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*NO* Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"


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  • Name of game(s) arranged: Undertale
  • Name of arrangement: Everyone Craves (Death By Glamour)
  • Name of individual song(s) arranged: Last Episode!, Death By Glamour
  • Link to the original soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TgO-tN5wAM
  • Your own comments about the mix:
    • This is part of a full orchestral/progressive rock reimagining of the Undertale soundtrack that I wrote over the course of five years. For Death by Glamour, I wanted to write a version that fit Mettaton's character as well as I could manage, and settled on making it a love letter to some of my favourite kinds of music: extremely flambouyant progressive rock, glam rock, and those incredibly skilled, showboaty solo guitarists who never play a song the same way twice when they play it live. Specific influences include The Night Flight Orchestra, Gov't Mule, An Endless Sporadic, Jim Steinman, Santana, and Joe Satriani.
    • Note about the arrangement title: The title is intended to be read as a coherent sentence (as in "death by glamour is something that everyone craves"), rather than tacking the original song's title on the end of mine to get views. It was intended to deliberately sound like a pseudophilisophical statement while actually being meaningless. ❤️
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The track opened up very similar to the original track, but it's near-7 minutes, so there's lots of runway to play with in terms of getting more interpretive, and it was evident it did that not too far along. Not the best samples in terms of realism, but llots of fun instrumentation changes, additive supporting writing, and fun embellishments and soloing elements here and there throughout to give this a distinct character from the original. Making this last without dragging out would be a challenge, but it's asked and answered by T.O.!


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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (1Y) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

Yeah, that opening, with thin, fakey orchestral samples, is a pretty weak way to begin. In general the strings are a lowlight everwhere they appear, which is unfortunately most of the piece.  The guitar is mostly excellent, if produced a little thinly, but the one at 4:34 is has some really weak timbre, and I can't even tell if it's a bad guitar or an antique synthesizer trying to be a guitar.

Despite the performances being slightly different each time they loop, I'm also finding this pretty repetitive. 0:54-2:30 is looped twice; it's not copy-pasta but the differences are minor, mostly tiny performative variations, and easily overlooked.  The same themes return at 5:38; they're used appropriately as a bookend there and there is more variation, but the loop is so long that even there it drags a little.

There's a ton I like about this. The guitar performance is phenomenal, the original writing is excellent, the orchestration is beautifully realized.  But the orchestral samples and lack of articulation are a major letdown, and the arrangement relies on them heavily. The loop that's longer than some entire submissions, and over 1/3 the length of the entire track, does indeed cause it to drag in my opinion.

To me this is borderline. The strong aspects are really strong, but are they enough to counterbalance both the lack of realism and the amount of repetition?  I feel uncomfortable saying yes, because either of those things have been dealbreakers in most submissions, let alone both together. I don't like rejecting orchestration and performance this good, but I don't think we can do otherwise and still be fair and consistent in our judging criteria.

NO (please resubmit!)

Edit 9.28: I read Teo's response, and I have just a few things to add that Gario, who did a fantastic job of explaining our concerns despite not having been part of the original vote (which speaks to our evaluative consistency), did not.

First, I apologize for my confusion about that distorted organ. We hear a lot of badly synthesized guitars around here that sound a lot like that! The fact that it was an electronic organ processed in the same way an electric guitar would be explains my confusion.

Second, regarding popularity as a metric: We don't listen to submissions the same way most people listen to music. In fact, I don't always listen to music the same way when I have my "judge hat" on as when I don't. We pick at things that might not merit comment when listened to casually, and we reject a fair number of mixes that are commercially popular. We also accept a fair number that probably wouldn't be very popular, because they're doing something esoteric or with an obscure source. Our not accepting a remix says very little about whether it's "good" or even whether we enjoyed it. And I think we all enjoyed this submission very much!

