This is an official NGUAC 2017 Audition Review.
Thank you for your personal message regarding a review on your track.
The following is an evaluation with critical analysis regarding your audition. This analysis should not reflect negatively on you as a participant but should be used to critically weigh your strengths and weaknesses which were perceived in this track. This review should be used to further your ability. Through isolation of what is important to you, choose the areas that are discussed below which you believe would advance your skills for future music production. This review is of subjective opinion.
The themes created for Waves of Color are superb. They are captivating, charming and provocative. When listening I felt they instill a colorful palette which explores large vastness and then switches to the intricate and personal. The melodies are prominent and evident, with a perfect amount of variation without diverging or drifting into the unfamiliar. These variants of the main melody allow the revisit of the focal theme to be so much stronger.
I absolutely love what you have done with the themes. In short, they are just perfection of fun, evoking the draw of a smile which could be summed up as the perfect as a moment like flying a Kite.
The choice of instruments compliment the main melodies portrayed and sensations you look to induce. They are bright, snappy and indicate skipping with their quick releases. The break in your track at around two minutes in where we received a sustain portrayal of the theme is where minor issue occurs. Sustain synths which were used contain little dynamic variation. Such as at 1:33 when we hear that melodic line complete, the sustain is solid and stop's dead with little release. Some of the concepts of freedom, openness, vastness are emotions which promote soaring and breathing. Therefore these Synths sustain lines would be better suited to have a release which blends into the next section, not suddenly stop dead. Use dynamics and volume automation over a duration to slowly increase and reduce attention to specific notes. Adjust dynamics to create headroom for other instruments to take focus.
The drums are nice, but they are far too repetitive in tone. The same strike is being heard, again and again. A suggestion would be to create variation in this percussive instrument. Such as by layering two or more percussion snares together. Then vary the strike time and volume of each throughout usage. Give it a human element. It's not uncommon to build percussion instruments that can become the signature sound for your track, or multiple tracks. Take time to build nice and bright snares, strong weighted kicks, complimentary toms, and varied hi-hats, etc. The concentration in creating these mixed and custom drum kits will give your percussive an original edge. For instance, it's not uncommon for me to layer 8 or more different drums for a single hit, choosing the frequencies which I like most in each, build my own kits then use them.
Composition and Consistency:
There is a lot going on, and the time signature is a great change to the 4/4. I find no problems with your structure, it's perfect imo. You have an intro, you build to theme. You then take a break from the theme with a sweet moment and then you build right back up to the final chorus.
Production is great with only minor areas to cover. The frequency mix is spot on for modern EMD production, and I mean Spot - On, because I downloaded and isolated the track. Subs and bass right in the middle. Low mids are wide, they could may be a bit less wide, but I'm not going to complain, mids and highs are nice and wide. In mono the track is closed to perfectly balanced, club ready, with just a few minor audible high frequencies around 3:30 min which could be considered borderline piercing. So take some attention to that. I love the small intricate part in your track, which sat more central, then as soon as you brought it back it was nice and wide again.
Instruments were well balanced and channel weighted appropriately. The channels communicated very well, so keep all that up! Consider EQ scanning up and down to hear those unwanted piercing frequencies to then notch down, sometimes there's elements just a touch (and I mean a touch) too tinny that need pulled down on the instrument. The kick is somewhat a bit lost, and it doesn't really come through on the low end. So although I can hear it, it makes little impact to the track, it should be a bit lower, and a bit heavier hitting partnered with your sub.
Overall this track was captivating, joyful, and fun. It said adventure to me with the beauty of intricate details and relationships. For someone who works on fairly emotional tracks, something that is full of life, entertaining and portrays a whimsical and joyful melodies, I believe it to be nothing less than fantastical. You would have score fairly high from me if you were in my category.
Keep up the great work, you are one to watch! (Sorry if any of this is incoherent - it's late)
Ah man. Thanks, and I may sound like a repeating record to everyone but I really appreciate the feedback. You make me feel flattered.
Not much I can say to this aside from thank you
Well done overall Spadez!
When the first synth solo comes in at around 1:11 in the song, where you divide the snare in the rhythm becomes odd, and more poly rhythmic in nature. It's something I personally like, a lot! But if there is something that is throwing people off, that is the area they are referring to in particular.
What the song seems to be lacking harmonically, just a bit, is a solid low end. This could really do with some deep bass lines to compliment the floaty highs that you have written which would also compliment the pad work you've done. I think personally that producers overall need to back up on using "air sweeps" as transitional crutches, and while you didn't have too many here, you did have more than needed to get the job done, but, that's just my opinion.
