I like the bells around :30. I feel like the bells and underlying pads at that point have a really nice, pensive feel, especially when taken in context with the preceding spoken clip. However, the wobbly pads introduced around 1:00 really aren't doing it for me, and then the very sharp/crisp (high frequency) elements around 1:15 kinda break the initial atmosphere for me.
The drums that come in around 1:45 are very quiet and in the background (they should be louder!), and then they disappear, then they reappear. This makes the progression of the piece a little directionless at this point imho.
And I hate to say it but the melody that comes in at around 2:03 I just don't like at all. It lacks any sort of melodic contour or interest to it, it just seems to wander around, directionless. The saw-like instrument introduced behind it at 2:55 seems even more random, and at points like 3:05 and 3:11 it actually sounds off-tempo, which is no good. I really like that you're going for a chill vibe here and I'm a big fan of chill songs, but you're going to need to work more on your melodies.
I like the idea of transitioning to a quieter, more pensive part around 4:00, and I think the addition of the piano in the background around 4:15 was a really nice idea.
The transition around 4:30 where you introduce a melody, then a bass half a bar later, then drums another half a bar later is very jarring to me - these things need to be properly introduced somehow (perhaps a drum fill?), though it's rare that you ever want to introduce an element halfway through a bar anyways.
All in all, I think that you have some good ideas and you're going for a good vibe, but you need to seriously work on your melodies to really make the song work. There are also some mixing issues (like quiet drums), but I'd say that you should prioritize melody writing. I'm going to drop some advice in here to help you get better at melodies, so that I don't leave you completely high and dry. Good luck!
Go and take ye favorite instrument. Bring it near your computer and play some of your favorite songs on the computer, and see if you can play the melody on your instrument as the song plays. DON'T try to get it perfect, just keep going on to new songs.
In this way you'll start to build a subconscious understanding of how melodies work. This is important because writing melodies isn't a conscious skill. afaik great musicians don't sit down and think about music theory in order to write good melodies - they just sorta feel it out subconsciously to see how the melody wants to go. It is this skill that you're developing.
It will take you a very long time to master this skill (I'm still practicing every day) but you will probably notice differences in your melodic approach almost immediately (I did).
Aside from that, I have one other very simple tip (which I even fail to follow a lot, heh). MAKE YOUR MELODIES MORE REPETITIVE. It sounds crazy because a lot of the time people are like "zomg musical repetition is the root of all evil!!!" However, if you listen to some pop song you like, you'll realize almost immediately that the melodies are REALLY repetitive. Not only do they repeat entire phrases over and over, but the phrases themselves are really repetitive - like they may play some notes, and then play them again slightly lower or something.
Seriously, sit down one day and listen, really listen and analyze the melodies in some of your favorite tracks. You'd be amazed how repetitive they are - and yet how successful that makes them!
Last, I have a challenge for you, which kinda ties into what I've been saying up above. I want you to do a song with theme and variation. Take some melodic theme - it can be as short as a couple of notes - and then then make a bigger melody out of reusing it, modulating it up or down, or playing it under different chords. Not only is there a ton of space to explore here (you're basically looking at the foundation of classical music here), but it'll teach you to make your melodies more coherent.
Final thing - melody writing is HARD and you shouldn't let this get you down. It's hecka harder than making a good mix. ;-)
Ok, I hope all that helps! Good luck with your future songs, which I hope you make many!!! :-)
I love the dreamy synths at the beginning, and you incorporated the vocals rather well. I think it gets a little repetitive by about the 1.5-minute mark, even if you do start to incorporate new themes. It's pretty minimalistic, and, while there are a lot of transitory moments, the piece is overly long-winded and lacks direction at times IMO. One of the things that REALLY bothered me about this piece was the mixing, though. I think you really took a risk with the harmonies, which is good (I'll come back to that later), but I also think a lot of them buried each other, especially around 3:00. When the drums get noticeably quieter, it probably means you have to think more carefully about what tones to bring out in each instrument in the EQ and what is interfering with what. That said, it's structurally a sound piece. I love the breakdown at around 3:45 and how you use it to transition into that melody at 4:30. It was all very gradually done, though, and, like I said before, I didn't think this piece needed to be 6+ minutes long. At 4:33, the bass sort of comes out of nowhere. I think it's way too loud in the mix. If you really wanted to keep it that loud, at least gradually turn up the volume on it to give it a less disorienting feel. I think the melodic and harmonic content overall is good, although I think some of the harmonic content around 3:00 is a bit too complex to work all that well. I'm also not sure I like some of your instrument choices. For example, the strings at around 3:15. You can really tell that they're fake - they especially sound fake when they hit those higher notes. The sample simply isn't of the best quality. Also, I thought the part at 4:53 was completely irrelevant to the rest of the piece. It didn't really fit in all that well with the atmospheric and spacey vibe established by the rest of the piece. I think you should probably just cut it out entirely and skip to the part at 5:01. After all, you'll have to cut something out because 6 minutes is just too long for a piece like this, my friend! The ending of this piece wasn't that bad, though. I think this has a lot of potential; I've just been very tough on you because I regard you as a friend. You have a lot of good ideas here, but please clean up the mixing/balance and make some more careful decisions about the progression. Overall, pretty good! Keep at it, Adieuwinter! ;D
Thanks for the review!