Edited by MindWanderer
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  • MindWanderer changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (1Y/1N) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

the string intro sounds charismatic and creative, but the samples are objectively not good. the heavily filtered guitar playing the DbG initial jam is fun, and the pizz-style strings are more fitting when they're happening around 1:00-1:15 than they were in the intro. when the arrangement relies on them, it sounds like a lot of copypasta - that is, the same instruments playing the same things over and over. the parts of the track i liked the least featured this kind of repetition, like at 1:40.

the guitar at 1:43 sounds great. right after this though is what's almost a complete repeat of the 1:30 before the guitar break. same riffs in the lead instruments, same orchestration. this is probably already enough to reject the track between the repetition and the strings sounding so obviously not real.

there's a fun rhodes solo break at 4:06, complete with some clavinet and EP comping. there's a slick synth solo at 4:35, and then we're into a great guitar solo with some really fun verve. aaaaand then at 5:38 the earlier section is again copypasted in. this is particularly egregious even if it does bookend the track like MW mentioned above, since it feels like it should be prepping for an end and we still get the shuffle section at 6:04 and some other stuff before we get an actual ending (which doesn't even feel particularly prepped).

this is ultimately sunk by two main things. one is that the strings just don't sound good when they're the lead instrument. they do a nice job comping under solos and functioning as stabs here and there, but there isn't the breadth of tone that you really need for being a leading instrument or timbre. this is exacerbated by the second issue, which is that this is about 3.5 minutes of music and the track is nearly seven minutes long. this needs some significant work done on the chopping board to cut out a lot of repetition. the difficult part - at least from OCR's perspective - is that this work needs to be done while still maintaining 50% source usage. the best parts of this track are the solos, so ensuring you still have enough source without it being copy/paste to get there will be critical.

ultimately i agree with MW. the guitar work is superb. the concept is also great. the execution is lacking.




edit 10/20: i'd like to first say that i appreciate the significantly patient response to the original thread. as you can see, we were not 100% on our decision, so it makes sense that there'd be some differences between us all.

the string samples for the entire first major section starting at 0:55 do not sound realistic. they are obviously (to me) synthesized. the section at 1:22ish is particularly obvious to me as those fast runs just sound like glissandi and that isn't idiomatic for a stringed instrument. they sound like someone is playing them on a keyboard, and are at their best when they're in the back. another section is the stabs at 2:18 where the first several notes are louder and the next is quieter but has the same timbre - this is a dead giveaway for synthetic dynamics vs. the differences in how a string instrument sounds at different volumes. that said, they play fun things, and they're interesting to listen to. it's certainly possible i leaned heavily on this because i really don't care for synthesized strings. it's probably not a dealbreaker by itself.

i noted several times that there is a lot of repetition in the track. in the scope of a much longer work, i don't think there's that much repetition, ultimately. however, for the scope of this as a standalone work as submitted to our site, there is a lot. several sections are repeated wholesale. you can describe how you've changed the backing parts repeatedly when they happen, but ultimately it doesn't matter if you've changed some tertiary countermelodic elements - what matters is that i, as the listener, couldn't tell the difference between several sections without multiple relistens - and that's bad! you don't want to repeat the same instrument playing the same melodic material with almost the same backing instrumentation and the same drums four or five times in a piece regardless of the scope or timeframe. that's not good composing. i recognize it's hard to tell when you've listened to the same thing for an extended period of time - i certainly still get caught up in the same issue 20+ years into my development as a composer and musician. i really didn't care for this. it's also possible that, as i tend to focus on repetition as bad, that i called this out as being a real problem. i think it's poor technique and the track should be way shorter. i don't think by itself this is a dealbreaker.

i'd like to point out that, while i didn't complain about the mixing, i agree with others that it isn't great - it's so unbalanced constantly, and so many elements are getting buried repeatedly. i love your thematic reason behind how you scoped everything into the mix, honestly. unfortunately, intentions don't matter when it comes to listenability. your statement about submitting a radio edit actually touches on this - we aren't listening to a short snippet of a larger work here, we're listening to a single standalone work. i think that work should be about four minutes long if you cut out the overly repetitive elements, and i think it needs to be much more attentively mixed to balance the instruments regardless of your creative vision around mettaton.

last thing i'll say, and it'll sound harsh but i truly don't mean for it to be hurtful: if you're hearing feedback you don't like five years into working on a huge effort, and your response is to really strongly push back, i'd argue that you're too close to it and listening to that advice from the perspective of "i am not objective anymore" would be worthwhile, regardless of your internal feelings about it. i ran into this with the chrono cross album when concerns were raised around mastering elements of several tracks specifically. i disagreed, allowed someone else to master the tracks to get the project out there, and ultimately was convinced that my ears weren't true anymore regarding tracks i'd heard for years. there was a better result after i took an ego check and let someone else be my guide. i encourage you to do that with others who are objective, are talented engineers in their own right, and who haven't heard the track evolve over time. this will allow for nuanced approaches that aren't skewed by history or the initial glitz of the work.

that's a lot of statements about why i think it's not the track it should be. one thing i personally and regularly need to keep in check is that the pursuit of perfect shouldn't get in the way of 'pretty good'. this track is objectively 'pretty good', even if you did a lot of stuff that i feel is mistakes. that said, this is not above the bar that i believe OCR holds. i think fixing your mixing so that it's not so overbalanced would be enough to scratch past my line. i think cutting two minutes of repetition would also be enough. the other elements i called out would take a lot more time and it sounds like the artist isn't super into that level of revision.

my vote is still a no. it's honestly very close, closer than i've been in a while. but i'm comfortable staying where i was with this vote for now despite it being four months later.

