Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

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Highway Man
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Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby Highway Man » Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:28 am

I've been working on a few projects as of late, and this one is a bit personal to me - first of all, it's for a game that I've wanted to make for a long time, and second, I've had to re-do it three times, for both satisfactory and technical reasons. I've finished the first 5 songs - a title theme, a file select screen, a town theme, a map theme, and a battle theme. My favorite is the battle theme, I think I did well with the time signatures. It starts out in 6/8, then switches to 4/4, then to 6/8 for the chorus, then to 7/8, then back to 6/8 for the final chorus, making a song that is 5+ minutes long.
Is there anything I can improve? And if so, how? I would love to make this project as good as it can be.
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Ein Bond im Wandel der zeiten.ftm
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MiniMacro
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby MiniMacro » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:49 pm

Nice job. It sounds a lot like European NES games. I assume that's what you're going for, what with the arps and stuff.
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby retrodpc » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:38 am

Musically, this entire OST very lacking in progression/movement. Length is not always a good thing. This feels very drawn out and uninteresting, as if I were repeatedly playing the same progression over and over and trying to improvise on top of it. A good piece that is long will keep the listener's attention throughout, through such things as tempo change, chord change, transitions, etc. I certainly do not recommend trying to write one long piece, though; rather, it is better, in my opinion, to write many varied pieces in order to acquaint oneself with a variety of compositional styles. I recommend using chords other than the basic i/iv/V in more tense sections to draw attention.

As in technique, I find the static volume values in the slower pieces very grating. An addition of volume decay and attack would be nice to hear. I cannot say much about technique, since honestly I do not wish to listen to this again to hear exactly what needs improvement.
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby Threxx » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:41 am

The sound design is quite a good, and you definitely know how to balance the channels and get good sound out of the tracker.

However, the composition in all of the songs, quite frankly, is boring. The chord progressions are absolutely static and go nowhere, and the lack of change in the countermelodies, bass, and percussion just makes for a repetitive, uninteresting experience. Honestly if I had to liken this to anything, it is reminiscent of how ZUN often overuses the same phrase in his compositions, except these songs do not even feature key modulations to give any sort of variation to the listener's ear.

You should look into improving your composition and theory knowledge. Vary your chord progressions and rhythms more. If you're repeating this many patterns, your song is probably too repetitive, as a good rule of thumb.

I see dpc has ninja'd me in my critique of the composition. I guess that only serves to solidify the critique.
Last edited by Threxx on Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby PostApocolyptica » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:43 am

Contrary to popular belief, length is not always a bragging point.

Each track in this module is very repetitive. There are a number of phrases that compliment each other well, but the fact that they are largely just transposed and repeated twice does not do much to help the flow of the pieces. Pulse 2, Triangle, Noise, and DPCM - for the most part - idly accompany Pulse 1, repeating the same frame dozens of times. Chord progressions are largely static, and some melodies are almost wholly stagnant. The structure of #5 especially is somewhat noteworthy; as much as I enjoy 7/8 (it is the best time signature), each section that has a different time signature is either connected poorly to the preceding section, or not at all. As a result of the repetition, the 5+ minute length is rather taxing - this is coming from someone who listens to progressive rock!

Most tracks in this module could be improved a great deal by removing a lot of the repetitions and transpositions. Imagine your game. Are players going to spend 5+ minutes fighting a boss? Are they going to spend 2 or 3 minutes in a village? Try and understand the context of each piece. Write thematic, memorable pieces that are long enough to be substantial, but not long enough to the point where listening to the entire piece once is a Herculean feat.

EDIT: It appears the other users in this thread are more or less of the same mind.
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby Shywolf » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:59 am

The sound design is good. I didn't really hear any discordance. The songs seem fitting enough for their "roles" (e.g. Town theme wouldn't be out of place in a town, etc). Some of the melodies are memorable (track 5's, especially).

But this was an exhausting OST to listen through, and that's only exacerbated by the fact that this seems to be meant for an RPG. Please try to add more variation in things like the percussion and bass patterns, let alone the chord progressions and the melodies themselves. (So, basically my thoughts are more or less the same as the last three posters' thoughts.) Similarly, the 03 instrument that accompanies the DPCM snare really grated on my ears after a while.

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Highway Man
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby Highway Man » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:20 am

Shywolf wrote:The sound design is good. I didn't really hear any discordance. The songs seem fitting enough for their "roles" (e.g. Town theme wouldn't be out of place in a town, etc). Some of the melodies are memorable (track 5's, especially).

But this was an exhausting OST to listen through, and that's only exacerbated by the fact that this seems to be meant for an RPG. Please try to add more variation in things like the percussion and bass patterns, let alone the chord progressions and the melodies themselves. (So, basically my thoughts are more or less the same as the last three posters' thoughts.) Similarly, the 03 instrument that accompanies the DPCM snare really grated on my ears after a while.

