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zircon

The WIP Feedback Checklist (READ BEFORE POSTING)

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The checklist, although named "feedback checklist", isn't exclusively for the reviewers to use. I see no reason why a remixer couldn't listen to their own track while looking at the checklist and considering the items on it. Compiling criticisms from the feedback onto a single checklist is another use of it. Neither of tehse uses exclude its use as a feedback checklist.

The checklist items are fine, imo, with the possible exception of "Abrupt ending". It could also cover an ending that just never ends. It'd have to be renamed, tho.

Since the Judges mostly hear (supposedly) finished or nearly finished remixes, they might not be fully aware of the many problems the wip forum has been able to find and point out. I'll have a closer look at the list, in case you missed something.

I'm sure we're all well aware of the problems people have in the WIP stages. Come on man, we Judges don't live in a vacuum here, and just because we don't post in the WIP forum doesn't mean we don't hear them. I get requests to listen to WIPs all the time. Don't forget that most of us have been around this site for quite a while and we've been through this whole deal before. Oh, and most of us are artists too. Give us a little credit.

And I'm not sure what you mean by an ending that never ends. Are you talking about a fadeout ending? Because those aren't bad if they're done properly.

edit: larryjacked.

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You're not realizing that when tracks are submitted to OCR, even though they're supposed to be finished products, many are only good enough to be called WIPs.
I get requests to listen to WIPs all the time.
Since the Judges mostly hear (supposedly) finished or nearly finished remixes

I don't know to what extent you guys listen to early WiPs. I don't see your comments on early WiPs on the forum, that's why I'm saying this. You're hearing what's supposedly the finished product, or something close to. On irc, you're hearing wips in various stages, but I think most people work on their wips using other people's feedback before asking a judge. AFAIK, anyway.

I'm just saying, the feedback form should cover as much as possible with as few items on the list as possible. The current number of items is good.

Abrupt ending means an abrupt ending. People bitch about fadeouts/continuous endings, but there's nothing wrong with them if they're done properly.
And I'm not sure what you mean by an ending that never ends. Are you talking about a fadeout ending? Because those aren't bad if they're done properly.

..."if they're done properly", no, there's nothing bad with that. But I've heard a number of WiPs with an ending that was neither good nor abrupt.

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..."if they're done properly", no, there's nothing bad with that. But I've heard a number of WiPs with an ending that was neither good nor abrupt.

Which of course is a totally subjective criticism that deals more with the arrangement and structure of the song itself, which can, of course, be covered in the COMMENTS section at the bottom of the list. It's pointless to have a checklist item specifically for bad ending. That's part of the arrangement. "Abrupt ending" is very specific; we've see a lot of submissions where the song either cuts off or ends without any kind of resolution. That's a specific, fairly objective problem that's easily identifiable. Poorly written endings are not; you have to think harder about how they fit with the arrangement of the song, etc. etc. etc.

I don't know to what extent you guys listen to early WiPs. I don't see your comments on early WiPs on the forum, that's why I'm saying this. You're hearing what's supposedly the finished product, or something close to. On irc, you're hearing wips in various stages, but I think most people work on their wips using other people's feedback before asking a judge. AFAIK, anyway.

Look. I didn't want to have to resort to this, but I'm going to: I've been visiting this site for 6+ years. I've got 20+ remixes posted. I've been rejected by the panel something like 5 times. I've been a judge for 3 or 4 years now, and before that I judged for IronMix Challenge. I've been the coordinator of a Site Project that had approx. 9-10 artists on it.

I like to think that when it comes to WIPs, I know what I'm talking about. And believe me, my fellow judges also have a good idea of what they're talking about.

We're not new to this deal man. We know what's going on here. We've known what's been going on here for years. People have the same problems with their WIPs now as they did 5 years ago. Just because we're not active in the WIP forum now doesn't mean we never were, or that we have no idea what kind of problems an early WIP suffers from. Most of us have been there. Hell I can tell you for a fact that my own early music has suffered from at least half the stuff on this checklist.