Edited by prophetik music
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  • prophetik music changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (1Y/2N) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"
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  • Liontamer unpinned this topic
  • 3 weeks later...

I really like this interpretation of this source!  For me this has more of a nu-disco flavor than any other genre, but it's super creative and fun.  The synth guitar sounds good but it is mixed so thin.  Likewise the keys solo at 4:07 sounds way too quiet and it is mixed to be so thin.  That solo should be loud and proud, it's great!  I love the backing funk organ, also mixed too thin.  The synth starting at 4:37 is SOOOO thin.  It feels like many of these timbres have had too much low end cut off and they lose their fundamental frequencies.  By contrast, when the brass plays, it is LOOOOOOUD.  At 1:08, the brass and strings combo at that point is ridiculously loud by comparison to the rest of the soundscape, and those timbres have so much more lows that they just whomp everything else into oblivion.  The strings/brass comes back at 2:17, and it's just too loud, too up-front, and also seems to be panned slightly to the left which feels very awkward.  

This arrangement idea is good, but there is definitely some egregious repetition going on.  0:54-2:30 is indeed looped twice.  I cut the second playthrough and layered it with the first one, and checking A/B the only addition I hear in the second iteration is a tiny bell layered with the lead, barely noticeable. 4:07-5:38 is unique and the soloing is great.  But then the section 5:38-6:46 is another nearly identical playthrough of 1:22-2:29.  For that last section of the track, I layered all three iterations together and it all sounded the same other than an extra hat loop and a flutey lead layered on the final iteration. That is too repetitive for me, there needs to be more variation either in instrumentation or writing, or drum groove or something.  I think the arrangement could easily be two minutes shorter without losing anything, and that would help cut the repetition down.  

In addition to reducing the repetition, there needs to be another pass at the mixing.  The brass and strings at the big sections need to come down in volume and have lows EQd out of them, and all other elements need to have a lighter EQ touch so as not to sound so thin.  

NO (resubmit)

edit 10/20/23:  I have been asked to revisit this one in light of the artist's reply email and Dave's comments.  Listening again, I still find the same issues, primarily repetition and instrument balance (mainly brass and strings).  I never had an issue with the synth guitar and it still sounds fine to me.  I think the orchestral samples are fine also, and used adequately, other than the loudness of the strings and brass in the big sections. 

I still enjoy the vibe and energy of the piece generally.  I remember cutting the sections and lining them up in Cubase so I could A/B.  Although they may have been played separately each time, they are still essentially the same exact thing with tiny differences in playing and tiny additions like a bell or similar.  It isn't just one section being repeated *almost* wholesale, it is several, and with a seven-minute track, to my ears it becomes exhausting.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the energy in the piece stays consistent all the way through. 

I revisited this with the hopes that I could change to a YES borderline at least, but I find that I just can't.  If Dave wants to do an override or I am outvoted that is fine and dandy!  I just can't in good conscience pass this.   I can appreciate how much time this took, how many details there are and how it was part of an album, but none of those things should factor into an OCR vote. I have had my own tracks rejected that took me a lot of time and had a tremendous amount of detail, it happens!  Not every track is a fit for OCR for various reasons, and the time and effort the track took to make does not factor into it.  I am very sorry and I don't wish to be hurtful here, as there are some very excellent qualities to this track.  STILL NO

Edited by Chimpazilla
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  • Chimpazilla changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (1Y/3N) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

Amazing work on this one, it's a ton of fun, great soloing, and a good groove. There's a ton of detail in here, although as others have mentioned, it still does feel repetitive, and some of the mixing definitely needs improvement.

