A bit confused on the return

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BradGray
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A bit confused on the return

Post by BradGray » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:49 pm

Hey Passengers!

I just received a return tonight, that was somewhat confusing. I have to admit, I put much more effort into this one, with regards to structure, parts and building of the piece. I actually thought I was pretty close to the mark as my kid came walking into my music room, and began asking what viking movie I was watching, because he heard the piece, and that's what he thought of. That aside, I had done several posts for feedback well ahead of submission, where others thought I was on the mark too. I can certainly accept if I wasn't, but I'm confused at the review, and how to correct.

Here's the link to my submission: Path To War
*Please note - to me it always sounds like the default taxi web player, plays at 128Kbps, and not the 320Kbps version I had uploaded. You will hear the difference most in drums and cymbals. If this is what bitrate it was played at, it would have killed it in the first 7 seconds.

The review I received was as follows:

What I like most about this song
The developmental and dynamic arc of this are very good as is the duration and overall production. Nice job.

I think you could improve this song by
    Adding more rhythms, variation, cinematic and epic drumming and dialing back some of the cymbal hits. It's a little repetitive and needs more accented driven patterns...

    I returned or forwarded this song because
    It's too repetitive, it has too many cymbal hits, and it needs more low end drums playing more of an accented pattern that builds, varies and explodes at the ending.

    Style was listed as "Not Contemporary"
      *I'm not following this at all. Unless it is because I did not copy a big synth swell, or is it something else that is fundamentally missing?

      Composition deemed "Too Repetitive"
        My visual was drummers drumming as they lead their tribe, their army into battle. It's often a pattern, that's repeated, accented and done again.
        That said the first comment was the development and dynamic arc were very good. I'm confused.

        Recording & Mix "Need Improvement"
          Above they stated the production was good, and that the recording and mix need improvement. Is there any chance the screeners use the 128Kb mp3s when they screen material? I hope not, and would assume not, but my piece sounds incredibly different if you do.

          Any feedback would be appreciated.

          ___________

          The following was the listing:
          MASSIVE PERCUSSION-Driven DRUM INSTRUMENTALS and/or INSTRUMENTAL CUES are needed for Film Trailer and Video Game placements by a fast-growing International Music Library.

          They’re searching for Mid-to-Up-Tempo Instrumentals and/or Cues in the general ballpark of (but not limited to) the following examples:

          Earth Shaker (Massive Hybrid Drums) (The Expendables 2 Trailer Music)

          [Epic Tribal Percussion Trailer Music] - Death Dance

          Give them epic, impactful, heart-stopping Instrumentals (and/or Instrumental Cues) that can be purely drums and/or percussion, or they can also have growls, non-lyrical vocalizations (big group chants, etc.), and other minimal (but huge and dramatic) sound design elements combined with your drums and percussion. Rises, drops, dramatic stops, and edit points could be welcome additions, but are not required.

          TAXI Tip: Think of what you might hear as the Visigoths, Vikings, or the Huns, are about to crest a mountain ridge and rush into an epic battle in the valley below.

          All submissions should be at least Two-Minutes long with non-faded, Stinger endings. Do NOT copy the referenced music in any way, shape, or form. Use it only as a guide for tempo, texture, tone, and vibe. Broadcast Quality is needed.

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          Kolstad
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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by Kolstad » Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:54 am

          Im not an expert in this genre, but a few things came to mind when listening.

          Compared to the reference track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnEwBSlfnmo

          When I played back your track and the reference at the same volume, your track was lower in volume, didn't have quite the punch of the reference, and did sound more repetitive.

          Some things to consider:

          Your track could have more contrast between sections in the 3 act structure. It seems like you had the right ideas, but didn't push them far enough to achieve enough of a dramatic contrast between sections to my ear.

          Your track sounded a bit muffled and not agressive enough in comparison. Trailers are usually heavily processed, and automated, so maybe you didn't push it far enough in comparison with the references?
          Also regarding the repitition, it seemed that the references used a wide variation of articulations in the drums, while yours used less (and therefore sounded more repetitive).

          I think you had a great start with this, the idea was right (nice 3 act structure), the arrangement was 80% there, and the production was a bit cautious for the genre.
          Trailer music is highly competitive, so keep at it. The mindset should be to beat the references, not just to be on par with them.

          You seem ahead of the game, and just need to push the work more, justmytwocents (remember, I'm not expert in this type of music, so read with salt).

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by AlanHall » Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:58 am

          Brad,
          I'm a newbie so take what I say with a grain of skepticism... and I'm sorry I missed your other thread on the development of this track!

