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12 replies to this topic

### #1Shea2310  Members

Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:43 PM

Hey guys, I just recently started making music outside of the rock realm, and was wondering what you thought of it. Some of these are WIP, but I think the main idea gets across well enough. http://soundcloud.com/shea-boman
As for the specifics, I didn't really write these for any specific game. I was hoping I could get some constructive criticism for improving it. I realize that this seems extremely vague, and I apologize for that. But any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Shea2310, 05 May 2012 - 08:50 PM.

### #2Julian Domanski  Members

Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:02 PM

Hey Shea,

Great work so far, your ideas are good and I can totally envisage them accompanying a big range of genres. I think maybe you should look in to doing a little bit of post-EQing, there are a few muddy frequencies in there. Also have a look round for some better instrument plug-ins, I know you're going for that 8-bit vibe with those tunes, but it's always good to try your hand at the big orchestral stuff as well to go with the more modern games. Keep up the good work man, I look forward to hearing some new stuff!

Julzshred

### #3Shea2310  Members

Posted 07 May 2012 - 03:34 PM

Thanks for the reply, Julz! Yeah, I tend to always forget about EQ-ing when working with VSTs, not really sure why. Do you have any suggestions for better plug-ins? Also, glad you like my stuff.

### #4emblemmusic  Members

Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:28 AM

I like the music overall, I picture myself in a zombie FPS, and I creep through a ruined office building and there is a radio laying on the ground as I move by, Forlorn Possibilities is playing, or something...

The instrumentation is a little "vanilla" feeling for me. I don't know if that is the overall quality of the strings and piano, or what. It feels like music from a game you loaded up on your Windows 95 machine and booted off a CD-ROM.

I agree about the mastering. Even something like Sound Forge or Wavelab (or whatever your wave editor is) can serve as a mastering tool to eq, compress, and normalize.

-Jason
http://www.emblemmusic.com

Edited by emblemmusic, 14 May 2012 - 08:32 AM.

### #5CRFaithMusic  Members

Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:58 PM

Hey Shea,

Your music is a bit repetitive for me sorry. So I reckon you could work on changing chord progressions around or combining 2 pieces together to create one a bit more interesting

Caleb

### #6Shea2310  Members

Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:13 PM

No need to be sorry. It's not like I made this thread to be praised. Criticism is what makes people better. Yeah, I've been working with adding variety in chords and modulations and the like lately. And Emblem, when you say "vanilla", what exactly do you mean?

Edited by Shea2310, 14 May 2012 - 06:14 PM.

### #7cardinalgray  Members

Posted 15 May 2012 - 08:27 AM

Hi Shea,

Nice ideas, good harmonies. But I found orchestral instruments kind of synthetic. It is not actually about the sound, it is about how you play them. Probably, you should learn more about orchestrations.

Denis,
http://soundcloud.com/cardinalgray
Denis Zlobin,
independent musician.

### #8Julian Domanski  Members

Posted 15 May 2012 - 12:43 PM

Do you have any suggestions for better plug-ins?

For EQing and Mastering I use Izotope's Ozone 5. It's a great bit of software and comes with a massive amount of presets which you can always use as a good starting point if you're not so experienced finalising a mix (like me!). Check out the web site and download their demo, it's definitely worth a look.

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/

Julzshred

### #9canyouseeitnow  Members

Posted 20 May 2012 - 04:01 PM

Most of these criticism can be attributed to being new. It's a lil' harsh but...:
1. Overall, very weak composition. Not a lot of knowledge of music theory.
- Compositions lack a clear percussive layer.
- Melodies aren't very interesting
- No harmonies, no counter melodies.
- No layer of melodies. No supporting basslines
2. Very weak sounds. Can be attributed to library, being new. The sounds don't mix well together.
3. Not very good mixing.
-EQing and Mastering should be the least of your worries right now. Work on getting the right sounds to mix well and good volume/panning separation.

I think for a good starting point, you should work on a very simple model: clear melody, drums, bassline, and background chords. Use a quartet model to improve your compositional abilities. Start out with a violin, viola, cell, and double bass and add on percussion. Work with just the basic instruments to get a good feel for music theory.

Work on things that will affect the feel of the music first, from biggest significance to smallest:

Composition -> Layering -> Percussion -> Instruments -> SFX -> Panning/Leveling -> FX/Rev. -> Eqing -> Mastering

You can get away with having very little EQ/Mastering knowledge, but weak composition easily shows.

Edited by canyouseeitnow, 20 May 2012 - 04:05 PM.

### #10Shea2310  Members

Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:29 PM

Oh, I don't know music theory? Okay, so that's why I use functional harmony, contrapuntal movement, and various other techniques because I don't know what they are. Mhm. No percussion in most of them, true, I didn't feel that some of them needed percussion at this stage. You're welcome to the opinion that the melodies aren't interesting, I can see how you might think that. I didn't use many leaps or such. No harmonies? Really? No counter melodies, this is true. No layer of melodies? So, I have one melody at all times and nothing else is going on ever, correct? You really like that word, don't you? "No". To quote Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means". Again, no basslines? Did you even listen? Points 2 and 3 I will concede, I have a terribly weak library at the moment. See, your "criticism" is basically just saying you hate it. Which is fine, but I would appreciate some reasons as to why you dislike it. Instead of offering advice, you just say a bunch of things that you think I did wrong. I did appreciate the one bit of advice you gave, even though you did it in a condescending way. Perhaps if you could offer more of such advice, I'd be more likely to value your input.

Edited by Shea2310, 20 May 2012 - 07:49 PM.

Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:43 AM

A few helpful tips for both sides:

Person asking for critiques:

1) Be open, not defensive: If you're gonna post stuff and ask for critiques then you need to be open to feedback, even blunt feedback. If feedback appears blunt consider the fact that person that person may be trying to be concise instead of writing a thesis paper on what could be fixed in your music. Remember folks are giving up their time for someone that, in most cases, is a complete stranger. And they're reviewing your content for free. There's great value in that because it's not just your mother or best friend saying "it rawks, dude!" - they're able to give you truthful, unbiased advice and commentary. Remember - YOU put yourself out there! Be ready to take the heat!

2) Be specific about what you'd like reviewed: In this particular case Shea, you provided 8 tracks, most over a minute long. About 95% of people will skim the surface only listening to a few tracks (maybe 3 at most) or simply hit highlights of your songs. Almost none will sit and listen to all of your music unless you really capture them. I appreciate that you want to grow and get better. That's great! Perhaps it would be more helpful to those reviewing your work as well as to you if you pinpointed several tracks that you are struggling with - or a few tracks that you feel capture what you do best. Then ask for feedback on those items.

3) Remember you always have a ton more to learn. I can tell that you have some basic foundations of harmony, song structure and melodic content. But I can also tell that you have plenty more to learn and experiment with. Instead of becoming defensive and sarcastic in your response try and narrow down what and why someone didn't like your piece. If they bring up theory and melodic content then perhaps they felt what was there was too repetitive or bland. Too predictable? Etc.

4) Getting feedback like this is practice for the real deal. When working with clients, many of whom have little to no musical knowledge, it can become frustrating. At times you have to play detective and really get inside their heads to understand what it is they're asking for in the music. Sometimes what they say and what they want are two different things - mainly because of their lack of knowledge or inability to discuss music. At least in this forum you're dealing with folks that have musical backgrounds and understanding. Just as you're learning and developing your music/audio/production chops and craft - you should focus on developing your interaction chops as well. Because once you're in a real game dev situation - the last thing you want to do is blow up at a client due to negative feedback. Even if you're frustrated to the Nth degree - always be professional, energetic and focused on what's best for the game. When the client's away - take a few moments to punch the wall, cuss, kick the dog or play Rockband really loudly. I've worked with a few people that would literally blow up anytime anything negative was spoken about their work. It caused communication to break down, morale was lowered and folks didn't want to work with those people again. You don't want this to be your situation.

Person providing the critiques:

1) You're dealing with someone's work. Often our hearts and souls are poured into our work. It can become highly emotional if someone comes along and says it sucks. So be gentle and thorough with your input, especially if it's negative. Give steps on how you'd approach fixing those problem spots. In this situation you're basically mentoring someone - even if just for one interaction so give them something to take away. Present some fixes. Basically - give critiques like you'd hope to recieve them too. (Especially the negative critiques.)

2) Understand that it's just your opinion. Everyone has an opinion. I can think music track A is awesome and you can think it sucks. As long as we can both articulate the reasons why - both opinions are valid. Music is highly subjective. I often tend to say "could just be my ears" or something similar to reinforce the notion that it's just my opinion.

3) Practice for the real deal. Some of us may become audio leads or audio directors at some point. Being able to chat with someone about their work and what isn't up to par is a highly valuable skill and can be a tricky one at that! So just as the other person needs to practice how to take critiques, you need to practice delivering them. Focus on your end goal. Do you want the person to be energized with new focus on how to make the content work? Or deflated and depressed? Frustrated or driven? Do you want that person to have confidence or self doubt?

Final point: (for both sides) This IS the internet. Sometimes folks feel free to become a bit more aggressive or say things they'd not do in "real" life. Try to treat each interaction as if you were sitting in front of that actual person. In other words - humanize the experience instead of feeling like you're just staring at text on a computer screen.

Alright - resume the feedback session!

Nate

Edited by nsmadsen, 21 May 2012 - 09:49 AM.

Nate (AT) MadsenStudios (DOT) Com
Composer-Sound Designer

Cedar Falls, IA

### #12Moritz P.G. Katz  Members

Posted 21 May 2012 - 10:14 AM

Good points Nathan! You should consider adding your post to the Feedback sticky!

Regarding your music Shea, I think you're on the right track.
I've got the impression you've got a good grasp of theory and how to use it, but don't stop learning new things. Listen to (and by listen I mean listen intently, i.e. analyze) some music beyond your comfort zone. How about some Frédéric Chopin or Franz Schubert for some piano inspiration? Would probably be right up your alley.
If you're looking to learn more about symphonic work, get a copy of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Principles of Orchestration" - it's the book on that topic. It also contains excerpts of some of his scores that serve as examples. Highly recommended!

Regarding the sound of your library: a good producer will be able to make something enjoyable even with lo-fi sounds. Proof of that fact is all over game music history. Limited possibilites can in fact be an advantage! It all depends on how you want to sound. Do a lot of reference hearing, maybe some soundalikes. There's no better practice!

Regarding mixing & mastering: a rule of thumb is that the less you have to apply EQs, compressors and reverbs, the better you have chosen your sounds and the better you have arranged them. When you read Rimsky-Korsakov (who of course didn't even know what an EQ was), you'll notice his main concern was indeed a good sonic balance.

Am I correct to assume you're still pretty young?
Keep at it. Don't think of harsh critique as a let-down, but as an opportunity to prove people wrong when you've successfully scored your first project.

Cheers,
Moritz

Edited by Moritz P.G. Katz, 21 May 2012 - 10:16 AM.

Check out my Music/Sound Design Reel on moritzpgkatz.de

### #13Shea2310  Members

Posted 27 May 2012 - 04:44 PM

My apologies for being rude and all of that. I've been going through some heavy stuff lately, and I overreacted. I hope that you will forgive me.

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