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Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

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Should the Community Scramble game concept be changed to also allow non-community provided samples?

Poll ended at Fri Dec 24, 2021 23:59 CET

Yes -- this might add to more room for creativity and does open doors for more participation
7
78%
No -- I would like to be challenged, but I am aware that the genre selection might be limited
2
22%
 
Total votes: 9

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Mister Fox
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Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#1

Post by Mister Fox »

Hello everyone,


this particular poll is a simple yes/no question:
Should the Community Scramble game concept be changed to (also) allow the use of non-community provided samples?




:arrow: A bit of background story:

Since January 2019, we've been seeing a yearly recurring, purely sound design based Songwriting Competition called "Community Scramble". The basic gist of the game is: get access to community sourced sample content, and only use this material, mangle it to your hearts content, and make a song out of it.


Image
Image Source: ArtsyBee (background, via Pixabay), released under Creative Commons CC0




:?: The problem:

The sample collection part has been very, very scarce in the last two years. By that I mean, we only had 1-2 submissions at most. To fill the void, I stepped in, provided the rest out of my personal collection, what I found interesting in video form on the internet, or what I could record at the very last minute. Then there is also the overall participation (which wasn't bad with 7 participants on avg over the course of 3 years). I can fully understand that the sound design aspect is a lot for not as skilled participants (even though many of you come from KVR Audio and their sound design based games). "Mixing" of assets might be more enticing, also result in genre variety, not to mention maybe even more participation. There are valid arguments for both sides of the court. But it still makes me think: "what might have gone wrong in the last years, and how to make things a bit more accessible to everyone?"

I would actually like to keep the general concept alive. But maybe lower the difficulty threshold a little bit.

By that I mean, alongside collecting samples for additional sound design purposes, we'll allow using other instruments that are at your disposal to create a more fleshed out production. Meaning: drum machines, guitars, etc. Not just added vocals (which you can also mangle however you feel like, of course).



:!: The big caveat:

This also needs some ground rules. As in: "what should the ratio of sound design versus other instrumentation be?" also "how to clearly clarify that with ones entry?" (this is where documentation is so important).

Some might do the absolute bare minimum, use 1-2 samples and the rest comes from sound design packs from Kontakt, which might result in completely dominating the field during the voting stage (because things just sound so much better). While somebody else invests a lot of time and work into creating a whole arrangement only from provided sound snippets, yet is being completely pushed to the sidelines.

Where do we draw the line in a fair manner? Where should the focus be, etc?



:arrow: This is where I need your help, your constructive feedback

I feel like we're at a turning point with the "Community Scramble" Songwriting Competition. I've also got a lot of comments after each game was over. Most notably ones on the lines of "I would have added more to the arrangement, if I was allowed to do <insert reason here>" or "I got the general idea across, but it would have sounded different/better if I could have used a real guitar, I'm just not happy with that synthesized one I had to model. Maybe I'll redo this song...".

As you are probably aware, I try my best to get as many people involved in the Songwriting Competition as possible, which would also result in more interaction. I am often getting the feeling, that the "entry level" is too hard, even though I really try to keep the bar low in places.

Why not try to shake things up a little, see where things go? But I can't do this alone. You have control how the general route goes in terms of overall tone (Sample Collection thread).

How much should we bend the rules?
.


Thank you for reading.
Looking forward to your feedback. :notes:



:idea: POLL INFO:
The poll will run until 24th December 2021 23:59 UTC+1/CET. You can cast one vote. You are able change your vote until that deadline
VCA-089
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#2

Post by VCA-089 »

To me the answer is obvious. The cahallenge is to be challenged. The limitation to use only provided samples not only makes contestants more equal in terms of gear/instruments but also froces them to think differently and shows their true sound design skills. Plus, even free DAWs nowdays has a decent set of sample editing tools. So I don't see the point to allow people to use their instruments and plugins, they could do this in every other challenges.

Ofcourse it is not for everyone and it means less participants, but Community Scramble could possibly become a standalone game. It could possibly make a bridge between Mix Challenge and SWC, as you could borrow audio material from MC (with the permission ofc.).
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Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#3

Post by Mister Fox »

Technically the "Songwriting Competition: Community Scramble" is already a dedicated game (it has the most promo and setup work of all), but I might turn it into an own thing. But then I need to find something in it's place, and run two songwriting games in parallel.




