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Advance Wars Days of Ruin "Steel plated goddess"

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Hi all,

I've been tweaking this song for a few weeks now, any feedback is appreciated, use the form below if you'd like. It's a slow heavy metal remix of Tasha's theme from Advance Wars. 


[ ] Too conservative - sticks too close to the source
[ ] Too liberal - not enough connections to the source (too much original writing, source connections not identifiable enough)
[ ] Too much direct sampling from original game audio
[ ] Borrows heavily from non-source material (e.g. mainstream music, classical music, movie theme)

[ ] Too loud
[ ] Too quiet
[ ] Low-quality samples
[ ] Unrealistic sequencing (particularly acoustic instrumentation, e.g. notes use the same velocities, mechanical timing)
[ ] Generic/cliche sound choices
[ ] Drums have no energy
[ ] Overcompressed (pumping/no dynamics)
[ ] Mixing is muddy (e.g. too many sounds in bass, middle or treble)

PERFORMANCE (live recorded audio/MIDI parts)
[ ] Timing not tight enough
[ ] Wrong notes, general sloppiness
[ ] Poorly recorded
[ ] Bad intonation

[ ] Lacks coherence overall (doesn't "flow" enough)
[ ] Not enough changes in sounds (e.g. static texture, not dynamic enough)
[ ] Pace too plodding
[ ] Too repetitive
[ ] Too short
[ ] Abrupt ending

[ ] Creative arrangement ideas
[ ] Good production quality
[ ] Good live performances
[ ] Instrument choices
[ ] Improvement from previous submission(s)
[ ] Source tune choice(s)

PERSONAL COMMENTS (positive feedback, specifics on checklist criticisms, any other thoughts)
[write here]

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Sorry it's taken a while

I think the composition is pretty great, though it took a while for me to discern how all of it was related to the source; some of it just sounded like geetar wanking, like the section at 0:33, but now I definitely see how it is related to the source; you accent the notes from the source, and I think it's pretty clever to embellish it like that, though you might also want to find a way to make it more immediately obvious. One thing that bugs me about the arrangement is the "riff" (the one that is first introduced in 0:23). There is nothing wrong with the riff inherently; I can hear how it loosely relates to the source, but it doesn't stand on it's own in terms of substantially referencing the original, nor does it stand alone musically (The bass fills really help, but it is otherwise compositionally dry). Again nothing inherently wrong with that, and I only have a problem with those things when it comes in at :55. I think throughout, the use of source needs to be considered more; while it isn't too much of a stretch to hear the source, you might want to lead the listener more in the direction of hearing it. If it were me, I'd think a good solution to my gripes at :55 would be to add guitar or bass guitar doing some kind of G F# Eb D motion to relate it back to the source more; honestly I think it would be appropriate to do more bass in that section by playing G F# Eb D (Or maybe more likely D C# Bb A or who knows some other transposition might sound cool as well) in some way and then finishing off with the bass fill parts you already have, but that's just me. Also, it would be cool if you found a way to make 1:16 happen again; it's a really nice contrast to the rest of the track and just cool in general. Maybe instead of going into the solo at 1:37 you could find some way to iterate on the material a bit more in a way that doesn't seem too repetitive and then have 1:16 come back after some time so that we get to hear it again, then the track would progress like normal after that.

By the way this guitar playing is just really good. Maybe I'm rating you too highly because I just suck at guitar, but seriously I really like your playing on this track. 2:51 is so sick that it sent me to the emergency room (in a good way!).

For the wall of text that I wrote about the composition, I still think it is great, and I think where this track needs the most work is on the production side of things. The reason I wrote so much about composition is because I'm better at that, but production isn't my strong-suit, and hopefully someone else will come along and drop some knowledge for us (and hopefully contradict some of the stupid stuff I'm about to say). I can share what little advice I have though. I'd say that you should usually take absolutely everything I say with a grain of salt, but especially when it comes to production just feel free to ignore what I'm saying.