For the most part, I REALLY enjoyed it, you did a great job with this one. It was a fun listen, relaxing, very nice atmosphere, poppy and slidey. If I were to compare it to a dish, it would be like gooey icecream that was melting with rainbow sprinkles on it, and that's what you were going for right? :P
......yes, totally what I was going for. ;)
Poly rhythmic rhythms are good, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. lol
I think I get what you're getting at the low end. I think I really only have a sub going and maybe neglected to add a higher bass along with it. Not sure how I neglected but I could see that being something I may have missed.
Heh, "transitional crutches". Man you cut right to the heart of that issue. lol. I guess air sweeps are now a bit cliche.
Thanks for the kind words and feedback. Much appreciated
* This is an official 2017 NGUAC review *
Ah yes, the 7/4 one. On to specifics...
Mixing, mastering and production: There are no huge weaknesses here, so you're on the right path! Just some little things that add up. If I had to give an overall comment, it would be that I can hear all the ideas you're trying to achieve with the production side of things and for the most part you do achieve them. The little details of execution can be tightened up and made better, though.
One of the things that hopped out for me was that a great number of the instruments you used sound pretty obviously virtual/and/or like built-in presets that come with the vsts. Obviously if you have budget constraints for vsts this is a tough one to solve, but a solution is 1) use the presets for inspiration, not as a final product, and 2) carefully EQ, pan, volume adjust, and reverb all your instruments so that they work together as a unit. There's a difference between having a bunch of instruments playing at the same time and having a bunch of instruments playing together. Ideally, you want your mix to sound like all your instruments are indeed YOUR instruments, and not someone else's. This can be achieved with the use of the things above: EQ, panning, volume balancing, and reverb. There are a billion effects you can add on, but if you don't have your core ones in there doing their job, the mix will always sound fake if you use virtual instruments.
Mastering also helps the cohesion of the whole piece with tools like multiband compressors, more EQing, maximizers and limiters. It's certainly worth playing around with those and making sure everything plays together nicely. I would like to mention that your end mix did was clean, had some nice punch and decent volume balancing, but there's always room to improve.
A lot of the panning and reverb I did like! You kept things fresh throughout the whole piece.
Composition: There's a lot to like about Waves of Color. I love the 7/4 time signature, both for the ideals in attempting and the talent to pull it off seamlessly. For our western-music-theory ears, odd time signatures often sound...odd! But you made 7/4 sound natural, so kudos. The points you lost on originality were pretty much only due to instrumentation, for reasons mentioned above in the production section.
For everything else (structure, progression, melodies, harmony, texture, atmosphere, emotion), there are no real PROBLEMS here, it's just that I was never really that drawn in or wowed by anything. Everything was good without being great.
In terms of structure, you certainly had some progression and no failure to have several interesting different sections - you cram a lot of section into a 4-minute piece! My main drawback here was that at some point, more sections is not what you need, especially if they're all pretty much using the same melody to carry them. Granted, it's hard to compose a melody that will work well in 7/4. But by about halfway through, I was ready to hear a different melody. This wears on the structure and progression too, because no matter how many new sections you have, I'm not going to be interested in hearing them if they have the same melody overtop of them. Granted again, your melody is not the exact same the entire time. But the few melodies you use are very similar to the point where it's hard to distinguish them from each other.
Overall, good stuff with lots of potential!
Ah, thank you. Much appreciated.
Yeah, effects and mastering. Obviously, there's a good amount of effort going into balancing. I'll admit some of the adjustments with reverb, delay, sounddesign are slightly neglected while focusing on the composition of the themes.
Mastering..... something I have knowledge on but admit I don't do much with it. Not sure if because I don't comprehend their abilities of the tools well or what. But this confirms that I've been needing to improve here.
Actually that applies to a lot of what I was thinking for the rest of the subjects. Confirms what I think may have been going on, and I may not have been thinking about it enough to admit/address the issues. Thanks for the feedback.
I was thinking you probably used that one :D (the claire solo vocal nki, on your other track)! I probably have most good Kontakt freebies at this point, so I recognize a fair deal of them :D
Just thought I'd leave a short comment on this track too, since I enjoyed it in the competition at the time too :D
It certainly deserved the #1 spot in production, as everything is crisp and clear ;)
Cool thanks :3
And please do, I think this song is a little too lonely lol.
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.