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Old 01-21-2011, 02:51 AM   #1
UG's Fancy Antsy-Lope!
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Two Scoops With a Sun-Dance - Soundscape/Large Ensemble (GP4, GP5, MIDI) C4C!

Hey all,

This piece was set as a challenge by a friend of mine to write and finish a song within the month. I've gotten it done with some time to spare, so it's ready and prepped for criticism!
I won't go on to point out parts that I'm happy or unhappy with, so as to keep critique absolutely unbiased and fair. Along with that, influences and inspiration are being kept secret, at least until if somebody's interested - I wouldn't at-all wish for somebody to be disappointed beforehand if this isn't up to par!

All constructive critique is absolutely welcome, and as always, I'll be sure to return feedback. Of course, while every reply is very much appreciated and I value any and all input, I'd really enjoy reading some good and chunky reviews. I've got another month between now and Uni, so I'm prepared to return some BIG, detailed crits!

GP4, GP5 and MIDI files are enclosed in the zip folder below. I hope you enjoy listening, and be sure to leave a link to your page if you'd like a return crit. If not, PM me once you've got something you'd like critiqued up, and I'll take it as an I.O.U

Thanks in advance, everybody!


23/01/11 edit - UH OH!
Thanks so much to everybody who's posted a reply (and listened!) so far - the critiques have been tremendous, and I really appreciate the feedback. I'm absolutely honoured by some ALL of these comments!

The major problem area seems to be the ending, at the drop-out with just piano and low-mixed accompanying instruments. This was the most rushed part of the song, and the section I'm definitely omitting; glad other opinions match!
I'm considering leading out of the 'Resolution Segue' with a more nutty, 'darker' chromatic section, with more trade-offs and instrumental effects akin to some later Dream Theater instrumentals. This could gradually segue back into the 'Ambience' section with fuller Rhodes arpeggios panning between speakers, and with other and electronica tone palettes, before reprising with the B theme - though much busier with brass, strings, and more percussion - and ending with some other, simpler resolution. *Deep breath* This was my original idea for the ending, but it was a lot of work, and my brain farted out by that point.
ANY opinions for an ending would be very much appreciated. Many thanks in advance, everybody, and another huge thanks everybody who's taken the time so far to listen or critique; you're wonderful!
Attached Files
File Type: zip Two Scoops With a Sun-Dance.zip (31.7 KB, 250 views)

Last edited by juckfush : 01-22-2011 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 01-21-2011, 03:49 AM   #2
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Well, this is definitely not the style I'm used to listening to often or critting on, so I definitely don't feel I'll be able to give the crit I feel you deserve for your lengthy one on my piece, nonetheless, I'll try.

A. Fantastic, very fluid. It all works great.

B. Smooth transition, again fluid, sounds great.

AI. Love how upbeat it is and how smoothly it comes in.

AIb. GAH. I'm a sucker for anything using the rhodes piano sound, fantastic section, although I feel the Xylophone to be a little iffy sometimes, sorta distracting I'd say. May be because the Xylophone midi sound sounds pretty bad though, haha.

BI. Flowed well again, sounds good itself. Love the harp transition out of it

AII. Transitioned very smooth sounds great itself.

The Call and Response section is probably my favorite. I love all the ambient upbeat sounds throughout and how well it all fits together, loveee this.

4/4 bit: Sounds nice. A good bit to calm it for a while and keep it... basic, at least for this, for a moment.

D. Disregard before, I think I decided this is my favorite. I just love how upbeat and fitting it is again, not to mention I'm a sucker for any chime/vibraphone kinda sound. So, so great. The trombone entry is very smooth too and well done.

C repeat: Very smooth, great to bring back that theme sounding bit of course.

DII: All fits together well. Love how you can feel it all building up. Also at 105: Has a happy (almost) circus feel to me, awesome again.

Resolution bit: Builds up very well.

E: Comes in very fluidly, very calms, definitely helps release a lot of the built up tension from before. Very well done. Only complaint is the very end does feel a LITTLE off. It just doesn't seem too much like closure to me.