I love a bit of clavinet, but as soon as it's introduced it sounds very quiet, and doesn't get the presence it deserves. The string stabs and then the brass from 0:36-1:22 sound odd as leads - perhaps it's the high attack, or lack of differentiation in articulation. They're carrying a melody and when the guitar picks the lead back up at 1:50 it's so noticeably better that I feel like some more attention to the lead orchestral elements is needed. They sound fine when they're used as backing though. The soloing throughout, awesome as it is, could stand to be bolder in the mix. That's the one thing you want to grab listeners' attention, so let it stand out! The flute later on is barely audible too - if it's one too many elements then maybe consider simply removing it, which may help with the repetition.

At about the 4:30 mark I was checking the track to see how long was left, and was surprised at the length! No problem with long tracks, but when you repeat large sections, it's better to change things up more than you have done here, to keep the listener anchored in where they are in the track. The energy level is pretty similar throughout, and that's partly due to the mixing, but also with the copy/paste going on in the arrangement.

I don't want to sound overly negative here, as I really enjoyed the track and it's clearly had a lot of work put into it. It's for that reason though that I think the few changes mentioned by the judges here could elevate it even further and do your vision justice. It's most of the way there already, just try and accentuate the highlights, and adjust the balancing on the rest of it to give it the extra polish it deserves.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (1Y/4N - artist request for more feedback) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"
  • Liontamer changed the title to *NO* Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

We have a request from Teo to clarify the comments for improvement (their letter below):

