Save your brother

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Round 1

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This is a NGADM Round 1 Review.

First, here's a breakdown of my score:
Production: 14/30
Composition: 22.5/30
Orchestration: 9/15
Originality: 6/10
Emotion: 9/15

Total: 60.5/100 or 6.05/10 or 3/5 stars.
The Good:
- You had some really good ideas going on in the piece and some pretty nice composition.
- There was some strong contrast in the piece between powerful and gentle elements.

The Not-So-Good:
- The entire mix was pretty much solid mud. In orchestral music, the middle-ground and background voices like your chugga-chugga cellos and other strings stay OUT of the way of the melody, which takes dominance ALWAYS. Some instruments had waaaay too much reverb, others had not enough.
- The song's form was repetitive... it felt like you just copy and pasted the first half of the song and then put a fade on the end to make it feel like it was long. Normally with orchestral music, one would add a "C Section" with contrasting material or some sort of part that is different from both the A and B sections.
- If this were realized as a purely electronic track, I feel it would be much more successful.
- Your samples were not up to the task of making this piece work. You should either try to adapt your style to fit your existing samples (i.e. not lots of chugga-chugga stuff, focus on only the best sounding of your instruments, etc) or consider purchasing more powerful instruments which have things like multisampling/round robin so that your strings don't sound like a machine gun.
- Fadeout in orchestral = BIG NO-NO.

I feel like with some more work you can create pieces that better reflect your resources. Remember: the cheaper the stuff you are using, the more work you will have to do with eq'ing, compression, stereo work, subtle tricks, etc to make it sound acceptable. Even if you have $1000 plugins, you should still always be tweaking things to get it to sound right.

Take some time to really listen to popular trailer music and other similar orchestral tracks. Listen to how all the instruments sit in the mix, what sort of timbres and tones they have, how they attack each note, how much reverb they have, etc. Train your ear to want to hear these things, then apply that to your own music. Listen to your strings. Do they sound like the strings in a big score? No. What can you do to make them do that? Add more pop by increasing the highs? Get them to be more punchy with compression or other tools? That's the kind of attitude you have to take to mix a track.

Keep compos(ed/ing)!

Guylee responds:

Dear Samulis,

Many thanks for this detailed review. 6 out of 10 is a very nice score. I will take all that you have written into consideration while making my next piece. I believe that if I put my mind to this, and some more energy, I could probably make all this sound just like in my head, but alas, I have no such time, nor will I ever (probably) have. I'm glad you (kind of) liked this, and that makes me happy as a gold digger in a nugget river.

p.s. I really like how much detail you write into these reviews, and I hope you never change that.

All best!

This is an NGADM Round 1 Review.


This is another one of those contest submissions that has great amounts of potential but due to a plethora of issues, that potential isn't fully realised. Why do I think it has potential to be something greater? Well, some of the ideas over here are excellent. For instance, the staccato string passages in the intro are awesome and instantly set the intense mood with ease. Some of the melodies are pretty well-written to boot! One of my favourite aspects of this submission would have to be the contrasts. Abrupt or not, the contrast you created with the transition at 1:28 was simply brilliant. It plays familiar melodic content but with the gentle touch of a piano, which provides a pretty riveting listening experience when played right after the exciting section before it. You build up once more, provide a similar contrast at 2:29, and the piece explodes at 2:46 with another effective contrast. I feel like you could've put more effort into building up tension from 2:29 - 2:46 so the introduction of the climax right after it won't sound so arbitrary, but otherwise that was a really fun idea.

Good ideas have to be paired with good execution, and sadly this is not the case over here. The mix is simply terrible. Everything sounds very unprocessed - there's a significant lack of reverb, and frequencies are clashing together like no tomorrow, especially in the mid range! This gives your track a very rushed and unprofessional kind of sound which does not do justice to the creative ideas and concepts presented throughout the piece. The lack of reverb sticks out like a sore thumb at bits where the piano plays on its own, and conversely the need for EQing shows during the climaxes where everything sounds cluttered and undefined. So yeah, this track needs its mix redone in my opinion. On lesser notes, the humanisation isn't quite there. This is apparent during the quicker passages played by the staccato strings (0:00) and the piano (1:45). Those sound very mechanical and could do with some velocity editing and subtle shifts in timing to make them sound more natural. Finally, the ending is a bit of a bummer. Fading it out wasn't very satisfying!

I might have been too generous with my score, but I'm actually very fond of the ideas in this track. It's the execution that's not quite there. Hope this review helped!

SCORE: 7.9/10

Guylee responds:

Dear Step,

First I have to say what a pleasure it is to have You writing a review for me. Second, I do agree with You completely about the bad mixing, EQ and whatnot about the whole thing. I do have to work very hard to learn how to properly execute my ideas, and I guess this will come in time. I must thank You a lot for doing this detailed review for me, as I hope it will help me realize my next piece.

Thank You very much! :)

p.s. no tweaking or EQ-ing was done on this one. Everything is un-edited, so your critique was spot on.

Great work 5/5 :)

Guylee responds:

Thanks :)
Glad you like it. :D

Credits & Info


Waiting for 2 more votes

Aug 17, 2014
4:59 PM EDT
File Info
3.1 MB
3 min 21 sec

Licensing Terms

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