The original concept of "Community Scramble" was highly inspired by both Mick Gordon and Andrew Huang (see first video example). But I have a feeling people want the challenge, yet still add their additional material (remember: vocals were already an option). See above for various comments I've gotten throughout the years.


:arrow: My main question is still - how to make it challenging, yet interesting and approachable for everyone?




Once more, Andrew Huang can properly visualize this. Either we go this route -- "a production only from provides samples"

phpBB [media]




Or we go this route -- "get a couple of samples, 'flip it', add your own content (drums, synths, etc)"

phpBB [media]





If we go the second route (see "4 Producers flip the same sample"), then the question is... how much do we allow?

Just one additional instrument? Just one additional synth and one drum machine/sampler? Guitar/Flute/Violin/etc... clean or heavily mangled?

Which limits are we setting?



And this is something where I am in need of your folks feedback. If you only click yes or no, then I just roll the dice and see what might works. Then I have to see what feedback arrives during and after the game. Or, we set some new ground rules before 24th December.

The choice is yours, everyone. :educate:
satchboogie
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#4

Post by satchboogie »

Hi !

Thank you @Mister Fox for the efforts you make to keep things rolling.
I think that the Community Scramble Challenge stands on its own (only using the provided samples). The only thing that i would try is to make it mandatory to send at least 2 samples as a prerequiste to enter the challenge.

I didn't participate in the last songwriting challenge (i have some stuff but haven't finished it), but i always felt a temptation to involve material from the paralell running mixing challenge.
My suggestion would be a remixing challenge from one of the mix-challenge (original) songs where participants have to use a certain amount of tracks from the original, but they could make a full blown remix in whatever style. That would be interesting to see the results. This could run during the period of the scramble challenge as well.

cheers,

satch
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#5

Post by Mister Fox »

Just a quick update to the conversation:

Here is the thing, we already have a Sample Collection Thread, which has been accesses over 500 times at this point, but so far no entry. I set this one up for every particular "Community Scramble" game, and the participation has been very low in the last two years. I can only record/edit so much myself.

I've already set the bar quite low this year for the Sample Collection Thread (up to three samples, no more than five). Stating that it would be mandatory to "provide at least two samples" and use this as enter mechanic, this won't work as participants trickle in towards the end of the game, which would make it hard for participants that want to get their production out the door early on.



Regarding a "Remix Challenge", I might reboot that concept at some point. But I'd need a client for that (similar to the Mix Challenge), and way more interaction than just 2-3 participants. Of course I could turn the "Community Scramble" game into an own dedicated "special challenge", but I do not want to run anything in parallel.



But let me get to what you brought up, @satchboogie... From my understanding, your vote would actually be tilting more towards a "yes" (you can change that until the deadline, btw) since you want to incorporate other material that is not part of the samples provided from the "Community Scramble". But you also want to keep the original concept alive.

Well, this is what this thread is about.

:arrow: You, as in the forum users and regular participants, have the chance to define how much we would bend the rules for that.
So let us all please keep up the conversation!
satchboogie
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#6

Post by satchboogie »

Thank you, @Mister Fox for the reply. My standpoint is a solid "No" vote. I also intend to send samples. I was replying to the following statement:

"Technically the "Songwriting Competition: Community Scramble" is already a dedicated game (it has the most promo and setup work of all), but I might turn it into an own thing. But then I need to find something in it's place, and run two songwriting games in parallel."

I thought only that the remix stuff could go paralell with the Community Scramble Challenge.

The Mixing Challenges also include a wide variety of styles. The Song Writing Challenges can also mirror those genres. Would be fun to see what medieval song we would create.

Thank You,

satch
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#7

Post by Mister Fox »

The problem is still the participation amount. The Remix Challenges we ran only had 2-3 participants, which is even less than the Songwriting Competition.

Hence me asking what we could change and/or allow as slight change, to make this particular special challenge more approachable for everyone, therefore resulting in more interaction. That is my main focus.
VCA-089
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#8

Post by VCA-089 »

I'm curious to hear the opinion of those who voted for external instruments. For some of them it will be their first post on this forum. I hope to see them in the actual competition aswell. If they don't, they just gonna spoil the joy of challenge for other people.