I certainly appreciate your candor, but please: stop insinuating that we Judges are out of touch.

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I like to think that when it comes to WIPs, I know what I'm talking about. And believe me, my fellow judges also have a good idea of what they're talking about.

Which is why I said AFAIK. As well as "I don't know", "I don't see", and "I think".

You missed my point. The point I was making was that whether or not the submitted remixes contain flaws the wip board usually notices and point out, omitting them from the checklist could result in them being neglected in the feedback. Making the "personal comments" so inconspicuous isn't really helping.

ARRANGEMENT / INTERPRETATION

[X] Too conservative - sticks too close to the source

[ ] Too liberal - not enough connections to the source (too much original writing)

[ ] Too much direct sampling from original game audio

[ ] Borrows heavily from non-source material (eg. a theme from a movie)

PRODUCTION

[ ] Too loud

[ ] Too quiet

[ ] Low-quality samples

[X] Unrealistic sequencing

[X] Generic/cliche sound choices

[X] Drums have no energy

[ ] Overcompressed (pumping/no dynamics)

[X] Mixing is muddy (eg. too many sounds in the same range)

PERFORMANCE (live recorded audio/MIDI parts)

[ ] Timing not tight enough

[ ] Wrong notes, general sloppiness

[ ] Poorly recorded

[ ] Bad intonation

STRUCTURE

[X] Lacks coherence overall (no "flow")

[ ] Not enough changes in sounds (eg. static texture, not dynamic enough)

[X] Pace too plodding

[ ] Too repetitive

[ ] Too short

[ ] Abrupt ending

PERSONAL COMMENTS (positive feedback, specifics on checklist criticisms)

[write here]

The following are some thoughts about some of the items on the checklist.

Too conservative - I know at least 50% of the remix should be traceable to source, or else it's too liberal. What is too conservative? Direct rips, covers, yeah but where does the line go?

Unrealistic sequencing - Three-handed pianists are rare, but there can be more than one pianist. Aside from sequencing too perfect to be human (when applicable to genre), what's unrealistic?

Generic/cliche sound choices - Isn't this pretty much a case of interpretation, taste, and the presets you've heard before, in the DAW you've got? btw, my dictionary says it's spelled cliché.

Drums have no energy - Do they have to?

Mixing is muddy - This item could also mention EQ (or lack thereof)

Lacks coherence overall - Coherence and flow aren't really the same thing. I'd make coherence an arrangement/interpretation item, and "flow" structure.

Pace too plodding - "a specific, fairly objective problem that's easily identifiable"? A matter of opinion and inner rhythm, imo.

Abrupt ending - Isn't it a structure problem if the song just never seems to end, even if it keeps dropping instruments every measure?

And as I've said before, I don't like the "personal comments" at the bottom. The size of the checklist make it take precedence pretty much regardless of where the comments field is, but now it's kind'a inconspicuous. It could be renamed "specific comments", and a "general comments" put above the checklist.

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Too conservative - I know at least 50% of the remix should be traceable to source, or else it's too liberal. What is too conservative? Direct rips, covers, yeah but where does the line go?

This could be used to describe a cover, direct rip, or in any other case where the review feels the piece is, in general, too close to the source. It's not that hard to understand.

Unrealistic sequencing - Three-handed pianists are rare, but there can be more than one pianist. Aside from sequencing too perfect to be human (when applicable to genre), what's unrealistic?

Whatever the reviewer feels is unrealistic.

Generic/cliche sound choices - Isn't this pretty much a case of interpretation, taste, and the presets you've heard before, in the DAW you've got? btw, my dictionary says it's spelled cliché.

Taste has something to do with it, sure. But in general we get a lot of trance remixes with over-used sounds that are immediately recognizable and uninteresting. Thus it's a common criticism. Also, I know how it's supposed to be spelled, but I don't know the shortcut to make that character.

Drums have no energy - Do they have to?

Obviously not if it's an ambient remix. However, MANY submissions we get are uptempo and call for energetic drums, for example any dance or rock genre. Many times people just can't seem to sequence drums that have energy. So that's why this is here.