All in all this, this is amazing, better than I anything I could ever hope to write, haha. I really do love this kind of stuff and wish I had the talent for it. It uh... Kinda reminds me of Mario 64 and later kinda music, WHICH IS A GOOD THING. ;P Would LOVE to hear this in a non-midi form, recorded or performed in some way.

(sorry I couldn't give better feedback or anything. Not a style I'm used to and I'm not a terribly theoretically knowledgeable person either. ><)
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Old 01-21-2011, 06:29 AM   #3
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I have three things to say.
1) Musically that was way over my head, I feel inadequate to crit any of it.
2) That was absolutely amazing.
3) Sounded like Sims music to me
My songs are all located here .
Feel free to drop by and crit a song.
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:40 AM   #4
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That was amazing, I would like to crit it all but would have no idead where to start. The layering was done perfectly, drums where great, the use of 5/4 time (and the different time signatures in general) was impecable,everything about it was amazing.

It really does sound like video game music, coudl totally picture putting in some sort of adventure game and hearing this. It had quirky sort of Zelda/Japanese RPG feel to it. Hopefully that doesn't offend you, because I absolutely loved that piece. The first 64 bars where honestly some of the best stuff I have ever heard. After that it got a little strange, but it was still awesome. The last section was a bit dull, but it was still great.

Sory for the short crit, but there really isn't much to say. If I heard this song in one of my favorite video games, I would be in heaven.

C4C? http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1403869
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:34 AM   #5
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Fist things first ... a huge thank you for your very detailed crit on Blaze! You spent a lot of time on it and I really appreciate it.

I don't have the musical knowledge to be overly constructive in this criticism as I wouldn't know where to begin in creating a piece this complex so all I can really do is say what I liked and what I didn't (and maybe why if i'm lucky). So everything in here is just the opinion of a musical pleb!!

Part A

Lovely intro - for some reason it makes me think of a warm but slightly breezy day by the sea.

Part B

Again this was really nice to listen to (and I've listened to it about 10 times so far). The only thing that I wasn't 100% on was in Bar 14 where there are 3 staccato sounding chords. This seemed to jar slightly against the flowing and floating feeling of the piece so far.

Part A1

I like the way the Organ/Synth Keys come in to compliment the piano. I was going to put in a comment about the marimba being a little random until after a few more listens I realised that it sets up the full introduction of a more percussive sound in the next part.

Part A1b

That said, I didn't really care too much for the marimba in this part. To my ears it sounds just a little chaotic and took away from the lovely melody. However, I especially like the little organ/synth runs that I think sound a little like birds.

Part B1

I can't think of anything to say about B1 it fits well and sounds good.

Part AII

Brilliant, flows so seamlessly from the preceding parts.

Part C

Where's my Climax???!!! Ha ha, this does make you think its building up into something ... so for that it definitely works - plus it sounded good!

Part D

I can't say I liked this part. It sounded a little like an orchestra's wind section warming up whilst having hiccups. All in tune and in time with the right notes but a little 'odd'.

Part C Return

A little the same here, but i did like the chord in bar 93.

Part DII

This was too frenetic for my tastes i'm afraid so I was happy when i got to part E

Part E

Fantastic move into this part from part DII - seamless. Your ending works well bringing the piece to a close and relaxes you after a frenetic few parts before it.

Whole Song and Overall

Overall I thought this was a very a well written tune. However, there were parts that were not to my tastes. In my opinion the first half was the best and most enjoyable to listen to. The second half left me a little cold. However I felt that all the parts fitted together well to create a coherent whole piece.

The first half was some of the best stuff I have listened to on UG.

Many thanks

Originally Posted by philjay
*Picks up TT like handbag and smacks you over the head like an angry granny *
Try that with your rocker 30

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Old 01-27-2011, 01:23 AM   #6
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Well your crit is one of the longest I've received. It's most definitely the longest positive one lol. Thank you sir.

I'm critting as I listen.

The piano is pretty. I quite like the small grace notes. When the vibraphones come in, it sounds wonderful. It's cheering me up quite a bit. I envy your ability to orchestrate something like this. I've tried many times, but I usually fail.

