*Please note that review stars do not reflect my actual "score" on this track. *
Alright. So you asked for a "public feedback"; formally. So that is what you'll get, I guess. If that is what floats your boat.
You wanted to create a track that represented a mystical forest. And. I guess you did try here. But you didn't really make the cut for your own description. You have a full arsenal of VSTs that sound good at your disposal, but you aren't making use of them to the fullest potential. You don't hand a kid in a wood shop class the tools he would need to build a full house, because the kid would just end up hurting himself.
Here's the issue. When you break into the second section of the song, you pull this heavy vibrato solo. From a compositional and production perspective, it doesn't really make much sense for a few reasons.
Reason 1: You continue to loop the same chords with no variation to the end. With the increase in these solo'd instruments. You will need to pull back the chords that the strings are doing from what sounds like around around mezzo forte... to mezzo piano at least to allow the solo to stand out. As it stands now, that is not what you are doing, and for a live orchestra to perform this, it would not work without mic's on the lead players, and it just is not compositionally realistic.
Reason 2: You layer in a third level of this solo in the final bars, which leaves one to think... Where did these people come from? Space? Is part of the orchestra standing and moving, dragging his cello across the floor to make it up to the mic, or does the sound guy know... That for this part of the song, he needs to turn the mics up for violin's 4 and 5, and cellos 4 and 8? This is where it doesn't make sense, and wouldn't make sense if you handed the score to a conductor. They would say... "What now?"
*Note 2: I do get that a lot of people don't care about whether or not their music is going to be performed live, etc etc... I will elaborate into this shortly with my commentary on the harp.*
You also are using a delay... BUT. And this is what was both sad yet also infuriating to me. Do you realize, (actually this is something why harp, for music theory enthusiasts is so frustrating to include in a track, because you will get grilled...) So the HARP that you wrote, with this delay, is actually (I hear that it's two parts) but this delay you have, could have actually been written. And is playable, without a an artificial delay. If you heard that, before exporting, and considered including a "non-artificial" harp part, this track would have been so much better. (What I'm saying is that, two skilled harpists could emulate the delay you created, by hand, which you could also emulate, in your DAW of choice).
You failed to reintroduce the flute in the intro. What would have made sense, was to bring the flute, back in to the composition, perhaps building into the solo section, and perhaps adding a bit of a fugue with the melody you introduced.
So here is another area where I found issue... Despite the fact that this was a low production score, mainly due to the fact that what I'm hearing is factory preset settings throughout the track, for mixing and instrument choices... There were actually more issues with the composition/arrangement (if you would call it that) than met my score.
You failed to introduce deeper modulation to the chord structure which this track was in desperate need of. Actually, modulating the chord structure to give the track more depth to the overall arrangement may have created the illusion that the production value was higher, but when you have a looping chord set for strings, that literally follow the same loop through a different rhythmic variation, you run into a bit of a problem.
The production, pretty good, it's not terrible. But it's also not groundbreaking. It's just. 1+1=2 kind of production. You plugged, and you chugged. That's it.
Advice I received from Peter Satera long ago, applies directly here as well. You have a really, really nice (for the most part) composition, that needs some work... But it's muddied with reverb. You don't need to glorify the reverb all the time. Let the instruments shine on their own merit. Duck the reverb just a bit. Don't hide behind it.
So, I knew that the other judges would look at "their" scores, and be influenced by their scores, and give a similar score for this.
I don't look at what judge A says, and think to myself.. "Hmm... He thinks this song is an 8... Maybe I should give this guy like.. I don't know. 8.2? Maybe? Oh a 9! That will make me look good!"
No. I don't do that, and I won't do that. It doesn't give an accurate score, and the opinion is skewed into what the hive mind. My score comes from what I feel about your track. An actual, honest answer to your track.
I get that you for some reason felt shafted, but don't take this personally by any stretch. It's a pretty good track, but I hope I've articulated to you enough precisely why this track isn't an "8" or above, and what you can improve on.
So, this is an honest review, pinpointing what was good, and what was bad about this track, why it was good/bad, and how you can improve on it. My actual score which I gave, and why I gave it, and how I gave it.
Don't be discouraged by my score. And don't be limited by the other judges attempting to curve your score up.
Just, keep getting better. And I think you know how to do that. And I think you also know that "I" know internally, that you are capable of better.
This isn't my first rodeo, and it won't be my last. :) Just keep submitting man. It's the NGAUC... Not the Death Match, or even a competition with cash/actual reputation at stake. You did well, but you CAN do better, and you know that you can. So do better. I know you can do it. So do it.