Mixing is muddy - This item could also mention EQ (or lack thereof)

That would be redundant. I could have written "frequencies under 250hz lack proper equalization balance" but which is more intuitive?

Lacks coherence overall - Coherence and flow aren't really the same thing. I'd make coherence an arrangement/interpretation item, and "flow" structure.

Yes, coherence and flow are the same thing, and no they don't have to do with the arrangement as compared with the source. It just means that the song as a musical piece just doesn't seem to be working. Mismatched instruments, awkward tempo, etc. It is used to describe an overall impression.

Pace too plodding - "a specific, fairly objective problem that's easily identifiable"? A matter of opinion and inner rhythm, imo.

We gets tons of plodding remixes. This needs to be here.

Abrupt ending - Isn't it a structure problem if the song just never seems to end, even if it keeps dropping instruments every measure?

Yes but that's very uncommon compared to remixes that simply cut out.

If you read judges decisions you would realize that everything you just cited appears routinely, so I don't see what you're trying to do here.

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Too conservative - I remember a remix getting NOed because it was just a genre adaptation. While "conservative" is easy to understand, it's the other word that's the problem.

Generic/cliché sound choices - Just copy-pasta it to the checklist. :P

Drums have no energy - "Drums are too weak" might be better, which takes genre into account. "Drums do not have enough energy" would also work.

Mixing is muddy (eg. too many sounds in the same range) - add "bad EQ" phrased however is appropriate and I'll shut up about it.

Lacks coherence overall - Coherence, in my dictionary, means consistancy, which I feel applies mostly to instrument choices, style, and overall sound. Flow has to do with progression, pacing, and stuff like that. imo they're not the same thing. Wrong?

--

If the checklist is gonna be used on the wip forum, it shouldn't neglect other criticisms (tho we shouldn't add any, just elaborate). Omitting other flaws from the list might have them neglected. My suggestion above might help with that:

The size of the checklist make it take precedence pretty much regardless of where the comments field is, but now it's kind'a inconspicuous. It could be renamed "specific comments", and a "general comments" put above the checklist.

All it needs is for the "specific comments" to include "other criticisms".

The checklist looks like it's the complete feedback. This is a problem if it doesn't cover everything. While it lists common flaws, it can make reviewers neglect commenting on, or even hearing other flaws, since there's no place to say it, besides "personal comments".

[ ] Other flaw (please elaborate below)

That could also solve the problem.

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Too conservative - I remember a remix getting NOed because it was just a genre adaptation. While "conservative" is easy to understand, it's the other word that's the problem.

It's not a problem. Too conservative means just that. Too conservative. You're over-thinking it.

Mixing is muddy (eg. too many sounds in the same range) - add "bad EQ" phrased however is appropriate and I'll shut up about it.

Mixing is muddy is the simplest, most general way to phrase it. Bad EQ implies a more specific problem.

Lacks coherence overall - Coherence, in my dictionary, means consistancy, which I feel applies mostly to instrument choices, style, and overall sound. Flow has to do with progression, pacing, and stuff like that. imo they're not the same thing. Wrong?
Yes, wrong. Get a new dictionary. Coherence is under the structure heading and refers specifically to the structure of the song. A coherent structure implies flow.
[ ] Other flaw (please elaborate below)

That could also solve the problem.

It's not a problem. You're over-thinking again.

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be careful about differentiating between subjective criteria and objective criteria-- it's important for those with wips to know the difference between what's musically right or wrong (like wrong notes, structural/rhythmic/intonation problems, production flaws) and what is preferred (slight eq preferences, compositional decisions, etc).

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It would be cool if the board had expand tags so IF some one giving feedback wants to immediately elaborate on a specific point he can hide it there and not clutter/break the form.

Apologies if the board already has this, but I couldn't find it (nor remember seeing anyone use it). If it does though, then yeah maybe use it?

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So, what category would things like clipping, hums, hisses and other production flaws fall under? I don't see a check for that, and I'd imagine that comes up a lot...

