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It's been a while...


Was doing online college classes last term and it was hell but I finally got a couple of tracks done (and another one almost done).


Apart from taking audio from the main song project in my music program and spicing it all together to make the finished track, I used no audio samples as far as I know. I even did the drum sounds inside that main project.


After lots of anxiety, I present to you the first song I made entirely in 2020.


YouTube video with cool visuals coming soon

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--NGUAC ‘20 Judge Review--

Sorry this review took so long! So, the thing that strikes me most about this song is how well I can project an image onto it in my head. You’ve done a great job at distilling a lot of the best qualities from video game songs and injecting them in here; I can practically see a protagonist setting off on a journey through some looming adventure world, and that’s a really tough skill to learn, so kudos to you on that. But let’s get into the more nitty-gritty aspects of your track.

Compositionally, you’ve got some beautiful melodies in this song. I think the most key aspect of what makes them good is how well they fit the vibe of the piece (the sound design helps a lot with this), like that Undertale-esque bell melody at 0:25 or the piano at 1:04. I recall giving you a decently high composition score, and I think that the best way to bump it up even higher would be to have more melodic and harmonic development throughout the song. acxle already mentioned this in his review, but your chord progressions were on the simple side, especially the IV-I vamp that made up the majority of the track. Songs in this ambient-ish video game-y genre usually have some good harmonic variation (often upon a strong motif, which this track also lacked, although that’s not always a bad thing). Even something as simple as a key change towards the end would do wonders for that kind of thing, since it doesn’t look like you’re intending for this song to be a loop anyway. That said, you’ve definitely got some great compositional chops, based on what’s already in this song. Don’t be afraid to flex them a little more and take some risks!

In terms of production, I enjoyed a lot of the sound design in the piece—particularly the slightly detuned piano and that strong kick. You had a pretty full mix as well, and kudos to you on doing that with those lo-fi drum samples (I loved the filters on those samples during transitions like 0:24 and 0:50). I did think that that arp was taking up a lot of space in the low mids, almost to the point where it was overlapping with the bassline a little bit, but a bit of EQing should get that fixed up. The chordal synth that comes in at 1:36 and stays for the rest of the song also clashes quite a bit with the arps; I’d recommend tweaking the sound design a bit to give them both some more space (this was the biggest production issue for me, since it thickened the mix to the point where it felt weighted down in the mids). I’ll actually disagree with steampianist here and say that I would’ve preferred a bit more high end on the hi-hats, but that’s a super minor thing. On the whole, I thought your production was pretty solid—there were just a few things here and there that could’ve shot it up to the next level.

In the end, I felt like the biggest issue with the track was the general lack of variety, which is sort of a structural thing but also sort of an intangible, tough-to-define quality that can be hard to fix. Besides the intro and outro, much of the song maintains roughly the same texture (aside from a small break in the middle), and there’s basically no relief in the song from the low mid space taken up by the arms. That, combined with the lack of harmonic variety (your second chord progression, while different from the IV-I, nevertheless maintains a similar harmonic function and sounds rather interchangeable with the IV-I) makes it so that the song as a whole gets, for lack of a better word, a bit boring after a while. You have these super engaging melodies and a great sense of production—don’t be afraid to make things more interesting!

On the whole, I enjoyed your song quite a bit. My commiserations for being sooo close to making it through to the final round, but I can tell you’ve got a lot more music in you and I’m excited for the work you’ll put out in the future if you keep up this level of skill. Hope to see you in future NGUACs!

Composition - 26/30
Production - 25/30
Structure - 7/10
GSM - 23/30
Overall - 81/100, normalized to 7.4/10

BeeFef responds:

Thank you for the long and detailed review! First of all, the thing you said about how well you're able to picture a scene corresponding to the song in your head — maybe it's partly because I tend to get little videos playing in my head for things anyway, but that kind of thing has been something that I feel like I could pull off at least pretty well for quite a while if not longer. I remember there was this thing my father would do with me back in the day where he would tell me to play what a certain scene or scenario "sounded like" on the piano, and I would improvise that and he'd often be impressed. So maybe it's something that comes more naturally to me.

