you used...

Clueless (aka M0onocqa) - VGS Fighting Game

This is definitely an interesting production. Lots of lofi sounds, abrupt beats, and a constant feeling of "action and reaction". The "slow motion" feeling definitely shines though, even feels trippy sometimes. Has something of the "Absolver" fighting game/RPG concept. Pity that small speakers (once more) eat up all the low end. On big speakers, things sound fairly balanced. Only the upper mids (so around 2-4kHz) are a bit annoying.

What I find a bit off putting, is the section between 2min and 3min. Now please don't understand me wrong - in the concept of a game this could actually work super well and supportive. But listening to the production on your own, I was like "this section could be cut". But that's personal opinion. I'm one of those that enjoys listening to game music as "standalone product" as well.

Overall - more than interesting concept, completely unexpected. A good first entry fitting to the given premise.

TrojakEW - Pit of Torment

The production that had no proper naming. So for the future - try to prevent that. On initial listen, yet another "What the?! This is AWESOME" moment, and I caught myself pulling up the volume of my speakers pretty much instantly. Well, not surprised - 8DIO samples (Hybrid Series) do provide the main groundwork for this production.

Which brings me to the one(!) thing that really drops your overall score. You created an outstanding production to the given premise. The beat and the syncopated strings work outstandingly well (I tried Hybrid Tools myself, a bit over-processed, however this is what 8DIO does). But why, oh why did you have to add the voice samples? :scared:

The premise was not(!) to create a radio play, or simulate a fighting game cutscene, but create music for(!) a fighting game.

This really saddens me, because your entry is among the highest quality ones, more than fitting for the given premise. And I'd love to have this one on constant loop in my media player. The production is so great, it even translates really, really well to small speakers (aside from the voice samples, which are quite annoying there). But the voice samples (although a great idea), really throw me out of the "inner cinema". I'd really love to hear this production without the added voices.

toadhjo - Spar at the Bazaar

Another reminder to please properly name your files. I was really irritated as to what people meant with "Henry J. Olsen", as this was not the username on the forum. So please, try to prevent that in the future. Other than that, somebody really likes "Street Fights" it seems. :wink:

Interesting concept - although just like TojakEW's production, the sound effects are offputting here. Then again, if you'd remove the market sounds (which would come from the game engine, not the OST), the production would slightly fall apart as it feels very spacious (you used a lot of reverb - maybe even a bit too much for my taste). The shouts are also a bit loud. Overall a great and memorable production that also translates well to small speakers.

Nice work! Although, barely scratching by the given premise (blend of genres)

The Exponent - What are you afraid of?!

Is this really a 7 hour production? Your creativity has been definitely put to good use here. This is a production that could work in a club stage, with loud cheering in the background and very hard hitting punches. Free sounds and synths definitely don't need to hide these days - I'm impressed.

The production translates fairly well to small speakers as well. Although the Dubstep grows are really harsh there. You could maybe also dial back the reverb in certain places (especially the arp sounds, while the strings could use some more reverb - although try a bandpassed reverb). The kick drums also need some attention (the Trap one could be a tad more clicky, the Dubstep one needs so more low end), so that they blend better in the overall mix. But then again, during a busy game, this wouldn't distract compared to just listening on CD. The voice sample from DOTA2 also doesn't distract (but... keep copyrights in mind!).

UprightJoe - Sky vs Sea

An interesting production indeed. I definitely get the "two combatants - each standing their own ground" vibe. But in a moderately fast paced fighting game, nobody would really hear the second part of the song (where things start to really grow interesting) and you hear the back/forth. Production wise, I'd have maybe used a different kick drum. Also - the bass guitars really vanishes on small speakers. But the driven synths (the sonar content) works there nicely.

It does have the back and forth feeling, it is a well made production, but it didn't "click" with me for a fighting game to be honest. If I'd create this game (as in, be the producer of the game), we had a longer back and forth and would try to find a good middle-ground for a stage. Maybe even ask you to add some strings here and there, and go a bit more wild with synthetic sounds.

Leonard Bowman - Dueling, Dancing

Ah... the "ballroom dance" scene. Now I understand what other people wrote about this production. It's not like that these kinds of songs found their way into fighting games (especially those with medieval characters - think Soul Calibur again). But it does(!) miss the mark for this particular premise. It feels more like a 2D cartoon fighter than the modern concept this premise was asking for.

The overall production is definitely interesting, but as with "Sky vs Sea" by UprightJoe, I'd probably have a longer back and forth with you and even ask you to change some sounds. Like the drums for example. The piano could cut more through, I'd love to have a bit more electronic elements, etc. At least if we take the current SWC premise into consideration. Else - this song might definitely fit into a RPG, especially with the 8bit elements.

Overall - everyone of you has been creative. As mentioned several times before, if you manage to submit anything, you're already a winner. But despite that, this is still a competition. So without further dancing around the subject, here are my votes.

I went for the "everyone gets points" system that we will go for with SWC019.
► Show Spoiler

For the future though:
Please take a closer look at the given premise. And please do(!) name your files properly. Bonus: offering high quality renders (WAV).

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