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OCR04115 - *YES* Final Fantasy 10 "A Maiden's Prayer"


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8db headroom on this one, lol. that's silly. proper compression is really, really needed on this track. there's way too much dynamic contrast overall once you get it loud enough too.

let's take a minute and talk about pronunciation, especially considering how many versions there are out there of this song for reference. there is a significant difference in how you pronounce your vowels especially as compared to every other game-audio version out there. as a whole, your e is too wide, your u is too closed, and you sit on your nonpitched consonants (like g) too long, causing them to disrupt the flow a bit. this isn't enough to make me fail it on that alone - they're still clear, your tone is nice, and i like the characterization you give it (for example, on the first syllable of 'renmiri') - but it's indicative of not a ton of time studying the source and preparing to say these words. go and check out the comments to "the place we knew" sometime and see how people react to even a really solid presentation of japanese lyrics and you'll understand why i think it's critical to really do your best to nail this for the best reception. from a technique side, focus on keeping your teeth apart and generating a round, open sound. singing with your first knuckle on each first finger a bit between your teeth from the outside (fish mouth!) and trying to keep your mouth open (maybe not quite a perfect 'O' the whole time, but as much as you can!) will dramatically improve the roundness of your tone, since it prevents you from closing up mouth and collapsing your throat. you do a much better job with support on this track than others i've heard from you, so you've definitely got the air to really make the vocals something special.

back to the arrangement: i really enjoy the attention paid to the backing track throughout. it'd be easy to write it off as minimal, but there's a lot of nuance here. plus, how often do you get to really play around with all those interesting and well-sampled percussion instruments? i liked the crotales at 2:02 especially. the pad that was added around 2:10 is nice too. i wasn't as interested in the loss of attention to the text at 2:20 however - your pronunciation was consistent until then, which matters when it's so exposed. another misstep is the flat note on the major 6th at 2:37 - that needed some lift in post (or a more confident attempt punched in).

the ending is really nice - i really liked the last "Hasatekanae". there's some resonance on the first syllable of the last word ("kutamae") causing it to spike up, but the rest is a very atmospheric and nuanced fade.

overall - the arrangement really is fun to listen to, and you do a great job in terms of pitch and flow. i wasn't a fan of the exacerbated vowels, as i mentioned, and i found your tone to be clear but tight. the performance is likely passable however if it wasn't for the mastering issues. even beyond the huge headroom, the utter lack of compression really, really hurts this track as it prevents any of the nuance from shining through without a hand on the speaker volume to allow you to hear the whole thing.

fix the mastering (which i think will require more work than a conditional would cover for rebecca) and this is above the bar. another take on the vox and this is an insta-yes from me.

 

 

NO

1/27 edit: because some other judges brought it up, i thought i'd clarify. i don't speak japanese, and i don't know the words over-well. what i do know is that many basic rules of 'how to sing letters' aren't being followed, and i found it grating. stuff like vowels being the wrong shape or dwelling on non-pitched consonants are often the result of not concentrating on a good sound and letting regional accents take over more than anything. all that said, though, i am not failing this because she isn't a classically-trained singer, although the lack of technique i felt hurt the piece. i no'd it because it's a quiet track that has zero compression and is begging for some post, and i don't think that rebecca has demonstrated enough mastering technique on her own to be able to handle it via conditional.

6/10 edit: this was brightened up considerably and the dynamic contrast isn't nearly so troublesome. the voice is probably too loud over the background right now, but this feels much more like a live performance in person and i like it. call this a YES from me.

Edited by prophetik music
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I was torn on this one on the first listen but after a couple listens more I think I'm digging this one.  The arrangement here is very, very minimal, and the centerpiece of this mix are the vocals.  This is a very risky thing to do and I've seen many mixes get rejected because the main element in a minimal mix is not strong enough  I do think the vocals are strong enough to carry the song, coupled with some short cameos from other instruments to switch things up a little.  The constant didgeridoo drone didn't get old for me, as it changed its dynamics to reflect and complement the rest of the arrangement (well, mostly the vocals here).  The vocals get a bit muddied up with all the reverb but I think they would sound a bit out of place and less dreamy otherwise.

I do have to stress once again how low the volume on this one is.  I don't know why there's so much headroom here but this is a recurring issue.  Again, we don't ask for songs (specially ones with such a calm, soothing feel) to be mastered to get the last possible ounce of headroom like an EDM mix but this is the other extreme.  I'm afraid this time I'm gonna have to ask for a fix.

Lovely arrangement, lovely vocals (I don't really take as much issue with the pronunciations as Prophetik does, if at all), and really lovely atmosphere, I think this might grow on me to be one of my favorites from Rebecca, but we need the volume raised on this one so it's not vastly different from the other mixes on the site.

EDIT:  10/06/2020 SO, the updated file is still quiet, and it's been too long since I listened to the previous version to compare but I'm not straining to hear the tracks' elements with this version.  I think the volume could be pushed a bit further without marring the ambience and soul of the track but this is ok.

YES
 

Edited by Sir_NutS
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  • Sir_NutS changed the title to 2019/03/04 - (1C/1N) Final Fantasy X "A Maiden's Prayer"
  • 1 month later...

Definitely ditto on the loudness issue.  That needs to be addressed without question.

I agree that the didge could afford to take a break, but it seemed fine to me--although if it gets louder I'm not sure that will remain true.

As for the enunciation: based on how prophetik pointed out specific lyrics, I'm guessing he either understands Japanese or knows the lyrics extremely well.  For me the enunciation was adequate, but that's because I have no idea what I'm hearing and the vocals might as well be gibberish.