Some other things I wanted to point out:

The sound that you hear at 1:04 that you were talking about isn't a piano. It's actually the FL Studio Plucked! plugin with an instance of Pitcher (FL autotune plugin) on it. I wrestled a bit with the mixing and stuff with that track/channel, mainly because the plugin is nightmarishly varied and random when it comes to the sounds it makes when I have it at just one setting the whole time and I didn't want to export it into audio multiple times and then splice those together (I did that with the whole track instead).

I actually didn't use any drum samples. The kick came straight from a plugin called KickWOrK and the snare came from a custom thing I made from scratch in Sytrus, which is another plugin in FL if you didn't already know. I think even the high hats came straight out of a plugin.

The whole lack of variety/not enough content thing seems to be a recurring theme, here. Not knowing what to add to a song after a certain point is one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to composition. I feel like I got at least a little better with that with my KO round submission, but yeah. And also, what does GSM stand for?

Speaking of the KO round, I don't think I was actually *that* close. I got a 7.58 or so overall, which put me in the middle of the AAJs in terms of the scores for the submissions for that round, and still a decent distance away from making it into the final round (I would have needed more than a score of 8.33). I hope I can get some feedback from those judges to see where I went wrong with that song.

I'll probably be back for more NGUACs. Thanks again for the review!

7.4/10

I'm a fan of 8bit and 16bit music

I like the overall warm and laid-back vibe of the song.
Your arrangement is very nice and i love that lofi drum you used paired with that portamento pluck in the intro.

Your mix is also good. Usually, 8 bit tracks can be harsh on the high ends but you manage to make this track very warm and without severely sacrificing the high freq.

That said i felt you could've done so much more with this 3 min song. I did not mind the repetition however you could've added more melodic themes or motifs especially on the 2nd repeat.

The lack of a new theme just made the song a bit draggy for me.

So overall not bad but can could've been better

BeeFef responds:

I think one of my main weaknesses in composition is getting to a certain point in writing and not knowing what to add next, especially if I'm coming back to a certain theme instead of doing a new one. But at least I'm glad you thought I nailed the mix, as that's one element of making electronic music that's been taking me longer to get right. Thank you for your review and I hope I get some more detailed reviews from the people who did my KO round submission, as that' something I didn't make it through

score: 7/10

what I liked:

• right off the bat, the first 8-bit (I don't know the correct term, sorry lol) synth bells I heard were already unique (might be because I don't normally listen to this genre, but either way it caught my attention)
• the arpeggiated pattern sounds really nice, I like how you accented the top notes to create a separate melody
• nice kick drums! packs a big punch
• good choice of snare/effects on the snare, it fits very well with the bells, and overall all your instruments blend well together
• while the IV - I progression sounded nice on its own, your second IV - ii - vi - V progression also fit well within the song, smooth transitions too
• somehow you made the crunchy, 8-bit style sound calming and sweet, and to me that was unique and I enjoyed it overall
• overall good production too!

what I think could be improved on:

• looping IV - I is kind of an easy progression, while I get that you probably liked the simplicity of it, I personally am a fan of more complex harmony, so I would have suggested throwing in a V in between sometimes to switch up the feel a little bit, adding some extensions to warm it up a little, etc.
• I would've liked to hear more of a story, whether it be a buildup to a more powerful section, or temporarily enter a quiet section to clear our minds, etc.
• as far as I can tell, it sounded like the second half was more or less a repeat of the first half; I would have liked to hear more variation (slightly different melodies, different effects on the instruments, etc.)
• the ending was a bit sudden for my taste, I would suggest doing a slow volume fade, or a slow high-cutoff, or a slow growing reverb

BeeFef responds:

Thanks!!! I hope I do well in the knockout round

Amazing track dude!👌
This gives me Celeste vibes!

BeeFef responds:

Thanks for the review!

Credits & Info

Author

Listens
446
Faves:
6
Downloads
12
Votes
14
Score
4.32 / 5.00

Uploaded
Jul 31, 2020
11:06 PM EDT
Genre
Chipstep
File Info
Song
7 MB
3 min 5 sec

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