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Darkish Dance Beat

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I've been a long time-ish lurker, and honestly have fallen WAY too far out of making music frequently and getting comments and all that wonderful, soul-crushing stuff. So I'm gonna drop into it, not think about it too much.

This song is a couple of years old, but I would argue my knowledge hasn't progressed too much since then, so please comment on anything you can think of with this song, from mixing & mastering, to composition and structure.

I feel my biggest weakness has to be composition and arrangements, because I always find my songs a little more sonically boring than ones I love and hold dear. I have a very rudimentary and experimental understanding of music theory and the real meat and bones of composition, most of my knowledge comes from just doing it. Any criticism is welcome, and I really want to learn way more than I know now. 




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Hey man, here are some of my main thoughts on this:

  • The main squelchy synth doesn't really change its pattern much. It keeps the same rhythm throughout for the most part until, for instance, 1:44. It could have more variation in its rhythm (and consequently what's going on around it can as well).
  • The delayed lead that came in at 0:17 is a little pitchy at 0:32. It's as if you slightly moved the pitch wheel and too slowly, which makes the sound appear as if it were itself "nauseous". (Minor details like that are pretty important in the big picture if they happen several times.)
  • The lead sequence at 1:08 - 1:25 was a bit noodly/rambly/random in melodic contour.
  • I liked the break at 1:44, but the rising distorted lead (which is too piercing in the upper treble; try a mild low pass) overstayed its welcome for me since it mostly sustains and wiggles a bit. I thought it was going to be a riser to go somewhere, but instead it just led to a complete stop... that starts up again after too long of a silent gap, IMO.

Your vocals are pretty good though.

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Thanks Timaeus! A lot of your critiques are very helpful, but I am glad you like the vocals. That one I just figured out eventually and learned how to layer a bit (but it was pretty awful before). 

To me, your points bring up one of my major flaws: lack of variation, and complexity, especially in composition, structure, and arrangement. I also have started to notice I can be negligent of mixing in a... less irritating way. 

Most of my songs are made in a heavily "improvised" manner, I play most of the bits myself on a small keyboard (like 2 octaves, its ridiculous, I should get a better one sometime) and because of that I think I end up repeating the same rhythms, contours, and basically the same bag of tricks over and over. 

My plan is to get a heavier focus on composition, going to pen and paper music notation before making a track, and learning a lot more about music theory wherever I can. 


Thanks for your help!

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This is not really my type of music, so I can't really judge the track itself, but as a casual listener I have to say that I have heard something very similar a lot of times. Lacking originality might be a problem of referencing and isolating yourself in what you like and know. There's a good video about this problem in Hollywood action blockbusters that may or may not be your case: 


I had a similar situation two weeks ago: 

For gaming school project one each student had to come up with a plot for a game. Nothing big, just 3-5 pages. Most students had problems, some couldn't even think about something that was a screaming cliché. I turned in a 13 page plot and apologized to the teacher for only having the backbone due to time constraints. They were surprised and asked me how did I do it. I just told them that I had a lot of references (at least 20 book plot points and arguments, from children's book to hard philosophy, a life long of JRPGs, movies, TV shows, cartoons, animes and tabletop RPGs to get stories from).


Try listening to different stuff from different people's recommendations, even if you don't like it. I forced myself to sit down and listen to Bieber and 1D once just to see if I could figure out why they are so successful (turns out they aren't really as shit as people make them sound and can actually sing). This week I'm going with classical composer Tarrega and before that I was having a go at jazz. And before that I had a full Fury Road OST appreciation week.


If you are lazy or has time constraint, I recommend a shock theraphy of mathrock/mathmetal to forget whatever you think you know about music:





And this is just the tip of the weird stuff. Do PM me if you want some weird stuff to listen to.

If you really don't want to go beyond your comfort zone, last option would be listening to remixes of stuff you already like and find out which remixes you dig and which are totally unbearable. This way you can find out what makes the track unique for you and can try working from remixes from that and before you see it, it has become something else.


As far as composing goes, I usually feel more comfortable with an audio editor finding the notes and rhythm at random than writing it on paper. But this might be just me. Good luck. :)

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14 hours ago, FTCosta said:


Okay, I'm sorry, but I've been here for quite some time and this is the most insane feedback I have ever seen on any music forum anywhere.

Whether you find his track "cliche" or not is completely irrelevant to making a quality track and in dance music in general, there are very specific basslines, sounds etc. that define the sub-genre in question and as such listeners expect to hear them and they also play to timbres strength. 

You actually recommend he undergo shock therapy to be "forget whatever he knows about music". For real? I don't know what you're smoking, but pass some of that this way.


Here's a few problems:

• The bass synth is pretty cheesy. See if you can find or create a deeper sound with a bit more sustain.

• Timaeus talks about the lack of melodic contour. This can be solved by having using strong voice leading in your lines and correct utilization of non-chord tones. Here is a good list of the types of non-chord tones that create dissonance and how to resolve them.

• The lead synths sit above your voice, playing a different melody and this is a problem because our ear is naturally most perceptive to the highest frequency in the piece. As such, it's easy to lose focus of your voice and just start listening to the synth.

• Past the 1 minute mark, you have these low organ-sounding chords going on at the same time as that high synth, creating significant gap. Further regarding overtones, that synth is voiced considerably higher than your singing voice and organish patch. As harmonies are played lower, they should be spread out farther apart; as they go higher in pitch, they should be closer together.

You have a great voice, though! Keep it up man!

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