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So, what category would things like clipping, hums, hisses and other production flaws fall under? I don't see a check for that, and I'd imagine that comes up a lot...

no it doesn't :'( *whistles innocently*

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I do the same, and go to different experts depending on what aspect of my mix I think needs work. Guitar, drums, production, synths; I go to people who I respect in all these areas for and it usually works out decent.

For the most part, I find the WIP forums to be overly full of useless critiques, much like what Dr. Coop described about his art class (my design classes were like that too. It was infuriating).

Crits like "I don't know how I could go about critiquing this, asides from...FINISH THIS SONG!!!! Cuz it rocks :D" don't help anyone, and are basically just an asspat and +1 post.

In conclusion, I think Snappleman should be crowned emperor of the WIP section and should rule over his domain with an iron fist. If people can take one of his critiques and not be a little bitch about it, then they have a chance of improving.

PS. I think the form idea is excellent, and something like that would encourage me to be more active in this place.

Snappleman crowned emperor would be the worst.

Sure what he says is true... but still, there's a greater chance of losing confidence than actually getting something out of him... (don't even ask me to name one time someone lost confidence over him. *points at self*)

Anyways, to my question. What does "Unrealistic" sequencing mean?

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Unrealistic sequencing means it's supposed to sound human but doesn't. Maybe it takes too many hands/fingers, it's too fast, or just really mechanical.

Then again, it could probably be applied to the opposite, where it's supposed to sound straight and mechanical but isn't. That would be unfitting for the style and not something that "real" music in said style sounds like.

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Unrealistic sequencing means it's supposed to sound human but doesn't. Maybe it takes too many hands/fingers, it's too fast, or just really mechanical.

Then again, it could probably be applied to the opposite, where it's supposed to sound straight and mechanical but isn't. That would be unfitting for the style and not something that "real" music in said style sounds like.

Well I understand but the "too many hands/fingers" thing I disagree with. It shouldn't matter how many fingers. If it's good and done properly, it shouldn't have to be held back because it can't be done in real life...

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I don't think we've ever rejected something for that reason ("couldn't actually be played.") Unrealistic seqeuencing means it simply doesn't sound human. This is applied exclusively in cases where the instrument is SUPPOSED to sound human.

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I don't think we've ever rejected something for that reason ("couldn't actually be played.") Unrealistic seqeuencing means it simply doesn't sound human. This is applied exclusively in cases where the instrument is SUPPOSED to sound human.

Like a flute?

I wouldn't say so for a piano, because it could just be a bunch of pianos playing different parts of one thing.

Same goes for anything... or not? Is there something I'm not understanding?

Is it like 64th notes on a piano being played rapidly in the same velocity? Is that what you mean by inhuman/unrealistic?

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Well, a piano can sound very unrealistic if you use all the same velocity, if the timing is very mechanical, etc. The number of notes really doesn't matter as much, it's more how the notes are 'played'.

Yeah, flutes could be unrealistic pretty easily as well.

As I said, it applies entirely to acoustic instruments. A synthesizer can't really be unrealistic.

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Like a flute?

I wouldn't say so for a piano, because it could just be a bunch of pianos playing different parts of one thing.

Same goes for anything... or not? Is there something I'm not understanding?

Is it like 64th notes on a piano being played rapidly in the same velocity? Is that what you mean by inhuman/unrealistic?

you're missing the point. unrealistic is like an entire section of piano writing that has no velocitization at all, and is just the same machine-gun attacks constantly. or, it's a funk piece where the leads have no swing and are dead-steady on the beat, making it sound robotic and un-human. when you listen to a track and you think, "that sounds sequenced" - that's unrealistic. it's relatively easy to write stuff that sounds "real" with a sequencer, and that's the goal.

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I wonder if Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Coro" would pass.  I've always thought that track was dope.

Or Vijay Iyer's "Little Pocket Sized Demons".

Subjective is subjective, objective is objective.  Remixers really just need the objective (and it is super helpful).  But don't blur the lines.  Just as we should let the Judges judge, let the artists...art :)

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I'd like to urge the inclusion of compositional aspects, such as meandering chord movement, bad counterpoint (where counter melodies are present), bad voicing of parts, lack of agreement between parts, improper understanding of source material's harmonic structure (so when people hear poorly/gratingly harmonized source melody notes they can check this box).

