Music Critique Club!

edited August 2015 in Tracks

MCC_sml



Hi everyone, and welcome to the Operator-1.com Music Critique Club! 

Rules: 

1) Join the Music Critique Club group on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/groups/music-critique-club

2) Give two pieces of thoughtful, detailed critique to others' tracks.
2i) Make sure everyone gets at least two critiques, so start with the oldest track with less than two critiques.
2ii) Submit your critique to this thread – you can also use Soundcloud with its timed comments to aid you, but the main critique has to be in this thread.
3iii) You need to be honest, but friendly. This means the club is not a place for 'cool track man, listen to mine now' type praise messages, but rather actual, constructive criticism - the good and bad, delivered honestly but without being rude.

3) Given two thoughtful reviews? Great, post your own track in the Soundcloud group and share it in this thread to receive critiques! Your track does not have to include the OP-1.
3i) If you'd like feedback on some particular aspect of your track, feel free to highlight that with your submission.

4) Be nice! Play by the very simple rules and everyone will have fun.
«13

Comments

  • edited August 2015
    Sorry, some meta discussion to get things rolling: 

    -Would somebody be willing to become a moderator for the MCC Soundcloud group with me? Probably not that much work there.

    -To kick things off, we need two tracks. SO, first two tracks get a freebie! (Well, the second track has to review the first, obviously:)

    -If I forgot something, just let me know. I have no intention of being the dictator here, I just want to see this work!

    Again, be nice. This will work and be great for everyone if we play along. You'll know in the back of your head if you're being a dick :)
  • Hey Josker,

    Thanks a bunch for taking it by the scruff of the neck and getting the ball rolling. I am sure it will be a success and I've wanted this to be a reality for an unquestionable amount of time.

    I'd like to volunteer to moderate with you however if there is quite a bit of interest in this specific role then we could hold a vote where all votes are submitted to you and you can inform the successful person.

    I feel your passion is in line with mine about this idea. People may often have wanted to give an honest opinion but fear that they may take the wind out of an honest artists sails, annoy people who have a slight ego or get defensive over something they've poured there blood, sweat, and tears into. It's a bit of a land mine to politely put it. This eradicates all those hazardous areas.

    Also, although I am knew to mixing and mastering I know what a good critique should consist of and have trained my ears to listen for specific things. It is my intention to become an engineer so my feedback would be very technical as you'd expect. The thing I like about this is that there are other peoples opinions who would critique from a new and different angle. I really love the sound of that!

    Thanks for reading. I'll be involved whichever way but loose!

    HMD
  • Hi @joskerthanks for setting this up! Sounds like a great idea. Will try to contribute where I can say something useful!
  • edited August 2015
    Here's a track for you....I'm more than happy to retrospectively contribute my part in reviewing two other tracks.

    I used my PO-12 for the drums.

    Perhaps you are wanting a track with use of OP-1 but I only bought my OP-1 after recording this.

    This is my first ever track where I wrote and played all the music, and it's my first ever electronic track. Normally I record more traditional contributions from the rest of my band. I only started learning how to record, mix, master etc last November so please go easy on me.

    On this track were used:
    Drums: PO-12 - synced from Logic Pro X
    Bass: Fender Precision via Markbass SuperBooster DI
    Synths: Logic plugins controlled using a Casio CZ5000
    Vocoder: Logic EVOC20 - input was sliced up pre-recorded vocal from my band's girl singer and some of my own vocal added
    Audio interface: Presonus Audiobox iTwo
    Recorded, mixed and mastered using Logic Pro X

    Thanks for your time everyone :-)

    CB

  • edited August 2015
    Hey @cloudburst ! Great that you got the ball rolling! I think it's a very solid start and it shows that you have a lot of background with a band environment. 

    If you don't mind, join the Soundcloud group and chuck your tune there, too: soundcloud.com/groups/music-critique-club

    Okay, here goes. It might be a bit random at places, but bear with me:

    The intro works really well, setting the mood right from the word go. Structure-wise, it's nice to have a clear structure – I've been so into electronic music lately that having a clear-cut structure feels like a breath of fresh air :)

    I really like the way the different timbres fit together. The bass tone, the synths, drums and the piano, along with vocals, all fit together tonally – the timbres are carved from the same wood, so to speak. 