I'm gonna throw it out there...is this influenced by The Dear Hunter or Forgive Durden's Razia's Shadow at all? HUGE vibes in some parts. They tend to use unorthodox instrumentation and flawlessly blend into a rock genre. If you haven't heard of them, check them out.

This has a very earthy feel to it. Very natural. Very ambient and spacious. Perfectly notated in every way that I could imagine.

I'm almost sorry that I have nothing bad to say and there is nothing to improve upon. If you had a month to do this, it's no wonder this is so well orchestrated. Quite frankly, this is flawless. It rests in my ears perfectly.

I wish I had more to say than that. I feel wrong doing it, but do you have tips? If it's a matter of being patient and giving a song time to develop, then I'll do that because I usually belt songs out without focusing on them for more than three or four days.

I'll stop before my wall of ego boosts gets too far xD

Thanks for your crit sir, and thanks for enlightening me with this piece. If you haven't, you really should consider going farther in a music career. You've got one guaranteed fan right here.
Originally Posted by Thomasoman
I can't think of anything else to say besides holy shit. You are now one of my favorite songwriters on here. Feel special.

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Old 01-27-2011, 04:31 AM   #7
UG's Fancy Antsy-Lope!
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Thank you everybody for the fantastic feedback! If I haven't gotten to anybody yet, of even if there's another song of yours you'd like me to check out, please edit your post with a link, or send a PM my way with a link - I'd be more than happy to listen over anything.

BigBigWater - The Mario 64 comment is one of the greatest I've ever gotten - thank you! A big inspiration for this piece was actually games on the Nintendo Wii (I think it was Fit Plus? there's an obstacle course game, and gradually more layers of music are introduced as you clear each stage; super cool!) and Super Mario DS. I'm very glad it's been picked up on

frankibo - Again, the Sims comment was amazing, thank you! I've seen your work on these boards, and I don't see how you'd figure yourself inadequate at all; you're up there as one of my favourite writers, but I'll take the compliment anyway, haha.

jackblackyeah17 - After reading the last part of your critique, I started brainstorming with how this could fit into a game. I'm not much of an artist, but I've drawn up sketches with musical themes from the song in a visual interpretation (as well as other songs of mine in a similar, albeit less post-bar-64 style!) which will be on my profile tomorrow for anyone interested. Uni starts in a month, so maybe I'll meet some animators? Thanks again for the great critique.

Qazo - A big WOW for the detailed critique - you're a legend! I'm revising the staccato notes that you pointed out, and experimenting with different sound patches for the marimba for a smoother sound. I never really thought much of it and was really opting for a very busy sound there, but after listening back I can hear that it is a little too busy. I may keep similar phrasing, but I'll experiment with different voicings and patches there
I'm actually working with a friend to write an EP with similar material, but this one's probably one of the zaniest and with the most odd sections. I'll PM you with the songs with more similarities to the sections you like once they're written, if you like? Thanks again.

dervishguitar - Your ego boosts didn't go too far, but thank you for the contribution!
I've listened briefly to The Deer Hunter before, and I definitely enjoyed it, so thanks for the massive compliment! I'm listening to Forgive Durden right now, by your recommendation, and I have to say... WOW! This is absolutely, hands-down, some of the greatest music I've heard - THANK YOU for the new favourite! If you'd like to hear a similar group, I'd absolutely recommend Pomplamoose - big inspiration for the layering in this.