I saw on your website to appreciate e-mail this address if I'd like clarification or to reconsider a judge decision about a submission. I'm T.O. Bassett - I submitted an arrangement of Death by Glamour (from Undertale), by the name of "Everyone Craves (Death By Glamour), in January. The judging thread can be found here: https://ocremix.org/community/topic/52239 The submission was rejected, a few days ago, but I'm honestly very confused about why it was, as the posts in the judging thread seemed conflicted about the reason for rejection, including some rather bewilderingly incorrect information about the arrangement. I'd like to ask if it would be possible to reconsider the decision after correcting this information, or at least some conclusive information about what the problem is. I apologise that the following is quite long, but, because of that, I wanted to be as clear as I possibly can about what I would like to address about it.
First of all, I do really appreciate the kind words that you all had about this - particularly as you all seemed to like the guitar work a lot. This is something that I'd like to use a lot more in the future. I promise that I don't intend this to be an insult to any of the judges, and I apologise if it comes across this way, but I've read through the judging thread several times and I have to admit that I'm struggling to get much information out of it that I could use for improvement, because a lot of it seems conflicting and opinions on exactly what is wrong seem to vary a lot. I'll touch on a few of the minor points, but I'll focus mainly on the summary that I was given in the e-mail, in that the two things holding it back were the "unrealistic" samples and repetitiveness.
-I admit that I feel that the repetitiveness of the track was greatly exaggerated. One judge even claimed that they overlayed all of the verse/chorus rounds and found that they're identical, which is absolutely not the case, because I recorded them all by hand with different instrumentation and made sure that I never used a pattern more than once, aside from some of the backing rhythm work in the guitar, bass, horns, and violas (the only other things that were "copied and pasted" were the drums, and I even made sure to change those up every time I copied a pattern from a previous verse); and the short post-chorus orchestra section that only features twice. I even asked for the opinions of several musicians and non-musicians afterwards and they agreed that they could plainly hear the differences between all of the sections.
--The second verse (2:30-2:57) replaces some parts of the orchestra with a glockenspiel, and adds some call-and-response from the percussion section, mostly the timpani and piatti.
---One embarrassment that I'll concede to is that, at some point, I apparently managed to add one or two of those call-and-response patterns back into the first verse, which wasn't intentional but has also gone unnoticed in over a year since releasing this track publicly, so I didn't think it important enough to re-release it with that changed. The entire album is two and a half hours long and took five years from start to release, so a few mistakes crept in that I felt were minor in the context of the whole album.
--The second pre-chorus (2:57-3:25) switches the dynamic between the guitar and orchestra and has the guitar playing the lead with the orchestra backing it up, as opposed to the orchestra in the first pre-chorus (through violins, violas, flutes, trumpets, and horns) playing the lead while the guitar fills out the sound through rhythm and chords.
--The second chorus (3:25-3:52) builds on the percussion from the first chorus by taking the way that the drum kit built up in the first chorus and expanding on that (the first chorus features only hats and rim shots before building lightly by adding kicks, and the second chorus starts from that point and builds more dramatically by changing to more complex, breakbeat-inspired kick and snare rhythms. The e-piano is also introduced, playing high, broken chords to lead into the keys solo afterwards.
--The post-chorus (3:52-4:06) is the same as the first one, but I don't feel that it's long enough to feel too repetitive and serves as vital tension release for the quieter chorus. Removing it and jumping straight into the keys solo after the second chorus would have felt disappointing.
--The third pre-chorus (5:36-6:04) was written to be similar to the second one, just re-recorded to not be a cut-and-paste job, as leading to an ending here would have been anticlimactic. However, the final chorus (6:04-6:31) is vastly different from the others and I'm particularly confused about how that went unnoticed. The percussion section is entirely changed to match the energy of the verses, much more of the orchestra joins the chords than just the horns and violas in previous choruses, and the guitar in the lead plays a completely different countermelody to the previous chorus melody. I do appreciate that the flute was at least noticed there, and yes, I admit that I had some trouble mixing that in after switching from EWQLSO to Berlin Woodwinds, as the library is much more realistic and versatile but also much quieter.
--The ending (6:31-end) only lingers on the post-chorus section for a few seconds before the guitar continues in another short solo, leading to an end that I intentionally wanted to match to the original track to match how abruptly Mettaton runs out of steam at the end of the boss fight.
--This will be more subjective, but I'd also like to mention that the length of the track is an artistic choice to match the style of music that I'm fitting it into; the album as a whole is a symphony and progressive rock work made with the sensibilities of a live album recording and a story-based symphony, and prog rock and live rock performances are generally known for longer, improvised works. The structure and length are also meant to represent Mettaton's character and the structure of this particular boss fight, as Mettaton demands that the spotlight stays on him more than anyone else while the human is essentially trying to take it from him. I feel that rejecting music based on a common artistic quality of a particular genre may lead to stifling self-expression, and there are many classic and influential albums that would be rejected, were they subjected to the same standard.
--Overall, I don't feel that anything regarding the length of the arrangement goes against OCRemix's submission standards guide, as all points under the Arrangement section are met, and all melodies apart from the solo sections are easily recognisable from the source material.
-The claim of unrealistic samples is going to be much harder to refute because there isn't much that I can say that doesn't boil down to "I don't think that they are", but... I honestly don't think that they are. I originally wrote an entire version of the album using East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra, because it was all that I had, but orchestra libraries have come an extremely long way since then, so I shelled out to replace that with a combination of Cinematic Studio Strings/Brass/Piano, Berlin Woodwinds, Berlin Percussion, and Audio Imperia Nucleus to fill out any gaps. I then completely rewrote the album from the ground up to accommodate those new libraries, as simply slapping them into place on the original tracks wouldn't have worked at all. During this re-recording, I recorded each of the instruments or instrument sections manually through a weighted MIDI keyboard and then added keyswitch articulations manually afterwards, making sure to use every articulation that was available to me at least once in order to learn and showcase them. This is the first time that anyone has said that it doesn't sound realistic, and I've received some comments before from people who were surprised to learn that it wasn't a live orchestra.
--I feel that rejection based on the quality of the string section library is not consistent with the OCR submission standards guide. While I'm still unsure about how they sound "unrealistic", the standards guide only says that sampled elements must be "reasonably sophisticated", which I'm sure you can agree is exceeded in this arrangement.
--I refute the claim that I used no articulations in the orchestra through the track. In the strings alone, I used staccato, staccatissimo, spiccato, marcato, varying legato and slide transitions, and trills, and also made constant use of the library's mod wheel capabilities to vary the dynamics.
--The claim of the "fake-sounding guitar" at 4:33 in particular took me completely by surprise. It was never intended to be a guitar in the first place, and isn't played in any way similar to how a guitar would be. It's an electronic organ run through an amplifier and distortion rig, something that's very common in both 70s/80s rock music and progressive rock. One of my favourite things to write is tradeoff solos between guitar and keys players. The track's been heard thousands of times since I finished it, and, as far as anyone has said, this is the first time that anyone has interpreted it as anything else. After reading this, I went back to ask for other people's opinions on what they thought that the instrument was, without telling them what it was, and everyone that I asked said that it was either an organ or a synth. No one thought that it was meant to be a guitar. Why would I use a real guitar through the entire track and then suddenly switch to a poor imitation of one for thirty seconds before going back to the real one?
-I'd also like to touch on comments about the mixing. I will say that yes, I'm much better at the composing and playing side than the mixing side, and this is a much more minor point than the others, but I'd like to make two points about that:
--This is a point that's difficult to make without the context of the rest of the album, but the album is primarily a symphonic work with progressive rock influences, and the "band" side of the rest of the album is much more minor. As such, I intentionally mixed it to be heavily focused on the orchestra. This includes the panning - I noted some comments about "strange" panning choices in the lead orchestra instruments, but they're panned naturally to match the typical orchestra layout that they were originally recorded in, as it felt far more uncomfortable to me for the layout of the orchestra to suddenly change between tracks. The only exception in this arrangement is the guitar, because I wanted the guitar to represent Mettaton's "it's all about me" attitude and be trying to take the spotlight for most of the arrangement.
--Specifically because of my own ear for mixing, I was constantly seeking opinions on how the mixing sounded through the whole process of writing the album. After a lot of tweaks, I was told by many different people that the state of the mix sounded good at this point, so I'm very surprised to hear that some of the judges seem to think that it's that bad. The only thing that I personally wasn't too happy with was how the timpani didn't have as much impact as in the EWQLSO version.
In the worst case, I can resubmit with a "radio edit" version that I made that merges the first and second verse/chorus rounds, and I suppose maybe remove the "Last Episode" intro because that seems to be a big point of contention and was just meant to lead in from the previous track on the album. I'd be disappointed that it's missing some of the nuance in the way that those sections build up, and the transition to the second verse at 2:28 that I'm particularly happy with. Admittedly, after working for five years on getting this album released, I'm a bit exhausted by the idea of redoing it yet again, but I do want to work with the OCR team to have a version that you would accept, as has been a goal of mine for about the last fifteen years. However, I would like to ask you to at least reconsider the decision, first, as I'm concerned that the points that I was given as reasons for rejection aren't consistent with the OCRemix Submissions and Standards Instructions that I read before choosing which track to submit. While I understand that standards rise as technology does, and that OCRemix wants to maintain high standards as such a long-running aggregator of video game arrangements, I'm also concerned that the reasons that I was rejected point to an unfeasibly high standard to maintain. This is part of an album that was requested by Toby Fox to be released through Materia Collective and Fangamer as part of the game's fifth anniversary. Those plans unfortunately fell through due to Covid-19 and I released it separately, later, but (and I promise that I'm trying to word this without sounding like I have any kind of ego), it's surprising to me that the album would be good enough for all three of those parties but not for OCRemix.
Once again, I apologise for how long this e-mail is, but thank you very much for your time.
Thank you,
-T.O. Bassett
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  • Liontamer unlocked and pinned this topic

