TIGSource Musical Challenge XXIII Love - Reviews
First of all, great work everyone! All of these tracks a really good, and its no small feat to finish a composition in 2 weeks.
As you read my reviews, please don't be discouraged by my constructive criticism. Part of the reason we do these challenges is to get better at writing music, and you won't get better if you only ever hear "Awesome track! Its so preeettty!"
Moromis - Amor omnis vincit
I really like the feel you have going for this track. As you mentioned in your description, the piece is less about melody and form than it is about color and mood, and I think that is perfectly fitting for a love theme; love doesn’t always fit into a box, and it certainly doesn’t always follow any type of pre-set form or pattern. Also, I think this track would realistically fit nicely in a game simply because of that - its not too distracting, it has a very specific mood/vibe that doesn’t ever change, and it would loop upon itself pretty easily. That being said, from a purely musical standpoint I would have loved to see it develop a bit more. Maybe have the seemingly random and separate parts unify a little bit more as the piece progresses, or maybe change up the instrumentation/sounds gradually over the course of the track.
KeepItSimple - One Last Kiss Goodbye
This is a very intriguing piece. Just like saying goodbye to your love and not having a clue what the future will bring, good or bad, everything about this track is open-ended. For the first 44 seconds there is no melody at all, just a beautifully unresolving chord progression. The melody that does enter is very pretty and in a different setting would sound quite happy and content, but that eerie string progression anchors it in mystery and melancholy. Artistically I really like and appreciate this, but it leaves you wanting more. The piece ends and you feel like it never really got to where it needed to go. Which, I suppose, is the perfect metaphor for saying goodbye to someone you love.
MA-Simon - A Romance In Space
Although it doesn’t have any of the traditional “space” sounds (you know, synths and bleep bloops and the like), this is a very open and free track that is right at home in outer space. The piano playing is exquisite, and the piece as a whole has a very nice structure to it. In addition to being beautifully written, the track is beautifully produced as well. My only gripe with the piece (and its a minor one): the drums are too straight and don’t sit right with the rest of the “ensemble”. This track is begging to have a live drummer, playing in the same room with the bass and piano players, recording everything together in the same take.
MoritzPGKatz - The Crowd Parts
A perfect piece for when you see your true love for the first time. This track is very “film-scorey” in that its more through-composed than repetitive, which TIGSource challenge entries tend to be (guilty as charged, here). The production is realistic and top-notch, and its a great piece compositionally, too. I LOVE the descending bass line that starts right at 0:48; you get really close to that “Disney” sound that I’ve never really heard in anything other than Disney productions. Although its short form works well, it might be interesting to see this piece extended in length a bit more.
Mono - Carnaval de l’Amour
A cool track, it makes me feel like I’m walking down the street in an oceanside French town. It is very reminiscent of (and would fit perfectly in) late 90’s/early ‘00s adventure RPG games. By today’s standards the track does come off sounding a bit dated. I think if you experimented more with altering the velocities on the instruments you used, you may be able to coax more realistic performances out of them. With that being said, it is a very well written piece musically. The structure is concise and effective and the accordion melody is carefree and beautiful, a great love theme for a game!
Somnia - A Reckless Dance of Two
Another accordion melody, I love it!
I really like the tidy and concise structure that this piece has. The woodwinds sound great when they enter on their own, and then they do a wonderful job of backing up the accordion when it comes back in. On a production/performance note, the woodwinds sound nice and realistic but the acoustic guitar and accordion definitely sound like they were programmed in the computer. I’m not sure about accordion, but I know the acoustic guitar part could be fixed by playing with the velocities of the notes some more (a specific example would be the 8th note that it plays right at 0:35. If the velocity was brought down on that note, it would up the realism of that part by quite a bit). Apart from that minor gripe, its a great track!
Lihwem - A tragedy occured
I like the electric piano chords at the beginning. Thats a great, classic sound that sets up the mood for this piece perfectly. The harp that enters shortly after is very nice as well. A couple things that I think might make this piece really killer:
-Try experimenting with dropping the accompaniment instruments out here and there, and/or changing their parts up. The piece, as it stands now, is rather stagnant and changing up the background parts would help that.
-The melody right now is decent, but its not very memorable. Experiment with making it more simple. Or more crazy/complex. Or make it much more repetitive.
Don’t let my criticisms deter you, though. Its a great sounding track!