    There seems to be two slightly overlapping basslines during the 'verse', which could be slightly more even with regards to volume - maybe some compression needed? The basslines in themselves are really good and I like the fills/flourishes, but a little more control over the volume would make them fit the tune better. There are also some other things that are slightly loud – for instance, the synth that accompanies the vocoder vocals, as well as the vocals themselves. 

    the 1:21/2:48 small interlude/something works really well, giving a needed diversion from the rest of the tune.

    All in all, I think the song is good – I like the way the different parts flow, and there's definitely a poppy appeal to it all (and I really appreciate a good pop tune). I think that it could benefit greatly from a couple of small tweaks: 

    -As said before, the volume differences between a couple of the elements are a bit big, which takes away from the natural flow of the song in places. It'd be easy to even them out a bit.
    -I'd love to be able to make out some of the actual vocal lines – maybe you could try some sort of a parallel solution, where you have the clean vocals along with the vocoderized versions? You could then play with the balance of the two to achieve an optimal mix of vocoded/clean.
    -Maybe you could introduce some new element to the last verse part, starting around the 3 minute mark, to keep it fresh and build towards an ending?

    I also started thinking about one thing which is very much a matter of opinion: I found the song to be a bit sparsely orchestrated, at least to my taste (but my typical sin with my tunes is stuffing everything too full of everything). Maybe there could be some rhythmic or a textural, less tonal element introduced at some stage? Maybe you could differentiate the different verses, for instance, by introducing/taking away certain elements? There's still some space in the mix, and an additional layer of intrigue could liven it up.

    So, TL;DR: A good tune, with all the timbres fitting together nicely, and having no trouble holding the listener's attention for the most part. My two cents: small volume tweaks, and maybe some elements introduced/taken away at diff. stages could do wonders for an already good tune! Great start!

    EDIT: Hehe, this got to be really long, but ah well! 
  • Thanks so much for taking the time to do such a considered review.

    Just as a little background, traditionally I'm the bass guitarist in the band (also a sax player), but recently have been drawn, first to a Yamaha WX7 wind controller, then to being the band's producer with Logic Pro X and playing more and more keyboards.

    My original intention a few weeks ago, when I went home to Northern Ireland for a few weeks was to learn how to use the vocoder in LPX by slicing some of the vocals from one of my band's unrecorded scratch tracks. The track itself was just an accidental by-product. However, I was surprised when some of my friends (and the band members) actually liked it.

    I will even up the basslines - thanks for that. I agree. For the reasons above, I spent a lot less time mixing this track than I do with the tracks which involve the rest of the band. I guess I find it hard to listen to my own stuff.

    The vocoding is something I really need to practice more. What I did here was to use a single vocal phrase together with a synth phrase where each note in the phrase was 4 layers of the same note in unison over 4 octaves. I have to experiment more in order to achieve a much deeper richer vocoded sound. And I think I should mix wet (robotic) with dry. Either that or use them as counterpoint to each other in the next song. Any tips for this "deep rich" vocoded robotic sound (a la Prime Time Of Your Life) would be gratefully received.

    I'll aim to include a 'middle 8/bridge' and some more orchestration and variance in the next song.

    If anyone wants me to post the lyrics, just shout.

    Thanks again!

    CB


  • Ok ,good start @cloudburst for getting that in early.I like the live bass and arrangement,especially the odd cycle (to my ears).A slight 70s feel .
    Maybe the drums sound too machine based and could benefit from some buss treatment.EQ is what may help the elements as a whole.I would overdrive the drum buss (muck it up,consolidate it into a whole,maybe place it further back even-or bring forward by emphasising the snare),EQ scoop the bass guitar ,around 100-150Hz at a guess-allowing the kick through.Maybe experiment with multiband compression on just kick and bass guitar buss?No keep separate on reflection ,but keep notches on EQ mutually exclusive.Then compress.
    Synth- notch or HPfilter the low end.zone in on frequencies that compliment ,not fight with Voco.maybe dirty up piano too with processing-disto/reverb/spacey echo?
    I thought the vocoder was nice.Its often harder than first thought to get the sound imagined with vocoders IMHO .The tip on mixing in original is good.Maybe try more HPF ,pure treble of dry voc back in.Most vocoders have this option.The carrier signal is important-lots of harmonics and overtones work for the multi filter to bite into,as does complex chords-throw loads of notes at it with experimenting on octaves.
    I loved the track ,it was fun.This is my novice reaction to it and I hope it helps and was relevant.
    Well done CB.
  • Many thanks for taking the time to listen and provide your review @Spheric_El .