I don't think that this mix really has any big clarity issues, so that is a great starting point! I think my only possible gripe on that would be that I want to hear more bass, maybe crank up a little more distortion so that we get more harmonics, or maybe it can be fixed with a little bit of subtle EQ.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjRzsiP_aDWWLHV4-2LKBtg BTW this guy is great for learning mixing. He tends to just use Rock and Praise & Worship stuff as examples, but I do Eurobeat and I feel like I've learned a ton from him regardless of genre; he's just a good teacher. He's recently done two very nice series on his channel, one on EQ and one on Compression.
And finally, one of the biggest things I think this mix needs is some work on the drums. The drums especially are really dry, so some reverb would definitely help. Again keep in mind that mixing isn't my strong suit, but I think it might also be appropriate to use compression to change especially the snare; it needs more OOMPH. I'd probably start off with a compressor on the snare track by setting a non-instant but rather fast attack, a moderate release (probably faster for how the snare is played in some parts of this song), 3:1 ratio, a threshold where I get a few dB in reduction from compression, and a few dB on the makeup gain so that the snare is around the same average volume as it was before. If I am remembering correctly what this will do the sound and I'm not just being silly, then this should make it sound bigger without it just being louder and possibly clipping. I'd tweak settings from there to experiment and see if it is making my song sound better. Make sure you don't fall into the trap where the makeup gain isn't just making it louder because louder sounds better.

Hopefully some of that can help! Good luck with the tweaking and keep up the good playing.

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@Overkillius thanks for the feedback! I admit, it is a very simplistic riff, I was trying to keep the rhythm guitar as close to the source material as possible with some liberties, since the original riff was simplistic itself. I'm going to play around with having the bass perform that  D C# Bb A piece that you suggested for 0:55. As for the clean guitar part, I'll have to do some extensive messing with that because my original goal was to have a brief moment of peace before returning to the original dirtier style of the song. I don't want to end up with drawing that part out too long to the point that it sticks out too much but I'll try to give it some more time. As for mixing, I'll take a look at that guy's tutorials. So far, my issue with mixing is that I don't seem to be particularly good at noticing subtleties in changes so I end up finding myself feeling like I'm chasing a carrot that I can never catch since it all ends up sounding the same to me. Hopefully the tutorials will help. Anyway, thanks a bunch for the extensive feedback, I really appreciate it!

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11 hours ago, Furorezu said:

I don't seem to be particularly good at noticing subtleties in changes so I end up finding myself feeling like I'm chasing a carrot that I can never catch since it all ends up sounding the same to me.

I hear you! I have the same issue constantly. It only barely makes any sense to me.

The best thing you can do to mix is to use references. Pick a kinda similar song, even if it is a different genre. The subtleties will stand out more and you can use your knowledge on how compression and EQ works and even just moving your faders to make the mix sound similar.

If it were me I'd look at this song as a reference (don't be afraid to use more. Three songs similar to yours but different from eachother that you like the sound of is a pretty thorough way to do it)

Just by comparing the two mixes side by side I see a lot of possible ways to go. Also mixing with guitar and drums would appear now to be way harder than I expected ehehe. This isn't really an instant gratification technique since you really have to understand how the tools in your kit (EQ Compression Reverb etc.) work to get the general sound to match closer (which is what tutorials can be good for). Good luck!

The way I'd do it is to put a song or a few songs like this (or something you like the sound of better) in your DAW and switch between your track and your reference.

Also using several different speakers/headphones is another way to enhance the reference song process. For example, I'm working on a Eurobeat song right now and I thought I had the kick sounding pretty good on my mixing headphones! I even used a reference. When I went to my smart phone and listened to my mix, I couldn't hear the kick and I wondered if that was just a speaker problem or a mix problem, so I pulled up a DJ Command mix; I was in pain at how well I could hear his kick in the mix on my phone speaker compared to my track.

I'm not necessarily saying that you have to optimize your mix to be heard on apple earbuds and phone speakers, but using different audio hardware whether it is expensive monitors or a crummy phone speaker can give you insights into what your mix actually sounds like if you use references. I'm thinking the difference I heard is that the kick on DJ Command mixes has more mids compared to my kick, but I guess I'll figure that out next time I sit down with my DAW.

Again references are probably the best thing you can do as far as production goes. You might even want to ignore everything I said in my previous post and just reference professional mixes. (maybe I should reference professional mixes when I give feedback hmm...)

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12 hours ago, Furorezu said:

 As for the clean guitar part, I'll have to do some extensive messing with that because my original goal was to have a brief moment of peace before returning to the original dirtier style of the song.

Oh. I think I didn't communicate very well when I was talking about the clean guitar part.

I think it is awesome and works well as a brief moment of peace, I don't think you should extend the clean guitar part.

I was suggesting that the form of the song allow that brief moment of peace to happen a second time at some completely different time in the song, because I thought that the section worked really well and it could be effective in other parts of the song too. That's just me tho.


Most importantly

On 11/29/2016 at 3:59 PM, Overkillius said:

2:51 is so sick that it sent me to the emergency room (in a good way!).

A better version of this might be

"2:51 is so sick that I missed a whole week of classes"

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