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I think the checklist is mainly to cover the *common* problems. I don't know how easy these harmony/melody-related observations are for others to hear (some might even call it subjective :whatevaa:), but I think those can be covered using these more general phrases:

  1. Lacks coherence overall (doesn't "flow" enough)

    Can simplify clarify that it is due to a strange chord progression that sounds off; already on checklist
     
  2. Ineffective counterpoint

    In my opinion, this may be too specific and can probably just be a "personalized" comment that is "off the sheet" (AHA! I knew I could use this phrase somewhere). Not on checklist at the moment; would need elaboration
     
  3. / 4. Instrument/sound parts lacking cohesion in harmonic or rhythmic movement

    ("bad voicing" and "lack of agreement" were your phrases) --- Not on checklist at the moment; may need specific elaborations

The last one (the interpretation of [or how they understand] the source tune, in a case where the person decides to retain some chunk of the original chord progression, involves inaccurate replication of the chord progression) is probably not general enough though; [irrespective of what you meant,] you can interpret a source tune however you see fit, as long as it sounds sensible and it reminds someone of the original. In some sense, this last one could potentially lead to all of the above, especially 1, 3, and 4 (or at least, I've seen it), but either way, it seems pretty specific. It has happened a few times in compos though, I do recall.

 

[One might want to call this:

  • Clashing harmonies ]

 

Also, zircon did make this statement:

 

 

The checklist is a supplement to personal, specific feedback. Don't forget to leave personalized and specific comments (positive or negative) that elaborate on or have nothing to do with the checklist.

...y'know, if the checklist didn't cover what you wanted to say. ;)

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The last one (the interpretation of the source tune, in a case where the person decides to retain some chunk of the original chord progression, involves inaccurate replication of the chord progression) is probably not general enough though; you can interpret a source tune however you see fit, as long as it sounds sensible and it reminds someone of the original.

 

That's not what I was saying, at all. I even provided an example as to when the last one would apply. It has nothing to do with interpretation, it applies when a mixer is unable to accommodate certain complexities in a source tune and it's audibly apparent (sounds like a wrong note with the chord they wrote).

 

 

 

Can simplify clarify that it is due to a strange chord progression that sounds off; already on checklist

 

The point is specificity so the reviewer doesn't have to think of the reason himself, he can view that it's an item on the checklist and consider viewing the mix in terms of that.

 

 

In my opinion, this may be too specific and can probably just be a "personalized" comment that is "off the sheet" (AHA! I knew I could use this phrase somewhere). Not on checklist at the moment; would need elaboration

 

Bad counterpoint is a pretty general issue that hurts a song in the big picture as much as it does the small details. This is because counterpoint is sometimes integral to texture and when counterpoint suffers, texture suffers, which changes the flow and energy of the song (away from what the arranger might have intended).

 

Anyways, I disagree that these aren't common problems, in fact I see passed remixes that still have these issues. I think the judges just don't touch on them because of how difficult they are to objectify. I'm not saying they have to be on the list, I'm just disappointed that it seems we focus on song form/structure and production but then treat discussion of composition/theory like a faux pas because it's "subjective".

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That's not what I was saying, at all. I even provided an example as to when the last one would apply. It has nothing to do with interpretation, it applies when a mixer is unable to accommodate certain complexities in a source tune and it's audibly apparent (sounds like a wrong note with the chord they wrote).

If someone simply decides to completely alter the implied harmonies of the original and use their own, then it doesn't involve merely understanding the chord progression of the original, but rather, how to use proper chord progressions and bass lines in a coherent way with the original melody, as well. Even though I talked about replication of the original, the above is mainly why I involved the interpretation aspect---because if you stray from the original (like if you kept the melody and wrote everything else as new), you have less of a concrete reference for the harmonic structure and a greater difficulty in formulating a proper one, if that's not your strength.