    There are a lot of detailed and very useful pointers which I will include in my thinking whilst arranging, mixing and mastering my next track (lyrics written, very appropriate for this style of music, music yet to be written).

    Thanks again,
    CB
  • Awesome, looks like things are on there way.

    Question: Would we be able to post sketches too? I often have a structure going, but need help pushing it through completion.

    Will crit first song upload asap :)!
  • @Kites - go right on ahead, in my humble opinion :) As a matter of fact, this thread could do with a couple more tracks posted – I could well write some more critiques. (we need some tracks in here in order for the "crit 2, post 1" rule to work :) )

  • Okay, somebody: post a track :)

    You get a freebie if you like. We need tracks in the thread.
  • I put this together in one evening (maybe you can tell :D). Inspired by some OP-1 radio sampling. Using FL Studio to sequence my parts. Gross Beat for scratchings. Harmor for bass. OP-1 for voices and NES sounds.

  • Has anyone mentioned this app yet??! Notetracks - a collaborative platform to review, record and share your music ideas. by Notetracks Inc.
    https://appsto.re/us/GNT0Z.i

    Looks brilliant!
  • edited August 2015


    The drum track works well. I like the initial entry (of the drum track) and the well timed pauses in the rhythm.

    I also like the sampled radio vocals. They work well.

    Personally, I'm not so keen on the bass sound - and it is probably just a matter of taste since I'm a bassist - I'd prefer something a little more organic than the rubber ball sound. 

    The very first lead-in bars with the 'gaming' voice seem out of place - perhaps reducing the volume to fit this section better into the mix would help. That voice does sound quite harsh (mostly at the start but also in places where it reappears).

    The figure which begins at around 2:50 and leads the song out - I like the voice and chords, but that section appears slightly out of place - perhaps if that voice were used in a bridge section earlier in the song, then it would be more familiar by the time it appears in the outro. Additionally - with this particular 'strings and woodwind' voice, I would omit the discordant notes after the well-resolved chord at 2:50 (and I think there were also a few at around 0:50).

    Cool track though. I enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.

    CB
  • Thanks for the feedback. You make a good point about my outro. That part would make a better bridge. Maybe I'll extend on the piece one day. 
  • edited October 2015
    Hi folks,

    I've uploaded my new song to our critique group on Soundcloud and would really value your opinions.

    Although I play in the band Drinking Bird Experiment, this is the first song where I have composed all the lyrics and music.

    I wrote the words first and then took the OP-1 with me for my stay at a friend's house in Italy for the month of September. During this time I created all the music on the OP-1.

    On return to Northern Ireland, I downloaded Plogue Alter/Ego and created the vocals - not by singing at all, but by typing the lyrics into an editor and then editing the midi notes.

    So the entire recording is 'synthetic' and the music is now a combination of our beloved OP-1, beefed out with other synths.

    My intention is to re record the bass part on bass guitar to make it a little more organic and to record the vocals with my band's female singer and male backing singer, leaving only a small amount of robotic vocals.

    I would REALLY value your views on this early demo version (the vocals have really only been added  to give a guide to the singers).

    The premise of the song is that we, as humans, are a 'broken' species who abuse the planet, other species and each other. And it's time an asteroid arrived to dispatch our species and force a re-evolution of life on earth.

