inside the machine

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This is my entry for the second round of NGADM, and I'm pitted against ZipZipper, which means I instantly lose. No but seriously that guy is a beast. Anyways, even if I do lose, it's been fun and I'm really proud of the stuff that I made. I've learned so much!

0. Again, a big thanks to the judges of NGADM. I want to call out Step in particular for writing 64 (sixty four!!) detailed and insanely helpful reviews for all of the round one participants. Wow!
1. The time I had to write this piece was decidedly suboptimal. The first week of NGADM, I was on vacation, and the second I was moving to California. This meant that I never had a single day where I got to bang out most of the ideas in the track. Instead, I wrote the ideas in probably 5 different sessions, each a couple of hours long. This was pretty difficult, and I owe a big thanks to my friend Eery who helped me out a lot with suggestions and ideas in the final day.
2. Step told me last time that I should louderize my track with a compressor and trim the boring intro. Done! I was also inspired by the vibrato on his track Sky's the Limit, which you can hear throughout the track. (Incidentally that track was itself inspired by one of my tracks, making a nice loop of inspiration ;-))
3. Perhaps it was the subconscious fact that I knew that skyewintrest was going to be judging my track, but I spent a lot of time working on transitions, and I'd say that this has some of the best transitions I've ever written. I'm particularly happy with 1:20 and 3:30.
4. Mixing this was REALLY hard. Normally people put plonks on the high registers and melody a little lower down, but I did this song in reverse. Pretty much every track has filters to trim off clashing frequencies. It's pretty crazy.
5. My total time in Ableton over the last 2 weeks was 35 hours...!!!!! However a lot of that time was spent in other failed ideas. (My NGADM folder has 8 failed attempts at a song before this one was born).
6. This track was born in a compo where I only had an hour to write a track. If you're curious how the track developed, here is the old version: http://compo.thasauce.net/files/johnfn_-_free_to_groove(OHC253).mp3
7. This and my last song were both pretty heavy electronica. If I can get into the next round (which I highly doubt), I'm going to do my best to totally switch it up.

Phew, that was a lot of stuff. Feeling talky for some reason. Props to you if you read all that :D

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There is so much variation in this song, andI don't think the song goes even 5 seconds with out something changing! But I wish you had more variety with the instruments and melodies. What I mean by wanting more variation in the melodies, I want to hear some higher or lower notes that still fit into the same melody. I don't really know how to further explain this. Do you remember my song that you reviewed, Under the Sun 2? The main melody had some higher notes in it just to add variation.

The break is excellent, but I wish it was slightly simpler, since the rest of the song is super complex

The fade out ending didn't sound bad, but it was disappointing. You could have at least not used the master channel for the fade out ending and did it to each instrument individually.

johnfn responds:

Thanks man! My melodies do tend to go between octaves, but on the other hand I can understand how the solo is lacking a certain something to it. Part of the reason why that is the case is that I had to do it without my trusty midi keyboard. I entered in all those notes manually into the piano roll, which takes forever and loses a little creativity.

Definitely imo the biggest flaw with this song is the break, which is way too loud. Good call.

And lolol the ending. OH WELL >:D

You are one of the amazing musicians I discovered during this year's NGADM. I've followed you since your round 1 submission and listened to all 5 of your tracks so far. While they are all great, this remains my favourite.

And I always enjoy your lengthy descriptions. It lets me pick up some things from the song that I might not have otherwise (I'm not a musician by any means and can only "detect" basic/general things without prompt).

And what can I say about this song? it's totally fantastic. I don't want to be the n-th person to bug you about that fadeout ending (well I guess I just did), but nonetheless this went straight into my favourites.

Keep up the great work!

johnfn responds:

Wow, thanks for listening to all my tracks and for the nice review. It's rare that someone will take the time to listen to more than just a single track (aside from the judges, hah!), so I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.

I agree that this is my best track so far (and Step shares your opinion). I've been thinking about why that might be, and I think it's because I've spent the most time on it out of all my NGADM tracks. In fact, I worked on it nearly every day for a full week, which allowed me to cram in a zillion details. Rounds 3, 4 and 5 were all written in 3 or less days. It was also pretty close to my comfort zone (if I even have a comfort zone any more...).

Mwahah fadeout ending. Oh well, too late now. :D

Last thing. This may have been my best track so far, but my final NGADM track will be better. Mark my words! ;-)

"I'm gettin' down to this." It's very relaxed, but that's essentially what makes it. Just dunno how this would fit into anything besides being what it is - that makes it awesome.

johnfn responds:

Thanks for the response. I will never understand how people find my tracks relaxing when I find them insanely energetic and frenetic... maybe it's the low bpm I guess? I nonetheless appreciate the comments!

NGADM Round 2 Reviewz0rz

What I liked:
- Funky headbobbing beat to it.
- Excellent synth work.
- Song flowed nicely, nice use of rises and "breaks".

What I didn't:
- Song just sort of starts off with the melody, there's not really any introduction aside from a quick fade in and then it's like, "Hello, we've already been introduced, here I am again!" from the melody.
- Mixing in a couple spots felt a little off, the quieter synth section near the middle in particular, before the drums cut out entirely, they felt quite overpowering.
- And I have to agree with Skye on the fade out ending, I always feel like this is a lazy way out rather than figuring out a clever way to give it a conclusive end, it just sort of fades off as if it should be saying "To Be Continued".

Really poppy, jumpy synth work, the fact that it was constantly moving and more or less evolving made it a fun track to listen to. Although there were a couple issues with mixing, and the intro/outro could use a little work, I really enjoyed listening to this.


johnfn responds:

I mostly agree with your points, though I think its funny that you're upset the intro was too short because previously people were grumbling that the intro was too long! Seems like I'm pretty much hosed either way :p

Dynamics in breaks is one thing I've started paying a lot more attention to after this song, so good spot there.

Thanks for the review!

- NGADM Round 2 Review -

Whoa. Very funky. I like how all your sounds come together very cleanly, with the exception of the bass quietly muddled in the background. Your melodies are great, and I instantly recognized this track as yours. If not dynamic range, originality is definitely something you've got down. It's also the way you randomly incorporated those keys that actually did not sound as random as they should have. The structure of the track is good, and is varied enough to somewhat dismiss the overuse of your main synth; the melodies really are the basis of this song, and help keep the beat from becoming too noticeable in its repetitiveness.

Score: 8.8

johnfn responds:

Thanks for the review! I'm glad you liked it overall and I think you pointed out some good suggestions for improvement. If you think this is repetitive or the synth is slightly overused, I'd hate to see what you think of contemporary edm... haha. But honestly I'm right there with you, I kinda felt the same way about the track and electronic music in general... and I kind of overcompensated for that in my next track... Someday I will find the balance, and it will blow your mind! :D

Credits & Info


4.70 / 5.00

Aug 23, 2013
8:16 PM EDT
File Info
4 MB
4 min 25 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.