Throwing in some hopefully helpful clarification, I don't think I would've rejected this for it's length, but I would have certainly rejected this for it's realism, and while I probably wouldn't have considered this too repetitive for it's length I understand where the others are coming from. If changes to the material are too subtle they can easily be either missed or not really considered much of a change - the glockenspiel addition would be a good example of this. You'll hear these changes and think they make something sound different enough, but remember you're the composer/arranger - it helps to try and approach listening from an outsider's perspective or ask a friend to see if they can spot the differences.

Again, I probably would have considered it enough variation, but I get where the others are coming from. Tweaks to the arrangement - added trills, delayed notes, etc. - tend to go much farther to make an otherwise repeated section sound varied, in my experience, but that's always up to the arranger to make their best judgment.

Concerning the instrumentation, I believe it's less the sample quality and more the stale use of articulation that harms the arrangement's realism. It's difficult to write orchestral arrangements that sound real, because getting samples that sound real isn't enough. You need to consider how each performer would play each section and emulate that using various envelope manipulations and articulations (which a VST like Eastwest would have, I imagine). The strings in particular would not sweep into every note, for example, especially when they hold the lead (such as at 1:22) - it makes them sound quiet and unrealistic. Slurring the notes to make a phrase would be more realistic, or "Legato" if that's an option for your VST, and save the sweeps for when the strings are playing chords in the background. It's tricky to get something sounding realistic, but I think you have the samples and tools to do it, at least.

As for the actual mixing, I suggest mimicking an orchestral set-up, as far as panning is concerned. Don't hard pan, but this can help give the arrangement some breathing room and help make it sound more realistic. I'm afraid I have to defer to the other judges when it comes to other mixing advice, since the dips in volume for things like the strings seemed like an articulation issue more than a mixing one, in my opinion.