    CB

    Waiting For The Asteroid
    Lyrics:

    Intro & Outro:
    Reboot, Evolve

    Verse 1 & 2:
    Empty suits in office chairs
    Serve themselves and no one cares
    Their suits will not protect them from their doom

    Adverts, lies and double-speak
    Humanity displaced by greed
    Our pockets will be emptied very soon

    Chorus:
    And we're waiting, waiting
    Waiting for the Asteroid

    Verse 3 & 4:
    Indoor kids, computer pale
    Your mummies say you cannot fail
    The Asteroid will teach you otherwise

    Prissy, zombie, Barbie wives
    Gift wrapped, self-important lives
    Luxury is a blindfold in disguise

    Chorus

    Verse 5 & 6:
    Our tropospheric ignorance
    A shooting rock in hostile space
    The cotton sky will strip away and burn

    Religions poison open minds
    The Death Ray heralds closing time
    There'll be no sharia law when we return

    Bridge:
    Its strange that we should wish this on the lives
    Of friends; their kids and wives
    But that is just the way it needs to be

    We've made a species which is not a species to be proud of
    And its time to let this species cease to be. 

    Chorus

    Outro


     





  • See above track. Would appreciate some critique. Plan is to record our girl singer next week in order to replace some of the Alter/Ego vox. Would love to have your views before and after that happens.

    Seems like our music critique club is difficult too get off the ground.

    CB
  • @josker, @Spheric_El - I really appreciated your considered reviews - could I ask you for a similar job on "Waiting For The Asteroid" please?

    Others too. I'd really appreciate the feedback.

    Here's a link to our very own operator-1 forum Music Critique Club...


    Thanks folks.
    CB
  • It was a bit out my field if awareness so I didn't comment,but thought I'd wait for others initially.
    I gotta say it sounds good with human vocals and it makes the samples stand out more and make sense .
    Also the tempo makes more sense to me now and the overall arrangement has sunk in and I understand it more proper now.I like the vocoder and pace change.Yes its a nice track.It's coz its song based that takes me out of my field of knowledge.
    I always liked the sentiment though.It made me laugh when I first read your writeup.Yes the track works and will deffo be a nice change in your bands set.
    Sorry I can't be more useful on a technical level ,but you seem to have nailed the vocals well,with appropriate double track effect,very nice voco and definition.It doesn't matter to me we don't understand everyword .We get a feel,plus it never mattered for Nirvana did it.its nice to be slightly undefined.
    Music sounded good and done its job well of pulling us along through the journey.
    Well done CB.A strong first song arrangement.
  • Yee haa! Thanks for that. Creative confidence is a difficult thing when you first start writing your own material. It's all very well playing it to people I know, however, it is very valuable for me to get candid opinions from people I don't know and who can be very honest.

    Thanks!
    CB
  • Your welcome buddy .
    Maybe we can get more submissions and comments.
    If I get my act together,I may try a submission.
    I'm still a sound cloud philistine but need to join so I can share...
  • Is it only OP1 tracks or is other instruments ok as well? If ok with other i could maybe add a couple of tracks....totally beginner style in music :P
  • No  - it's not only OP-1 tracks. Any of your own music is welcome.

    CB
  • edited November 2015
    Ok...so lets go then....here u got my first ever ever made music. Been a dj for a long time but decided that i wanted to learn how to make some own sounds...not with a goal for releasing or such., just for myself.
    gear used is Elektron Analog Four and Rytm in song mode. Recorded straight to a Zoom H6, No editing

  • i added it to the playlist of music critique club also ;)
  • Hey @Fleuw, I just had a listen to "Friday Night ToyBoxes". 

    I liked the general groove and the sounds used. It has a lot of energy :) Thumbs up. My attempts on more than one box at a time usually end up in disaster, haha.

    If I had a slight criticism, it's that it has a bit of a feel of an Elektron jam, changing patterns muting/unmuting parts, etc, albeit, quite a nice jam with some thought and planning behind it :) It would be great to get some build ups or transitions in there to make some of these changes feel more significant, eventful. I think you'll really benefit from the Op-1 for this bit (when it finally arrives ;-) ). One of my favourite things to do is to get a jam that I've done on my Elektrons, record it to two mono files on my H5 (I see you have the H6) and then transfer those onto two of the Op-1 tape tracks, one panned hard left and one panned hard right (to preserve any stereo in your jam). Then you can set the bpm of the op-1 to match your tune and layer some extra synths or whooshes, remix a bar or two to behave like a "fill" or whatever - there's loads of options there - you'll love it.