That's a good point, it's something that I've been trying to work on.
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Highway Man
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby Highway Man » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:24 am

One thing that I'm seeing is that alot of people find the songs a bit repetitive, which is something I'm trying to work on. I'm guessing I'm trying a bit too much to be like alot of C64 composers, who like their songs to be multiple minutes long (eg Rob Hubbard with his 8-minute long Nemisis theme) so I guess I shouldn't try to stress length too much. Another problem is that I write a tune, and it turns out far longer than I think it will be - one particualr example that I can think of is in a previous version, where a theme I wrote to be 4 minutes turned out to be over 7 - which is more than a small issue. Definitely something I need to work on.
Thanks for the feedback so far!
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Ralph99
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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby Ralph99 » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:48 pm

I think that this is indeed a very good soundtrack!
The only complain that i have is the very repetitive patterns: the melodies should be more vary.
Otherwise, keep this project up! :)

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Re: Working on an OST - Constructive Criticism wanted!

Postby HertzDevil » Sat Sep 19, 2015 6:20 am

During the loop in #1 everything except Pulse 1 can be represented by 32 rows. Avoid this.

Taking looping into account, #2 consists of 4 consecutive frames of chords followed by fewer frames of melody. Avoid this too.

#3 is fine; the actual song only lasts for 16 frames (102.4 s), and this is long enough for a town theme. The remaining frames simply repeat the entire song, rather than reusing parts of the song in an attempt to prolong it. This kind of structure is usually harmless. Be careful about the Pulse 2 / Triangle mismatch in pattern 01, rows 18-2F.

The key change at the end of #4 is pretty much the only part that stands out in that track. Could use that a little bit more instead of repeating the same broken chord on Pulse 1 for over 100 times, as even video game music which are that long rarely loop the same phrase for over 100 times.

In #5, using a single percussion roll to switch between time signatures is a bad idea especially if there is no accompanying melody; in particular, constructions like frames 18-1D make the entire track sound like a bunch of short, disconnected songs:

Code: Select all

ORDER 00 : 00 00 00 00 00    ; delimiter
ORDER 01 : 01 01 01 01 01
ORDER 02 : 02 01 01 01 01
ORDER 03 : 01 01 01 01 01
ORDER 04 : 02 01 01 01 01
ORDER 05 : 03 01 01 01 01
ORDER 06 : 04 01 01 01 01
ORDER 07 : 03 01 01 01 01
ORDER 08 : 04 01 01 01 01
ORDER 09 : 05 01 01 01 01
ORDER 0A : 06 01 01 01 01
ORDER 0B : 07 01 01 01 01
ORDER 0C : 08 01 01 01 01    ; nothing wrong if going back to frame 01 here, 77.8 s
ORDER 0D : 00 00 00 00 00    ; delimiter
ORDER 0E : 09 02 02 02 02
ORDER 0F : 0A 02 02 02 02
ORDER 10 : 09 02 02 02 02
ORDER 11 : 0A 02 02 02 02
ORDER 12 : 0B 02 02 02 02
ORDER 13 : 0C 02 02 02 02
ORDER 14 : 0B 02 02 02 02
ORDER 15 : 0C 02 02 02 02    ; nothing wrong if going back to frame 0E here, 69.3 s
ORDER 16 : 09 02 02 02 02    ; reused
ORDER 17 : 0A 02 02 02 02    ; reused
ORDER 18 : 00 00 00 00 00    ; delimiter
ORDER 19 : 05 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 1A : 06 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 1B : 07 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 1C : 08 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 1D : 00 00 00 00 00    ; delimiter
ORDER 1E : 0D 03 03 03 03
ORDER 1F : 0E 03 03 03 03
ORDER 20 : 0D 03 03 03 03
ORDER 21 : 0E 03 03 03 03
ORDER 22 : 0F 04 04 04 04
ORDER 23 : 10 05 05 05 05
ORDER 24 : 11 03 03 03 03
ORDER 25 : 12 03 03 03 03
ORDER 26 : 14 03 03 03 03
ORDER 27 : 13 03 03 03 03    ; nothing wrong if going back to frame 1E here, 68.2 s
ORDER 28 : 0D 03 03 03 03    ; reused
ORDER 29 : 0E 03 03 03 03    ; reused
ORDER 2A : 0F 04 04 04 04    ; reused
ORDER 2B : 10 04 04 04 04    ; reused
ORDER 2C : 01 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 2D : 02 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 2E : 03 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 2F : 04 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 30 : 05 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 31 : 06 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 32 : 07 01 01 01 01    ; reused
ORDER 33 : 08 01 01 01 01    ; reused
The melody does not begin until after 26.6 seconds of playing the same chord, and in the context of a RPG battle theme this is extremely dangerous because the victory fanfare can and certainly will overshadow the battle theme if a skill player grinds for several hours, who will not even get to hear the second and third "sub-songs".

Structure and organization are not the same thing as repetition; please try to reduce your pattern length to 32 rows, or rewrite them in MML with nested loops, to get a better idea of how much reused content you have employed.
refactoring 0cc-famitracker