I certainly agree with your concerns about this track's length, I'll remedy that in accordance with your other suggestions. I often do excessively put melodies over each other, and in the future I'll make an attempt to avoid that. The part at 4:53 was my attempt of an interesting transition, but next time I'll write something more appropriate for the style of the rest of the song.
Thanks for all the comments! I'll make some modifications and perhaps reupload it.
A word of warning, my review is going to pick out points of interest and points for improvement, and will therefore be stricter than usual.
As LunacyEcho said, this needs a structure. At th moment, I hear the same chords played over and over again, with a little variation here and there. Changes in chords can make the difference between monotony and something mind-blowing.
Your percussions (the breakbeat drums) are amazing in terms of rhythm. But they are sunk so far back in the mix that I barely hear them. Often the foundation for many pieces, especially electronic ones, are the drums.
You have good instrumentation that needs a bit of humanisation. Volume of individual notes needs to be emphasised a bit more.... like you're giving a human touch to a keyboard or synth. In some cases I find that the instruments you use make the piece sound full-bodied to my ears.
Your melodies are this song's weakest point. Sometimes you have two melodies competing for attention, and they make the song sound awfully busy. Sometimes, they clash with your background chords, ie they are not in tune... A lot of people beginning to sequence music or compose it on a keyboard..... well, they often run into this problem.
When that happens, consider listening to some songs that blow your mind. Listen again. Pick out the melodies, especially what's good in them. Highs, lows. Melodies, even in chillstep, shouldn't sound monotonous. Then, when you've got a grasp on what makes a good melody, try again -- and you'll notice a whole new world of difference.
4:37 was an unexpected change of phase, but suffers predominantly from the same issues I mentioned above.
Finally, about the voice sample. The voice was an archive from the White House. I was very disappointed with it being only at the beginning of the song, and not a consistent, repeating theme throughout. The sound served to tell me a story, but it felt as though the story was cut short. Please, if you want to use a sample, either 1) use it throughout or for a major part of the song, or 2) make the music fit that sound, not in terms of length but in terms of atmosphere. This didn't really sound like something worthy of the political conundrum that is the White House, or the majesty of it, or the gravity of the conversation going on...
I've never gotten such a critical review, but I appreciate it immensely.
I will definitely take into account the issue with repetition, I haven't actually taken the opportunity to listen to much of this genre's music so far, so I'll get to that ASAP.
As for the mixing, I'm still figuring out bits and pieces of the DAW I'm using (Logic), so I'll make adjustments according to your suggestions and see how that goes.
I think that with adding structure to the piece the conflict between melodies should be resolved (to some degree) as currently I tend to have a buildup of instruments for one climax. This is one example of where that hasn't been particularly successful. Your instructions about sample usage are valuable for me as well.
This sounds amazing. I really think this is one of your better songs.
The way this song is structured, it really takes you on a journey. I feel like a story easily be written to accompany this song, probably because of the segments that all sound different but have such great transitions.
All the instruments are great. The piano that comes in at 4:10 is nice, but I think might need a little editing. Some of the notes feel a bit off-key and clash with the mix, although it's really melodic like everything else.
Here's something you can try: Write the structure of a song before you make the music. Figure out a main theme, a bridge, a verse, intros/outros/, etc. before actually creating them. It makes the song sound a lot more cohesive and you'll probably learn a lot from it. Approaching music-writing from different perspectives helps you learn a lot (at least, it does for me).
Good luck in the NGAUC and here's hoping you keep making music!
Thanks for the review!
About the piano, I really did have a difficult time trying to mix that so it didn't have too many piercing tones (the EQ was especially a pain due to the other tracks tending to overwhelm). I agree with your comments, though, and I'll try and remedy that if I do something like this in the future.
You're correct about needing to add structure as well. With my next WIP i've already started with the chorus, hopefully you'll be able to see some improvement in that aspect.
Good luck to you as well (if you've finished??) and thanks so much for the review.
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.