* * *

As for tips, I think my biggest suggestion to anybody is to listen to as much music as possible - of the particular style you're wanting to write in, but also your other favourites and usual musical diet - and try (without making it a task or stressing yourself) to ear out the little subtleties they use.
Pomplamoose is good to observe, because they arrange video-songs that show whatever instrument or piece of furniture/footwear they're using at that instant! You may even like to, after watching some Pomplamoose or listening to Forgive Durden, try listening for where there are spaces or room for other instruments or textures or effects in songs you like, or have written. Give yourself an ear for how layers can work, and how even a simple pair of notes on one instrument really low in the mix can enhance a line by harmonizing, or responding, or serving the role of a counterpoint.
The way this piece was written, is I had the A theme, the B theme, and the A-Tonal Shift written only for piano. I've found that I can write a song more effectively, personally, if I write it for one instrument, have a solid structure and song format, and then embellish. At first I eared out the playback of what I had, and added the xylophone melody in the reprise of B to act as a counter melody. Bass was then added to support the low-register line of the piano and reinforce the groove. From this set of three instruments, I had a simple sound palette, which set the tone, basic fundamental texture, and feel of the piece. It was then just a matter of adding instruments one by one to serve as counterpoints, production subtleties, cross-rhythms, accents, and so on. Because of that, it was easy to add the later sections (C, D and E), because they were either variations of earlier ideas, or they appeared naturally because they felt comfortable to follow the developed themes from earlier (the Call-and-Response section was complete before I even started with the 4/4 part!).
So I guess in summary, listen to bands who use those layering techniques, listen for where those techniques can be applied in simple, existing songs, and later your own manic and complex ones, and go from there! Alternatively, write an entire song for one instrument, and work out ways to maintain interest by using layers of sound to serve the main instrumentation - you can even switch roles, like I did in the guitar theme, which was originally still piano. I'd also recommend listening some Johann Strauss II, or Andre Popp's Delirium in Hi-Fi album; mostly just because they're ridiculous with dynamics and clever techniques!
I hope this wall of text helps somewhat, and if there's anything unanswered or that I can elaborate on, please feel free to PM me.

* * *

Thanks again so much everybody; these critiques have been a pleasure to read!

Last edited by juckfush : 01-27-2011 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:02 PM   #8
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I'd heard this before, but never crit until now.

Beginning: Piano interplay is very nice, as is the way the rhodes intertwines with those sweeping arpeggios in the "ambience" section. This kind of reminds me of those old "animusic" CGI videos with the machines playing random instruments to form a composition...You know, balls popping out of a chute and hitting marimba keys and such. Maybe you haven't seen it. Whatever.

There really isn't much I can say about this, it flows very nicely, all of the intermodulations and such don't clash at any point as far as I can tell. My only gripe so far is that some stuff is so soft as to be inaudible, but that could just be either my shitty laptop speakers or my failure to use RSE.

I feel like that climax sort of section at 109 could have gotten a little louder and had more instruments. Perhaps that's just our difference in compositional style, but I might have done it a bit differently. Not that it's a problem now. It still is exceptional work.

Really good job here.

Hey, do you think you could shoot me a crit on this and I'll owe you another one?
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:25 AM   #9
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I really loved this. The almost ragtime-ish melodies were hugely memorable, the thing the mandolin plays in part C stayed in my head for ages after I first heard it, and I really love that you're using tone colour as part of the art. Not enough people do that. I love the way the different instruments combine and intertwine with each other, and instruments that aren't playing a main part in a section add little accents to it.

I don't know if you'd agree with this, but I think of the melody in part C as the main theme. I'm genuinely surprised to find it's only played twice, I was sure it was repeated more.

My only problem with it is that I think it could be much longer, and more could be done with it, I think. E worked perfectly well as an outro, but it could just as easily be a momentary quiet section in a much longer piece. You've built it up to this really happy, upbeat mood, which kind of fizzles out prematurely. You've built up enough momentum with the long intro that it feels like it should have kept going.

That darker chromatic thing sounds brilliant, I'm looking forward to hearing that. And my instinct - ignore this if you already have everything planned out, I'm just shitting ideas out - is to repeat the mandolin melody from C more, possibly develop it a bit. Maybe transpose it into some different keys or scales, etc. If you're planning on having things turn darker, maybe gradually turn it into a darker, minor or diminished sort of melody. If you're dramatically changing the feel of a piece, I find that sort of thing can help keep it sounding coherent.

Or not, I don't know. That's a suggestion that might or might not be useful.

That sentence didn't seem like a good place to end the post, so here's some feedback with no practical application whatsoever: this piece was extremely good and I loved it. Hooray!
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