First off, my apologies for the extremely late review -- but, better late than never!
What worked well:
- Expressive instruments (guitar, recorders).
- Very pretty-sounding, especially around 1:53!
- Relaxing to the core.
- Wonderful melodies and harmonic content.
- Excellent atmosphere.
What to consider for next time:
- The mixing is a little touchy in places, especially from 1:05-1:28! Be careful how you implement your effects in parts of the song in order to create an overall better sounding mix.
- The reverb and delay, while nice, creates an inorganic sound to an otherwise marvelously organic song. Acoustic instruments sound just fine with a touch of reverb, but too much and it is overbearing. The reverb isn't so bad for majority of the song, but when strumming (0:35 - 1:28) the 'trailing effect' causes issues. HOWEVER, it sounds just fine despite seeming too wet!
- Post 3:00 recorders are repetitive, try mixing it up a little in order to close the song in a more interesting manner than repeating the same notes.
Wonderfully done! Keep at it!
i feel like the timing stuff sam mentioned isn't so much about tempo as it is single beats or steps in bar having a bunch of different things kinda flamming on top of them. it can just sound "natural" but a few times in this piece it sounds sloppy. the trills and grace notes on recorder are especially bad sounding when they don't sync up properly. you can tell a story about confusion, but you don't have to play sloppily to do that.
i actually though your stereo was ok, the ping pong delay on the backmasked guitar was a nice touch. simple but not distracting which is fine by me. lots of good ideas and nice standalone melodies, but there are a few moments (1m05s in particular) when the guitar and recorders don't really counterpoint well together. the tail of reverb on the recorder sounds great, sounds like there's an early reflection accentuating those hard high-mids though. might be worth just scooping that out a little, or carving some dynamics into the high notes (through playing or automation, doesn't matter). actually if you scooped high-mids and lightly compressed the recorders seperately they'd probably come out really nice.
Production: 20/30 (Average)
Composition: 19/30 (Average)
Instrumentation: 9/15 (Average)
Originality: 9.5/10 (Great/Incredible)
Interest: 13/15 (Great)
Total: 70.5/100 (Average) or 3.5 stars.
Some really nice usage of musical textures, but another unfortunate track in terms of usage of the potential of the stereo field. Even just some more slight phaser stuff or stereo field manipulation with delay or stereo creation plugins.
I think the recorders/whistles could use some additional vibrato, ornaments (including better usage of short versus long/staccato versus legato performances), or falls to emphasize the motion of notes and phrases- add a little over a whole note to give some interest and color (like this: http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/listen/623625). You have a lot of great ideas, but they are poorly organized, with lines that often stack and conflict with each other, vying for attention, but not in a contrapuntal way of "conversation", but more just like two people playing unconscious of the other, like a bunch of people doing solos at once with no one actually listening and working around each other. Make sure your layers interact and work with each other, rather than against.
Additionally, elements like the whistles (piercing, sharp) contrast too strongly with the attitude of the piece at times, especially when used in their upper register or in very fast, spread out lines- I would almost rather have heard the whistles used almost like backing brass going over guide tone lines and the like than like melody instruments. When the new guitar tone (not very well in time) comes in around 1:05 or so, the flutes should back the heck out of its way. Instead, they keep going on with high, and now quite annoying attention-grabbing melody stuff.
Also in that region and much more of the song, more work could be done to emphasize the harmony and chord progression. Much of the confusion of the 1:05 section is because you have like, five instruments playing quick melodic-esque lines with non-chord tones, and nothing more than a pad and occasional low notes on guitar to extrapolate chords. A substantial bass, even sampled, and some nice comping of chords on piano, or sampled strings, would help greatly.
Overall the flutes themselves do not move around much in their ranges, rather maintaining in a particular octave or so with a lot of repeated notes that just get a bit annoying after a while. The flutes, excluding the low one, all have very sharp hard tones. I would have gone with a more mellow tone- perhaps recorded them with a LDC or a ribbon mic if possible, and turned off some of those high chiffy ends (either with an EQ or by different mic placement, away from the chiff or pointed towards the holes), or considered using a softer flute, like a fife or a transverse flute, which would better match the chill tone. Let's face it, you have these pretty, un-distorted guitar lines and a soft piano and you're going in with what is more or less the supersaw of the flute family.
I really enjoyed the tone and mixing of the guitars. At first I was a little concerned it would be too roomy, but it worked out decently well.
Another concern was the performances. While they are all quite nice, some of them are not quite in time with the others, especially during the early climax portion of the piece, around 1:05. There's rhythms all over the place and very little lining up. There are a lot of ways to work towards fixing this- for example, always recording using ASIO (when on windows) between your audio interface and recording program, and set the latency as low as you can without artifacts/issues. Use a click track when playing (be sure you have headphones that don't "bleed" a lot of sound when doing this). Practice playing to a click track (it's really weird at first, but becomes second nature soon). Even just like, tapping to a click or strumming to a click when just chilling out is a great way to help internalize a steady tempo. Musicians who do a lot of playing, particularly in soloistic settings, tend to play with the beat quite a bit, and that's something you don't want when recording multi-track by yourself because it's hard as balls between latency and ambiguous lines to keep stuff in sync as it becomes rhythmically complex.