    Speaking of stereo, I think making a bit more of a feature of the stereo would be great for the track. I *think* I can hear some of that lovely A4 chorus on one of the parts, which can add some nice stereo, but perhaps something a bit more out there is needed... like lfo panning or placing some parts obviously off centre.

    If I could make a suggestion sounds-wise, the main clap sound on beats 2 and 4 feels like it could benefit from being a bit more layered or beefy in some way. If that was the synthesis part of the Analog Drum, perhaps a sample could be used to beef it up or something? An op-1 related trick I like to do for this is to record the same sound on my left and right channels, but with slightly different reverb settings. Works nicely for that offbeat clap / snare type thing and also has the benefit of getting an interesting bit of stereo in there.

    Looking forward to hearing your first output on the Op-1. Enjoy it when it arrives! Welcome to the forum, btw :)

  • edited November 2015
    Thanks! Wrote all of ur suggestion and tips down. Actually have the track still on the machines so i will try out all of the above. And i have to say that this thread is very helpful to get another view on the music you make. I like it a lot....its so easy to get a bit blind when making music and hearing it for a long period of time.
    And thanks for the welcome

    All the best to u all

  • I had a listen to your track before the vocals were added and again after.... I also "get" it now much more than before. It also sounds a lot more polished to me hearing the finished product. I have a bit of a guilty pleasure for this style of music, it's quite Italo Disco-y :) Reminds me of that whole "Charlie - Spacer Woman" thing ;)

    Anyways, I'm quite impressed with this production. The things I like are:
    - things keep moving, there are lots of different sections in quite a short time
    - all the different sounds you hear compliment each other (sample of the bloke talking, bass, synthlines and pads, vocals, vocoder)
    - it feels like a real song with verses, choruses, etc.
    - general feeling of stereo to the track
    - the chorus is dead catchy and I love the "waiting for the a-a-a-asteroid" bits 
    - that cool bit where it slows down in tempo and you get some vocoder action (the bridge)
    - not too cluttered, but fleshed out enough so that no part sounds too thin on its own

    The things that I thought about improving:
    - I can't really put my finger on it, but I think something bothers me about the kick a little bit... it feels like it needs something (although I get that it has to fit with the general feel of the song, with the right EQ-ing and it can't really take over)
    - the introduction leading into the first verse feels like it should be made into more of an event, but I'm not really sure how, perhaps I might have tried adding a stripped back single bar of beats or something
    - after the verse and chorus has happened twice in a row, it feels it needs a section to break it up a bit before the verse comes in again.... I'm wondering what it would have sounded like if the bridge was there instead of a bit later on or if you added another entirely different small section there to add some cool difference.

    All in all though, impressive stuff, sounds really polished and like a real song :)
  • Many thanks @yoof. Really appreciate your views.

    You'll love this - I have another friend who made the exact same point about the kick....

    So - what I did was..I used the technique of adding a track with a test oscillator set to 40hz, then triggered this by a noisegate sidechained to the drum track, adjusting thresholds so that it was only triggered by the kick.

    It actually was very successful. My friend said "that's EXACTLY what I wanted". However, I was surprised not to like it myself, on playing both versions back to back. I felt it moved the style away from a scientific 80s vibe toward a 2000s dance feel. Now I do like that style too, but just not for this song.

    I had myself thought of possibly putting another verse after the slow section, and may yet do that.

    The lead-in before the first verse and a small break after the second I hadn't actually thought about - but I will.

    Thanks again for your critique! I really appreciate it.

    CB
  • :-) funny that your friend had a similar comment. I see, so you added a kind of sub bass component to the kick as an experiment. Good to know you had a play with that, and fair play if you still preferred the original kick. To my ears, it sounds good during the main mix, it's just the very beginning and very end of the track where the kick is on it's own that I noticed something.
Sign In or Register to comment.