Personally there's enough here for me to pass it, however, if anyone else understands the Japanese and concurs with proph that the enunciation is horrible, I'll defer to their opinion.

YES/Conditional (on mastering and no further concerns about enunciation)

Update 7/1/2020: That'll do.

YES

Edited by MindWanderer
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Honestly, I like the backing here.  It compliments your vocals well, adds to the mysterious feel, and - low volume aside - have all been well mixed together.  The varying dynamics and tasteful use of sporadic percussion allowed this idea to flow naturally and is one of the better ways I've seen you handle such minimal backing.

Alas, as others have pointed out, the vocals are the centerpiece behind the arrangement.  They're carrying the source, and indeed you've handled it in such an intriguing way - changing up the melody between variations while keeping the minimal lyrics.  But it still has a crucial flaw like another submission I assessed in a similar style.  The vocals are heavy in mud and reverb to the point it overrode the rest of the instrumentation and over-softened the consonants.  Vocal clarity is key to carry this forward, so consider rolling off some of the lowest of your low mids and add a touch more emphasis onto the mid-highs to give your vocals more attack.

After listening to the diction in its current form, though, it's clear that the accent ended up misshaping a portion of those vowels as stated.  Japanese vowels don't shift as much as in English, which is why they have a stiff sound to them.  Consider practicing those AEIOUs - "aah, eh, ee, oh, ooh" - and see if you can sustain them for as long as possible.  Your expression otherwise is lovely and delicate, which fits well to such experimental ambient work - so I hope this will take you the extra mile.

All in all, this track isn't quite ready for me.  The low mastering is one thing, but the vocals not getting mixed in properly is another.  Whether you decide to record a new take based on our diction critique or keep this one, I would appreciate hearing a new version with significantly more clarity and cleanness on your voice.  Please, Rebecca, keep at your craft.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Rexy changed the title to 2019/03/04 - (2C/2N) Final Fantasy X "A Maiden's Prayer"
  • 2 weeks later...

This is a tough one. Definitely going to agree on the overall volume like others have mentioned. I also agree that the pronunciation doesn't bother me too much, but Brad really has some great tips on how to improve singing technique overall (some of which I need to do more myself!), so do take those tips to heart as they will help improve your tone regardless of what you are singing.

Something I was somewhat surprised didn't come up before was the arrangement and straying from the source material. Most of the time I really enjoyed the variations you added, but towards the end especially I felt like you were shifting too far away from the melody for too long without an "anchor" to pull you back in. I'd say that it doesn't go too far in the end, but I'd argue it is close in terms of our arrangement standards. It's especially more pronounced due to how minimalistic the track is, where a backing chord progression might help keep the arrangement grounded in the original. In the end I do think the arrangement works, but I'd consider coming back to the melodies a little sooner at times in the future. 

I think the volume is the biggest issue here, and I'd like to see that get fixed up here.

NO (resubmit)

7/1/20 - Is loudened, we good. YES

Edited by DragonAvenger
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  • DragonAvenger changed the title to 2019/03/04 - (2C/3N) Final Fantasy X "A Maiden's Prayer"

Wow prophetik gave some uber-specific advice on the vocals!  Knowing nothing about the issues he brought up, I hear no problems with the enunciation.  I suspect casual listeners will not discern any issues either.  Rebecca you've GOT to start doing some proper mastering.  PLEASE.  Gotta give a conditional for 8db of headroom. Other than that, I dig this.

edit 7/1/20:  Lowder = gooder

YES 

Edited by Chimpazilla
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  • Chimpazilla changed the title to 2019/03/04 - (3C/3N) Final Fantasy X "A Maiden's Prayer"

Conditional on volume, baby! But otherwise YES. Cool arrangement with the focus on the vocals; dug the textures surrounding them. :-) Enunciation didn't bother me.

EDIT (6/10): Volume boosted. Vote boosted.

YES

Edited by Liontamer
updated vote from YES (conditional) to YES
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2019/03/04 - (4C/3N) Final Fantasy 10 "A Maiden's Prayer"
  • 2 weeks later...

Enjoyed the sitar intro. Vocals sound decent and complement the track well. The backing instruments while minimal over the course of the track, do provide enough atmosphere.  There are a number of times during the mid point that I thought things were going to pick up, but the mood stays mostly the same. Nothing wrong with this but I imagined this going further. I think the interpretation of the original is well done here. For the sake of consistency, I would agree with the others that we need volumes sorted out. But otherwise I’m happy.

YES (but can we get those volumes up)

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  • 1 month later...

Wow, this is definitely a difficult style to pull off.  I don't think I'd ever be brave enough to try something like this with the vocals so exposed.  I think overall, the vocal performance is well executed- though it may have some points of improvement in the performance pointed out above, which is outside of my wheelhouse.  I did notice several instances of slight popping when the vocals were playing, which may indicate an issue with the recording setup.

Other than that, I'm never in doubt of what is being remixed here throughout, though definitely exhibiting your own style.  The minimalist instrumentation works, mainly I think because of the interest brought from the vocal performance.  I won't beat a dead horse on the volume, so fix that up!

YES

edit: volume fixed, switched to yes

Edited by Nutritious
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  • Nutritious changed the title to 2019/03/04 - (6C/3N) Final Fantasy 10 "A Maiden's Prayer"

Rebecca has updated the audio with a volume bump.  I still stand by my no vote based on the vocal mixing, but those with conditionals and other no votes based on the initial mastering are welcome to revisit their decisions.

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  • Liontamer changed the title to OCR04115 - *YES* Final Fantasy 10 "A Maiden's Prayer"
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