Clear The Board (NGAPBC 2018)

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For the NGAPBC 2018, and it case it wasn't obvious, I did every single square on the card. That's right. Every. Single. Square.

The song is based on a (real-life) struggle of coming up with an idea for the contest that fit the board. Part of the inspiration for this came from KaixoMusic's "Quixotic", which was in NGADM Round 1.

There are 5 parts, and each of them fill in various squares (some squares are filled more than once, but this is where they're first filled):
Part 1 (Determination) - non 4/4 (7/8), petal tone, toms, guitar (bass lives matter), any minor key (F natural minor), 5-voice chords
Part 2 (Work Begins) - 1 tempo change (190 to 172), 172 bpm, 4/4, swing, trumpet, ride cymbal
Part 3 (Narrowed) - 108 bpm, harmonic minor (F harmonic minor), cello
Part 4 (Second Stage Of Grief) - Eb major (technically C minor but whatever I think it still counts), timpani, triangle, choir, gong, caesura
Part 5 (The Idea) - any major key, Gb major, flute, 16th note run (it's double-time 7/4 so)

also really fast edit to thank berd for making high-quality content that was used in this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XprdCcS38Q

This was honestly pretty fun to create, and the contest has some great competition. I'm in here for the feedback anyways, a little bit because I can't use the VST for first place (I'm broke lol), but I wish some good luck to those others competing with me. Also, happy holidays and a great new year to everyone :D

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I like the ominous mood at the beginning. The percussion that comes in at :08 is pretty cool, but you seriously overdid the wet reverb on it. Some of your synths and pads thereafter are a little cheesy, but I like the melodies at :54 and the rich atmosphere. The element of the song that clearly needs the most work is the production. There are a lot of places where you use way too much reverb to the point that it seriously undermines the clarity of the mix. The mix is also very quiet. Try to be careful about how you set up your volume levels when you’re first working on your piece. Louder is certainly not always better, but compression will help you out a lot. I like the catchy bass riff at 1:32. It made for a good re-intro, and the trumpet that came in after, while not a very realistic sample, blended into the texture well. The mood changes a little suddenly at 2:17, but I do like the eerie piano and cello parts there. By around 3:40, I’m starting to feel that this piece is pretty disjointed. There’s a long stretch in the middle of the piece with several distinct sections that have little harmonic relation to each other. The most jarring transition is at 5:04 imo, where you go from a huge cinematic climax straight into light orchestral fare. While I commend you for going above and beyond with the bingo requirement, I seriously think this piece should be five different pieces. It just loses its integrity after a while. Otherwise, I think there are a lot of great individual ideas here, from the graceful ending with the piano to the well-executed climax at 4:38. Keep at it, SplatterDash!

Mixing, mastering, and balance
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
Instrumentation and sound design
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
Originality and uniqueness
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
Satisfies bingo requirement?
Composite score

hmm very ambitious - doing every square :)

I like the into - this feels very ambient so far. I feel the volume on this track is a bit low, and the percussion is almost inaudible.

I feel bad because you clearly were very ambitious in your attempt, but the bad mastering is really kinda ruining it for me. I do like what I am hearing though - that brass section is awesome :)

I do love the contemplative and ambient parts as well - the 3 min mark sounds very macabre and victorian in that wonderfully depressive way you'd hear from a videogame like Alice.

The percussion around 4:12 is pretty awesome - that chasing theme - but I find the feeling is kinda ruined by the choice of synth you paired it with - it just cheapens the orchestral vibe imo.

The piano solo around the 5 min mark is very beautiful. The flute reminds me of zelda ocarina of time. I found the flute melody a bit awkward in parts though. It's very nice when the choir accompanies it though, feels very uplifting, like the sun rising after a disaster.

The giant finale feels a bit thin imo though - although that arp is pretty amazing, and once again the percussion really really suffers. It's an interesting synth you chose for the ending - I like how you fade it out though - very classic.

Lots wrong with this piece, but lots of potential too. As a compromise I will give you a 3 out of 5. Work on your mastering man, your composition is great, but when it comes to music making, mastering is of greater importance than composition, imo.

-shawn (Chronamut)-

SplatterDash responds:

Hey Chronamut! Thank you for the helpful advice. I will admit that mastering in my music is one of my weak spots, partially because I am still trying to figure out a bit of the advanced ropes, but also because the program I use, Ableton Live 9 Lite, is pretty limiting in terms of mastering. I did look back at both files though (I had to make it two different ones since Ableton Lite only allows for 8 tracks per file), and as I listened to the track, I probably figure I could EQ some of the bass up - at least, as best as an EQ Three can do lol. At 4:12, I was going for a orchestral feel mixed with a little rock, and there I just went with the synth I had there before, mainly because of the 8-track limit on Ableton Lite. And, yeah - as I listen to the ending more, I realize that there's some support underneath it, mainly some bass. That can also probably be fixed easily, I just need to learn some advanced stuff that a) I can do in Ableton Lite, and b) helps make the track sturdy and supported. Still, I'm really glad you enjoyed the stuff that you did in this piece. Thank you again for the helpful review :)

Congrats for ticking every bingo and making something cohesive! This must have been quite a challenge but I liked the result. The length different styles make it sound like a closing credits medley. I would try and master it louder and layer and/or compress the bass to make it sound bigger.

SplatterDash responds:

Yeah this definitely was a challenge to make lol. Glad you liked what came out of it!

The reason why it's kinda quiet is because I received some mastering advice during NGUAC to turn down the mix by about 6 dB - I still have yet to get the advanced ropes on mastering, especially with the limited mastering library of Ableton Lite, but I think I may know how to compress the bass next time to make the song sound bigger. Thank you for the advice :D

Credits & Info

3.92 / 5.00

Dec 23, 2018
6:59 PM EST
File Info
7.2 MB
7 min 53 sec

Licensing Terms

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