          I like your track. It has a place in a library somewhere, don't discard it! However, I agree on the points Kolstad mentioned. The mix seemed a little tentative. I expected more from the drone elements, they didn't really speak over my computer monitors. Also, at about 1:22 you decrescendo in preparation for the third act. I didn't feel it as a suspenseful moment, the drums weren't saying to me "wait for it... wait..." These are mix issues to me, not composition/style/whatever. Does that make sense?

          As for the critique? I get the cymbals comment. They weren't from the right (marching) band. ;)
          Maybe 'not contemporary' is code for didn't sound exactly like the ref tracks?

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by BradGray » Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:08 am

          Thanks to you both for the additional feedback; that is certainly more helpful on how I can kick it up a notch to reach where I need to be, to be successful.

          How often do similar listings pop back up? I can certainly look to make this even better, so I can resubmit to potential future listings.

          Is this a practice any of you have done, with previous returns?

          Thanks,
          Brad

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by Kolstad » Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:27 am

          BradGray wrote:
          Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:08 am
          Thanks to you both for the additional feedback; that is certainly more helpful on how I can kick it up a notch to reach where I need to be, to be successful.

          How often do similar listings pop back up? I can certainly look to make this even better, so I can resubmit to potential future listings.

          Is this a practice any of you have done, with previous returns?

          Thanks,
          Brad
          Yes, similar listings may show up. I think Ive seen 3-4 per year of these (maybe more) trailer percussion listings, so its definitely a viable strategy. Many also submit a batch of tracks to the listings, which can be an advantage if the library needs more.

          Keep working it.

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by cosmicdolphin » Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:53 am

          Brad...Not and expert but I've a number of placements on The Challenge now with similar stuff, so this is what I think....

          Dums are not impactful enough. You need to layer them , I usually have 3 layers..I .e. Damage - DM307 - Addictive Drums. Doesn't have to be those exact 3 but the idea is each will add something. You need to map your main hits to the different libraries so they make sense. Also use a parallel buss to punch them up. Something like Waves Smack Attack or similar. You'll probably need to stick a brickwall limiter at the end of the signal chain.

          The rhythms in the intro part are just not right to my ears , if you aren't a natural drummer or keyboard drummer then sometimes you are better grabbing a midi drum file from EZdrummer etc or a sample pack and re-mapping to your cinematic drums and then using that as a starting point. Tom grooves can work for stuff like Taikos for example and if they are midi then you can easily refine them. On the whole they are too repetitive as is throughout the whole track. You need to get sort of call / response vibe going ...one set of drummers ask the question, another set answers it or maybe a synth does.

          The cymbals are too much , the big crashes are unbalanced in the mix ..maybe get rid and try some swells instead of crashes. also there's loads of distracting cymbal work all the way through. I would only tend to use maybe a ride in the final 8 bars or so build it up.

          There's not much in the way of sound design elements. Adding risers will enhance the sense of tension..other effects include suckbacks, impacts, motors, growls...they do ask for them in the listing.

          The section from 22s - 45s is very tentative ..you don't need to be subtle..we should really feel some impact here and rising tension

          Also you need to make the mix more aggressive. Something that adds some distortion can help on the mix buss

          Hope that helps

          Mark

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by BradGray » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:39 pm

          Thanks Mark,

          I played and built some drums parts, using some good library sounds, and then also played a real acoustic kit (well just toms and cymbals), to fill it out. I was intentionally trying to leave greater dynamics in the track, but based on the feedback here, this is also where I missed the mark and made it without the oomph it really needed. Plus they sounded similar to the library sounds, and it seems like it should have contrasted more vs blended.

          All of this threads feedback has been quite helpful to understand where I went wrong, and how I can correct it - thanks to everyone here!

          One of the toughest things to learn is how to remain objective throughout this creation process. I find I start objective, get excited, and then loose perspective. I'm still working out this 21st century creative process. =)

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by cosmicdolphin » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:02 pm

          BradGray wrote:
          Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:39 pm
          One of the toughest things to learn is how to remain objective throughout this creation process. I find I start objective, get excited, and then loose perspective. I'm still working out this 21st century creative process. =)
          Find a way to get the reference tracks into your DAW so you can A\B them with your own track. This will instantly allow you to hear how close or not you are.

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          Re: A bit confused on the return

          Post by Kolstad » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:12 am

          cosmicdolphin wrote:
          Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:02 pm
          BradGray wrote:
          Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:39 pm
          One of the toughest things to learn is how to remain objective throughout this creation process. I find I start objective, get excited, and then loose perspective. I'm still working out this 21st century creative process. =)
          Find a way to get the reference tracks into your DAW so you can A\B them with your own track. This will instantly allow you to hear how close or not you are.
          +1 something like mastering the mix reference would be a great asset to handle this:
          https://www.masteringthemix.com/products/reference

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