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*NO* Wave Race 64 "Follow That Dolphin!"

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ReMixer name: Reuben Spiers
Real Name: Reuben Spiers
Submission Information
Game: Wave Race 64
Name of Arrangement: Follow that Dolphin!
Name of Original Song: Dolphin Park
Featuring TSori on trumpet, JammingInMyJammies on lead guitar, SubversiveAsset on Sax, and myself on acoustic guitar, bass and accordion :D
Edited by prophetik music
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  • 2 months later...

The arrangement and level of personalization in the re-instrumentation, new part-writing, and performances were easy passes, so no issues there. Cool source tune choice as well. Everything holding this back seemed to be on the production and performance sides.

The mixing of the bass from :01-:1:09 made that part mostly sound like indistinct droning, which was a huge disappointment. Not sure if that can be fixed with mixing tweaks or if it would need re-recording, but hopefully another J can better clarify the issue there.

Accordion brought in at :35 was flat and unexpressive (a regular complaint re: your accordion, Reu), and that overly tight timing doesn't mesh at all with the flow of subversiveasset's sax. The sax work was OK overall, yet lacked some power and control  -- prophetik as a sax player could better speak to that -- but I still it should have been mixed more upfront based on the role it had. I really wanted to like the interplay between the sax and TSori's trumpet from :52-1:10 more, because the idea is great, but the sax should have been more prominent than the trumpet, IMO; right now, you're not getting that synergy. The drumming also sounded relatively flat, even though it's a decent sound.

I hate to say it, but JammingInMyJammies' guitar work in the back sounded like flat and unexpressive noodling and was an even bigger mismatch from 1:26-1:49; I'm not trying to be an asshole, but it sure as hell doesn't fit with the other parts. In genuine seriousness, Reuben, did you run the finished track by the collaborators and no one had feedback? Or was it not run by them?

The tone of what I'm saying doesn't and can't translate over text, so let me be as clear as I can be: I'm not being patronizing or facetious, and I'm NOT trying to needle you or put you all down with my comments. I'm sincerely wanting to know what happened here, because, Reu, you're SUCH a talented arranger -- still learning and growing in your craft, of course -- but there are some very legitimate holes here that are holding this back from being as strong and cohesive as intended. I say this to artists all the time, but I can see you looking back on this in 5 years and recognizing a lot more of what's not clicking.

This is a great concept, you folks are all talented, and I really want to see this posted in some form. But the performance and mixing issues need to be tightened up to a meaningful extent before I could get behind this. Please don't be discouraged, and I hate to be this critical and come across as if I somehow dislike you guys, but there is a lot of unrealized potential here.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2019/11/30 - (1N) Wave Race 64 "Follow That Dolphin!"

I really like this laid-back concept, and the instrumentation ideas are great.  But I hear what Larry is nagging about.  Your instruments are not mixed or balanced well nor are they placed well in the soundscape.  I hear your lead instruments way in the back instead of the front, and what does find it's way to the front are your acoustic guitar and accordion, which should clearly be in the back.  Even though those elements are wide-panned, they are too loud and dry and they are totally drowning out the leads that you have more centered.  (This wide placement is fine, it's the levels and mixing of those elements that isn't working)  At the same time, all instruments feel like they occupy the same space sonically; almost everything is in the same frequency range so it sort of mushes together.  The bass doesn't sound as bad to me as it does to Larry, but it does sound a little indistinct to me, and when it plays higher notes it sticks out uncomfortably.  I think this is all down to mixing.  I recommend a complete re-balancing the levels of this track, for starters.  Backing elements have got to be quieter than leads.  Also, use reverb with varying predelays to indicate which instruments are closer to the front.  Make sure to eq everything below 150-200Hz completely out of every element that isn't kick or bass, this is probably why the low end sounds so indistinct to me, there are too many frequencies competing in the lows, creating mush.  Like Larry, I'm sorry to sound so negative, because this really is a very cute concept and the performances are mostly good, but at this point the production just isn't getting the job done.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Chimpazilla changed the title to 2019/11/30 - (2N) Wave Race 64 "Follow That Dolphin!"

jaunty little tune here - i think everyone who had an n64 played this at least a few times.

so from an arrangement perspective, this is fine. there's a bunch of fun variation, it's recognizably WR64 still, and while it's a bit repetitive near the end, conceptually it's fun. there's some significant performance issues here that could be easily fixed up, although some might need a re-record to be really there. from a mastering perspective this needs a lot of work. so let's look at this from a resubmission standpoint.