It doesn't sound like it was mentioned in the decisions above, but I'd also consider adding a little reverb to the guitar part to make it sound more like it's performing with the orchestra (or conversely a little less reverb from the orchestra, but that is sometimes inherent in the samples so you my not have control of that). It sounded good, just a bit separate from the rest of the instruments which makes either the guitar or orchestra sound a tad less realistic. Wouldn't be a deal breaker, but it's also something to think about.

I hope this helps, and I'm sorry it didn't make it through the panel this time.


Edited by Gario
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  • Gario changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (1Y/5N - artist request for more feedback) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"
  • 3 weeks later...

@Liontamer Asked me to chime in with a sanity check. I appreciate the time & detail the artist gave to their response. I had fun listening to the track; two things stood out to me, before reading judge comments... which mostly mentioned the same two things:

  1. Balance issues (keys quiet, brass loud, general sense of foregound/background not always clear)
  2. Repetition (repeated sections may vary a bit, but by the end of the arrangement, you're definitely getting some deja vu, and since it's such a high-energy affair, it starts getting a little exhausting)

Samples really didn't bother me all that much and I think some of that is coming from #1, issues w/ balance. So to me, it's that certain instruments stand out as being quieter or louder than one might expect, and potentially what would work better for the track, and then there's just some structural re-treading which, even if bits are tweaked a little each time, still has a fatigue issue to my ears.

But I think I need to make a distinction here:

  1. It's (generally) good when judges all agree about an issue, or issue(s), with a mix, but...
  2. Just because there's consensus doesn't make the issues themselves more egregious, just more discernible...

So even if most of us agree what the issues are, I'm kinda with Larry in that they don't feel like dealbreakers... if artist is willing to rebalance a bit & trim a bit, I do think there's a better version of this mix waiting to be found, but if not, I personally think it should land above our bar, as-is...


YES (borderline)

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Giving this one a listen too. I appreciated reading the artist's follow up email. I'm always scared to see an email that long in regards to a rejection, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was well-articulated and respectful, and ultimately gave helpful insight when evaluating this track.

Based on the votes above, I was honestly expecting the instrument quality to be worse than it is. I think the issues with the track boil down more to mixing and balance issues, with many of your instruments competing in the same space, and some of your ensemble sounds are very thick and have longer releases, so they can muddy up the sound stage excessively. This is especially noticeable on the staccato strings and brass - I would wager that they would sound a lot better with a sample that has a tighter attack and release, and perhaps some surgical EQ to avoid frequency masking with other instruments.

I also strongly agree that the keys, organ and synth parts are way too quiet relative to the orchestral instrumentation. There's also a solo flute that pops up at 1:28 and again at 6:19, among other points, that is literally barely audible. The brass and strings step all over the rest of your instrumentation in a way that feels unnecessary - I absolutely understand keeping the orchestral elements at the forefront of the mix, but you can still achieve this with some minor tweaks to the levels and avoid overwhelming everything else you've got going on.

If there's any reason I would outright reject this, it would solely be because of balancing issues. I think the repetitiveness in the arrangement and actual sample quality/realism in sequencing are worth noting but not dealbreakers in my book. As of now, I'm squarely on the fence about whether the smaller gripes are enough, when combined with the more significant mixing and balance issues, is  enough to warrant a resubmission or not. I think DJP put it best - if the artist is willing to rework this, I think there's a much stronger version of this track out there, but there's so much good going for it even its current state that I'm inclined to agree that it's just barely over the bar.

Going to think on this for a while longer, but ultimately, there's definitely actionable feedback to be found in these votes that wouldn't compromise the artist's vision or conflict with any of the things mentioned in the artist's email. I think solely addressing the volume levels by raising the keys/leads/flute and lowering the brass/strings, without any other surgical mixing, arrangement, or sequencing edits, would be enough to push this confidently into YES territory, but right now...

YES (very borderline)

Edited by Emunator
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (3Y/5N - DarkeSword / Rexy / XPRTNovice - artist request for more feedback) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

To put this together across five years, you must've made this a real test of love.  Nice!

A seven-minute arrangement felt intimidating reading about it, but the overall structure is exceptionally safe.  We got that Last Episode opening, into the source proper, into another run with some added bell/timpani/hi-hat action, a return to the A section with that rad clavinet writing, into a guitar solo, and a return to the second half of the source for the end, defining itself with a flute and a beefier set of drums to lead into the finish.  Now, I have seen the arguments regarding repetition.  I've seen mixes that have tastefully used repetition or have enough background changes to have their purpose, but the same notation with some layers tagged in doesn't feel like enough.  I'm more in favor of the "radio edit" route that you mentioned in your notes, which would cut down that problem big time - but one tip for the future is that you can even let accompanying instruments do something else during second source run-throughs.