My sample pack for SWC043 is halfway done btw...
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#9

Post by Mister Fox »

Can you please explain what makes you think this will "spoil the challenge"?

The main idea is still to create the majority of the production with the (sampled) content that have been provided to you. Of course we could turn this into a "One Synth Challenge", but depending on the synth (or in our case: the provided content), you might not be able to create the sounds you actually want. Most notably: certain types of drums and guitars.

Adding vocals has always been allowed - but there were plenty of comments throughout the years in public and via private messages, that "I would have joined, if I was allowed to do XYZ". Synthesis is not easy after all, and with the feedback mechanic, people fear to be rejected if they "don't do good".



:arrow: What I am still trying to found out as part of the conversation, is how far we should things allow to go?

For example: how much of the production should be "sound design"? how much can be added content (own stuff)? Only one additional instrument, or two, or several? When what do we define as "instrument": one instance of Kontakt (which can house hundreds of sub-instruments) or any other workstation for that matter, or just one drum sample, or one guitar, etc?

There is still a challenge happening with "sound design" being a focus. I mean, you could just "trigger" samples like Depeche Mode (see their drastic shift in 1984 with the album "Some Great Reward") or Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (see: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson - Scream), or you could go all out like modern virtuoso's like Andrew Huang (see above) and basically create everything out of one 5s long sample, or a sniff.

What you make out of the given limitations and provided material, and how much you want to push yourself to get there, is up to you.



This is the main question for this poll. :educate:
VCA-089
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Re: Poll: Songwriting Competition - Community Scramble - should we change the game concept?

#10

Post by VCA-089 »

Mister Fox wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 07:10 CET

The main idea is still to create the majority of the production with the (sampled) content that have been provided to you. Of course we could turn this into a "One Synth Challenge", but depending on the synth (or in our case: the provided content), you might not be able to create the sounds you actually want. Most notably: certain types of drums and guitars.

Adding vocals has always been allowed - but there were plenty of comments throughout the years in public and via private messages, that "I would have joined, if I was allowed to do XYZ". Synthesis is not easy after all, and with the feedback mechanic, people fear to be rejected if they "don't do good".
Actually, synthesis and sound design are much easier to get in compared to guitar playing and vocals and it's also much more accessible for bedroom guys that is the major part of any community like MC. Literally everyone who have a DAW can work with samples and effects. There are plenty of good quality freeware tools awailable nowdays (samplers, granular/wavetable synths, effects etc.). I think some people you mentioned are just trying to justify their lazyness.
Mister Fox wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 07:10 CET
For example: how much of the production should be "sound design"? how much can be added content (own stuff)? Only one additional instrument, or two, or several? When what do we define as "instrument": one instance of Kontakt (which can house hundreds of sub-instruments) or any other workstation for that matter, or just one drum sample, or one guitar, etc?
I can't see any adequate possibility to determen the amount of added stuff and even if we do, we would need to make people do walkthroughs of their DAW projects to be sure that instrument 'X' was used no more than 'Y' times.

The quality and quantity of tools differs from one style of music to another. You could even do it without any third party instruments at all, just your DAW sample editing features, effects and automation.

If people want to use threir favorite sounds they could make samples and bring them to the Sample Collection thread. Drumloops, guitar/bass licks, your favorite hardware synth patches. People were actually bringing that stuff from a very first Community Scramble, what's wrong now?
Mister Fox wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 07:10 CET
Can you please explain what makes you think this will "spoil the challenge"?
This...
Mister Fox wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 07:10 CET
...one instance of Kontakt (which can house hundreds of sub-instruments) or any other workstation for that matter
In addition...

I have seen challenges where you need to get deep into music genre that is very niche or completely unknown for you (for example any jazz, rap/hip-hop, vocal oriented, classical or this ballet thing going on right now). It requires time to get in and understand not only the basic structure of the music but also a motivation of original creators and their ways of expression, which is quite hard for those who have a job or/and must do other music projects. Sometimes it also requires some specific instruments and sample libraries. It is an obvious downside of a game that tries to be as diverse as possible. So why we are trying to please everyone in this particular case?
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