/edit: i wrote a bunch about the drums assuming they were live. rexy told me they weren't, so i'll update what i said and removing the advice about recording, since it's irrelevant.

right off the bat, the drums feel very flat. the lack of a present kick was an issue to me, along with the very ringy, loud cymbals over the top. kit volumization and EQing is hard to do even if you've got a really standard band to accompany, so in a more sparse aural situation like this you're going to need to do some seriously careful notching of EQs to make sure that you get a snare sound that's still bright and springy without allowing it to be all snap and no body. same with your kick drum - even if you just want beater and no bass tone, you'll want to make sure that your implementation is such that you still get a clear tone that fits in the mix without being as nonexistent as it is here. the toms sound pretty good, the hats when they're used sound fine, and the snare is real dry which isn't my preference but i can see being yours, but the cymbals definitely come through very loud and the kick is essentially not there.

/end edit.

so next up is the bass. your bass tone is pretty consistent - guessing it's compressed in the initial chain itself? i agree that it's a very treble-light tone, and that lends to making it harder to hear. personally when i play i prefer a brighter tone so that i get more of the finger/string sound, and i find that actually fits better into a soundscape than the bass-only tone you've got going on here since it makes it easier to understand what the bass is playing. i didn't mind the higher parts, either. in terms of what it's playing, i like your rhythms, but i'd definitely stay away from playing pentatonic scales in a song that's very firmly in major. pentatonic scales feature a flat third and flat seventh - both of which do exist in a major song, but both are going to sound weird often. the first lick you play (5 4 b3 1---) is a great example of this. you're playing a minor third (G natural) against the IV chord (A major). that's gonna sound weird no matter what, since A major doesn't have a G natural in it. this comes up numerous times, but in general if you're playing in E like this song is in, don't play G naturals or D naturals unless you're borrowing chords and those are the roots (or like what you're doing at 1:10, which makes sense to have the D since it's a walking line). the whole section from 0:26 to 0:35 shows that you've got the ear to stick it for sure, so it's just a matter of changing how you're listening to the rest of the parts and fitting into them.

same with the guitar leads that come in later - they're almost wholly in pentatonic scales, and it sounds very wrong next to all those nice normal major chords. it works when soloing next to power chords in a rock song but not where the individual pitches are so clearly laid out like this track. it's a fun solo and i like the concept, but you can't call a G natural next to an E major chord anything but a wrong note.

the part writing for the trumpets was real fun, and i liked the interplay. there's some EQing and especially volumization that could be done to make it so that they're a little more balanced without their dynamics fluctuating so much between solo and ensemble play, but they're well-performed and fun to listen to.

for the sax parts, i liked what was being played throughout. several of the little bits and bobs you popped in throughout add a lot of character, so that's really fun. there's several times where your vibrato gets wide enough that pitch was lost, and that's usually a result of not tuning with the embouchure you're going to use when playing, concert E is a hard key for the alto since there's so many notes that don't sit in-tune that are in that key, but a more controlled vibrato would do wonders for making your tone have a more full core.

so that's a ton of words. ultimately i think this is a fun ditty. it has a peppy feel that drives it forward, and while the track does feel a bit repetitive by the end since it's mostly the same idea twice, it's still something i'd like to listen to again. i think that there's so many little things that'd really improve the overall feel from a performance standpoint. i also think there's a ton of mastering techniques that can be used to really make this have that professional sparkle to the sound without requiring professional gear or a special room to get it. you've got the arrangement chops to make this work - now just go back and make those revisions that will make this track take another step, and we'll go from there.




Edited by prophetik music
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