I also agree with the whole issue regarding balance.  Firstly, you name-dropped a lot of powerful VSTs, but there's hardly any articulation outside of keyboard input at best.  It's better to make them feel more like a performer was using the real thing, usually by combining key switches, envelope shaping, multiple layers, etc.  On the other hand, the guitar has hammer-on articulation, which is a big plus - but it's so behind volume-wise that it's barely audible.  It sounds much better in that regard at 5:04 during the big solo, but the note density further exposes the thinness of the sound.

A lot of the thinness sounds like they're from applying high-pass filters across your mid-to-mid-high instruments - which isn't bad, as it does get rid of many frequencies you don't need.  However, warmth is valuable on more prosperous instruments like the piano, organ lead, and guitar.  It's a good idea to look over your low-to-mid-frequency instruments, see where the EQ settings are, and see if there's a way to give them more of that warmth.  Another reason is that the brass and strings have too much power, and they don't know whether to be a support instrument or a lead based on their writing.  If your setup can handle some more channels for orchestral instruments, it would be a good idea to separate your writing for leads and for rhythm/pads into separate channels to differentiate them; if not, then it'll be fine to work with volume envelopes, dynamically changing their place in the mix over time.

I appreciate you reaching out to us with the hope of getting more feedback overall, and I also understand your overall story for its use on an album release and how much passion you had in working on it.  Despite this, I had been back and forth and found more reasons to want it revisited rather than go on the site outright.  Personal attachment is something that I faced issues with some of my earlier works - and even a few of my later ones - and the most challenging part is motivating yourself to get back to creating more things, which anyone should still do regardless.

That said, the vibe is excellent.  The ambition is great.  But revised articulations and another mixdown pass are what this thing sorely needs for me more than anything else.  I'm all for seeing it on the site, but I'm afraid we will require you to make that possible.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Rexy changed the title to 2023/01/12 - (3Y/6N - DarkeSword / XPRTNovice - artist request for more feedback) Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

Alright let's get down with the Funktertale. 

I'm going to echo a lot of what people said here, namely that there's SO MUCH GOOD going on here. The character of the piece is awesome and I can tell you put a lot of heart into making it. I DO think the piece is too long, arrangement wise, and a lot of the fat could be trimmed without hurting the piece. In fact, it would probably enhance it. 

The guitar really needs to be humanized - it doesn't feel like a lot of attention was paid to making the performance sound believable, and it absolutely needs to come out more in the mix. Satriani wouldn't be in the background like that! And I feel like that's the the way the guitar goes through most of the piece. It's too much in the background, and too robotic. There were parts in the piece where I actually lost it entirely, and couldn't pick it out, but when it came back in it was clear it was supposed to be the star of the show. 

There's a lot of other comments here that I think are too buried in detail - the mix is near passable IMO but needs more attention paid to the articulations, the lead guitar, and I think you could benefit from killing a couple repeats. You could easily kill a minute of this piece without losing its power. Maybe this is the author in me, but I'm almost always trying to cut things by 20% on my first editing pass when I'm writing - I think you could benefit from that here. 

NO (resubmit)

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  • DarkeSword changed the title to 2023/01/12 - *NO* Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"

I appreciate that you worked for 5 years on this track, goodness knows I've got a few of those as well. What can be said about this piece that hasn't already been said? It's too long. It takes too long to get to the section at 4:07. You've done two loops of the material before you get to the really good solo section. And then after the solo section, you loop a huge chunk of that material again. I understand that you worked in some variations but TBH the loops still sound similar enough that it doesn't come through. The piece is high energy so the fatigue's set in at that point. It's just not exciting or interesting to hear it again. Don't get me wrong; I'm a firm believer in reiteration of musical ideas as a compositional technique. But it's not working here.

I don't mind the sample quality so much; the sequencing could do with some humanization but it's not a dealbreaker for me. I think certain elements that you're trying to showcase are getting lost in the mix though. Flute, guitar, glockenspiel, etc. Needs a mixing and balance pass.

I like this but for me it's a NO, resub.


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  • Liontamer changed the title to *NO* Undertale "Everyone Craves (Death by Glamour)"
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