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 186 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.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Tue May 08, 2018 11:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Here's a preview of three tracks in the making. Right now i'm wondering if i'm hitting or missing my thematical mark with these, so i uploaded them as mp3:s to my blog along with a form for each track if anyones' interested in commenting their associations directly on-page. Or here. I'm not disclosing my intentions as to not bias any listener. They loop once before fading out. ... ed-tracks/

Author:  Rahsennor [ Tue May 08, 2018 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

That's some of the best NES music I've ever heard. :shock:

Doubt I'll be much help, but I filled out the form.

Author:  dobbo2k [ Wed May 16, 2018 7:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Hey, thanks for sharing! It's always interesting and educational to listen to other homebrewer's music, espeically when they provide the famitracker file so you can see all the work put into it! Here are my thoughts:

#1 Sacral - very atmospheric and brooding. It's a very specific mood or mental image it creates, without much variation. So it would be good for a short duration or scene but not a long section.

#2 i undied one morning - This is interesting, nice variety of instruments and use of drums. Even though it's relatively short-ish, it sounds good on loop which is important. My only criticism is that one of the notes is off or sounds too high pitched imo? It's on part 05 of the song at position 06 under pulse 1 - it's the G6 note. Otherwise very nice.

#3 long bad road - I like this one. Again atmospheric with subtle use of drums. I just feel it is a bit short and could do with another melody line or a 'B section'.

#4 moonlit garden - I like how you use all the channels to do three note minor chords. The use of mainly sustained notes makes it sound quite droney.

#5 act of heroism - Absolutely has a heroic sound, but the melody sounds almost like from AFTER you have defeated the boss, like a triumphant sound. In my view, I think it should be more tense and chaotic sounding to suggest fighting a boss.

#6 requiem - Sounds like some of the others (#3,4), bit droney.

#7 tough boss battle - Now THIS is definitely boss music! It has that tense feel to it. My only criticism is that the last two sections (0B and 0C) drift away from that vibe and become too melodic, not tense enough. Perhaps some sort of chaotic fast upward arpeggio before looping?

Overall - Good adventure theme, definitely consistent sound and style. In my view, it just needs a little bit more variation to keep interest across the whole game and for the player to be able to differentiate clearly between the different sections of the game/map.

I'll have a listen and review your 3 new tracks later tonight.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Wed May 16, 2018 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

@Rahsennor: why, thank you so much for those words. :O It fuels my motivation greatly.

Doubt I'll be much help, but I filled out the form.

Only three so far have filled out the form, but it actually has helped me :D Helps me pinpoint what i've got right and what i have left to do before it is becoming complete. Also, i'm currently doing at least one medley, and the associations might help inform that, too.

Thank you for taking all that time making notes! I appreaciate it wildly. I think you're pretty spot on in your comments. track 1 was written with a short time frame in mind, but was made so that it could loop at least once if the player stays a little longer. If it even gets used during actual gameplay, i'm not sure yet.

i felt the same about track 3 and actually had it expanded some time ago, so it has a variant section now, but i have neglected to showcase that.

as for #2, the pitch of G6 is actually exactly the harmony i want together with the rest. Only option for me here is a G5, which i could make work, but i'll have to think about that and try some things out and see if it'll grow on me. In any case, i welcome the suggestion.

#5: I envisioned it as confronting the first form of a story-essential boss, which then turns into a situation for the worse, helped by another song. Do you think it'd fit that scenarip?

#6: I'm not too sure about even including this one, actually. It gets old quickly and will probably need a lot of work to work for more than a few seconds.

Perhaps some sort of chaotic fast upward arpeggio before looping?
I'll definitely explore this. It might add just the right amount of drama. :) Thanks!

The number of songs/playtime has almost doubled since the OP. I'll probably share the rest at some point. :) I'm eager to hear what you have to say about the three newer ones i've shared if you find the time, though i'm quite confident about their content.

Author:  dobbo2k [ Wed May 16, 2018 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

FrankenGraphics wrote:
#5: I envisioned it as confronting the first form of a story-essential boss, which then turns into a situation for the worse, helped by another song. Do you think it'd fit that scenario?

Great, glad you found the feedback useful!
On track #5, I think it could work as pre-battle music, yes.

Here are my notes on your 3 newer tracks:

1 - The walking bassline gives a sense of movement. It's brooding and atmospheric. I have no idea what the game is like aside from 'gothic', but it makes me think of exploring the castle grounds at night.

2 - This has a creepy, still sound. Images of somewhere untouched or not trodden very often - possibly dark woods or a deep dark dungeon.

3 - Upbeat and melodic, implies some sort of action, fast movement and/or interaction with people. It could be a battle in the town, or some sort of general fight music.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Please critique: Gothic fantasy bgm:s

Where would you guys place this song, functionally or thematically? ... me-odyssey

It loops at ~2:33

I originally wrote it (a less arranged version) when i was maybe 15 and for classical guitar, so it's pretty ancient, but decided to rearrange it for this project & the NES APU just now.

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