 

The point is specificity so the reviewer doesn't have to think of the reason himself, he can view that it's an item on the checklist and consider viewing the mix in terms of that.

That's definitely your intention at least, sure, and I agree. However, if the point of the checklist was to provide specific bullet points, it could be pretty long; imagine if everything on the checklist was split into separate, specific points.

 

(Hence, the first post states that it lists presumably common/generalized issues, rather than particularly specific ones, and acts as a "supplement to personal, specific feedback".)

 

I'm not against including what you have, as you know, but my intention was to say that I would rather they be more general phrasings to be elaborated upon, so those who don't know music theory well have a clue of what the bullet point even says without having to look up difficult terms. It gives the flexibility for explanation in a way with which they are most comfortable.

 

Bad counterpoint is a pretty general issue that hurts a song in the big picture as much as it does the small details. This is because counterpoint is sometimes integral to texture and when counterpoint suffers, texture suffers, which changes the flow and energy of the song (away from what the arranger might have intended).

 

Again, I think the checklist is meant to be more general, and the reviewer can elaborate however he or she sees fit; if the issue does happen to be bad counterpoint, then that can be mentioned. If the reviewer doesn't even notice it, or doesn't use that keyword but still describes its principles, or doesn't even understand what it is and doesn't say anything about it, I think that's forgivable, because it could be too minor or too complex of an issue in the big picture. It would be an oversight to be sure, but in the long run, realistically, who's going to notice it? The more attuned people.

 

Anyways, I disagree that these aren't common problems, in fact I see passed remixes that still have these issues. I think the judges just don't touch on them because of how difficult they are to objectify. I'm not saying they have to be on the list, I'm just disappointed that it seems we focus on song form/structure and production but then treat discussion of composition/theory like a faux pas because it's "subjective".

 

Well, one of the qualifications to be a judge was that you 'don't have to know music theory', but you do have to be able to articulate your observations to a comprehensible extent. Because of that, yeah, some judges might not notice some of these issues, but again, depending on the remix/song, it could just be too minor to matter in the big picture or too complex to notice. In short, "it happens... oops".

 

Just for the record, I don't think proper melody/harmony sensibilities are subjective, but it might be treated as such every now and then. Lastly, I'm not against these being on the checklist; I would just rather they be rephrased to be more generalized so that they're more "accessible" to the typical reviewer, and that's what I aimed to do in my previous post.

 

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... I'm just disappointed that it seems we focus on song form/structure and production but then treat discussion of composition/theory like a faux pas because it's "subjective".

I believe that is because elements of form/structure and production are more generally defined and more generally agreed upon on a scale of valence (positive-negative; e.g., unintended pops and clicks = negative, a well executed flourish = positive).  Music composition and music theory do indeed have their own laws (Physics/Mathematics), and if reviewers/judges alike could comment on these specifically, then that could surely be helpful.  

What isn't helpful is when opinions quickly slip into the mix of what is already a critical process and thoughts start running through the reviewer's/judge's heads which end up coming out as "I wouldn't use sus9 chords during that bridge because they don't really sound good" when according to composition/theory, sus9 chords aren't violating any musical principle.  Likewise, you would need some pretty detailed information from the remixer/composer on what they were trying to accomplish with any given piece to be able to give them useful feedback on their work.  You may hone in on the usage of a particular instrument in a mix and disagree with how it was used, writing detailed notes a plenty on why that is, and they may all be totally valid points ... but are ultimately useless to the remixer/composer because they aren't relevant to their goals for that remix/composition.  It's a delicate line.  Subjectivity is simply one way of organizing our thoughts on a matter.  But when the point-blank established process is: listen to WsIP, give feedback, make improvements, (repeat n times), submit, and ultimately get music accepted and posted, then the subjectivity can convolute and agitate instead of be constructive.

I have yet to see a WIP get posted where the remixer/composer asks, "please tell me how to write my song and be appropriately creative."

That said, if someone is remixing the MGS4 title theme and they try really hard to use the vocal melody of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" as a counterpoint melody, someone might need to speak up.

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