My last major issue was the reverb- this piece is washed out like New York after Hurricane Sandy. Washing out a piece is ok as long as it is minimalistic, but once you get to 1:05, it definitely isn't minimalistic and just becomes a bath rather than a listening experience. It becomes very hard to distinguish lines as it all just starts to blur into a mess. I say all this because I used to do this with my mixes all the time too. Over time, I've learned that wetter is not necessarily better, and I've turned from adding reverb to in many cases working to mitigate it. I'm not advocating a totally dry mix, but more fitting usage of a shorter, tighter reverb would really give the playing and the composition a chance to shine- I often view excessive reverb as a ploy to hide mistakes, and I'd be damned if I haven't done it at least a dozen times for exactly that purpose.
This is a solid piece, but I feel its lack of organization and mixing issues keep it from really being something great.
A couple of things. They are not flutes, they are recorders, the limited range is a "flaw" of the instrument itself, i dont think it's valid to criticize that. Even the lowers note are at like, C5.
Also, for timing issues. I really, really, really HATE constant tempos. For me it's something that ever happens in real life and when done in a recording sounds extremely fake and mechanic. Same for the use of a metronome. That's in my opinion. Also, i choose to make it messy at the 1:00 minute mark ebcause thats what i wanted to express in the track itself. A sense of confusion. I want to tell an story with my music. A constant and tiddy timing wouldnt have expressed what i wanted. There isn't any latency issues tough, i recorded the guitars first and the flutes over them with an USB mic with >10ms of delay with propietary ASIO drivers, any latency issues you think there might be were left in in purpose, as i said above.
This is the first complain i have ever heard of my reveerbs, it's my signature. I would still call a single acoustic guitar with 2 recorders and 1 guitar with chorus minimalist. I don't like dry mixes for acoustic instruments, i just have to make them sounds more wet.
What do you mean by stereo field manipulations? I don't see a single problem wit the way i layered mi isntrument, i have a guitar (double tracked) to 80% to each side (obv with one side with a bit more, 85% iirc to not make it mono), flutes at 45%, 50% and center respectively and an occasional piano that covers the entire field when is alone with the guitar. I really can't see a problem with the stereo field in this track.
Overall i though i would be less dissapointed with the scoresheet in hand because the i would get why i got scored so low for a track , in my opiinion, was so good but i just feel even more dissapointed because most of the "flaws" that you point are just stilystical choices of mine.
So, you've made it to the final round. You've clearly proven yourself. Time to judge by NGADM standards - scoring will be harsher as a result. In any case, here are some pointers for improvement.
-Very very nice guitar initially. It's super chill. Same can be said for the piano. In fact, this is just an all-around excellent intro.
-0:37 Aw yeah. This is so pretty.
-1:50 has excellent delays on the guitar. They're extremely beautiful.
-Overall all your instruments are seriously really clean and lovely. Excellent atmosphere.
-Well, the mixing starts to suffer at around 1:05 due to being overcompressed and just generally overly stressed. This is pretty clear that it'll happen a little before. Every mix that's overcompressed seems to have the common trait of seeming to "wobble" a little bit, particularly around the extreme panning sides.
-You have this main melody. And a lot of meloddic content. But the flute is basically just soloing over the entire thing. If you had one recognizable melodic idea which was reiterated towards the end and the beginning, this piece would be absolutely fantastic.
Final score: 9.0/10. Only points of improvement really are the mixing and having more of a theme than the guitar arpeggios. With good mixing and a good melodic theme, this could easily get a 10. A bit more ear candy bits wouldn't be out of the question either. Excellent job.
Mixing was a bit rushed, i admit it (i finished the track like 10 minutes before deadline HAHAHAHA) but i can swear for the love of everything that's sane that i didn't use a single limiter or compressor in my mix aside from the acoustic guitar :CCCCCCCC
Thanks for the feedback <3
I usually skip over Metal/Rock tracks because I generally don't like tracks in this genre. But I'm glad I didn't look over this one, because this track offered something different than what I usually find in the Metal/Rock category.
Since I know nothing of this category of music I can't comment on the quality of the guitars, sorry! I'm just not experienced in that realm of music.
But you have some other sounds in here other than guitars, which are all really cool! I especially like your flute, which sounds amazing, grace notes and reverb and all! The tranquil but majestic melodies that flute plays are astonishing. Just as you described it, a man running away from his country, trying to live at peace. Perfect.
Oh, and nice job with the key change at 1:54.
Now for some things I didn't like so much. At 2:33, you have two flutes playing distinctly different melodies, with different rhythms. To me this part of the track sounds really messy, not just because it kinda feels like each flute is going off on their own, completely ignoring the guitars in the background, but also because the flutes are playing so loud you can distinctly hear the guitars ducking behind them. It's especially noticeable at 2:52. And I usually don't notice anything wrong with people's mixes.
In the breakdown part at around 1:30, I was expecting the chord to change. If I'm listening properly, your chord here is C#. I had expected the chord to change to, say, A major, at around, say, 1:43 or something. But you disappointed me slightly by not doing that. (I hope I used proper musical terminology when typing that) But that's not a major complaint, since you simply just didn't do what I had expected.
Also, in the end, you didn't let the sound fade out all the way. So when the song ends it just cuts. I'm not a fan of endings like this. Let the sound ring, man.
Overall, though, for a genre I don't like, you've certainly turned the tables on me! You've created a Metal/Rock track that I enjoy, so props for that! Despite minor complaints, this is really good. 5/5, 9/10, good luck in NGADM! :D
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.