Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s
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Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

So, we decided to lift the zeldoid topdowner from the compo. It'll hopefully help us make a better game in our own time so to speak, but the compo gave us a good start. One of the things i've been working on secretly is the soundtrack. Now that there's not as much need for an element of surprise, i thought it might be a good time to ask for critique from you guys. I'm not looking for anything particular, my guess is that thoughts undirected by specific questions from others will help me improve. But there's some fields where my own personal judgment doesn't help:

-is the soundtrack varied enough/consistent enough so far?
-do you think the average song length (before it loops) of the non-wip songs are ok so far?

Btw my process is basically this. It helped me be more productive than i usually am when writing music. Maybe it's of help for someone else, even though everyones' process is bound to be a bit different:

-hum, sing or sometimes play into a dictaphone, often when taking a walk, working, etc. My dictaphone app pretty much fills my phone at this point, so there's a seemingly endless supply of embryos to pick from which i've collected over the last year.
-transcribe those notes into famitracker, often resulting in a bar or two. those are called scraps
-alternately, turn off recording and play on the keys like a keyboard until something sticks. record that. also sorted as "scraps".
-Some scraps turn out terrible. Some terrible scraps turn out pretty ok when worked on further. Nothing's too good right from the start in my experience.
-combine scraps that are good enough into "WIP":s
-when they feel at least 90% done, promote them to the top of the track list. At this point they should sound at least "good enough".
-(not done yet) - create a few rearrangements or medleys of 100% done songs
-goal: make many more songs than are actually needed for the game, then select those that fit certain scenarios the best. A bit like how traditional music album studio production is made.

Since both the zeldoid game and the actionvanoid future project are offshoots from a mythology/setting i've been working prior to their conception, it might make sense to tie them together/cross-pollinate their soundtracks in the end.
recon_2017_11_10.ftm [51.55 KiB]
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Author:  Banshaku [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

I just finished to listen to the soundtrack (without reading the content of your message regarding what kind of feedback you were looking for) and the only thing I can say is that it sound great, love it!

Even the scrap, some of them I enjoy a lot. It's very good so far and with the ftm file, there is so many interesting patterns to study from it that I'm grateful that you decided to share it. I rarely make music but often my main problem is just I don't know how to make a specific sound. There is so many variation it is that it's quite impressive.

Keep the good work. I really want to ear the final version.

Author:  zzo38 [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Do you have a .NSF file of it?

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Here you go
recon_2017_11_10.nsf [14.51 KiB]
Downloaded 41 times

banshaku wrote:
I rarely make music but often my main problem is just I don't know how to make a specific sound.
First, thanks for your kind words. :)

If you ever have the time, it might be helpful playing around with the controls of a software synthesizer or two to get aquinted with synth concepts, because those are generally a lot more user friendly. With that knowledge, i think doing sound patches for famitracker becomes a lot easier. Not everything applies, of course, but it can help get a good picture on how to achieve certain sounds anyway. I also recommend Sound on Sounds synthesis tutorial series of old: ... ecrets.htm

(the link is a temporary solution while SOS are moving their old content around).

A lot of those "instruments" in my list could be merged or skipped if i had used the volume channel instead, but that's off limits for this project.

Author:  Myask [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

10: boss 12: oh no! 13: game over 14: puzzle solved 19: CONTINUE? 18: Happy ending! 22: OR IS IT~?
Most of them are good. 2-5,7 might blend together a bit. 1, if intended for title, should also be considered for some game locations; it's too good to let just be there.

The initial bit of track 20 is waaay too loud. (may just be a playback initialization problem in Mednafen, it's sounded different on different plays.)
6 might be a bit repetitive. Track 8 is out of place. So is 18.

Track 9 sounds like it's taking some inspiration from Zelda:Oracle of Seasons's "Tarm Ruins", but well below the threshold of ripoff.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Thanks a lot for going through it so minutely, Myask! Especially as music takes time to listen to, i appreciate it.

Good point on 2-5-7. I'll be sure to keep them far from each other in occurence.