CasePortman - Cosmic Embrace
This is a very cool, very well done track! Its dreamy and quirky, which makes for a really great love theme. Compositionally, its really awesome how your main melody has so much space (no pun intended) in it for all of the other little sounds and textures to poke through. The “B” section that starts at 1:04, I wish that it came a bit sooner. Or, instead, that the piece went back to the “A” section again after it, and THEN went back to the “B” section again to end. I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m spoiled and impatient and I want to hear that section sooner more often. Because it sounds really cool.
elizabitcrusher - I’m Just a Computer
I love this song! The chord progression during the verse feels just familiar enough to be comfortable, yet it is different enough to still be interesting to listen to. Also, I really like how all of the sounds morph in and out as the song progresses (around 1:30 when the synth arpeggio crossfades into a piano is a good example). All of the sounds/instruments are very robotic and mechanical, yet everything moves so fluidly. Although its a great song as is, I think it would have been interesting to throw in some kind of larger change at some point, either a more drastic instrumental alteration, or a keychange perhaps. Verse verse verse verse verse verse verse verse IS a classic song structure (and an effective one for storytelling), but my 21st century pop music hamster brain is used to hearing choruses/refrains. You certainly do have a lot going on in this piece, probably enough to keep it from getting old for most folks, but some type of drastic change during the song might help.
ilyoung - The Embrace
Man, what an epic track! All of the sounds you use are top notch (I’m in love with your rhythm guitar tone!), and the melody is simple and memorable; definitely a good love theme. I’m being super nit-picky, I know, but it does sound like the lead guitar that enters around 2:00 has some timing issues. Nothing bad enough to keep me from enjoying the piece, though! Although structurally this track DOES work well as it is (with regards to the synth-pop thing turning into rock), from a game music stand point it might almost be more useful as two separate tracks, each one a different arrangement of the same musical idea.
royaltmusic - Unfold
I could definitely picture this playing behind a cutscene in a game, its a great homecoming track for when the hero returns from battle to his love. All of the instruments sound really great, especially the harp; the arpeggios that come in right around 0:22 are subtle but they add sooo much! I DO think the piece either needs to resolve back the D major chord at the end, or it needs to spend more time embellishing on that little key change that happens. As it, it feels very abrupt ending it where you did. All in all, great work though!
Steparnicus - Excuse Me, Princess
You mentioned on the soundcloud page that you originally meant for there to be lyrics/vocals on this track, and I can definitely tell, as there is no real melody throughout the entire piece. However, the mood/vibe you have going on is great! It feels like I’m sitting on the beach with my girl, drinking something cold and watching the waves crash into the sand. The production on this awesome, especially how the drums build up to the 0:46 mark. Once the chorus comes in, though, I’m not too fond of the snare sound. Its probably just personal preference, but I feel like it distracts from all of the other wonderful layers and colors you have going on.
I hope I don’t come off too harsh, this really is a superb track!
eernstrom - The Farewell
This is one of the most beautiful (and sad) things I’ve heard! It’s expressive and dynamic in a way that is really rare in the game music world. I love that low chord at 0:34 that just stops so abruptly. Its completely unexpected, and a little off-putting, but then at 1:23 when the low chord repeats and rings out, it brings closure. This track is filled with little subtleties like that which make for a very mature piece of music. From a production standpoint, I love the piano sound, except there is this one really loud pedal noise that happens a few times throughout the piece that I find distracting. I usually like pedal noises in my piano music (most of this piece has just the right amount), but there are 3 or 4 spots where its a bit too loud and distracting. Really, a very minor blemish on an otherwise flawless work. Great job!
Muuurgh - A Binding Harmony
I would LOVE to hear this performed by a live ensemble. Compositionally its very interesting and beautiful, but the midi orchestration keeps it from working well as a finished track. In order to get realistic orchestral tracks using sample libraries, you have to know the quirks and characteristics of your sample libraries and compose FOR them. Often times, what sounds good on paper, and probably sounds good with real players, doesn’t translate well to sample libraries, and I feel like that may be the problem with this track. But as I mentioned above, its a very cool piece with some very wonderful things going on, such as the walk up the bassoon does right around 2:00 leading into its melody. I DO wish the little piano thing that started out the piece came back at some point, and I am a bit confused by the ending. Is it meant as a looping point?
Ok, this was insanely difficult to decide. SO MANY KILLER TRACKS! I'm really glad I only had to narrow it down to three finalists...
CasePortman - Cosmic Embrace
elizabitcrusher - I’m Just a Computer
eernstrom - The Farewell