8 - definitely needs work. started as an idea to break away from overall sameness but needs to be reeled back a bit into the fold + be full length.

1 - was originally written as music for a type of area/room but it was suggested it might work for a title. Is maybe a little in-between. The outlined engine is good at lifting motifs and transposing them between songs without added size, so i might reuse some of its bars in an alternate rearrangement or at least as a recurring theme somewhere.

Tracks 15-22 are basically quick doodles to be worked on at some point, be scavenged, combined, or left out in the end if they never become anything. I write a handful of new doodles for every song that reaches the "90% done" mark to add in new material to work on.

20 - is probably problematic in any nsf player because i never set up an instrument for the first pattern - goes to show how quick n dirty these doodles can be. So basically it borrows the instruments of whatever track or part i listened to the last in FT.

18 - that's an interesting thought. I think i thought "easter egg room" when i recorded it.

9 - :lol: i´m sure every pop music artist/producer would state the same when they get caught, but fact is i have never played ocarina of time. But if it's a call for concern, i should probably listen to its soundtack and maybe steer away a bit if it is too close. (Anectdote: More or less missed out on every n64 game there is because the few games i played that period was PC).

10: boss
So this is the bossiest of them? In my thinking, 10, 5 and 7 are all boss themes (7:s been worked a bit on since the upload).

13: game over
Interesting. I thought that would be something that signals "task done" or "minor victory" or "conclusion of something on a positive note", and 6 (requiem) would be the game over/continue kind of tune. Taking notes...

Author:  Myask [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

I'm not sure how long the middle ones are. I didn't say Ocarina of Time, I said Oracle of Seasons (GBC). "Tarm Ruins"

Author:  pubby [ Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Track 2 reminded me of Castlevania 3's "Stream" track. Not a bad thing, just be aware.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Ah allright, i completely misread it then. I'll a/b test those

myask wrote:
I'm not sure how long the middle ones are.
Yeah songs 7-9 aren't full length yet, rather halfway there except 11 ("forest theme?") which isn't even that. And 9 ("fenlands beat") has a garbage segment which is almost like the first segment.

EDIT - I thought it would be a good excercise to analyse the the tarm/fenlands likeness somewhat properly (my knowledge of music theory isn't the best and this is a way to improve it):

TL;DR: Turns out the tarm arpeggio is so generic it could fit a lot of scenarios, but the note progression's not the same. Stream has a segment that's both more like-sounding and specific, but they're played in different scales.

First, there's a likeness in the musical trope of steady staccato notes with a quick slapback echo evenly distributed between each note. This is a trope that incites mystery and mental pictures of caves and forests (because of the cavelike slapback echo). The slapback is timed different: Fenlands beat always produces a slapback of the previous note between it and the next, while.. well, i'm not so sure exactly what it does, but i think Tarm ruins returns the slapback one and a half later, rather than a half.

Second, both begin with an arpeggio. Tarm ruins has a very simple 4 note progression that repeats, consisting of G A C D (repeated this way, it reminds me of kraftwerk).

Because it is so simple, it fits a large number of scales. When transposed down to key B (the key of "Fenlands beat"), the list is this: link.

Fenlands' arpeggio deviates from its scale at one point, but its nominal scale (B Blues) is in harmony with Tarm after that transposition is made.

In summary:
-Likeness of rythmic progression (steady 8th notes in the intro)
-Some likeness in the form of the slapback echo trope
-compatible scales (for a while)
-But no likeness in pitch progression.

I think that's fine.

Continuing onwards with "Stream":
As for "2: i undied one morning when the sun didn't shine [...]" and stream in CV3, there's a part where they seem to both have a repeated upwards movement that shares rythm and the signature of procedurally diminishing the "landing" note one semitone down for each ramp-like movement, but their scales are different:

CV3 stream seems to be A Dorian but i could be wrong about the key - maybe it's E aeolian AKA natural minor E. "I undied one morning":s similar movement is in F augmented so it should be in the clear.

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